Detective Sam Holbrook botches the call

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Sam Holbrook may have had the right idea, but it just didn’t do him any good.

In the first inning of Friday’s Blue Jays-Red Sox game, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to third with Colby Rasmus on third base. Will Middlebrooks decided to throw home to try to retire Rasmus on the play, and though the throw was late, it looked like Kelly Shoppach successful blocked a sliding Rasmus from reaching the plate.

Holbrook, though, was positioned behind the play and had no way of telling whether Rasmus was able to swipe the plate with his hand. Screened off, Holbrook did the only thing he could think of; he went to check the dirt in front of the plate to see try to ascertain whether Rasmus touched home plate.

Here’s the video.

From the swipe mark in the clay, Holbrook decided that, yes, Rasmus touched home plate. Replay, though, made it pretty clear that what he really touched was Shoppach’s shin guard.

I don’t blame Holbrook here. Like pretty much every home plate umpire in every major league game, he’s in an awful position to try to make that call, and given his view, he made the best judgment he could. If only he or someone else could have gone to the cameras instead, it would have been case closed.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.