McCarver and Jeter, sitting in a tree ...

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 5, 2005 at 5:39 PM

(Note: I'm posting this now because I DVR'd the Angels-Yankees game last night and I'm only watching it now, mid-day Wednesday.)

Tim McCarver infuriates me. He jumped all over Vlad Guerrero for getting thrown out stealing last night in the sixth inning with the Angels down four runs and two men out despite admitting that he was actually safe because Derek Jeter missed the tag!

First, it's classic outcome-based evaluation. If Guerrero makes it, it's a fantastic play, it's wonderful, it's another example of the Angels' aggresiveness and how they win games on the basepaths. If he doesn't make it, it's a terrible play; you should never be stealing in that situation!

Second, it's outcome-based evaluation that ignores the actual outcome! Guerrero was safe. The announcing team tried to tell us that "it wasn't even close" and that "Posada made a great throw," but how "not even close" could it be if Guerrero was actually safe?

Additionally, McCarver took the opportunity to get down on his knees in front of Derek Jeter yet again, because even though Jeter missed the tag, "he sold it well." No, he didn't sell it "well." He sold it just like any other competent infielder would have sold it. He happened to block the umpire off from the tag because of where the throw was and then, just as every infielder is taught to do in Little League, he acted like he made the play. The umpire blew it, and somehow Jeter comes out smelling like roses and Guerrero like ... well, not roses.

Finally, how bad a play is Guerrero running, really? Al Leiter was on the mound with Darin Erstad at the plate. Erstad's a hopeless hitter in general, particularly in the power department. I wouldn't want to bet on him getting a ball into the gap to score Guerrero from first, and I wouldn't want to bet on the rest of the bottom of the Anaheim order (Molina, Finley, et. al) to follow an Erstad single (if he can even manage that) with another hit or two. In fact, Leiter made Erstad look silly when the at-bat started over the next inning. Erstad wound up striking out on a pitch in the dirt a foot outside.

If you're going to love the Angels for their style of play and laud them for it in your pre-game, you have to accept that they're going to live and die by swinging and running aggressively. You can't applaud the style when it works out and denigrate it when it doesn't.