By Joe Christensen
Those wild and crazy Devil Rays — Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist — definitely cracked my Top 5 last night, maybe even my top Top 3. I’m talking about baserunning debacles, of course.
Lonnie Smith, from the 1991 World Series, comes to mind. But I chalk that one up to a brilliant deke by Chuck Knoblauch. Jeremy Giambi’s no-slide on “The Derek Jeter Play” in the 2001 playoffs is up there. Or some of the A’s blunders in Game 3 of their 2003 playoff series with Boston. Jeff Suppan’s deer-in-headlights freeze at third base in the 2004 World Series.
Those playoff moments were really magnified, however. The actual miscues weren’t as outrageous. I was at Camden Yards the night Jack Cust fell not once, but twice, between third base and home when he could have scored the tying run against the New York Yankees. THAT was a debacle. For the Baltimore Sun, I wrote:
Jack Cust looked up last night and saw home plate sitting there, naked and unattended, without a Yankee in sight.
It was the glimmering hope on the horizon. The long, eventful trip around the bases, the hideous fall — none of it mattered now, because Cust was about to score the tying run for the Orioles.
Twelfth inning, two outs, a sellout crowd of 48,499 at Camden Yards in delirium, and then it happened again. Cust fell down — this time face-first — Aaron Boone tagged him, and the New York Yankees escaped with a 5-4 victory.
But I want to hear some of your favorites. Especially if you have some good one from Twins lore. Tough to top the Crawford/Zobrist follies. I counted four mistakes on the same play: 1) Crawford not picking up the third-base coach sooner. 2) Zobrist leaving third instead of staying put. 3) Crawford retreating to second base, when there would have been one out with a man on third if he had just stayed there. 4) Crawford jogging, not sprinting, back to second.
(**Apologies for the late post today. Fridays are tough because I’m cranking out notes for our Sunday baseball page.)