Jake Peavy rips umpire Dana DeMuth, calls the game-ending play “a joke”

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You mad, bro?

Yeah, Jake Peavy is definitely mad about the game-ending obstruction call last night. Speaking to reporters in the clubhouse after the game, the Red Sox’ Game 3 starter was incredulous, calling home plate umpire Dana DeMuth’s ruling that Allen Craig would have scored cleanly from third base but for the obstruction of third baseman Will Middlebrooks “a crying shame” and “a joke” and asked how DeMuth was going to sleep last night:

“Two teams are pouring their hearts out on the field and that’s the call you make … It’s a joke. I don’t know how he (DeMuth) is going to lay his head down tonight … it’s just amazing to me that it would end on a call like that, that’s not black and white. I don’t know what else to say …”

Peavy went on, trying to make this out as some sort of pattern of incompetence on the part of DeMuth and claimed that the only people who could possibly be happy with the call were Cardinals fans:

…He (DeMuth) has already proven that he can not see things correctly in Game 1. (He missed) a pretty obvious (call) 4 feet in front of him … I hope he rests well tonight in his hotel room knowing what he did. That is a joke, an absolute joke. I’m sorry. Go to talk to him and ask him if he feels good and right about his call to end a World Series game on a diving play… it’s just beyond me … I don’t know how anybody can say, ‘Yeah, that’s how it should have ended.’ Go find me one person that’s OK with that call, other than Cardinals fans, because they won the game.”

Sorry, but Peavy is the one who is a joke after these comments. Based on the sentiment of everyone I spoke with at the ballpark last night, everyone weighing in on the call online and on television and, more importantly, based on the clear reading of the applicable rules and reviewing the pay on video over and over, DeMuth did make the right call. He should have slept perfectly well last night.

What’s more — to use Peavy’s construction of the notion — the only people who I can find saying that no, the game should not have ended on that play — the only ones not OK with that call — are Red Sox fans because they lost the game.

Should they be 100% satisfied? No. It is hard to take a game ending on a play like that. But not because it was wrong or controversial, only because it doesn’t jibe with what we usually expect in terms of game flow. No clean RBI base hit. No pitcher retiring a batter. No one pumping their fist and going out for high fives. There’s a weird dissonant feeling when games don’t end the way they usually do and thus Red Sox fans having a bad taste in their mouths is totally understandable. But there was no miscarriage of justice here.

I’d ask Peavy to put the shoe on the other foot and ask how anyone besides Red Sox fans would feel if the call were made differently. If DeMuth ruled that Allen Craig was out even though he was interfered with by the fielder. To be sure, that is the call Peavy is disputing: the judgment that Craig would have scored but for the collision at third. That was DeMuth’s judgment call (third base umpire Jim Joyce called interference, and Peavy isn’t disputing that with these comments).

If that were the case it’d be close to intolerable. Both because it would clearly have been wrong — a gimpy Craig almost scored cleanly as it was — but because there would have been no way to fix the call to anyone’s satisfaction. Are Joe Torre and Bud Selig going to overturn it the next morning and retroactively award Game 3 to the Cardinals? Hardly. For P.R. purposes having a World Series game decided from a hotel suite in Downtown St. Louis at 2AM Sunday morning would have created an uproar and Selig would never have had the guts to do it, even if it would be the only way to truly fix the error. No, they would have stopped short of that and we’d be left with a clearly blown call standing and, possibly, deciding the outcome of a World Series.

It was less than satisfying aesthetically, but justice was done here. Dana DeMuth’s call was not a “joke.” And by the light of day this morning, I would expect that Jake Peavy — the emotion of the moment having passed — will realize that he was out of line with his comments last night.

What to watch for in the second half

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The season is far more than halfway over. The two and a half months after the All-Star Game, however, is traditionally called the “second half,” and given how much more drama we’ll see during that time, it’s worth the bump-up in significance. The second half will determine who wins divisions and wild cards, who wins awards, which teams go for it, which teams cut bait and will give us a glimpse into what might transpire during hot stove season come November.

As we sit here today, in mid-July, here are the things to watch in the second half:

 

Who Will Stay and Who Will Go?

The biggest name on the trading block — Manny Machadoalready seems to have a new team (all we’re waiting for is the official announcement). Machado is not the only big name who could be moved, however. His Orioles teammates, closer Zach Britton and outfielder Adam Jones, have been mentioned prominently in trade rumors. Britton, specifically, will be highly sought-after. Other big names who could be dealt: Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, Rangers starter Cole Hamels, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ and Padres reliever Brad Hand.

 

How about the Mets’ aces?

In a different category altogether are Mets starters Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. While the Mets don’t have a compelling reason to trade either — they should, actually, be working to build a winning team around these two — the team’s lack of success and the front office’s seeming inability to build a winner has made many speculate that either of them or both of them could be traded. Just last week deGrom’s agent said his client would be OK with that, implying that the talks for a long term deal have not been going well. So far the Mets have leaned heavily on the side of saying neither deGrom nor Syndergaard will be available, but if that changes, they instantly shoot to the top of the list as we approach the trade deadline.

Oh, and as we saw last year with Justin Verlander going to Houston, the “deadline” does not just mean the non-waiver deadline at the end of July. Big trades may still very well happen through the month of August.

 

The surprisingly competitive American League West

Everyone knew the defending World Series champion Houston Astros would rule the division, but most folks assumed they’d be ruling it a bit more authoritatively than they have thus far. Don’t get me wrong: the Astros have been just fine. It’s just that the competition has gotten much tougher.

The Seattle Mariners have the longest playoff drought in baseball and they lost Robinson Cano to a PED suspension early in the season. Despite that, however, they are 58-39, only five games back of the Astros and three and a half games up in the race for the second Wild Card slot. Even more surprising is the team most directly challenging them for the second Wild Card slot: the Oakland A’s, who are  55-42. Both the M’s and the A’s are playing a bit better than their Pythagorean record suggests they should be — the M’s far more so than the A’s — but those wins are in the bank and, at the moment, the next closest competitor for that second Wild Card — the Rays — is five and a half back. I suspect Houston will slowly increase their division lead, but we could have a really fun race between Seattle and Oakland down the stretch, with the loser going home and the winner taking the second Wild Card.

 

The Red Sox and Yankees trying to avoid the best Wild Card team of all time

While the A’s and M’s are hoping for a Wild Card, both the Yankees and the Red Sox are dreading the possibility of winning one. Each team is aiming way higher than that, with Boston currently on a 112-win pace and the Yankees on a pace to win 106 games. Only one other Wild Card winner has won 100 games (Oakland, 102, in 2001) but one of these two teams is destined to do so barring an historic collapse. While that may not have been as big a deal in the past, the Wild Card format these days is one-and-done so, even with playoff spots all but assured, both the Yankees and the Sox have every incentive to step on the gas to avoid a single-game matchup against James Paxton, Sean Manaea or Blake Snell.

 

The rest of the pennant races

Before the season began it seemed like all but the AL East were going to be cakewalks for the favorites in each division. While most of those favorites — the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Cubs and Dodgers — are either in first place or are winning like crazy — there have been some surprises so far. Most notably in the National League East where the Braves have held first place for most of the first half, the Phillies hold it now and the favored Washington Nationals are scuffling along, five and a half games back. The Dodgers struggled early but have come on of late. Still, those early struggles have kept the Dbacks, Rockies and Giants within striking range. The Milwaukee Brewers, while trailing the Cubs, have looked like a strong playoff contender all season long. While there is less overall parity than we saw just a few seasons ago, more races look to remain competitive longer in the second half than the experts envisioned as the season began.

 

The push for postseason awards

We have had a great number of outstanding individual performances in the first half, particularly in the American League, so picking an MVP is going to be both fun and difficult. At the moment the top contenders for that award are, in no particular order, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez and Mike Trout. What’s more, a couple of those guys have teammates who are just as worthy of being included in the conversation in J.D. Martinez and Francisco Lindor. The Astros have a potential candidates too in reigning MVP Jose Altuve and All-Star Game MVP Alex Bregman. If the season ended today I think it’d come down to either Betts or Trout, but it’s really wide open.

The National League is not quite as explosive, but it could be just as competitive, with Lorenzo Cain, Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman, Jesus Aquilar, Max Muncy and even a pitcher, Aaron Nola, vying for votes. You could also throw in whichever Chicago Cub has the hottest second half and perennial MVP-contender Paul Goldschmidt, who shook off a slow start and has been mashing lately.

The Cy Young Award fields are less wide open but the winner is still up in the air. Max Schezer remains a strong contender in the National League but, unlike in the past two seasons, his top competition is not Clayton Kersahw. In fact, it comes from his own division in the form of Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola. Jon Lester, Miles Mikolas and Mike Foltynewicz lurk. In the AL any number of pitchers have been called the favorite at some point this season. At the moment that title belongs to Chris Sale, but Luis Severino, Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have pitched like Cy Young contenders at various points on the year.

 

Managers on the hot seat

The most high-profile firing we’re likely to see in-season just went down when Mike Matheny got the axe in St. Louis. Earlier Bryan Price was made redundant in Cincinnati. A the moment there is no one really on the hot seat. That place is usually reserved for would-be contenders who are underachieving, and the clubs fitting that description — primarily the Nationals and, depending on your definition of “contenders,” the Mets — have new managers this year who will be given more leeway. A couple of old hands may either be shown the door or could find their way to an exit by season’s end due to a lot of losing baseball either now or predicted in the immediate future. Here I’m thinking Buck Showalter in Baltimore and, possibly, Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh, Don Mattingly in Miami and, perhaps, Ned Yost in Kansas City. All could probably keep their jobs if they want them but any might decide that a long-term rebuild or, in Hurdle’s case, organizational uncertainty is nothing they want to be a part of going forward.

 

So that’s where we are a day after the All-Star Game. Everyone gets a couple more days off and then it’s back into the breach come Thursday night for the Cardinals and Cubs, Friday for everyone else.