October 29, 2020

MLB Refused To Follow Its Own COVID Policies, So Please Blame Justin Turner

The MLB Commissioner's office is working to divert attention from its failures regarding COVID-19 testing and protocol and setting up Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner as the sole bad guy. After being told he had tested positive and the Dodgers had won the World Series, Turner wandering around the field, at times without a mask, hugging, celebrating, and posing for pictures with his championship-winning teammates.

Turner is a selfish, irresponsible fool for knowingly putting dozens of people at serious risk for a deadly disease. Who would disagree with that? Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reported that after Turner was told by MLB security that he had to remain in isolation, he said: "Fuck it, I'm going out there.

But there is also no doubt that MLB bears a significant portion of the blame. After MLB was told in the second inning of Tuesday night's Game 6 that Turner's test results were "inconclusive" (from samples taken on Monday), MLB made a deliberate decision to toss its protocols out the window and wing it.

The game should have been stopped in the second inning. An inconclusive result is supposed to be regarded as "positive" until further testing determines otherwise and earlier in the season, MLB treated inconclusive tests seriously, postponing several games. But not in the World Series. MLB requested the results from Turner's Tuesday samples as soon as possible. If they came back negative, then no one would ever need to know anything. But, as we know, the results were positive. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred has yet to even attempt an explanation or provide a more detailed timeline. How many times (and in how many ways) can he prove his lack of leadership? It seems there are infinite examples. Manfred's office did not do nothing, though. It issued a statement putting all the blame on Turner (my emphasis):

Immediately upon receiving notice from the laboratory of a positive test, protocols were triggered, leading to the removal of Justin Turner from last night's game. Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him. However, following the Dodgers' victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others. While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner's decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.

The Commissioner's Office is beginning a full investigation into this matter and will consult with the Players Association within the parameters of the joint 2020 Operations Manual. . . .

Note: There is no mention of the inconclusive test results which MLB was told about in the second inning. Manfred tossed that down the memory hole, while also indirectly praising himself with the first words of the statement. It appears that most sportswriters are accepting Manfred's spin and highlighting Turner's on-field behaviour.

At some point, Manfred will have to answer (or refuse to answer) why Turner was not pulled from Game 6 when MLB was told of his status in the second inning? Why did MLB choose to ignore its own policy? (And how did Turner contract the virus if everyone involved with the World Series was supposed to remain in the bubble?)

Stephanie Apstein (SI) reported that Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman disagreed with the suggestion that his team had behaved badly.

"Having a mask on and staying socially distanced, he wanted to come out and take a picture with the trophy," he said. . . . 

In fact, for much of his time on the field, Turner did not wear a mask, nor did he stay socially distanced. Friedman should know: He spent several minutes chatting from inches away with a maskless Turner. Turner posed for photos with the trophy and with several teammates. He sprawled on the grass in the center of the team picture.

In a season nearly derailed by risky behavior, this was the most irresponsible moment yet. The league has protocols restricting behavior by people who have contracted the virus. . . . But on Tuesday, the scientists in baseball pants were allowed to make public-health policy based on what seemed most fun. . . .

Friedman argued that because everyone celebrating on the field had been sealed inside the playoff bubble for a month, Turner probably did not expose anyone who would not already have been exposed. (It's worth noting that Turner managed to contract the virus despite the supposed impermeability of that bubble.) . . .

It's true that players next to whom Turner had been lounging in the dugout were probably at no higher risk an hour after the team learned he was positive than an hour before, and most team employees knew he had tested positive and could have avoided him. But most players and staffers had their spouses and children on the field with them, many of whom were likely unaware. Studies suggest the effects of COVID can linger for months or longer, and even people who exhibit only mild symptoms can develop serious, debilitating brain damage. Should the toddlers crawling around home plate have been made to take that risk?

Some of the Dodgers are at a higher risk. Manager Dave Roberts is a cancer survivor. Pitcher Kenley Jansen dealt with the virus earlier this year and has a heart condition. At least one of the players' wives is pregnant.

Friedman said: "I haven't seen the pictures. I totally understand the question. If there are people around him without masks, that's not good optics at all." Despite claiming ignorance, Friedman himself spent several minutes inches away from a maskless Turner.

Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told NBC News:

It's not just about this one particular player . . . and it's not just about the players he's near. People need to see you doing the right thing and taking it seriously. Anytime you test positive, the right thing to do is to stay isolated — despite these wonderful achievements that you want to celebrate, that you want to be part of. . . . People in the general public are doing this. They're missing weddings, missing achievements and funerals and losing jobs because they're staying home and following recommendations of the CDC. Everyone needs to be held to the same standards.

On Tuesday night, the Dodgers downplayed the situation, saying his teammates were already among those who'd be subject to contact tracing. NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar said that reasoning was "absolutely ridiculous".

That argument does not fly. Your risk has to do with the number of human interactions you have, the duration of that exposure and the proximity of that exposure. So it's just a numbers game. Statistically, the more time you spend around someone who's positive, the greater the likelihood or the risk is that you yourself will test positive. So that doesn't work.

October 28, 2020

Turner Pulled From Game 6 After Positive Virus Test (Though Timeline Is Suspect);
Later, Turner Defies Orders, Returns To Field, Poses For Team Photo Without Mask

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was removed from Game 6 of the World Series after test results showed he was infected with SARS-CoV-2. Turner was replaced in the top of the eighth inning. The Dodgers went on to win the game, clinching their first championship since 1988.

No reason was given during the game for the substitution and Turner was not with his teammates when they ran onto the field to celebrate after the final out.

About an hour after the game, Turner was out on the field with his wife. He (at times) wore a mask. Turner hugged teammates. He was not wearing a mask when he kissed his wife or sat among his teammates for a group photo.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported during the Fox broadcast:
He tested positive yesterday. They got those positive results back this afternoon. Ran a test today, came back positive again. This is NOT a case of a false positive… he was asked not to go on the field. He insisted upon it, the Dodgers insisted upon it.
A little later, Rosenthal tweeted a HUGE revision to that account:
One correction to what I said on @FS1 about Turner timeline. First result, on the test from yesterday, came back in the second inning, not in the afternoon. His test from earlier today was then expedited, and when it came back positive, he was removed from the game.
An inconclusive test should be treated as a "presumptive positive" until the results of a second test can be determined. Turner should have been immediately taken out of the game and quarantined in the second inning. More than one person asked: "How was yesterday's test not in before the 2nd inning tonight but today's test was expedited so easily? None of this makes any sense." 

Rosenthal's second version of events lines up with what ESPN's Jeff Passan reported.
Mookie Betts was asked by the Los Angeles Times about Turner being back on the field and in the middle of the team photo:
He's part of the team. Forget all that. He's part of the team. We're not excluding him from anything.
There are going to be a shit-ton of questions for Turner, the Dodgers, and the Commissioner's office (with or without additional players or family members testing positive over the next week). Such irresponsible behaviour.
Diana Moskovitz (Defector) said Passan's report "leaves a whole lot out":
Why is MLB not getting testing results until the second inning? Shouldn't it get those before the game? Why are the samples from today not arriving until after the baseball game started? Is this why so many Dodgers players had masks on during their on-field celebration? . . .

During his SportsCenter appearance, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was cryptic about Turner: "It will come out later, but right now I really can't speak to it." Turner chimed in on Twitter, saying he felt "great" with no symptoms, and felt bad that he couldn't enjoy the victory with his teammates.

But a few minutes later, there he was on the field. With the World Series over, MLB and the Dodgers abandoned any pretense of protocol, as if they believed that the coronavirus had vanished following the conclusion of the season. The players who were in the same dugout as Turner for most of the game were hugging family members and each other; Turner was allowed back on the field to hang out with teammates. The Dodgers gathered for a team photo and Turner sat next to the trophy, making sure to pull down his mask for the picture.

Even in the scenario where Turner's test turns out to be a false positive, it's wildly irresponsible to let him be this close to not just his teammates, but everyone else who has to be on the field for the festivities. But there are no more games in danger of being canceled or postponed, so MLB doesn't have to care. It can treat a positive test in the middle of the World Series as a rapidly developing situation and let everyone else figure it out in the offseason.

October 27, 2020

World Series Game 6: Dodgers 3, Rays 1

Rays    - 100 000 000 - 1  5  0
Dodgers - 000 002 01x - 3  5  0 

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2020 World Series champions

Seven relievers held the Tampa Bay Rays in check, with Julio Urías, the final arm out of the bullpen, recording the most outs. He worked 2.1 innings and struck out four batters, including the final two, with pinpoint control.

But on a night when the Dodgers captured their first title in 32 years, it was Rays manager Kevin Cash who played the most pivotal role in Game 6. Cash had said during Monday's off-day that he would be aggressive with his bullpen. So when starter Blake Snell allowed a single to his 18th batter, Cash yanked him. Considering the circumstances, it was a shocking and baffling and beyond-risky move. The bold move backfired almost immediately.

Snell (5.1-2-1-0-9, 73) had been utterly dominant. He struck out the first three batters of the game and five of the first six (joining Sandy Koufax as the only lefties to strike out 5+ batters in the first two innings of a World Series game). Snell gave up a hit to Chris Taylor to open the third, but then retired the next 10 Dodgers, including striking out Mookie Betts and Corey Seager (who was named the World Series MVP) for the second time in as many at-bats. 

Snell's pitch count was low (12-12-15 16-14) and his fastball velocity averaged 96.3. The Dodgers did not put even one of his 29 fastballs into play. The Dodgers took 34 swings at Snell and had an eye-popping 16 misses. Everything he threw was filthy. He was unhittable.

And Cash took him out of the game. Snell must have thought he was hallucinating when he saw Cash coming to the mound. Nick Anderson took over. He threw two balls to Betts and then Mookie lined a double down the left field line. Two pitches later, a wild pitch scored Austin Barnes and put Betts on third. (That was the second save-blowing wild pitch in WS history.) Seager grounded the next pitch to first. When Ji-Man Choi gloved it, Betts was already halfway home. (Anderson has now allowed at least one run in seven straight postseason games, the longest streak by a reliever in major league history. Maybe not the right guy to go to first, after Snell.)

Watching live from the high-home camera, it was clear the throw would be late and Choi should take the out at first. He threw home, the throw was late, and there was no out at first. Justin Turner's fly to left pushed Randy Arozarena nearly to the wall for the second out. Another pitching change and the inning was over. But in the span of only six pitches, the Rays went from thinking about Game 7 to being nine outs from winter.

The only motive was that the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any in the league. Personally, I felt Blake had done his job and then some. Mookie coming around the third time. I totally value and respect the questions that come with it. . . . Didn't want Mookie or Seager seeing Blake a third time. There was no set plan. As much as people think, there's no set plan.
Turner was replaced at third base in the top of the eighth because he tested positive for COVID-19. If the Rays won tonight, Game 7 might have been postponed for a while. Turner played seven innings without knowing he was infected. At least he never got on base. (Why are test results being delivered in the middle of a World Series game?)

It was Arozarena who had given the Rays a 1-0 lead with a first-inning home run. That also set a record of five consecutive games in a World Series with scoring in the top of the first. 

Tampa Bay stranded runners at first and second in each of the first two innings. They would have only two baserunners over the final seven innings. Arozarena singled with two outs in the fifth and Mike Zunino singled with two outs in the seventh. Both runners were left at first. Excluding Arozarena's trot around the bases, the Rays had no runners past second base all night.

It was Zunino's hit that prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to bring in Urías. The young lefty painted the outside black to finish off pinch-hitter Yandy Díaz in the seventh. Urías needed only 10 pitches to get the Rays' 2-3-4 hitters in the eighth. Arozarena lined out to Cody Bellinger, who ran down his rope in right-center. Hunter Renfroe grounded to third and Brandon Lowe struck out swinging.

Betts bashed a home run to start the LA ninth, driving the dagger in by giving his team a two-run lead. With Urías back on the hill, Manuel Margot flied to Betts in the bottom of the ninth. One out. Mike Brosseau worked a full count before being frozen with an inside fastball for strike three. Two outs. Willy Adames swung at a high fastball and missed, then took two unhittable inside fastballs, one at 94 and the second at 97.
Urías is the second pitcher in World Series history with a seven-out (official) save and no baserunners allowed, joining Dick Hall of the 1970 Orioles, in Game 2 against the Reds. (Perhaps Mr. Hall, age 90, was watching tonight.)

This was the first time in World Series history that a team's top three batters (Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner) each struck out multiple times and the team still won.

This was also the first time in World Series history three different pitchers for same team (Alex Wood, Victor Gonzalez, Julio Urias) allowed no baserunners and struck out three or more batters. (Joe Kelly and Chris Sale of the Red Sox were the only pair of teammates to ever do it, against the Dodgers in 2018.)

Blake Snell became the first pitcher in World Series history to allow two or fewer hits, strike out nine or more, and not get a win. That was Game 2. He did it again tonight, in Game 6! Snell is the first pitcher in postseason history with two such games in his career.

During the postgame ceremonies, the boos rained down on Commissioner Rob Manfred as good as he was introduced. He began speaking: "2020 is going to be remembered –" and then had to stop. Fox cut away, denying us the pleasure of seeing Manfred standing there, alone, waiting for the boos he so deserves to subside. As soon he started talking again, the boos increased. There was no way he was going to stop a second time, so he plowed through (Fox eventually cut back, but not right away), and awarded the 2020 Piece of Metal™.
That is so great, I had to include it twice.
Manfred then stood awkwardly by himself as Dodgers executives thanked the crowd.

Shortly after the Dodgers tied it up, Cash's Wikipedia page was updated to note that he is the manager of the Dodgers, working as a double agent.

That actually makes more sense than Cash's excuse.
I was watching on mute until the last of the ninth. And – no surprise – I heard John Smoltz being an idiot immediately, when he warned the Dodgers against counting outs . . . with two outs to go. That silly warning should have been given after the Dodgers took the lead and the Rays were batting in the seventh. Nine outs is too many outs to take a win for granted. But two? (The last batter of the season is on deck!)

And then after it was all over, Smoltz said this:
Blake Snell pitched the game of his life, but in the end, the Dodgers were just too much.
What?? In the game I watched, the Dodgers didn't do shit with Snell. He was toying with them.

More like this:
Blake Snell pitched the game of his life, but in the end, his manager had the power to take him out of the game.
Finally, plate umpire Jerry Meals made two of the more horrendous calls you'll see in the first two innings.

First, there was a called strike (#2) on Margot in the top of the first. Meals probably blew the call on pitch #3 as well.

He called a strike on an identical pitch (#3) to LA's Will Smith in the bottom of the second, while also blowing the call on pitch #1:

Meals was not alone in in having zero clue how to call low pitches in or below the zone. Pitches along the bottom of the zone were really a crap shoot in every game.

Robots, now!

The most recent shot in the Giants-Dodgers feud!
Blake Snell / Tony Gonsolin

The Dodgers could win their first title in 32 years tonight.

However, teams with a 3-2 lead in the World Series have won the championship fewer than two-thirds of the time (65.7%, 44 of 67).

Manfred Is A Tone-Deaf Embarrassment Who Decided To Shit All Over An Exciting World Series By Whining About Money And Hoping Fans (Many Of Whom Are Now Unemployed And In Poverty During An Out-Of-Control Pandemic) Will Feel Sorry For Billionaires

Craig Calcaterra despises commissioner Rob Manfred far more eloquently than I do, so . . .

Game 6 is tonight, not that the Commissioner of Friggin' Baseball is all that interested in hyping it up. He'd much rather talk about money because, well, money. . . .

Yesterday was the final off-day of the baseball season, and there was a lot to think about and discuss. . . . So of course Rob Manfred decided to shove all of that aside in an effort to make the headlines all about money.

Specifically, he gave an interview to Sportico in which he claimed that the league's owners have gone $8.3 billion in debt and will post nearly $3 billion in operational losses due to the pandemic. He said, "We are going to be at historic high levels of debt. And it's going to be difficult for the industry to weather another year where we don't have fans in the ballpark and have other limitations on how much we can't play and how we can play."

Which is to say, he shit all over the World Series in the interest of advancing his and the owners' financial agenda. Think about how horrible a leader and ambassador of the game Rob Manfred is that he chose to willingly steal the spotlight away from Clayton Kersahw, Randy Arozarena, Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, Walker Buehler, Manual Margot and all of the other great players we've been watching for the last week and, instead, decided to make the financial woes of 30 billionaires the story of the day.

I realize how important it is for Manfred to get out in front of the bad press he and the owners he leads are getting for laying off hundreds of low-paid front office workers . . . but you'd think that could wait even a couple of days until we're actually in the offseason . . .

The man is absolutely tone deaf. He either does not understand why people watch baseball or he simply does not care. There is no other explanation for him giving that interview now. What an absolute embarrassment that was. What an absolute embarrassment he is for the game. . . .

So, since Manfred inserted it into the news cycle, let’s talk about the merits of all of that. . . .

Evan Drellich of The Athletic has an overarching story about the hundreds and hundreds of layoffs being made by big league clubs. The scope is big and continues to grow . . .

No one disputes that there have been substantial losses due to the pandemic. . . . Is Manfred's claim of nearly $3 billion correct, though? I have no idea, but I doubt it.

Neither Manfred, his predecessors, nor any owners outside of the publicly-owned Atlanta [team] have ever shown the public their books to prove the massive losses they claim to have suffered (and it's a pretty common claim throughout history). . . . They have zero credibility when it comes to any specific numbers they cite and no news outlet that runs them uncritically or without noting that they are unsubstantiated should be taken seriously . . .

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed. Which means that Republican presidents have now appointed 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court justices. This despite Republicans having lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. In case you want to know how well democracy is working.

October 25, 2020

World Series Game 5: Dodgers 4, Rays 2

Dodgers - 210 010 000 - 4  6  1 
Rays    - 002 000 000 - 2  7  0  
The Dodgers extinguished any lingering momentum the Rays might have possessed from their improbable victory in Game 4 by scoring one run after only two at-bats, adding a second run later in the inning and taking a 3-0 lead with a leadoff home run in the second. The Rays trailed for the entire nine innings.

Clayton Kershaw (5.2-5-2-2-6, 85) was not as sharp as he was in Game 1, but he was able to work out of a couple of jams, including a first-and-third-and-no-outs situation in the fourth. He retired his final seven batters, before manager Dave Roberts turned the task of getting the final 10 outs to the bullpen. The Rays managed only one runner as far as second base against a trio of Los Angeles relievers.

Mookie Betts put Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow under pressure immediately, doubling to left on the eighth pitch of his first-inning at-bat. Corey Seager, who had a 1.560 OPS through the first four games, grounded a single into right field, putting the Rays in a hole they never climbed out of. It was also Seager's fifth hit in his last five at-bats, something no Dodger hitter had ever done in the World Series.

After Justin Turner struck out, Glasnow's 0-2 pitch to Max Muncy was in the dirt, and rolled a little ways away from Rays catcher Mike Zunino. Seager took off and was safe at second. Glasnow reacted by throwing three more balls and walking Muncy. 

He recovered to strike out Will Smith, but history repeated itself on an 0-2 pitch to Cody Bellinger. Again, the ball had barely escaped Zunino's glove when Seager dashed for third. A second wild pitch. Bellinger grounded the next pitch into the shift. Second baseman Brandon Lowe, in short right, slid to his right to grab it, but he had no play, and Seager scored. Glasnow fanned Chris Taylor, prompting Fox's Joe Buck to erroneously claim the Rays pitcher had "struck out the side". What he had done is throw 34 pitches, the most in any first inning of his regular season or postseason starts.

And for the fourth consecutive game in this World Series, at least one run was scored in the top of the first inning. That has happened in only one other WS, when the Yankees swept the Cubs in 1932.

Yandy Díaz led off the Rays first with a single up the middle but Randy Arozarena hit into a double play and Lowe fouled to the catcher. (On Fox, John Smoltz said no matter how long your pitching career might be, having a double play turned behind you feels great, especially in the early innings, because "you never want to get off to a bad start". I was so knocked out by this insight into the mindset of a major league pitcher, I had to share it with you. I'm sure you got as much out of it as I did.)

Glasnow struggled in the second, as well. Joc Pederson crushed a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field, a solo home run to left-center. Again, Glasnow seemed momentarily rattled, walking Austin Barnes on four pitches. But Barnes was thrown out trying to steal and although Glasnow walked Seager and his rhythm appeared off, he finished the inning without additional trouble.

(Pederson's long ball meant Tampa Bay's starting pitcher in each of the five games has allowed at least one dong, giving the 2020 Rays membership in a small group consisting of the 1925 Pirates, 1970 Reds, 1995 Clevelands, and the 1997 Marlins.)

Manuel Margot led off the Tampa second with a bunt single towards third base and was on second with one out. Kershaw stranded the runner by getting Joey Wendle on a called strike three and Willy Adames on a grounder to third.

Muncy led off the top of the third with a single and went to second on Glasnow's third wild pitch of the night, but he was stranded there. When Kevin Kiermaier beat out a tapper to the mound to start the bottom of the third, Game 5 became the second game in postseason history where each of the first six half-innings began with a hit (the first was 2014 NLCS 4 between Cardinals and Giants). With one out, Díaz lined a triple to right that skipped past Betts's left side and went into the corner. Arozarena hammered a high pitch into left for a single and the Dodgers' lead was cut to 3-2. The inning was abruptly ended when Lowe struck out and Arozarena was thrown out trying to steal.

Glasnow retired the Dodgers in order in the fourth, snapping their streak of 13 straight inning with at least one baserunner. The Rays had a golden opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth. Margot walked and took off for second on Kershaw's first pitch to Hunter Renfroe. Margot stole the base and Smith's throw to second was not caught by Taylor. The ball went into shallow right-center and Margot made a late decision to go for third. He was safe, but it was close; the call was upheld on a challenge. When Renfroe eventually walked, the Rays at runners at the corners and no outs.

Kershaw and the Dodgers snuffed out the rally with only seven pitches. Wendle popped up a 1-0 pitch to shortstop, Adames struck out on three pitches, and with Kiermaier at the plate with a 0-1 count, Margot tried to steal home when Kershaw went into a long set with his hands above his head. Kershaw's throw home was high and away, but Smith was still able to get the tag down on Margot. (The last runner to be caught trying to steal home in a World Series game was Shane Mack of the Twins, in Game 4 of the 1991 WS against Atlanta.

The Dodgers have turned answering any Rays runs with runs of their own into an art in this series. This time they answered Tampa Bay's squander with a run, when Muncy belted a two-out (of course) home run to right-center, giving them a 4-2 lead.

Muncy's dong extended the Dodgers' streak of postseason games with multiple home runs to eight games. They had established a new record in Game 4, topping the 2019-20 Yankees' mark of six games. Also, Pederson and Muncy are the eighth and ninth Dodgers to hit home runs in this World Series. Having nine different dongers is a new World Series record, surpassing the 1989 Athletics (eight).

Glasnow (5-6-4-3-7, 102) achieved a couple of distinctions he won't put on his resume. He is the first pitcher to strike out seven or more batters in multiple games of the same World Series and lose them both. And he is the first pitcher in postseason history to throw three wild pitches and allow multiple home runs in the same game.

Kershaw had a clean fifth, with two strikeouts, and got the first two Rays in the sixth before Roberts went to Dustin May. It was a wildly unpopular decision among the Dodger fans in attendance, but May's performance justified the call. He got the final out of the sixth, pitched a perfect seventh, and after a leadoff single in the eighth, got the first out. 

Ji-Man Choi was announced as a pinch-hitter for Díaz. Roberts called on lefty Victor González. Rays manager Kevin Cash countered by having Mike Brosseau pinch-hit for Choi, giving Tampa Bay the platoon advantage with two right-handed hitters. It was the second time in this series Choi has been announced as a pinch hitter and then replaced before getting a chance to bat. The only other player in World Series history to have that happen twice is Don Mincher of the Athletics (1972, Games 5 and 6).

González and Brosseau (the potential tying run) battled for nine pitches (#6 was wild, putting Kiermaier at second) and Brosseau won, drawing a walk. Down by two, runners at first and second, one out, with Arozarena and Lowe due up. It was a promising situation for the Rays, but it ended in a relative eyeblink. A-Roz went after the first pitch, a low, outside slider, and skied to Bellinger in right-center. Lowe hit a 0-1 pitch to shallow right-center and Bellinger ran in and caught that one on the run. It was the second major squander of the night for Tampa Bay.

Facing Blake Treinen in the bottom of the ninth, Margot singled to center, again giving the Rays the opportunity to bring the potential tying run to the plate three times. Austin Meadows, who had batted for Renfroe in the seventh, swung under and missed a high 1-2 fastball for the first out. Treinen jammed Lowe, which resulted in a routine fly to center. Adames was the Rays' last hope. Treinen threw him four low sinkers. He fouled the first one at the plate, swung and missed the second, took the third, and swung and missed the fourth.

This game was the 28th consecutive World Series game in which both teams have scored, a new record. The last WS shutout was Game 3 of the 2016 World Series (Cleveland 1, Cubs 0).

The Dodgers lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is Tuesday night, with the Dodgers as the home team.

Clayton Kershaw / Tyler Glasnow

Scoring In Eight Consecutive Half-Innings (A World Series Record)

The Rays and Dodgers scored in eight consecutive half-innings in Game 4 last night, setting a new World Series record.

Dodgers - 101 011 210 - 7 15 1 Rays - 000 113 102 - 8 10 0
They shattered the previous record of six straight half-innings, set by the Yankees and Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1947 World Series, on October 2, 1947.
Yankees - 002 221 100 - 8 13 0 Dodgers - 061 200 00x - 9 13 1
None of the previous 1,667 postseason games had scoring in eight consecutive half-innings, according to Jayson Stark and STATS. The Rays had never played such a game until last night. 

Stark wrote that the Dodgers have had five games with runs in at least eight consecutive half-innings in the last 120 years, but none since 2001, more than 3,000 regular-season games ago. . . . But he doesn't tell us when those five games were played! . . . "Since 2001": does that mean one of the games was in 2000?

Needless to say, my scorecard was a mess:

Much to my ongoing dismay, I have discovered that when you type on a keyboard far more often than you physically write with your hand, your handwriting goes completely to shit. It's very hard to fix. I've tried to consciously slow down and attempt to make each letter a distinct entity and I can't really do it. I'm thinking I need to re-teach myself to make the proper shapes for letters. I wonder how long that would take. I am also highly skeptical that I would practice on a regular basis to make sure I didn't undo it all.

Brett Phillips: "It's Honestly Hard To Believe Right Now That That Just Happened."

Brett Phillips, newest World Series hero:
It's honestly hard to believe right now that that just happened.
Juan Toribio, mlb.com:
Brett Phillips grew up a Rays fan. He remembers shouting at the top of his lungs at every key moment in franchise history, including when the club made the World Series for the first time in 2008.

Phillips dreamed of playing for the Rays in a World Series, playing that scenario over and over again in his backyard. On Saturday, that dream came to life as Phillips delivered the most memorable play in franchise history, a two-out, game-tying RBI single followed by two Dodgers errors that gave Tampa Bay an 8-7, Game 4 victory over the Dodgers in one of the most improbable finishes in World Series history, tying the Fall Classic at two games apiece.

"To know the backstory, is to know the story," Phillips said. "When these guys were in the World Series, I was in eighth grade watching them. And now to be a part of it, helping these guys win a World Series game . . ."
Phillips's hit moved the Rays' win probability from 19% to 100%.

Top Three Plays In World Series History, By Win Probability Added

1988 Game 1 - 87% - Dodgers - With his team trailing 3-4, Kirk Gibson hit a two-out, game-winning home run off Dennis Eckerlsey of the Athletics.

1947 Game 4 - 82% - Dodgers - Cookie Lavagetto's game-winning, two-run double also broke up a no-hit bid by the Yankees' Bill Bevens.

2020 Game 4 - 81% - Rays - Brett Phillips's single and a Dodgers error give the Rays two runs and a series-tying win.

Jayson Stark, The Athletic:
There has never, ever been a player less likely to get a hit that resulted in his team winning on a World Series walk-off than Brett Phillips.

Why do I say that? This is why I say that:

HE HADN'T GOTTEN A HIT IN A MONTH! Before Saturday, Phillips' last hit was on Sept. 25. He got this one on Oct. 24. So that means he went 28 consecutive days in between without getting any hits. Thanks to amazing work by STATS Perform's Sam Hovland, we can report that's the most consecutive hitless days by any player before he got a hit as the final batter in a World Series walk-off win.

The previous record-holder, according to STATS: It's good old Cookie Lavagetto again. His big hit was on Oct. 3. His previous hit: Sept. 11. That’s 21 hitless days in between.

HE HADN'T HAD AN AT-BAT IN TWO AND A HALF WEEKS! Before he stepped to the plate on Saturday, Phillips hadn't had an at-bat in any game since Oct. 7. And yep, that too is a record for most consecutive days without a plate appearance before one of these hits.

The old record: Angel Mangual, of the 1972 A's, hadn't been to the plate since Oct. 11 when he got a walk-off pinch hit in Game 4 of that World Series, on Oct. 19.

HE'D HIT UNDER .200 THREE YEARS IN A ROW! The whole Brett Phillips story is something, all right – for many reasons. But this would be one: His batting average this season, for the Rays and Royals, was .196. His average for the Royals last year? That was .138. The year before that? How about .187, for the Royals and Brewers.

And then he got this hit? You can't make this stuff up.

According to STATS, he's the only player to hit under .200 during one regular season – let alone three straight – and then get a hit as the last batter of a World Series walk-off win that season. The previous record for lowest average by a player who did that? Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz batted .219 in 2008, then won Game 3 of that World Series on a walk-off infield dribbler at 1:47 a.m.

HE'D DRIVEN IN TWO RUNS ALL YEAR ON HITS THAT WEREN'T HOMERS! Phillips is a man who drove in five runs all season – but just two of them came via hits like this one, that stayed inside the park. Not surprisingly, no other walk-off hero in history has ever had that few non-homer RBIs in a season that led up to one of these walk-off World Series hits we've been writing so eloquently about.

The old record was eight, by Cookie Lavagetto, the year of his big hit in 1947.

HE'D NEVER GOTTEN A POSTSEASON HIT! How about having no career postseason hits and then getting this hit? Cool as that is, Phillips does have a little company in this claim to fame. According to STATS, two other players got a hit like this for their first career postseason hit:

First Career Postseason Hit As Last Batter Of Game In A World Series Walk-Off Win
Dusty Rhodes, Giants - 1954 WS Game 1 vs Cleveland
Bill Bruton, Milwaukee - 1958 WS Game 1 vs Yankees
Brett Phillips, Rays - 2020 WS Game 4 vs Dodgers

HE'D NEVER GOTTEN A WALK-OFF HIT! This was Phillips' fourth big-league season. He owned zero career walk-off hits in the regular season. Then he got this hit. He actually doesn't stand alone in that category. Here are the four other players in the Wild Card era to get a hit as the final batter of a World Series walk-off win before they got a regular-season (or any other postseason) walk-off hit:

Scott Podsednik, White Sox: 2005 World Series Game 2
David Freese, Cardinals: 2011 World Series Game 6
Alex Bregman, Astros: 2017 World Series Game 5
Max Muncy, Dodgers: 2018 World Series Game 3

You should know, by the way, that Brett Phillips recognizes just how implausible it was that he was the guy who did what he did. He even expressed sympathy for his manager, Kevin Cash, that this game somehow came down to him.

"That shows again," Phillips said, cheerily, "why Cash is the man … because I'm sure that he was like, 'Ohhhh no. We've gotta go to the last guy on the bench!'" . . .

Did these teams just score in every half-inning?

Nah, I exaggerated that part. But they did score in every half-inning from the bottom of the fourth inning through the top of the eighth. And that's eight half-innings in a row.

So how many times had that happened in any World Series game ever played? Never, of course.

And how many times had it happened, for that matter, in any of the previous 1,667 postseason games ever played in any round? Once again, the correct answer is never.

The Rays have been around for 23 seasons. They've played over 3,600 regular-season games. How many times before Saturday had they gotten mixed up in a game with runs scored in eight consecutive half-innings, according to STATS? Repeat after me one more time: Never!

Only the Dodgers, who have been in business for over a century, had an experience with a game like this. They've actually had it happen five times in the last 120 seasons – but none since 2001, which was more than 3,000 regular-season games ago.

And then this happened in one of the wildest, weirdest World Series games ever played? Sure it did!

It was impossible for the Dodgers to lose – but they did

I want you to consider what the Dodgers did in this game. They held a lead, at some point, in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings in this game…and they lost. Try that sometime on your Xbox.

But also …

• The Dodgers got 15 hits in this game – and they lost. Only one team in history – Willie Stargell's 1979 Pirates – ever got more hits (17) and lost a World Series game. And just Snuffy Stirnweiss' 1947 Yankees and Willie McGee's 1982 Cardinals ever got 15 on the nose and lost.

• The Dodgers also scored in six different innings in this game – and they lost. According to STATS, just three other teams have ever done that. And they were in three of the wildest World Series games of all time: The 1993 Phillies in the fabled 15-14 game, the 2011 Rangers in that classic Game 6 and the Dodgers in their mind-boggling 13-12 loss to the Astros in Game 5, 2017. Only that 15-14 game was a nine-inning game like this one, by the way.

• And one more thing: The Dodgers' relentless offense didn't go down 1-2-3 in a single inning on Saturday – and they still lost.

So how impossible was it to do all of that and not win? They're the first team in World Series history to get that many hits, score in that many innings, have zero 1-2-3 innings and still lose. So we'd say it was just about impossible, except for one thing:

Somehow or other, it happened.
As Stark would say: "Baseball!"

October 24, 2020

World Series Game 4: Rays 8, Dodgers 7

Dodgers - 101 011 210 - 7 15  1
Rays    - 000 113 102 - 8 10  0 
Brett Phillips had not batted in 17 days. He started the 2020 season in Kansas City and was traded to the Rays at the end of August. In 20 at-bats with Tampa Bay, he hit only .150. He felt the weight of the World Series on his shoulders as he stepped in against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. The Rays trailed by one run. They had men at first and second, but there were two outs. Tampa Bay was in serious danger of falling behind in the series 1-3 and having to face Clayton Kershaw in a must-win game.

Jansen started the inning by striking out Yoshi Tsutsugo. Kevin Kiermaier blooped a single into right-center. In the Rays bullpen, both Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell (the Game 1 and Game 2 starters) were warming up. Joey Wendle's liner to left-center was caught in the gap by Joc Pederson.

The Dodgers decided to pitch to Randy Arozarena (who hit his ninth home run of the postseason earlier in the game) rather than intentionally walking him and putting the winning run on base. But Jansen ended up walking him anyway. Or did he?

In an alternate robot-umpire universe, Jansen's seventh pitch, low in the zone, was called strike three. The Dodgers won 7-6 and would try to win their first championship since 1988 tomorrow night.

However, in this universe, human beings are still tasked with calling balls and strikes and they are, for reasons both ophthalmological and emotional, unfit for the task. Plate umpire Chris Guccione blew the full count call, costing the Dodgers a key World Series victory. (That bad call alone should be enough reason to move to an electronic strike zone.) In fact, Guccione got the call wrong on three of his final four pitches, a shocking level of incompetence that should forever bar him from postseason assignments.

Jansen came inside on Phillips and Guccione called ball one. That was a correct call, but he missed the next two. Jansen's subsequent offerings were too far inside (called strike 1) and too far outside (called strike 2). The Rays should have been one pitch away from loading the bases. Instead, they were one strike away from a 7-6 defeat.

Phillips lined the next pitch, a sinker low and away, into right-center field. Chris Taylor, who had moved from left to center in the seventh, raced to the ball. He failed to glove it cleanly and it sailed away to his left. He chased after it and quickly threw it into the infield. Kiermaier scored, tying the game at 7-7. Arozarena, in a dead sprint from first, stumbled rounding third and pitched forward, tumbling to the ground. Somehow he had the presence of mind to go into a roll which allowed him to pop back up very quickly.

LA first baseman Max Muncy took Taylor's throw and fired the ball to catcher Will Smith. It looked like the Dodgers would have Arozarena in a rundown. The Rays rookie was back on his feet and hurriedly trying to get back to third. Muncy's throw was off target, wide of the plate to the first base side. Smith was well set-up for a possible sweep tag on the runner, but the ball glanced off the tip of his mitt and caromed into foul territory. Arozarena saw that and reversed direction, running a bit before diving for the dish. There was no play. He slapped the plate with his hand several times, and then simply lay there, smiling in disbelief, looking out at the field as the shocked Dodgers abandoned the diamond and Phillips's teammates chased the unlikely hero around the infield and into left-center field.

The ending left me in shock, staring at the TV screen, wondering exactly what I had just seen. (I was not alone.) Watching it live, I was not sure how the ball had gotten away from Smith. For whatever reason, I never expected the Rays to come out on top in this game, and then for that to happen, on a play on which the Dodgers committed two errors (even though only one was charged), it left me dumbfounded.

Arozarena tumbles and rolls as Muncy is about to throw home.

Smith is unable to catch the ball. One amazing aspect of the replays is how umpire Cuccione is not in any position to make a call. He's standing around as if the game is actually in a commercial break. A throw has been made to the catcher, there is a runner between third and home, and it's the bottom of the ninth in a tied World Series game, while Guccione wonders when the next bus is due to arrive. When the errant baseball hits his leg, he seems surprised a ball was in play.

Arozarena is making moves to go back to third as the ball get through the umpire.

Arozarena slides in with the winning run.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is not happy with how the game ended.

The Rays are having fun chasing Phillips.

Roberts contemplates the vastness of space, the void that is sky, the insignificance of human life, and the eternal enemy, loneliness, which is timeless, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting.

The series is tied 2-2.

Before the night's final play, the Rays had to have extremely frustrated by the Dodgers' seemingly super-natural ability to both rally with two outs and to respond with run(s) every single time the Rays scored. Saturday's game featured a World Series record eight consecutive half-innings in which runs were scored. The Dodgers answered Tampa Bay's scoring with run(s) of their own in four out of four chances in Game 4. In the World Series, they have done so in eight of 11 opportunities.

I couldn't stand the thought (or the sound) of another evening filled with John Smoltz's hectoring, so I tried the international radio option. After I heard someone referred to as Andy, I discovered it was the Rays regular radio guys, Andy Freed and Dave Wills. They were level-headed and seemed very intent on calling the game rather than blabbing away. I was pleased. . . . (Neither-A-Spoiler-Nor-A-Surprise: I would soon not be pleased.)

The Dodgers had baserunners in every inning. In the three innings they failed to score, they had a man at second twice and a runner at first. Justin Turner became the first player in World Series history to go deep in the first inning of consecutive games when he redirected a 2-0 pitch from Ryan Yarbrough over the center field fence. 

Arozarena singled in the first and ended the inning when he was thrown out trying to steal second. Umpire Mark Carlson blew the call, ruling the runner safe. LA challenged the call and while the umps had their headphones on, the play was shown on the videoboard. Arozarena and the Dodgers (and the 11,441 fans) saw the play clearly and all the players promptly walked off the field. Eventually, the umpires confirmed what everyone already knew.

In the second, the Rays radio guys ("RR") commented on Yarbrough's lack of strikes in initial first inning. He did not get a called strike until his 15th pitch (and none of the nine balls before that were even borderline)! Seager had lined out on 3-0 and Turner's homer had come on 2-0. One of them said Yarbrough has been ahead of only Muncy, who grounded on on a 1-2 pitch. They were wrong. Yarbrough was 1-2 on Mookie Betts to start the game before Betts popped up on a full count. 

Turner's first-inning dong came with two outs, as did Corey Seager's homer in the third. The Dodgers put two more runners on base after they led 2-0, but stranded them. Around the third, the RR had been dropping a few "we"s into their patter, which was expected; they've been calling Rays games all summer. But then they started calling Yarbrough "Yarbs" and increasing the frequency with which they referred to Rays by their first names, while also providing opinions about various baseball topics, something that was wonderfully absent in the first two innings. These opinions ranged from silly to strange.

In one amusing moment, Seager's homer came immediately after one of the RR said he had never been so nervous watching an opposing team with two outs and two strikes. Next pitch: BOOM! The RR noted that was the 30th home run allowed by the Rays this postseason, a record. He then praised the Rays press people for including a not-so-cherry tidbit in their game notes because other teams, he said, "particularly those on the east coast, tend not to include anything negative in their team's notes". Fuck the heck? I assume he was referring to either New York or Boston. Anyway, Yarbrough got two outs on six pitches, then needed 19 more to get the elusive third out.

Oh, someone named Dan Johnson apparently threw out the first pitch (did I hear that is was via Zoom from Minnesota?) and the RR praised him as someone who had hit some never-to-be-forgotten postseason home runs for the Rays. In fact, fans up in Boston have a special nickname for him. . . . Really? They have a special nickname for someone no one's ever fucking heard of? Well, whatever he did, it must have been in 2008. . . . I was sure he said "postseason", but no one by that name played in the 2008 ALCS. However, a Dan Johnson did play for the Rays that season, as well as 2010 and 2011. So I looked at his home run log

2008: Johnson hit a game-tying johnson off Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth on September 9. A couple of doubles later in the inning gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 win. On September 15, he homered when the Rays were trailing 13-3.

2010: Johnson hit a game-winning dong off Scott Atchison on August 28, capping off an eight-pitch at-bat. My report on that game does not evidence any emotional trauma. Johnson also homered on September 7 with his team up 12-2, and those are his four homers against the Red Sox in a TBR uniform. 

Conclusion: The RR have an extremely inaccurate idea of what it takes to earn an all-time derogatory nickname among Red Sox fans.

Anyhoo . . . The RR were pinballing between saying there was plenty of time in this game and the Rays were doomed. One of them got super-animated, yelling in that cliched Sunday! Monster Trucks! voice when Arozarena belted a leadoff longball in the fourth to cut LA's lead to 2-1. That touched off an unprecedented run (ha!) of scoring. A single by Seager and a wild pitch by Pete Fairbanks set the table for Muncy's two-out single (LA 3-1). Muncy ended up being tagged out at second on a 9-2-6 play, as he collided with shortstop Willy Adames and both players tumbled off the base.

Hunter Renfroe homered to begin the home fifth (LA 3-2). The importance of this game was emphasized when Rays manager Kevin Cash brought in his closer Diego Castillo in the sixth inning. Castillo faltered, however, walking two Dodgers and giving up a two-out double down the left field line to Kiké Hernández (LA 4-2).

Part of the RR's audio eulogy for the Rays involved saying this postseason experience would help the 2021 team. After all, the Dodgers have been in three of the last four WS and they have shown they can handle whatever comes at them. The RR claimed the Dodgers players had gotten better during the regular seasons because of their postseason experience. That seems dubious, but the upshot was, having the Rays lose the WS would not be a total disaster; it would make "us" more experienced and a better team next year.

The Rays wanted to be better tonight. Arozarena opened the bottom of the sixth with a single off Blake Treinen. (On-screen WS factoid: Rays inning-leadoff hitters: 2-for-29 through tonight's third inning; 3-for-3 with 2 HR in the last three innings) Pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi got ahead 3-0 before walking on a full-count.

After Treinen struck out another pinch-hitter, Austin Meadows, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in Pedro Báez to face Brandon Lowe .  . . who belted a three-run homer to left-center. (RR: "Don't stop now, boys!!") (TB 5-4) Báez is the first pitcher in Dodgers postseason history to give up a lead-flipping home run to the first batter faced after entering a game.

Aaron Loup was entrusted with holding the Rays' 5-4 lead. He failed. Seager singled to right and Turner doubled to left-center. With two on, Loup fanned Muncy and departed. Nick Anderson struck out Smith and intentionally walked Cody Bellinger. Pederson pinch-hit and hit a line drive towards right field. Tampa second baseman Lowe was in shallow right in a shift. He semi-slipped moving to his right, so his dive for the ball ended up a few inches too low for a tremendous catch. The ball glanced off the top of his glove and carried on into right field. Two runs scored on the two-out hit, but Bellinger was thrown out at third (LA 6-5).

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Báez surrendered another home run, this time a solo shot to Kiermaier (6-6), which gave the Rays the distinction of being the first team in major league history to hit a home run in four straight innings in a postseason game. Báez then walked Yandy Díaz. Arozarena grounded the ball right over second base, which turned into a 4U-3 double play.

Chris Taylor doubled to base of the wall in left to start the Dodgers eighth. Hernández tried to bunt and popped up to third. Betts grounded to shortstop, Adames looking the runner back before throwing to first. Seager figured that two outs and two strikes was the perfect time for a bloop single into short left field that scored Taylor (LA 7-6). John Curtiss gave up another hit but got out of the inning without further trouble.

Adam Kolarek walked Choi to start the Rays eighth as Blake Snell began warming up in the bullpen. Meadows flied to center and Lowe struck out. Brusdar Graterol relieved Kolarek and gave up a single to Adames. (RR, prior to hit: "Still waiting for Playoff Willy to show up".) Phillips went in at second base as a pinch-runner for Choi. Graterol's first pitch to Renfroe was almost right down the middle. Guccione called it a ball, possibly the worst called pitch of the entire season. Renfroe flied to right, ending the bottom of the eighth and putting the first "0" on the scoreboard since the top of the fourth.

The Dodgers managed only a two-out single in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for Jansen and Guccione and Phillips.

In the later innings, one of the RR (Dave Wills, I believe) remarked that before the World Series started, he believed the Dodgers were a good team, of course, but "we had just faced the Astros and they are just as good". . . . Say what? The 29-31 Astros are just as good a team as the 43-17 Dodgers? The Astros, with a run differential of +4, are just as good as the Dodgers, with a run differential of +13-fucking-6?

He did say he had underestimated the Dodgers and called them "relentless". And I salute him for admitting (twice, because he repeated it a bit later) such an embarrassing thought. But Holy Christ. The Dodgers' run differential is 132 runs better than the Astros. The difference between the Rays (+60) and the Red Sox (-59) is only 119. And you don't hear too many people saying those teams were pretty much the same in 2020.

Tampa Bay tied a World Series record for a nine-inning game by using 21 players.

Ji-Man Choi is the second player in World Series history to draw two walks and score a run in a game he didn't start. The first was Don Larsen of the Yankees, who relieved Bob Turley in the second inning of Game 3 in 1957.

The Dodgers are the first team to have 15+ hits in a nine-inning World Series game and lose since the Cardinals lost Game 5 in 1982 to the Brewers.

Teammates With Four Hits Each In A World Series Game
George Burns & Frank Snyder, 1921 Yankees, Game 3 vs Giants (13-5 win)
Enos Slaughter & Whitey Kurowski & Joe Garagiola, 1946 Cardinals, Game 4 vs Red Sox (12-3 win)
Paul Molitor & Robin Yount, 1982 Brewers, Game 1 vs Cardinals (10-0 win)
Justin Turner & Corey Seager, 2020 Dodgers, Game 4 vs Rays (7-8 loss)

Teammates Who Allowed Multiple Homers In The Same World Series Game
Bill Sherdel & Grover Cleveland Alexander, 1928 Cardinals, Game 4 vs Yankees (3-7 loss)
Scott Garrelts & Kelly Downs, 1989 Giants, Game 3 vs Athletics (7-13 loss)
Julio Urías & Pedro Báez, 2020 Dodgers, Game 4 vs Rays (7-8 loss)

Julio Urías / Ryan Yarbrough

The 2020 Dodgers score a lot of their runs with two outs. In 15 postseason games, they have scored 50 runs with two outs, and 12 of those 50 runs have come in innings in which the first two hitters were retired.

Elias reports that for teams that played at least 10 games in a postseason (which means only since divisional play began in 1969), Los Angeles has the fourth-best percentage of two-out runs:
1992 Atlanta:   59.3%
2008 Red Sox: 58.7%
2010 Giants: 57.6%
2020 Dodgers: 57.4%
1975 Reds: 56.3%
Before this year, the record for two-out runs in a single postseason belonged to the 2004 Red Sox, who played 14 games and scored 46 runs with two outs.

The Red Sox's search for the team's next manager is well underway.

Various reports state they have interviewed six candidates: Cubs third-base coach Will Venable, Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, Marlins bench coach James Rowson, Padres associate manager Skip Schumaker, Twins bench coach Mike Bell, and Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta (who was interviewed last year before Ron Roenicke was hired).

The Red Sox also want to interview Dodgers first-base coach George Lombard, but that will have to wait until the World Series is over. 

When The Worst Umpires Are Assigned To Work The World Series, They Are Going To Affect The Games

Umpire Todd Tichenor impacted Game 2 of the World Series in a way no professional umpire should ever impact a game.

MLB thinks it's fine and dandy to have the 40th-best umpire behind the plate for a World Series game. Now I'll admit, I've never served as the commissioner of a major professional sports league, but if someone were to ask for my opinion, if MLB needs six umpires for the most important games of the year, for the games players dream about their entire lives, my suggestion would be: PICK THE TOP SIX UMPIRES.

Adam Sanford, DRaysBay, October 23, 2020:

Blake Snell was absolutely fantastic during his first outing of the World Series . . . The former Cy Young award winner had a no-hit performance against one of the best offenses in baseball through four and two-thirds innings pitched. . . .

Snell became just the third pitcher to have two strikeouts in four consecutive innings, joining Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. . . .

Prior to Wednesday's game, I had no idea who Todd Tichenor was; now, I loathe him.

According to the twitter account Umpire Scorecards, Todd Tichenor had an absolutely horrid night behind the plate. . . .  When a pitch was in the zone, Tichenor got the call wrong a stunning 1/4th of the time. He real problem was the bottom of the zone where it seems he just could not accurately judge that a pitch was a strike.

Sanford goes on to show how, with two outs in the fifth, Tichenor completely screwed the pooch with Snell's pitches to Enrique Hernandez, shit the bed with Snell's pitches to Chris Taylor, and put his ass in the jackpot with Snell's pitches to Mookie Betts.

After the game, Snell refused to say if the calls frustrated him (though his non-answer was a clear answer). "You trying to get me in trouble," he told the reporter. "That's what you're trying to do."

One semi-related question: How does a writer for DRaysBay not know who Tichenor is before last night?

Umpire Auditor reports that Tichenor had exactly the kind of shitty performance one would expect from a shitty umpire.

And yet Tichenor was actually an improvement over the Mr. Magoo who called pitches in Game 1. 

Laz Diaz was ranked 68th out of 89 umpires. In 2019, Diaz was tied for 85th (which was dead last) in correct call percentage.

That was who MLB decided should call balls and strikes in Game 1 of the World Series. The worst ball-and-strike-calling umpire in the major leagues.

While researching this post, I read a comment that using human umpires to call balls and strikes is like having guys with tape measures deciding the Olympic long-jumping competition.