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How To Misinterpret An Ethier/Orr Situation

Allow me to set the scene for you of the final play of tonight's Dodgers/Nationals' game:

  • Justin Maxwell on third base, Jorge Padilla on first base, one out, game tied at four, Pete Orr at the plate
  • The infield was playing in, trying to cutoff the run on a grounder
  • The outfield was playing shallow, meaning any kind of deep or medium-deep fly ball wins the game for Washington

Pete Orr lofted a medium-deep fly to right, definitely deep enough to score the speedy Maxwell from third base.  Andre Ethier was backtracking to catch the fly ball, but the chances of him throwing out Maxwell at the plate were slim and none.  Essentially, once the ball was in the air that deep, this game was over.

Ethier dropped the ball, of course, and the game officially ended on a sacrifice fly, with an error on Ethier allowing Orr to reach base.  But that error didn't really matter.  However, here is how the Associated Press decided to lead their game story:

Andre Ethier booted pinch-hitter Pete Orr’s fly to right field in the ninth inning, allowing Justin Maxwell to score, and the Washington Nationals averted their 100th loss of the season with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

What?  The story wasn't Ethier's error.  Orr's fly to right field allowed Maxwell to score.  There was no way Ethier was throwing out Maxwell on that play, especially since he was backtracking on the play.  Its as if the AP reporter wasn't watching the game.

I can just imagine how Game 7 of the 1991 World Series would have been described by this anonymous reporter.  Remember Gene Larkin's deep fly to left, allowing Dan Gladden to score from third base and win the series for the Twins?  That, too, was deep enough that even if Brian Hunter had caught it the game was over anyway.  Perhaps we would have seen this opening sentence:

Brian Hunter failed to catch a fly ball off the bat of Gene Larkin, allowing Dan Gladden to score from third base to win a second World Series for the Minnesota Twins.

What about the home run by Jack Clark in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS?

Pedro Guerrero failed to make an attempt to catch the home run by Jack Clark, instead throwing his glove to the ground, allowing Clark and the Cardinals to take a 7-5 lead and eventually win the National League pennant.

Tonight's game was over when that ball off the bat of Pete Orr was in the air.  End of story.  Or, rather, beginning of story.