Saturday, June 14, 2008

Youk Can Go Home Gain

The Sox struggled through game two of the Cinci series with Kevin Youkilis pulling the bleachers' hole card to a Royal Flush of the Reds. The Cincinnati Kid returned home leading the Sox to a 6-4 extra-inning victory at the Great American Ballpark with three hits including the game winner.

Youk's blast pleased 140 friends and family on hand to celebrate his return. Meanwhile, Coco Crisp tacked on an insurance run following up Youk's blast with one of his own, and Jacoby Ellsbury added a pair of stolen bases to run his total to 31. The Red Sox rookie leads the majors in stolen bases with 31 and is third in the AL in runs scored with 48.

The Sox also have three players in the top eight in on-base slugging percentage, led by J.D. Drew (two), Manny Ramirez (five), and Kevin Youkilis (six).

But it wasn't all offense, as Tim Wakefield delivered seven innings of two-run pitching. Unfortunately, the bullpen struggled as Jonathan Papelbon allowed a two-out ninth inning homer on what looked to me to be a hanging slider. Craig Hansen came on in the tenth and earned his first major league save, surviving a two-out two-on warning track shot by Brandon Phillips.

The Sox came in with a game and a half lead on the resilient Rays, who are even in the loss column, and tussling with Florida in the annual Fish Fry series.

Major League Baseball is rumored to be seeking implementation of instant replay for home runs with a target date of August first. Football has long had instant replay, basketball implemented it for buzzer beaters, and hockey for goals. But baseball seemed determined to live in an anachronistic world of high tech performance-enhancers, for everyone except umpires. God forgive umpires be stripped of human error. But a series of erroneous calls on homeruns seems to have tipped the scales in favor of progress instead of history.

But nobody wants to offend the umpires, who will have to initiate the call. Can you imagine the umpires who screw up a home run call and refuse to initiate replay?

Jorge Orta called safe at first in the 9th inning of Game 6 in the 1985 World Series. Clearly Todd Worrell has the ball on first base before Orta arrives.

Maybe Don Denkinger would be remembered for more than his blown call (above) if baseball had a challenge-related replay system. But maybe not, as any replay system initially gets implemented for boundary calls (homers and potentially fair-foul calls).

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