Karma Smiles on San Francisco Giants

Categories: Sports
Keep your eye on the ball...
Those who believe that a Supreme Being, The Force, or supernatural entities actually influence the outcomes of sporting contests aren't always the most credible sorts. But you have to admit that the San Francisco Giants are in the midst of an almost karmic series of downs and ups.

On Sunday, a gratuitously blown call by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi kept San Francisco from scoring what would have been the winning tally in a three-run, ninth-inning rally. The team went on to lose to the New York Mets in 10. But, a scant 48 hours later, a crucial umpires' error played a key role in a Giants victory.

Don mattingly.jpg
Don Mattingly's happy feet shouldn't have punished his team...
In a bizarre circumstance, acting Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly visited ace reliever Jonathan Broxton in the ninth inning of Tuesday's contest -- then pivoted and went back to speak with him some more after initially walking back toward the dugout. Giants' manager Bruce Bochy successfully argued that this walkabout constituted two separate visits to the mound -- and, on a manager's second visit to the mound, the pitcher must be removed. All-Star Broxton gave way for George "Who Dat?" Sherrill -- who promptly served up a two-run double to Andres Torres. Would Broxton have given up a booming double and blown the game? Perhaps. But, as a fan, you're a lot happier when you see Sherrill trotting out of the bullpen in a critical situation.

Here's the rub: According to insiders contacted by ESPN, an obscure addendum to the rule requiring pitchers to be removed from the game if the manager visits the mound twice in an inning should have been considered -- and Broxton should not have been required to hit the showers in this key situation. Here's the nitty-gritty:

"In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a baserunner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game."

It wasn't until after Tuesday's game that the umpires realized they'd made a mistake. And by then it was too late.

The conventional wisdom of the strikes and gutters of a long season is that "it all evens out." But it doesn't. Luck is a random thing, and bizarre foul-ups by officiating crews are more random still -- you will likely live the rest of your days and never see another game decided because of the addendum to rule 8.06(b) regarding mound visits.

So it's a stretch to think a higher power was righting a wrong committed against the Giants. But it is tempting to think that, if there is such a higher power -- it hates the Dodgers.

Coda: Yesterday's 2-0 loss was not karmic. Like a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, it was just one of those things.

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