As we prepare for baseball, a re-post from October 1, 2014, after one of the best games of all time. This is why baseball is the greatest sport in the world. Enjoy.
As the game last night was moving along, I wrote three articles for today.
With each amazing twist and turn, I had to trash each one.
In a game with so many story lines and so many amazing comebacks and so many unbelievable turn of events, I will go back to the first thing I wrote about for today, back in the sixth inning, when it looked like all was lost.
Back to the biggest at bat in the game. Josh Donaldson’s.
Josh Donaldson’s at bat in the sixth, with one on and nobody out, and the Athletics down 3-2, was a much bigger at bat than the Brandon Moss home run that followed it. Because that should have never been allowed to happen.
What happened was this:
With Sam Fuld on first, Donaldson worked the count full. Work is the appropriate word here, too. He battled.
With the count 3-2, James Shields fired a fastball on the outside corner, as Fuld was breaking for second. He was thrown out by a mile.
Two outs, one play.
Except, that didn’t happen.
Shields’s pitch was called a ball. That pitch was maybe a sixteenth of an inch off the plate if it was off at all.
Instead of a huge double play, instead of it being two outs with nobody on, it was two on with nobody out.
Then Ned Yost hit the panic button. He pulled out James Shields. His ace. His ace who had thrown just eighty-two pitches and really wasn’t in any kind of trouble at all.
Fuld’s hit was a cheap broken bat blooper to right. A sixteenth of an inch one way or another on the bat and it’s either a weak ground ball to second or a lazy fly ball to right.
But Ned Yost panicked and forgot the plan. He almost ruined the plan, and the franchise’s near future, altogether.
That plan was to trade their top prospect, Wil Myers, for James Shields. Going into the 2013 season, the Royals felt they were close. All they needed was one ace who could put them over the top, and give them the chance they had been waiting so long for. Wil Myers was a stud, a can’t miss All-Star who could do everything right. You give up a future franchise player like that for one reason. And only one reason.
And that reason was that very moment in the sixth inning with two on and none out.
That moment was exactly why they traded for Shields and gave up so much to get him. It was the one moment you wish your franchise could be in, when the game is on the line and you had an ace who could get you out of it.
It’s the moment that you rely on your ace for to get you out of. Instead, Yost got his ace out of the moment.
A couple of pitches later, Moss hit his second home run of the game, and the Royals were now trailing 5-3. A few batters later, it was 7-3.
It took two unlikely, heart-stopping comebacks, and a couple more at bats that proved to be bigger than Donaldson’s sixth inning at bat, for the Royals to let Yost off the hook.
Otherwise, last night would have been the last time we would have seen two guys in Royals blue. James Shields. And Ned Yost. And the Royals wouldn’t have anything to show for either one of them.