In all of its glory, here is the brutal call at home plate that ended Monday’s Twins-Athletics game.
Cuddyer is safe in scoring the game-tying run, of course, but Mike
Muchlinski, a Triple-A ump filling in for a vacationing major league
counterpart, got himself in lousy position and blew the call.
What makes this particularly disgusting is that Muchlinski knew
exactly what was materializing. He clearly took a peek towards third
when Cuddyer was rounding the bag — he knew there was going to be a
play at home — yet he still did his best Brandon Phillips imitation
while loafing over to where he was in an awful position to make the
And the positioning is as much of a problem as the laziness. It’s
ridiculous how often umpires let themselves be screened on plays at the
plate. Unfortunately, the best place to make those calls from would be
in fair territory, right at the top of the circle. We never see umpires
there, though, and for good reason most of the time. Still, wouldn’t it
make a lot more sense to set up on the first-base line except when the
throw is coming in from right field? Muchlinski doesn’t blow that call
if he’s three feet to the right. He probably wouldn’t have blown it if
he was a couple of feet to the left, as he would have had a better view
between Michael Wuertz’s legs. Delmon Young, the hitter on the wild
pitch, has no formal training and was in a much better position to see
Muchlinski, though, didn’t set up anywhere. He was still moving even
as the tag wasn’t being made. He only stopped to make his impressively
elaborate out call, complete with the arched-back load-up and powerful
right hook to the ground. It was the type of punch out that’s sure to
get him noticed if MLB ever again hires a full-time ump. He’ll certainly have A’s fans on his side.
Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.
Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:
Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.
He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.