One more about Game 5:
When a player has such an epic failure on such an large stage as Elvis Andrus had or as Nelson Cruz had or as Bill Buckner had, that player is, right or wrong, forever defined by that one play.
So, is it fair to define Elvis Andrus on that one inning where his disastrous mental meltdown caused him to make three misplays in a row?
I say, no. Don’t define Elvis Andrus by that one inning.
Define Elvis Andrus by that one game.
Elvis had more than that one miserable, embarrassing, almost unfathomable epic fail of an inning. He failed on so many levels, in so many different situations, that remembering him for The Seventh Inning doesn’t tell the true story of his failure.
In the second inning, he failed to execute a critical bunt. Elvis Andrus has played 1074 regular season games in his career. He has been called on to bunt hundreds of times. He is not particularly good at it. That’s one of the reasons Banister removed him from the number-two slot in the lineup. Sure, there are times when he does lay down a perfectly executed bunt. But so do most pitchers. There are far too many times, though, that he fails to do this simple, rudimentary, yet strategically important task.
Instead of moving the runner to second, he ended up bunting into a fielder’s choice. Instead of a runner at second with one out, there was a runner at first with one out. Those ninety feet are ninety miles in a Game 5.
It immediately came back to haunt the Rangers when Rougned Odor singled, which would have scored Hamilton from second had Elvis not erased him, had Elvis not bunted right back to the pitcher.
So, should his lapses into defensive breakdowns as was put on grand display in The Seventh define his career? Or should his inability to lay down a sacrifice bunt in a critical situation define it?
After Chris Gimenez struck out, there were runners at first and second with two outs. Elvis’s lack of baseball discipline would surface once again.
You do not tug on Superman’s cape, you do not spit in the wind, and you do not pull the mask off the Lone Ranger and you do not make the third out at third base.
Elvis made the third out at third base.
He was thrown out attempting to steal, single-handedly killing a rally twice in one inning.
So, should the defensive collapse in The Seventh in which he single-handedly killed the Rangers hopes three time in one inning define his career? Or should his inability to play fundamentally smart baseball on a consistent basis and when it really counts define it?
In the eighth inning, with the tying runs on first and second, and the Rangers desperately needing to score in order to show signs of life, Elvis came up to bat with two outs.
Elvis said he went up to the plate hoping to tie the game. Was he actually swinging for the fences? His seven home runs this year were a career high. But seven home runs does not make one a home run hitter. Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner had five.
Elvis meekly struck out. Thus ended the Rangers’ last rally of 2015.
So, should one inning of defensive Hara-Kari define his career? Or should a mostly three-year slide into offensive oblivion in which Rangers third base coach told him he is not a very good shortstop define it?
Don’t get me wrong. Elvis has had flashes of brilliance. He will make plays that make you think a man fan fly. This was the guy who made a breathtaking mad dash home in the last Game 5 he was in, against Tampa Bay, that seemed to fire off his team’s collective endorphins. This was the guy who made a daring steal of home in a critical game in early September. This is the guy who seemed to rejuvenate his career in the second half, when offensively it had been left for dead.
This is the guy who peaked early, signed a huge long-term contract extension, then has wallowed in head-scratching inconsistency and mediocrity ever since. This is the guy they write articles about entitled, Is Elvis Andrus the worst shortstop in basball. This is the guy who was named the second worst play in the major leagues earlier this year.
One inning should not define Elvis’s career. One game should not define Elvis’s career.
Elvis’s career should define Elvis’s career.