Not sure why I have a fascination with Andy LaRoche. Partially because I always find the lesser-half of baseball brother combinations interesting. Partially because there was about ten minutes there, back several years ago, when Andy LaRoche looked like a good prospect and I and many like-minded people mocked organizations for not appreciating his greatness. Dude hit .285/.372/.429 in the minors, and at one point back in the day that line was even higher.
The Blue Jays DFA’d LaRoche last night. After he was called up on Friday, got his first major league action in two years on Sunday and went 0 for 4. Now he’s likely to be released again and I wouldn’t bet the banana I’m eating that he sees the bigs again. He’s had over 1,300 big league plate appearances in which to figure it out. He still hasn’t figured it out and likely never will.
It’s not important for our purposes because he’s, after all, merely Andy LaRoche. But he is a reminder that baseball is a weird game and that even things that seem so certain in one moment are never so certain the next.
In the Major League Baseball system, the people are entertained by two separate yet equally important groups. The players who play the game and the umpires who call the balls, strikes and outs. These are their stories.
Wait, that’s not true. They’re not equally important and we certainly don’t want to hear the umpires’ stories. If the stories are about the umpires it usually that means they’ve screwed up.
Not always, though! In 2013, you may recall, I wrote a story about an umpire who made a much talked about call in a World Series game that (a) happened to be right, even if it was much-debated; and (b) his story is one I’ve always found compelling, even if he’s most famous for a call he got wrong.
Jim Joyce, though, an umpire who was widely admired and respected despite his famous blunders, is one of the few exceptions to the rule about what it means to know an umpires’ name. Most of the time we’re all lucky — umpires included — if the introductions are the first and last time we hear of them.
Here they are for the 2018 World Series, with Game 1 assignments noted:
Home: Tim Timmons
1B: Kerwin Danley
2B: Ted Barrett — Crew Chief
3B: Chad Fairchild
LF: Jeff Nelson
Replay, Games 1-2: Fieldin Culbreth
Replay, Game 3-End: Tim Timmons