Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Moments (#20 - #16) of the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals.

This set of five Moments includes the Royals’ most iconic defensive play in a generation, a sacrifice fly with one out in the 9th to tie a double-elimination game, one of the greatest what-if plays in major league history, an ALDS-clinching home run in a winner-take-all Game 5, and a go-ahead RBI double in the 9th inning of an ALCS game. And we still have 15 Moments to go.

Moment #: 20
Date: October 14, 2014
Game: 2014 ALCS Game 3, vs. Baltimore Orioles
Score: Baltimore 1, Kansas City 1, Top of the 6th
Situation: No outs, bases empty
Count: 0-1
Matchup: Adam Jones vs. Jason Frasor
Result: Popout to third base
WPA: 3%

Summary: Mike Moustakas catches Adam Jones’ foul ball in full extension over the dugout railing, and topples into the dugout suite, where a happy mob of Royals fans save him from serious injury.

Link to video: Here.

What comes to mind when you see this?

Do you think about how this play really didn’t have a huge impact on the game? How it occurred in the 6th inning, and while the game was tied, there was no one on base, and if Moustakas hadn’t made the catch, the count still would have been 0-and-2 on Adam Jones? How it only had a WPA of 3%?

Of course you don’t. That would be stupid. This play was not only technically amazing and aesthetically perfect, it was the essence of the 2014-2015 Royals distilled into a single play. There was the tremendous defense. There was the maximum effort. There was the complete lack of regard for personal safety in the service of making the play. And there were the fans, emotionally feeding and being fed by the players in perfect symbiosis, who were metaphorically there for the Royals all October, now literally there. They were there with the presence of mind to stay the hell out of Moustakas’ way – 11 years to the day after a famous play in the stands at Wrigley Field didn’t turn out so well for the home team, or the fans – and there for Moustakas when he toppled over the dugout rail as he made the catch and fell into the dugout suite, with the fans there to cushion his fall and prevent serious injury.

Normally with the Royals it’s the pitcher tipping his hat to his fielder – in this case, as Moustakas returned to his position on the field, it was the fielder tipping his cap to the fans.

To whatever extent a playoff series can be won or lost on emotion, I think the Orioles might have been officially defeated on this play. They had already been victimized by great defense in Games 1 and 2 (Moments #78 and #79 and #129), and they had already lost two games after being tied headed to the 9th inning. And here was another tie game and another great defensive play, and how are we supposed to beat these guys? The answer was, they weren’t. In the bottom of the inning, Billy Butler would drive home the go-ahead run (Moment #51), and that was all it took.
Twenty-nine years earlier, George Brett had slid into the Royals’ dugout in St. Louis, risking bodily injury in an attempt to catch another foul ball. He was alright, and his attempt remains one of the most iconic moments of that series. But the difference is, Brett didn’t make the catch. Moustakas made the catch. And his catch will probably always be one of the iconic moments of the 2014 Royals.

It inspired a piece of artwork:

And it inspired a bobblehead:

It had a minimal impact on the game, the series, and the season. But no shrine to the 2014-2015 Royals is complete without a picture of it.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Adam Jones into foul territory, MousTAKAS…DID HE MAKE THAT CATCH?!...HE DID!... – Ernie Johnson.

Moment #: 19
Date: September 30, 2014
Game: 2014 Wild Card Game, vs. Oakland Athletics
Score: Oakland 7, Kansas City 6, Bottom of the 9th
Situation: One out, man on third
Count: 3-1
Matchup: Nori Aoki vs. Sean Doolittle
Result: Sacrifice Fly, tying run scores
WPA: 13%

Summary: Nori Aoki completes the four-run comeback in the Wild Card Game, hitting a sacrifice fly with one out in the 9th inning to tie the game.

Link to video: Here.

You might remember, in Moment #26, that I pointed out how difficult it was for Wade Davis to strike out Ben Revere, given that Revere has the fourth-lowest strikeout rate (min: 1000 PA) of any active player this decade. Well, you know who has the lowest strikeout rate this decade? At 7.7%, it’s Nori Aoki.

And who was at the plate when the Royals needed contact more than any other time in the last two seasons, and perhaps more than any other time in their history? Nori Aoki. Funny how that works out.

The Royals were two outs away from elimination, but the tying run was 90 feet away, in the person of Jarrod Dyson, one of the fastest runners in the game. Any kind of contact other than a line drive right at an infielder would have an excellent chance of tying the game. A base hit would be nice, but every Royals fan in the stadium would have taken a run-scoring out. (That’s why I’d say the Royals needed contact more in this at-bat than when Dane Iorg batted in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. In that situation, a base hit could – and did – win the game, so the relative difference between a line drive and, say, a medium-depth fly ball was much larger.)

Of course, when Aoki came to bat, the tying run was not 90 feet away. Dyson had just arrived at second base on Alcides Escobar’s bunt, and needed three pitches and a couple of aborted pickoff throws before he felt confident swiping third base. If Sean Doolittle, who has tremendous control, had started Aoki off with a couple of strikes, Aoki may not have been able to give Dyson the time he needed to steal third – but Doolittle fell behind Aoki 2-and-0, and I can’t impress upon you too much how much of a gift that was. Aoki actually swung at the 2-0 pitch, even though it was high and outside the strike zone, and if he had hit the same ball that he hit two pitches later, the Royals lose.

But he fouled it off instead. On the 2-1 pitch, Dyson took off for third, and the pitch was called ball three, just a little bit low. Aoki, now in a position to look for something he could drive, got an inside fastball at 93 mph, and turned on it. The instant it left the bat, everyone knew the game was about to be tied.

In fact, sitting down the third base line, for a brief instant while watching Josh Reddick chase after the ball, I thought the ball had a chance, if it carried just a little bit more and sliced just a little bit more towards the right field line, to tuck itself into the seats right where they curl inward toward the pole. Had that happened – had Aoki, who had hit one home run (a grand slam) all season with the Royals, won the Wild Card Game with a walkoff home run – that Moment might well rank #1 on this list.

Alas, it didn’t carry quite that far, and Reddick managed to flag it down. In another situation we might have been distraught that the ball hadn’t eluded Reddick – a little more carry and it might have bounced off the wall and over his head, and Aoki might well have been able to get to third base, putting the winning run 90 feet away with just one out. But we were just so relieved – and so astounded – that the Royals had just made up a four-run deficit with six outs to go that there was no time for anything but jubilation at this point. And why not? Aoki’s sacrifice fly increased the Royals’ odds of winning the game by 13%. That makes it the most valuable out the Royals have ever made on offense in a playoff game.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Fly ball, right field…Reddick, a long run…makes the catch, but that’s going to tie the game! It is 7 to 7 in the Wild Card!” – Ernie Johnson.

Moment #: 18
Date: October 14, 2015
Game: 2015 ALCS Game 5, vs. Houston Astros
Score: Houston 2, Kansas City 4, Bottom of the 8th
Situation: Two outs, men on first and second
Count: 2-2
Matchup: Kendrys Morales vs. Dallas Keuchel
Result: Home Run, three runs score
WPA: 6%

Summary: Kendrys Morales finally drives a dagger into the heart of the Astros, hitting a three-run homer to put away Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS.

Link to video: Here.

It’s easy to overrate this Moment, because – much like Lorenzo Cain’s double in Game 5 of the World Series (Moment #28) – the Royals were probably winning this game no matter what. They were taking a two-run lead to the 9th inning, and while Johnny Cueto was cruising, presumably Wade Davis was coming in no matter what, and Davis had never given up three runs in a relief appearance as a member of the Royals. But, like Cain’s double, Morales’ home run was for all intents and purposes a walkoff hit, because there was no doubt afterwards that the Royals were going to win. And to come in a winner-take-all game, 48 hours after the Royals’ grave had already been dug in Houston, gave this Moment a sense of relief and release unlike any other in 2015.

Giving the Moment added resonance was that it came against Dallas Keuchel, who would win the Cy Young Award after the season, and who had throttled the Royals for seven inning of one-run ball in winning Game 3 of the series. Almost from the moment the Royals won Game 4, tempering the giddy excitement was the specter that, a year after the Royals lost a winner-take-all playoff game when their opponent called upon their left-handed ace to throw five shutout innings out of the bullpen, the same thing might happen again.

And sure enough, when the bottom of the 5th rolled around at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals were losing by one run, same as they had been the year before. Fortunately, it turns out that not every starting pitcher can be called upon to throw five innings on two days’ rest. A.J. Hinch stuck with Collin McHugh to start the 5th inning, and two batters later, the Royals had men on second and third and McHugh was pulled in favor of…Mike Fiers. Alex Rios doubled (Moment #25), and the specter of being unable to come back against Keuchel evaporated.

When Hinch did finally turn to Keuchel, it was to start the bottom of the 8th inning, and the Royals already led by two, and his job was simply to throw one scoreless inning and pray for a miracle. But he couldn’t even manage that. Alcides Escobar greeted him with a double, and after Ben Zobrist lined out, Keuchel intentionally walked Lorenzo Cain to pitch to Eric Hosmer, who popped out. And then Morales got a 2-2 curveball down at his ankles and golfed the ball to left-center field. At the instant the ball hit the bat I thought it was a double in the gap, but I didn’t think he had gotten all of it – and then, just before the camera angle changed to show the flight of the ball, we saw Morales literally skipping to first base. And that’s when we knew. The ball didn’t just clear the fence, it cleared the bleacher box entirely and banged into an advertisement between two fountains.

It was the Royals’ first three-run homer in a playoff game since George Brett took Goose Gossage into the upper deck at Yankee Stadium in 1980, which until this point was the most famous home run in Royals history.

It was glorious. It was a celebration. Morales rounded the bases, stomped on home plate, and then threw a little shade at the Astros.

After Lance McCullers – thanks to a controversial replay overturn that ruled Terrance Gore was out trying to steal third base – got out of the 6th inning in Game 4 with the Astros still holding onto a lead, he got a little animated. He made a motion that the Royals interpreted as a throat slash, although it looks like more like the murderer was trying to chop off the victim’s head instead. So after Morales stepped on home plate, he imitated McCullers’ neck chop.

And until now, I thought that was the end of it. But what I missed was that right before doing the neck chop, Morales also imitated Hosmer’s “putting on the backpack” move, which confused me. But then, as you can see here, before doing his neck chop McCullers also seemed to imitate Hosmer’s move.

Maybe he didn’t mean to do it, just like he claimed he didn’t mean to throat slash anyone, but given the combination of both moves in succession, I can absolutely see why the Royals would take offense.

But as Morales reminded us, he who laughs last laughs best.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Morales sends a ball well-hit into left-center field…AND THAT ONE IS GOOOOOOONE!” – Matt Vasgersian.

Moment #: 17
Date: October 29, 2014
Game: 2014 World Series Game 7, vs. San Francisco Giants
Score: San Francisco 3, Kansas City 2, Bottom of the 9th
Situation: Two outs, bases empty
Count: 0-1
Matchup: Alex Gordon vs. Madison He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named
Result: Single/E-8, batter to third base
WPA: 11%

Summary: Alex Gordon holds at third. Say those five words from now until the end of time, and everyone will know what play you’re talking about.

Link to video: Here.

How do you rank this play? On the one hand, it is one of the greatest what-if plays in major league history, and probably the iconic moment of the 2014 season. On the other hand, as a Royals fan, all watching the highlight does is serve to remind me how close we came to winning it all that year.

“Gordon smoked a line drive that appeared it would fall in front of center fielder Gregor Blanco, but Blanco played it as if he had a chance to catch it until it was too late, and the ball skipped past him and headed to the wall. Gordon accelerated into a higher gear, and then Juan Perez, who was backing up Blanco, bobbled the ball at the wall, and for one glorious moment we contemplated the utterly unthinkable: a Little League inside-the-park “home run” to tie Game 7 of the World Series with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Just writing that sentence makes me tingle.”

I wrote that for Grantland after Game 7, and that pretty much sums up the stakes. If Alex Gordon had tried to score, well…

The only problem was, if Gordon had tried to score, he almost certainly would have been a dead duck at home plate. I believed that watching the play live, and nothing that I’ve seen since has changed my mind. Mike Jirschele made the right call. If you don’t believe me, read this or this or this. (And definitely this. And definitely watch this.) I have no regrets about the decision to hold Gordon at third.

If there is any regret on this play, it’s that Gordon didn’t hightail it out of the box and run 360 feet like a championship depended on it. But I don’t know how much we can hold that against Gordon. There were three parts of this play where he could have run faster:

1) Running out of the box
2) He slowed down a little bit just before he reached second base
3) He stumbled briefly just after he passed second base

The only one of these you can put on Gordon is the first one. The second one is almost certainly because of the second defensive mistake on the play – when Juan Perez struggled to pick up the ball at the fence – which caused Gordon to accelerate again after briefly thinking about holding up. The third one…well, stumbles happen.

But yes, it would have been nice if Gordon had come out of the box as if he knew that not one but two Giants were about to let the ball get away from them, and that he would have a chance to circle the bases. But 1) I really can’t fault him too much for not doing so, and 2) I doubt it would have made a difference anyway. I think that, had he busted his ass to first base and maintained top speed, he might have been 10 feet further down the line at most. That might have been enough to make sending him home a good gamble, but it only would have been a good gamble because, with two outs, the odds of Gordon scoring if he held were no more than 25-30% anyway. Maybe he would have had a 35% chance to score if he ran home, I don’t know, but it still would have been a long shot.

Now, if Gordon had known what was going to happen before hand, and ran like his life depended on it…and he knew that Perez was going to mishandle the ball so he didn’t have to think about slowing down at second base…and he didn’t stumble…I think he would have been 50/50 to score. Nate would have gotten his wish: it would have been one of the top five plays in baseball history.

It didn’t happen, and in some ways, the fact that it didn’t happen is part of what makes this play so compelling, and what generated an oral history of it, and will make it live on for many years to come. We’ll never know. Baseball needs a bit of mystery, and this play certainly had it in spades.

I wish it had turned out differently, but I long ago made peace with the fact that no one did anything wrong; it just wasn’t meant to be. I just wish that the Royals would have had a chance to atone for falling short the following year. And I wish that Alex Gordon had gotten a chance to atone in another World Series game with his team losing by a run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Here’s the 0-1…that’s in the air to left-center, that ball is…DOWN! And it gets past, to the wall! Gordon is going to dig for THIRD! A mistake in the outfield! And he will hold there with two out, representing the tying run!” – Joe Buck.

Moment #: 16
Date: October 11, 2014
Game: 2014 ALCS Game 2, @ Baltimore Orioles
Score: Kansas City 4, Baltimore 4, Top of the 9th
Situation: One out, man on second
Count: 0-0
Matchup: Alcides Escobar vs. Zach Britton
Result: Double, go-ahead run scores
WPA: 30%

Summary: Alcides Escobar doubles with one out in the 9th to drive home the go-ahead run in Baltimore in Game 2 of the 2014 ALCS.

Link to video: Here.

Eleven times in the last two postseasons have the Royals scored the tying or go-ahead run in the 9th inning or later. The first of those was Eric Hosmer’s walkoff sacrifice fly in Game 1 of the World Series (Moment #31); Nori Aoki's sacrifice fly is next at #19. The other nine are all among our Top 16 Moments. This play is the first of those nine, and also the first of nine postseason plays on our list with a WPA of at least 30%. Really, if you wanted to sum up just how amazingly blessed Royals fans have been these last two years, you could do a lot worse than to point out that this play only ranks #16.

The Orioles had tied Game 2 of the 2014 ALCS, 4-4, in the bottom of the 5th, and neither team scored in the next three innings; the Orioles came the closest when they loaded the bases in the 7th, but Lorenzo Cain (Moment #78) turned them away. In the top of the 9th, Omar Infante led off against Darren O’Day, and hit a squibber (Moment #162) on the infield to the perfect spot. Terrance Gore immediately came in to pinch-run, but Buck Showalter replaced O’Day with closer Zach Britton, and just as in the Wild Card Game, the Royals chose not to risk stealing second base with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, and Mike Moustakas bunted Gore over to second base instead.

Just as Jarrod Dyson had gone on to steal third base against Sean Doolittle, maybe the plan was for Gore to steal third base with one out. But we’ll never know, because on Britton’s first pitch, he threw a 97 mph sinker up, and while Alcides Escobar was late on the pitch, he hit a hard ground ball just inside the right field line. With second baseman Jonathan Schoop having to hold Gore close at second base, first baseman Steve Pearce had to play well off the line, and had no chance to make the play. The ball rolled to the corner, 40,000 people moaned all at once, and Gore trotted home with the go-ahead and eventual winning run. Afterwards, Orioles fans were sad:

They would be sadder still when Dyson reached base on an error by third baseman Ryan Flaherty, and Lorenzo Cain followed with an insurance RBI single (Moment #109), but it was Escobar’s double that started the celebration, in the Royals dugout and in the Jazayerli household as well. The Royals were about to win Game 2 of the ALCS. Which meant that, having won the first two games on the road, they were an excellent bet to win the series. Which meant they were probably going to the World Series.
Afterwards, Orioles fans were sad again.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Down the line – FAIR BALL into right field! Gore is going to score easily! Escobar into second, RBI double! The Royals have the lead here in the 9th! Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in.” – Ernie Johnson.


Matt S said...

FInally a bright spot in an otherwise miserable day. Thank you!

JRCIII said...


(Hosmer's Mad Dash happens)


It was the right call by Jirschele. Still hurts. What if? Duda threw that ball away. Still, ALCS 2015 game 6 wiped away almost all the pain. And the best was yet to come.

I hope we are finally past Purgatory and heading for Paradise.

BMJ said...

Current Tally As We Go From Top "Frank White Moments (20) To Top "Alex Rios" Moments (15)

By Category:

2014 Regular Season (9)
Wild Card Game (17)
ALDS Game 1 Angels (6)
ALDS Game 2 Angels (6)
ALDS Game 3 Angels (7)
ALCS Game 1 Orioles (7)
ALCS Game 2 Orioles (9)
ALCS Game 3 Orioles (4)
ALCS Game 4 Orioles (5)
World Series Game 1 Giants (0)
World Series Game 2 Giants (6)
World Series Game 3 Giants (6)
World Series Game 4 Giants (5)
World Series Game 5 Giants (1)
World Series Game 6 Giants (7)
World Series Game 7 Giants (4)
2014 Entries So Far (99)

2015 Regular Season (3)
ALDS Game 1 Astros (1)
ALDS Game 2 Astros (8)
ALDS Game 3 Astros (2)
ALDS Game 4 Astros (9)
ALDS Game 5 Astros (8)
ALCS Game 1 Blue Jays (6)
ALCS Game 2 Blue Jays (11)
ALCS Game 3 Blue Jays (2)
ALCS Game 4 Blue Jays (5)
ALCS Game 5 Blue Jays (1)
ALCS Game 6 Blue Jays (9)
World Series Game 1 Mets (12)
World Series Game 2 Mets (5)
World Series Game 3 Mets (5)
World Series Game 4 Mets (9)
World Series Game 5 Mets (9)
2015 Entries So Far (105)

By Player
Hosmer (23)
Cain (23)
Gordon (17)
Perez (15)
Moustakas (18)
Escobar (24)
Dyson (7)
Zobrist (12)
Morales (4)
Butler (10)
Gore (3)
Colon (1)
Infante (6)
Rios (5)
Aoki (5)
Orlando (1)
Willingham (1)
Butera (1)

Davis (8)
Holland (8)
Herrera (2)
Ventura (4)
Young (1)
Cueto (2)
Finnegan (4)
Volquez (1)
Guthrie (0)
Shields (0)
Vargas (1)
Hochevar (2)
Madson (1)
Duffy (0)
Medlen (0)
Frasor (0)
Collins (0)
Morales (0)

OTHER (14)

Unknown said...

Love this entire endeavor so, so much, Rany. Thank you for compiling it. I will protest in good faith that "Send Alex" should be a top 5 moment, because it allowed us to experience the perfection of 2015. If we had won the title in 2014, last season would have been quite a different experience...

I will only present one piece of supporting evidence: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-2015-royals-a-baseball-team-for-baseball-fans/

Ok, maybe two pieces of evidence: http://www.sbnation.com/2015/10/29/9634144/royals-2015-world-series

Without the beautiful, miserable heartbreak of 2014, there would have been no beautiful, transcendent WS Championship in 2015, or at least it would have been vastly different. We needed to lose ... so that we could win more perfectly.

Scott said...

Again, thanks for this Rany - absolutely amazing.

Holding Gordo....It was the right thing, he had no chance to be safe....but it's the Royals....why not send him (I mean besides him being out by 10 feet most likely) it's the Royals. Why wouldn't the ball skip off Poseys glove, or Posey drops the ball, or misses the tag...? It's the Royals. I was so mad that night at the game Jirsche didn't send him because it was the smart play but since when does the smart play apply to the Royals? But I digress.
Here's how I try to be okay and we'll never know (just adding to the lore of "holding Gordon") if it's accurate: How much did that loss, maybe even in that way, motivate this team in 2015? Do they win it in 2015 without 2014? It's easy to say we (and as a life long devoted fan age 45 I proudly say we) were so close to 2 in a row but if Gordo scores we all assume we win, which is very likely of course - it's the Royals, does 2015 happen? They sure talked about the sting of watching lard ass Pablo make the catch to end the series as a motivator in 2015 so maybe Gordon stopping 90 feet away did win a World Series, just a year later. Of course if he tries to score and is out the motivation is 90 feet stronger....dang, they should have sent him. Yeah, gues Im not over it.

Anita Parsa said...

Not even this amazing, wonderful and glorious thing you're doing here can make me watch the Gordon hit in game 7 again. It just hurts too much! The 2014 Royals made it seem not-crazy to believe in miracles, and it hurt so much to have our dreams crushed. It hurts *a lot* less after 2015, but still...no thanks.

And yeah, he'd have been out.

BMJ said...

That's the silver lining from that play. Royals lost game but the entire organization was starving to finish the job in 2015

Players were hellbent on proving 2014 was not a fluke. If Royals found a way to win Game 7, is the motivation anywhere near that high? Would they have been as driven to have 2015 be like it turned out to be or would they have figured it would be easy to just win it again? Maybe losing Game 7 fueled them for much better long term success for 2015 and beyond than had they won. Put it like this. If victory in Game 7 in 2014 meant losing to Astros in Game 4 in 2015 and no other World Series appearances in 2016 & 2017 and losing nearly every core player to free agency....

but instead, losing Game 7 in 2014 meant a World Series Championship in 2015 and two more deep postseason runs in 2016 & 2017 with another World Series Championship in these next two years and Royals end up keeping majority of the core to sustain success beyond 2017, well maybe the bittersweetness of that Game 7 loss turns out ultimately to be a lot more sweeter than bitter. It sure has become sweeter after 2015...

If the Royals win that Game 7, is there a need for Dayton to give up a great chunk of farm system to acquire Cueto and Zobrist when they already were the defending World Series Champions? It's likely, but I don't think it's as likely. Perhaps they do pursue them anyway but fact of matter is after losing Game 7, they HAD to win it all in 2015 with this small market window placed on them. Dayton realized how important and previous a World Series Championship meant and did those trades as the final step. Again, whether he goes all in like that if Gordon scores to force extras and Holland throws a scoreless 10th and Casilla comes in for SF in place of he who won't be named and KC walks off then.... It's probably not the same level of motivation for Dayton to go all in to win at all costs like he clearly showed at the deadline.

Most importantly, a Royals miracle World Series Championship in 2014 -Glass has finally proved to be an owner who will spend on a winning team and he's showing this offseason willingness to spend on a championship winning team - but does Glass approve the Cueto and Zobrist trades if the Royals had won it all in 2014? I also believe Glass like everyone else in Royals organization felt how absolutely necessary and vital it was to right the wrong and do everything possible to change how the next postseason would end - in victory this time.
Would he have signed off on these trades with a World Series Championship already won in 2014?

As Hosmer prophecized going into Game 4 of Astros series, Royals weren't just playing for 2015 but they were playing for 2014. Again, would they have felt that way if they won Game 7?

Believe me. I would've killed to have won Game 7. I was there with my son and brother. We never saw the Royals win it all live. Losing that game and flying back to NY was gut wrenching. Thankfully we were there for Game 5 and saw the Royals win it all live this time. Best father-son moment ever bar none. Can't wait to fly in this weekend and be there for the Banner Raising!

KHAZAD said...

Gordon hadn't reached the base yet and Crawford had the ball. For someone of Gordon's pedestrian speed running the last leg plus a few steps of four bases, he was minimum four seconds away from touching the plate. Crawford routinely makes an accurate throw from that spot in about two seconds. He is a gold glove level SS with a great arm, throwing to a plus fielding catcher, with the pitcher in the proper spot to back up the play.

If the play had occurred prior to the Posey rule, I guess he would have had the puncher's chance of dismantling the skittish catcher, but even the odds of that would have been low - though it would have made the play exciting.

As it stands, I had running large bet offer (unfortunately It was never taken) that I could throw out a runner in the same position from the same place if the runner started at home. I was 50 then. Though my throws lack speed, they are still accurate.

With my early 20s arm when I was still playing SS? I would have had time for an evil chuckle before nailing the runner, and I am not Brandon Crawford.

ChaimMKeller said...

Well, the inclusion of the Aoki sac fly in this entry makes two of my predicted top 10 wrong (the other, interestingly, was also a sacrifice hit - Alex Gordon's go-ahead ground-out that completed the Miracle at Minute Maid, which is all the way down at 81!). Still, I think I have a pretty good shot at nailing 70-80% of the top ten - looking forward to finding out soon!

Oh, and Alex would have been out if he had gone...but I really wish that Ned would have pinch-run Gore or Dyson rather than left him on third at that point. I don't know if either of them could have done a straight steal of home, but even if they didn't try that, they would have been more likely to tie the game on a wild pitch, passed ball, bad pickoff throw or infield hit than Alex. That ended up not happening, but with a speed guy on third taking a tantalizing lead, who knows if He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named might have thrown the ball a little more nervously. Ah, the what-if game...

Erik Avery said...

So I, along with my wife, her sister (my sister-in-law) and her husband attended game 7 in 2014. My sister-in-law's husband (who I love like a brother-in-law) made a running gag out of bringing up Jirschele's decision almost each time we met following that game. He would and occasionally still does say, "He should have sent him." Reading the comments, Rany's write-up and the links provided brought me to a conclusion that I hadn't thought of until now. IF Gordon had been sent, how bad could it have gotten? We ALL KNOW that he would have been out by about 110 feet but what would that have meant?
It's The Twilight Zone. For your consideration: On March 30, 2016 we wake up and start reading the Kansas City Star sports section where, instead of Vahe Gregorian's verbose piece on the ridiculous and totally manufactured controversy of a Royal's retaliation plan, we find Andy Mccoullough has written an in depth, "The ramifications of a TRAGICALLY HORRENDOUS send by Mike Jirschele". Following the game, instead of sitting quietly for an hour and a half, the clubhouse was not so quiet. Ned went into Jirschele first, while a number of players where taking out their frustrations with their bats on all of the non-organics in the room. "Sal hits lefties!!!" "He lit him up for a homerun in game 1!!!" Sal was even more shaken, mumbling to himself over and over, "Why didn't he give me the chance?" Billy was wondering to all around, "Why didn't Gordo run out of the box?" Alex Rios, who was just there because he was considering signing for the following year, heard the mayhem while he was in the tunnel and turned around and headed to San Diego where he would go on to hit 368/.368/.526 in the NLCS and lead the Padres into the World Series.
Either Jirschele was fired or demoted. Whatever happened to him, he wasn't around to spot Bautista's habit of throwing to second base. The Royal's 2015 does not end with a celebration. Following the season, Gordo leaves to get away from the dysfunction. The Royals don't extend Sal (I don't know why, nothing makes sense anymore). In the quiet times when a fan can get away from the national mockery that has Kansas City synonymous with crazy desperation, everyone still wonders- What if Sal had been allowed to hit?

Andy Braams said...

Rany, as the intensity of the moments (and memories) increase, and the tears of joy are getting harder to suppress, in your professional opinion as a doctor, is it safe to continue watching at the risk of losing one's man-card? Asking for a friend.

Again, thanks for all of your work on this. I know you said you did it for yourself, but thanks for including us in this journey.

Chris Esch said...

So, I get that #20 is an ICONIC play, but I have always contended that it wasn't the even the best play Moose made that game. My memory told me a different play happened the same inning, but a little research revealed that it happened earlier. Anyways, it was the top of the 4th and Steve Pearce led off by lining out to Moose diving to his left. The force of the hit seemed to about tear our third baseman's arm off. Anyways, that saved a possible rally starter. I said to my wife on the way home that night that the play falling into the dugout was more spectacular, but really didn't take a ton of talent. Lot's of people COULD do it if they were willing to give up their body. The diving glove to the left was a Gold Glove type play that not many of us on the face of this earth would have the reaction time to complete. Anyways, not trying to run down a classic Royals moment, just trying to pump another one up! (#219, right!)

Brett said...

"Ten times in the last two postseasons have the Royals scored the tying or go-ahead run in the 9th inning or later. The first of those was Eric Hosmer’s walkoff sacrifice fly in Game 1 of the World Series (Moment #31); the other nine are all among our Top 16 Moments. This play is the first of those nine, and also the first of nine postseason plays on our list with a WPA of at least 30%. Really, if you wanted to sum up just how amazingly blessed Royals fans have been these last two years, you could do a lot worse than to point out that this play only ranks #16."

Doesn't moment #19 count, too? Or is the Wild Card only a pseudo-postseason game?

Rany said...

Thanks for noticing my error, Brett; that has been corrected.