Let's revisit the play from Saturday's extra inning loss to the Dodgers that everyone still seems to be talking about. I was there, and have since watched the play several more times in both real time and slo-mo.
Alberto Gonzalez doubles to right with two out. Craig Stammen singles to center scoring Gonzalez. Nyjer Morgan then hits the ball over left fielder Xavier Paul's head, just to the right of the "42" sign honoring Jackie Robinson.
Stammen takes off from first and is being waved around the bases by third base coach Pat Listach. Morgan is halfway to second by the time Stammen - clearly laboring - hits third. Morgan has a full head of steam coming around second base and is thinking triple.
Okay, now back to Xavier Paul, who has tracked down the baseball and has thrown the ball to cut-off man Blake DeWitt. The play would seem to be at the plate. Stammen is gassed as he comes down the line.
But then something happened that affected the play: the throw from Paul to DeWitt bounces, and by the time it's in DeWitt's glove and he turns toward the infield, the closest play is now at third base with Morgan. Only a perfect throw will get him, and that's what the Dodgers get. DeWitt's throw is on the bag, and Morgan is tagged out. It's close, but he's out, and Stammen hasn't yet hit home plate. Inning over.
I've talked this play over with several people over the past 48 hours, including players, scouts and reporters. To a man, we all expected the play would be at the plate, but that extra fraction of a second when the throw from leftfield bounced allowed DeWitt to make the play at third.
The old axiom about never making the third out at third base is no less true, but this instance is one of those cases where a closer look is warranted. Yes, Nyjer Morgan has carte blanche on the bases, and yes, he'll take the blame for the inning ending the way it did. But give Blake DeWitt credit for making the decision to throw to third base instead of going home with it, a decision he had an extra half-second to make.
That's the way the ball bounces.