David Cone had a rare off game last night

Man, I love David Cone. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said already, but his understanding of analytics combined with his been there done that on field experience makes him a great listen during a game. He’s damn funny too, which doesn’t hurt…

But David had a rough night last night. Well, I went to bed after five innings, so I can’t confirm anything that happened after, but David’s call of the game’s first half wasn’t his best. It’s cool – even Larry Bird missed free throws occasionally.

In the top of the first inning, Aaron Judge was on third base with one out and Joey Gallo at the plate. Gallo lofted a fly ball to left field, which Boston left fielder Alex Verdugo camped under. Judge tagged, and bluffed going for home. Verdugo’s throw hit cut-off man, third baseman Rafael Devers, and Devers flipped the ball to shortstop Xander Bogaerts at third, almost picking Judge off.

Here’s the play if you missed it.

“That’s a really good play by Bogaerts”, Cone added.

WRONG. Not only was it not a good play, Bogaerts screwed up. Had he done his job, he would have been standing on third, not rushing to meet the ball and Judge at the bag simultaneously.

When a ball is hit to or in front of the left fielder, the third baseman’s job is to get into the infield grass as a cut-off. The shortstop’s job is to circle around and cover third base, to potentially nab a baserunner who may be coming to third from second on the left fielder’s throw – or too nab a runner on third who’s wandered too far off the bag.

I’ll cut Bogaerts a little slack, as he was around second base when the ball was struck, so there was 90 or so feet to travel. That said, he only started jogging (more like meandering) to third when the ball was hit, stopping at one point. It wasn’t until he saw Judge running did he make an effort to get to the bag quickly. Had he gotten there immediately, who knows what would have happened.

What I do know, is that it was not in fact, a “really good play”. Frankly, it was negligence at best.

Later on, Boston first baseman Kyle Schwarber allowed a Kyle Higashioka pop-up to land safely on the Fenway Park infield grass.

Here’s that play if you missed it.

Because Schwarber is not a first baseman by trade, Cone and Michael Kay – as they always do in situations such as this – reference the humorous exchange in “Moneyball” between Billy Beane and Ron Washington about whether or not playing first base is difficult.

It’s not that hard.

“It’s incredibly hard” is both accurate, and simultaneously an enormous straw man argument. Nobody – and I mean nobody – ever said playing first base is “easy”. The point is, it’s easi-ER than every other position on the field, by far. The play that Schwarber did not make could and should be made by every major league position player. A not too high, mid-infield, not affected by wind, for which a player only needs to travel about 20 feet, will be caught by any major leaguer 99.9999% of the time.

Framing that misplay as if it had something to do with first base being a difficult position to play was disingenuous at best. First base is not difficult to play relative to other positions, and that wasn’t a difficult play regardless.

It’s cool Coney, we all have bad days. We’ll still take you over any other analyst, bar none.

Did I miss something? Let me know.


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