Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review of "Baseball’s Biggest Bloopers: The Games That Got Away," by Dan Gutman

Review of
 Baseball’s Biggest Bloopers: The Games That Got Away, by Dan Gutman ISBN 0140376151

Five out of five stars
 The baseball events chronicled in this book are generally part of the folklore of the game. As the title suggests, they are about errors committed by umpires as well as players. Gutman does a good job in pointing out that the errors were not committed in a vacuum, others contributed to the loss of the game. In fact, in many cases the player considered the goat was not the one that made the most significant mistake.
 For example, in the World Series of 1941, Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen missed a third strike on Yankee Tommy Henrich that allowed him to safely run to first base. The Yankees then went on to score enough runs to win the game. However, it was later revealed that Brooklyn pitcher Hugh Casey crossed Owen up by throwing an illegal spitball. Therefore, the real goat should have been Casey and not Owen.
 Another example is the blown call at first made by first base umpire Don Denkinger in the 1985 World Series. There was no question that the runner was out when Denkinger called him safe. Yet, what led to the defeat of the Cardinals in the series was that they let a bad break completely unnerve them and affect their play. Bad calls are part of the game and winners play over them, especially when they already have the advantage. It was the reaction of the Cardinals that led to their defeat, not one single call at first.
 Gutman is very clear and explicit in the descriptions of the events, explaining what happened both on that play and all  the other components of the event. No single play ever decides a baseball game, a win or loss is a combination of the actions of all the players.

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