Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Inning Is it Anyway?

Nyjer Morgan finally realizes he hit the game-winner.
Baseball seasons are long and every so often a player's mind wanders and a boneheaded play results. Benny Agbayani flipping the ball into the stands with only two outs comes to mind. The errant toss let two San Francisco Giant's runners score in the August 2000 game. The Mets managed to win anyway.

Rarely do such brain locks result in anything positive for the player of his team. The most famous mistake by a player, Fred Merkle, has forever been known as Merkle's Boner, in which the New York Giants' player forgot to touch second base at the end of a key 1908 game. (The ruling led to the Chicago Cubs last World Series winning team.) Although Merkle was following common practice, he was still called out on the play.

Nyjer Morgan of the Milwaukee Brewers just have might have pulled off such a feat last night. The center fielder came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on second and the score tied. Morgan lashed a double down the right field line. Morgan's teammates streamed out to second base to congratulate him.

Morgan was confused. Turns out he thought it was the eighth inning and admitted he might have been more relaxed because of his mistake. Maybe the folks who run the Miller Park scoreboard will just misnumber the innings in similar situations in the future; call it a new kind of home field advantage.

It's not the first time a Brewers' player was confused in a key moment. In 1982, catcher Ted Simmons made a mistake that almost cost the Crew the division. In a June game Simmons caught a strike three that he thought ended an inning with runners on first and second. Problem was, there were only two outs.

The runners moved up and scored on a subsequent single. The Orioles won the game and the season came down to game 162. The teams were tied and facing off in Baltimore. Fortunately for Simmons, Robin Yount led the way to a division-clinching victory.

So, for now, the Brewers are batting .500 in the bran lock standings.


  1. I believe it was Tony Plush who had the brain lock :-)

  2. There was a game at County Stadium between the Brewers and the Yankees, some point in the early 1980s. I don't remember it at the time (I was somewhere around 12, as I don't remember exactly when, and a Yankee Fan in Central Jersey), but I saw the clip years later. Somebody hit a popup, and Ted Simmons went behind the plate to catch it. It was ruled a clean catch, but the replay showed that he'd trapped it against the chain-link backstop, and Yankee broadcaster Bill White yelled, "There!" And Phil Rizzuto yelled, "Oh yes! Holy cow, protest!" As I can't pinpoint when this happened, I don't know who won. But credit to Simmons for selling it. In spite of this minor cheat, he should be in the Hall of Fame.

  3. There are a lot of players who pretend to catch balls they trap. It's rare for a catcher to have a chance to do it. One reason I think Simmons didin't get in the Hall is he stopped talking to the writers after his mistake against the Orioles. Unfortunately, the vote often comes to a popularity contest.

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