baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Popups

Last night, the Mets visited the new Yankee Stadium in the old Bronx, and the game ended with a predictable outcome: the Yankees won. How it got there was less predictable, although more than most people would think.

The Mets played like they bet against themselves. The game ended on a dropped popup to the second baseman with two outs and runners on first and second. Yes, it was horrifying, but what really stood out to me was that the runners and the batter did not assume the ball would be caught. Mark Texeira scored from first base on a dropped popup in very shallow right field.

I guarantee that if the situation was reversed, the Mets would not have scored two runs on that play. The runners would have given up, assuming the ball would be caught, and the runner on first would probably be standing on second base, not even realizing how big a mistake he just made. The batter probably would have been thrown out at first, and the game would be over with the same outcome: the Mets lose.

Obviously, that was the key play that determined the outcome. Catch the ball, Mets win; drop the ball, Yanks win. However, there was another play that the Yankees made that I doubt the Mets at full-strength (no injuries) would have. Popup over the mound. The pitcher fades back, and at the last moment, the shortstop barrels in, full-speed, to snatch the ball right above the grass. Derek Jeter made the play; Jose Reyes never would have.

Reyes is faster than Jeter, and a better athlete in every way except one: Jeter possesses great baseball instinct--the ability to create the perfect play at the perfect time--and Reyes does not. Reyes would have seen the pitcher, and veered off at the last moment to avoid getting hurt. We've seen it time after time.

For what it's worth, I think Alex Cora would have caught the ball. The Mets, when/if healthy, can have baseball instinct with mediocre talent, or no baseball instinct with huge talent, at the key defensive position on the diamond. Of course, they choose Reyes 99% of the time when both are available. What Reyes gives in talent, he takes away in laziness, fear of getting hurt, and a basic lack of baseball instinct.

My point is that whether the Mets had their regular starting lineup, or the lineup they put on the field yesterday, they still would have found a way to lose this game to the Yankees. And this game is the perfect demonstration of why the Mets have not made the playoffs since 2006, and why they fail in the clutch time after time.

© Judy Kamilhor 2009


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