“That cannot happen.”
These were the words of TV color commentator Mike Krukow Sunday, after Giants rookie Kensuke Tanaka was thrown out at second base on a didn’t-have-to-advance situation, down 3-1 in the ninth inning.
Krukow was right, albeit supremely inconsistent. What also cannot happen is Buster Posey getting thrown out at home plate in the sixth inning.
Trailing the Diamondbacks 1-0 in the sixth, Pablo Sandoval followed a leadoff walk to Posey by lacing a double up the left-center gap. Instead of settling for runners at second and third with no outs and Hunter Pence coming up, however, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery played the situation over-aggressively by waving Posey home. The Giants’ catcher got cut down at the plate by a perfect relay from Diamondbacks shortstop Cliff Pennington, as pointed out by manager Bruce Bochy in the postgame press conference.
“[H]e just made a great relay throw, I don’t know what else to tell you,” Bochy said. “It obviously looked like Buster was going to make it, and the shortstop came up firing and made a great throw. You hate to see that happen, but give them credit for executing.”
I have to take the blame for the ineptitude to follow, because I wasn’t there to ask the obvious follow-up question: Was sending Posey home the right call in that situation?
The obvious answer: Absolutely not.
Flannery blew it. It’s improper baseball to risk making the first out of the inning at home plate in a 1-0 game with one of the team’s best RBI men due up. Sure, everybody makes mistakes. But it was a mistake. And the collective ability of the Giants’ broadcast team to flat-out bullshit its audience is a shame, which only serves to highlight the difference between ethics and entertainment. And Sunday’s broadcast is a prime example that television – as entertainment – is not burdened by a responsibility to tell the truth.
By not properly analyzing the situation, Krukow blew it. Then during the postgame commentary, in-studio co-anchor Shawn Estes also blew it. So did play-by-play commentator Duane Kuiper. They all protected Flannery by not scrutinizing the coaching decision. Only in-studio anchor Greg Papa questioned the call. That’s an important distinction, as Krukow, Kuiper, and Estes are all ex-players. I usually try to keep my opinions about the boys club that continues to overtake the baseball media to myself. But not today.
Granted, a half hour of spin control later, Sportsnet got Flannery on TV scrutinizing the play himself.
“That can’t happen,” Flannery said. “I feel responsible for the game. I feel responsible for [Madison Bumgarner] not getting a win, and getting the loss. It comes with the territory over there. There’s days you have a moment where you help win games, then occasionally you’re in the middle of helping lose a game. And that’s how I felt today.”
An interview followed with Bumgarner, in which the losing pitcher defended his coach – as it should be. But that’s where the boys club should end. When it carries over to the media, that’s a problem.
I love Kruk & Kuip as much as anyone. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Giants baseball is one of the best shows on television. But today I’m calling bullshit. The Giants broadcast team covered up a terrible call today. And they know it.