The Dodgers lost tonight because home plate umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly called out Michael Young on a close play at the plate in the sixth inning. They also lost because Stephen Fife was atrocious, and Don Mattingly is a bunting maniac, and because the offense had 12 hits but could manage only four runs, and because Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier didn’t appear in what was yet another game that ultimately doesn’t impact October that much — if it did, Clayton Kershaw would have started, remember — and because Mark Ellis and Nick Punto both ended innings with two men on base and because Scott Van Slyke isn’t much of an outfielder and because Paul Goldschmidt is a beast and because Yasiel Puig made a dumb mistake in the first inning and because Ronald Belisario struggled badly and because Carlos Marmol and Brandon League and Brian Wilson and Peter Moylan all appeared in the same game and…
…and the point is, a whole hell of a lot goes into losing a single game. It’s not just one bad call or decision or pitch, even when it is. A single baseball game is a series of thousands or millions of individual choices that add up to the greater whole.
Of course, that’s not what people remember. They remember Bill Buckner, or Don Denkinger, or Ralph Branca, fairly or unfairly, and with this upcoming postseason potentially the last without expanded replay, it only makes me more certain that something awful is going to happen that really will decide a game. That call on Young doesn’t really matter here in a game on September 18th in a pennant race that’s all but over, but it’ll matter a hell of a lot more on October 9 or 15 or 21.
Why, you may ask, am I focusing on a call which ultimately didn’t really have a huge impact on the outcome? Because sometimes those thousands of individual calls add up to give you a steaming pile of garbage, which is what this game really was. Sometimes, you realize your team has last 10 of 14 — that’s not a fully fair statement, as I’ve been clear about, because how much of that is due to non-entities like Moylan and Fife, etc — and that they didn’t clinch the division tonight.
Sometimes, baseball is great. Sometimes, it’s a 3.5 hour death march. Guessing you can figure which one tonight was.