Since Cy Young and the Boston Pilgrims met Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903, there had never been a finish to a Fall Classic game quite like Game 3 of the 2013 version. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some quirky endings.
The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the New York Giants four games to two in the 1911 World Series, but the odd moment came in Game 5 when Larry Doyle scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the 10th for a 4-3 victory. Umpire Bill Klem said he never touched home, but the Athletics didn’t appeal, so the run stood. If only there was instant replay in 1911.
Game 3 of the 1914 World Series between the Boston Braves and Philadelphia Athletics ended with a dramatic 5-4 Boston victory in the 12th. Herbie Moran bunted back to pitcher Joe Bush with runners on first and second, but Bush’s wild throw to third (sound familiar?) allowed the winning run to score. Maybe Bush was just exhausted. It was the first-ever three-hour-plus post-season game, lasting 3:06. The Braves swept the series.
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees were tied three games apiece, and game seven had come down to the bottom of the 9th with New York batting and St. Louis leading 3-2. Babe Ruth was at first after drawing a walk from 39-year-old Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was pitching in relief after having already thrown two complete games. Ruth tried to steal second, but Cardinals catcher Bob O’Farrell gunned him down to give the series to St. Louis.
The 1927 New York Yankees are known for their lumber, but they didn’t need to even take a swing to win Game 4 and sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the scored tied 3-3 in the last of the ninth, Pirates reliever Johnny Miljus uncorked a wild pitch while facing Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded, allowing Earle Combs to streak home with the World Series winning run.
The phantom sacrifice fly, the wild throw, the caught stealing and the wild pitch were odd walk-off moments in those early years of the World Series, but the Cardinals and Red Sox topped them all Saturday night as St. Louis took a 2-1 series lead with a 5-4 win in Game 3.
To recap: Yadier Molina singled off Brandon Workman with one out in the ninth and the score tied 4-4. The Red Sox brought in Koji Uehara to face pinch hitter Allen Craig. Craig lined the first pitch to left for a double, setting up runners at second and third. John Jay, facing a drawn-in infield, hit a sharp grounder that was snared by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Molina, thinking the ball was going through, was easily thrown out at the plate after he broke for home as catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made the tag. Craig dashed to third, and Saltalamacchia’s throw was wild, forcing third baseman Will Middlebrook to lunge for the ball. With the ball rolling down the left-field line, Craig tried to take off for home, but got tripped up by Middlebrook’s raised legs. Third base umpire James Joyce ruled obstruction, a violation clearly spelled out in the rule book, allowing Craig to come home with the winning run.
WORLD SERIES NOTES:
* The bizarre ending was redemption for Joyce and home plate umpire Dana DeMuth. Joyce has been forever haunted by a call he admits was wrong in 2010 that denied a perfect game to Detroit’s Armando Galarraga. DeMuth badly missed a call at second in Game 2 that had to be reversed after a huddle by his fellow umpires. After all the second-guessing and criticism umpires get these days as TV replays become more sophisticated, Joyce and DeMuth were at the top of their game on baseball’s biggest stage. Joyce saw the obstruction, and DeMuth alertly picked up the call as Craig slid home. Demuth made no call on the close play at the plate, but immediately signaled that Craig was automatically safe because of Joyce’s call. There would be no need for the umpires to huddle. They nailed the call in the spur of a wild, pressure-filled moment.
* The professionalism of Joyce and Demuth was a contrast to the unprofessional and embarrassing reaction of others. Famed baseball pundit Lil Wayne tweeted “How can u make a call like that in the World Series.” Lil Wayne, I suggest u stick to rapping. While it’s understandable that celebrities and most baseball fans are unfamiliar with Rule 2.00 and 7.06, which clearly covers obstruction, how could players and managers not be up to speed with rules for their own game? Carlos Beltran said 75 percent of the players didn’t know what happened. Middlebrook, who all but put one of those figure-four leg lock wrestling holds on Craig, was puzzled why they called him safe. Red Sox manager John Farrell, who should know better, came out to argue. But the worst reaction came from Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, who called it a joke. Some Boston fans might have been using that word after Peavy put his club down 2-0 in the first inning. He was coming off an outing in the ALCS where he gave up seven runs in three innings. Peavy entered Saturday’s game 0-3 with a 10.31 ERA in four post-season starts. Peavy won the Cy Young Award in 2007, so you’d think he would be able to recognize and appreciated the kind of baseball excellence Joyce and DeMuth exhibited.
* Get ready for more crazed endings to baseball games. When the broader replay system takes effect, we can count on confusing endings as everyone is put on hold on a final dramatic play while the league and umpires review a play. One can see a walk-off, World Series winning double down the line overturned as a foul ball, sending emotions of players and fans into a frenzy. Can’t wait to see what Lil Wayne and Big Jake have to say about that.
* Somehow, Farrell found a way to keep slugger Mike Napoli out of a game his team lost 5-4. Napoli was forced to sit because red-hot David Ortiz had to play first base because there is no designated hitter in the NL park. What happened? The DH removes some of the game management and strategizing skills, so an AL manager like Farrell isn’t as savvy about how to juggle the roster as one of his NL counterparts.
* We have now heard from three contestants in the competition for the coveted Lou Rawls Award, which will be presented to the best anthem singer of the World Series. Colbie Caillat appeared to put herself in the running Saturday night, at least by my untrained ear, but the real test will be how she fared with the distinguished panel of judges who will decide the winner of the Star Spangled Banner Star Search Reality Show.