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Northside Archives: Hometown Scoring

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August 29, 2012: Darwin Barney sits on 113 straight games without an error. It is already the Cubs’ single season record. It is tied with David Eckstein for the longest errorless streak for an NL second baseman (single season). Then…in the 7th inning…this happened.

The official scorer charged Barney with an error on the throw to Valbuena at third. If you’ve played the game at all, you can probably appreciate the scorer’s predicament. If Valbuena picks that cleanly, the tag is simple and everyone raves about the great play by Barney. But regardless of how it appears in replays, that is NOT an easy throw to handle. Barney hurls it sidearm, off-balance, and on the run – those things together are what gives the throw such crazy late movement. On top of this, the throw is coming to Valbuena over the shoulder of Jean Segura raising the degree of difficulty for the catch even more.

But is it really an error to Barney? I say yes. If Barney makes that same tailing throw to Rizzo at first and Rizzo can’t handle all the movement it would almost surely be deemed a bad throw and an error to Barney. It shouldn’t be any different simply because the ball is thrown to third base on a play where a tag is required.

But that night the official scorer changed his original call and credited the error to Valbuena – not Barney. It meant that David Eckstein’s kidney wasn’t the only thing that had been gruesomely wrangled from Eckstein’s possession. Barney would finish that game without further incident, breaking the little guy’s record.

And in a weird, but symmetrical, twist – Barney’s next milestone was the MLB record errorless streak in a single season for a second baseman. Placido Polanco held that streak at 141 games. But on September 28th of last season, Barney came within 3 outs of passing Polanco. Then Barney fielded and hurled this ball towards Rizzo at first. (See, I told you they’d score that an error!) Barney only managed to tie Polanco.

Curiously, Polanco’s streak was extended on August 26, 2007 under similar dubious official scoring changes.

It all begs the question: does every MLB team need their own official scorer? Why allow a clearly biased individual the responsibility of making so many subjective calls? The best answer I can proffer – that’s baseball. No, we can’t have Questec in every park because what if it’s not calibrated similarly everywhere (as if all 94 umpires have the same strike zone! – CB Bucknor might have 30 different strike zones just by himself). No, we can’t review safe or out; only objective things like fair/foul or HR/not a HR (because somehow safe or out is harder to determine than either of those).

That’s baseball; we get mad at pitchers for not throwing it over the plate, then get furious when they throw it over too much of the plate. We want guys to be aggressive on the basepaths, until they get thrown out. And we call it an error unless we can make a valid argument to the contrary – because I think we all know that Barney would still have that error to his credit were it not for his streak.


  • Dale must’ve needed a nap – he got ejected before the Dodgers could even complete one at-bat on Wednesday. I’d love to know if a manager has ever been ‘successively ejected’ (that’s what I’m calling it) on check-swing related calls? Remember, this happened about 10 days ago. The blown call from yesterday wasn’t nearly as horri-awful as the Donnie Murphy one; but still, it wasn’t close. Puig MORE than swung his bat. Just judging from Sveum’s indignation, I wonder if his issue was that Lance Barksdale wasn’t paying attention to Puig’s at-bat (because if he had been, that was an easy check-swing to ring him up on). Or maybe Dale ran out of his Kashi Go Lean and missed breakfast on getaway day.
  • Johnny Manziel is set to serve the most preposterous suspension in the history of suspensions. He will miss the first half of Texas A&M’s first game. Thank you NCAA for giving Bud Selig a new idea – in 5 years when he hears about this story, Bud will have someone suspended for the first 15 outs or 75 pitches (whichever comes first).
  • Aaron Hernandez, it is claimed, was a heavy PCP user (maybe I should say IS, because for all I know he’s still getting the angel dust in jail). He seems like such a normal guy other than that…and the fact that he’s probably killed at least three people…and shot another guy…and has a myriad of crazy-looking tats…including some that adorn his wrists. PCP just seems out of character. *Isn’t Aaron Hernandez just the real-life Demetrius Harris? (The RB from the ESPN drama Playmakers)
  • Doug S.

    Johnny sits out the first half of Saturday’s game against Rice? Gee, I wonder if 27 pt fav A&M will elect to receive if they win the coin toss? This punishment really throws a wrench into the game plan.

    • Eddie Von White

      That whole Manziel thing just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    • PLCB3

      Scam Newton’s dad solicits a quarter million dollars and nothing happens. Thug U players associate with a booster running a billion dollar scam and the NCAA accepts their self-imposed 2 year bowl ban. DeVeir Posey was overpaid $3 for his work, and he got 5 games tacked onto his tattoo suspension. Manziel only suspended for one half and the NCAA closing their investigation on him. Yet with our guys, they announce the tattoo 5 get 5 games each and the need to scrub every last inch before closing their investigation on us. Just more proof that the SEC is in cahoots with the NCAA.
      But it’s all good. Because Texas A&M is still a cow college and they play in Tex-ass.

    • PLCB3

      Also, there have been plenty of players who have been suspended half games before in the NCAA.

  • Cubs lost 4-0.

    • Jedi

      Other than CAPS, I’m betting everyone else managed to find that before we would’ve posted it here.

      • Agreed. I’m just here for football news and high school showcase coverage.

      • Jedi

        Watch the Cubs get Edison Volquez DFA’d after two outs and then go on to lose that game. It makes you want to talk about something (anything) else for a week or two.

      • Mark_from_Toronto

        Seems to be a bad time to be an ex-Reds pitcher. Heard the other day that Aaron Harang was also DFA’d by the Mariners.

      • Teens it is.

      • Jedi

        Watch the Cubs get Edison Volquez DFA’d after two outs and then go on to lose that game. It makes you want to talk about something (anything) else for a week or two.

      • PLCB3

        I knew that at 6:06 PM EDT when I got the Cubs.com postgame alert emailed.

      • Seymour Butts

        I knew the old fashioned way…I watched the game.

      • Eddie Von White

        Did anybody else notice the Dodger’s ball boy’s name on the back of his uni? It was Eddie.

      • Jedi

        I’ve made it a habit to NOT check out the ball boys.

      • Words to live by.

      • Well played amigo…very well played.

      • PLCB3

        I wasn’t able to watch the game.

  • The ejection video is worth a watch…the weaselly little guy who blew the call at first picked that fight without a doubt.

    • Doug S.

      Just watched, funny exchange, would love to hear the audio. Not much doubt about the swing so I wonder what the defence was. The other day saw a white sox coach turfed during the lineup card submission at home plate prior to the game.

      • Seymour Butts

        Lance was looking at a rack in the 3rd row when the pitch was thrown…he guessed wrong.

      • Jedi

        That’s probably what Dale said that got him tossed too.

      • Doc Raker

        Can you blame him, umpires don’t even want to watch this team play.

      • Eddie Von White

        I saw that too. Maybe Jedi’s right about the umps being an arrogant bunch of rear ends.

      • cap’n obvious

        no maybe about it.

  • Doc Raker

    Valbuena needs to catch the ball at 3rd, it didn’t even bounce before it got to him. The throw to Rizzo bounced but should of been dug out by Rizzo, Rizzo knew it also, that’s an easy play for a first baseman. Bryan LaHair makes that play 99 out of 100. Rizzo should play LF and LaHair should play 1b, when not shooting his sit com in Japan. The final scoring was correct on both plays, no home town favoritism in my view.

    • PLCB3

      The camera angle on the 2nd error is bad, but from the angles I watched it looks like Rizzo could have been charged an error for a missed catch. The first error Valbuena should have gotten the error, he missed the catch by a mile.

      • Jedi

        I have to know CAPS – how long did you play baseball?

      • PLCB3

        Why? That doesn’t exactly sound like a soup question.

      • Seymour Butts

        OK, I’ll bite… what is a soup question?
        And Jedi, plenty of folks who were poor ball players are fans, you should see Raker’s 28 mph fastball. CAPS can achieve partial credit for any Cricket watched as well.

      • PLCB3

        Now that is a soup question. It comes from the movie Finding Forrester:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIhRWV9zTIs

      • Seymour Butts

        Fine…how about a real soup question.
        Clam Chowder: New England or the Yucky kind?

      • PLCB3

        What do you define as the Yucky kind? Canned stuff?
        I love New England Clam Chowder. If you’re even in Boston, best place to get chowder is The Fours. It’s a sports bar across the street for the TD Garden, which you can access via North Station on the T. In fact, part of North Station is inside the Garden.

      • Jedi

        Nothing to do with how well he played. To claim that Rizzo should’ve been charged with a missed catch on that play – that’s just not a credible argument.

        Raker is right, a very good first baseman makes that play (or at least prevents the ball from getting past him). That’s what good 1Bs do – save errors for your infielders. But CAPS’ charge that Rizzo is ultimately responsible on that play…that’s fantasyland stuff. Every HS player in the country can tell you that’s an error on Barney.

        Plus his comment on Valbuena – when the ball deflects off your glove, I think that’s the opposite of ‘missed it by a mile’.

      • PLCB3

        Notice how I said he COULD have been charged with an error. My judgment is inconclusive unless I get a better angle.
        It didn’t look like it deflected off his glove, it looks like he missed the catch. Missed it by a mile is an expression meaning it’s obvious. Such as he missed the tag by a mile but was still called out. Or they missed the first down by a mile and the ref still called for a measurement.

      • Jedi

        I’m familiar with the colloquialism. You might want to familiarize yourself with an eye doctor though…

        They replay it in slow motion and it very clearly hits Valbuena’s glove.

        Your inconclusive judgment notwithstanding, there is no camera angle in the world that will change the fact that the ball hit the ground about 4 feet up the first baseline, and at least foot or two out in front of Rizzo. That can never be an error on Rizzo. Notice how I said NEVER.

      • Doc Raker

        The ball didn’t deflect of Valbuena’s glove, it went under his glove. Regardless, it was catchable by a mile or as catchable as a can of chicken noodle soup. The ball had some serious sink on it, still catchable though. LaHair makes that play while eating beef chunky soup 99 miles out of 100 miles.

      • Jedi

        So you think you know what matters to me, huh? Presumptuous.

      • Non-soup question alert…

      • PLCB3

        Thank you

  • Jedi

    I’m no particular fan of our bullpen either – but why is Samardzija even in the game long enough to blow it? This established ace of ours needs a shorter leash.

  • cap’n Obvious

    crappy official scoring can result in aging eye care practitioners having delusions of hitting .833 at fat camp.

    • I like what you did here.

    • Doc Raker

      If the 65 year old accountant doesn’t get to my line drive it is scored a hit. Don’t be bitter just because you hit .083/.083/.083 against sally arm pitching and crippled defense. You have to put the ball in play to take advantage of crappy defense or crappy official scoring, K’s are very rarely mis scored as hits.

      • cap’n obvious

        how did you know I was referring to you?

      • Doc Raker

        How many other eye care professionals hit .833 at camp?

      • cap’n obvious

        like I said…delusional.

      • Seymour Butts

        None.

      • Pretty sure the Jugs machine would prefer the handle “Juggsy” over “sally arm.”

  • Doc Raker

    The Cubs won a series against the Phillie’s this weekend just in case any one cares.

    • Doug S.

      I care Doc. And it could have been a sweep instead of gassing that 5-1 lead. Games all day on the holiday Monday, love it.

    • Eddie Von White

      Me too.

      • PLCB3

        Me 3. I was hoping the Phillies would win it. I want a better draft pick. We are currently battling the White Sox for the 3rd pick in the draft.

      • Clean out your locker.

      • Jedi

        We really need to secure the 3rd pick of the guys who might be able help us 4 years from now.

      • I have us picking Kaleb Smith with the 3rd pick in 2013 and see him reaching the bigs in 5 years in a platoon role as a corner OF (right) in my pretend thing or whatever.

      • PLCB3

        I know the draft is a crapshoot, but every little bit helps. On 2nd thought, given the White Sox’s general ineptitude at just about everything, it wouldn’t matter. Back in 1985, with the 5th pick in the draft, they drafted some guy who never made it to the majors and is now a salesman at a department store. Barry Bonds was taken 1 pick later.