NLDS Game 1: Inches

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That is usually the story of every athletic competition that you will ever watch. Which reminds me of one of my favorite theatrical speeches of all time.

This speech by Al Pacino could not better sum up the nature of sports. Baseball, like football is a game of inches. “One half step too quick or too slow” and the result of a bang bang play is completely different. The same can be said about many things in the Chicago Cubs game last night.

The strike zone is often the part of the game most fans, managers and players complain about the most. The umpire calls the strike zone as they see things. Usually the difference between a strike call and a ball call in the umpire’s eyes is a matter of an inch. You could see that clearly last night with Todd Tichenor’s call of balls and strikes last night. Johnny Cueto and Jon Lester were dealing last night. Lester appeared to not be getting calls that Cueto was getting, and perhaps Tichenor saw the pitches a few inches further off the plate on a number of Lester’s pitches than Cueto’s were. Cub fans were very vocal about that last night.

Then you had the pitch against Javier Baez which was called a ball which probably could have been called a ball, but due to the pitch being an inch closer to the plate in the umpire’s eyes his at bat was extended which led to the game winning home run.

A home run that would have easily made the streets in the wind had not been screaming into the park. However, because the wind was blowing in so strong, the Baez home run barely landed in the basket by inches.

One of the most argued moments of the night though was a swing/no swing moment with Gorkys Hernandez. He was ruled to have made a full enough swing on a check swing that he was called out on strikes instead of drawing a walk.

That does look like a check swing. Though under further investigation, perhaps not.

A call which was made by first base ump Alan Porter. Another call which was made based on inches. One inch less and he draws a walk, one inch more and there is no debate. But, because of inches in the length on a swing, Hernandez was called out.

Gorkys Hernandez

Hernandez’s reaction pretty much sums up the reaction of every Giants fan. The check swing strike three upsets Giants fans even more considering what followed. While Eduardo Nunez grounded out to second, the speedy Hernandez could have advanced to second in the eyes of Giants fans, or that could have been a double play. We will never know because the pitches Aroldis Chapman made to Nunez would have been different because the situation was different.

The are also sure that Hernandez would have scored on the Buster Posey double had he still been on base, and they are right. He would have. But again, with a man on, Chapman likely pitches differently to Posey considering there was a man on base. So that argument again is fairly worthless.

That brings me back to inches. Just as the wind almost hurt the Cubs on the Baez home run, the wind surely hurt the Giants on the Posey double. I was sure that ball was gone when it left the bat. But thanks to the wind, the ball stayed in the park by a matter of inches.

Joe Maddon told us Thursday that he reminded the team that this is baseball. Calls will go against you, calls will go your way, something will go wrong. That’s baseball guys. Last night’s game was decided by a matter of inches.

Lester and Cueto gave us a pitchers duel for the ages, and Baez sent the fans home happy.

As far as Cueto’s coconuts comment

I believe that Baez answered that one.

Game one will be one to remember. Now we get to see if game two can match the excitement level.

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