Obviously, last nightís game was sloppy and mostly painful to watch. Three of the most frustrating moments occurred on the base paths, as the Pirates gave away some crucial outs while attempting to break open a back-and-forth game.
With the Pirates trailing 6-4, Brandon Moss led off the fifth inning with a base hit to right. When Doug Mientkiewicz also singled to right, he attempted to take third. He was gunned down.
Later in that same inning, with one run in and still just one out, Jack Wilson broke for third on a ground ball to short. He was not forced, and was quickly caught in a run-down and tagged out. Nyjer Morgan followed with a single, but there was nobody in scoring position to come around. The Pirates would not score again in the inning.
In the seventh, Morgan led off with a bunt single. He promptly stole second, but slightly over-slid the bag and was tagged out. Again.
These mistakes were all discouraging, but one stood out to me. While Moss should not be making the first out of the inning at third, I think you can simply chalk that up to poor judgment. He was sure he had the base, but a virtually perfect throw got the better of him. In Nyjerís case, while it is maddening to watch him constantly over-slide bases, I think it is more of a physical issue than a mental one. It reminds me of the young child who simply cannot keep from throwing the bat after taking a swing. No matter how many warnings he receives from the umpire, no matter how easy it may seem to an observer, he simply struggles with it. Eventually, Nyjer will figure it out. I hope.
But the most frustrating gaffe was the one made by Jack. I was at the game with my dad, and when it happened, I complained about how often Jack seems to make that same mistake. He commented that mistakes accompanied with emotion (anger, embarrassment, etc.) should stick out in a personís mind more clearly. This is very true. Once a Major League player makes that kind of mistake once, he should never make it again.
Going back to my own experience in baseball, there are a couple of stupid moments that have always stuck out in my mind. Once in Little League, I was at second while another runner was on first. Mistaking ball three for ball four, I began merrily skipping to third. The catcher stood up, looked at me curiously and promptly threw me out. That was a long trip back to the dugout to hide. Ever since that moment, all the way up to and including the slow-pitch softball I currently participate in, I have paused on every walk to confirm that it was ball four.
As a sophomore in high school, despite not being forced, I attempted to take third on a ground ball to short. I was thrown out. Again, every time I am in that situation, that moment pops into my head before the pitch is thrown. I have never made that mistake again.
I cannot understand why Jack keeps getting thrown out on this same play. Maybe it is a lack of focus. Maybe the past mistakes are not sticking with him for some reason. Maybe itís just a case of aggressiveness getting the better of him in the heat of the moment. Whatever it is, it needs to stop.