A Stupid Rule

On Sunday (7/11) the Twins blew a game, 7-6, to the Blue Jays when Emilio Pagan gave up two singles and a home run in the 8th inning, but the loss equally belonged to Carlos Correa, whose throw in the dirt on the back end of a sure double play allowed the Jays’ three previous runs to score. One run came in on the play, two more when the next batter hit a home run with two outs. Twins pitcher Louie Varland was charged with three earned runs, because you can’t presume a double play. In other words, if the defense gets the first out on a force, they won’t be charged with an error for not completing the double play, even if the throw from second to first clearly beats the runner. Why not? The throw from second to first is not inherently difficult; infielders practice it all the time, to the point it’s second nature. It’s not like a ground ball that’s “too hot to handle,” or a bad hop that handcuffs the infielder. It’s a play that’s totally within the control and competence of the middle infielder. If he throws wildly, or if the first baseman drops the throw, it’s an error in the mind of everyone but the official scorer. I’ve yet to hear an argument that supports this “rule,” nor can I think of any. Well, something good happened, and you can’t count on anything more. Really? It certainly affects one’s opinion of the fielder’s play, and his evaluation deserves downgrading. More humanely, it’s unfair to the pitcher, in this case Varland, who would have exited the game having given up only one run instead of three had Correa made a halfway decent throw, resulting in a major bump in his ERA. Anyone?
PS: On later thought, I expect the rule’s basis to be the situation where a fielder slightly bobbles the grounder at the start of the play and the resulting throw on to first is late or even not made. In that situation, I can understand that it is too much a judgment call whether a cleanly handled ground ball would have resulted in two outs. But when the throw clearly beats the runner and is dropped, no judgment is required to deduce that the second out should have been made and an error should be charged. (8/7)

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