Game 5’s wrong number


For want of a text message, a World Series may have been lost on Monday night.

Want to know why the youngest generation thinks baseball is old and antiquated? Because the 2011 World Series might have turned for good on a device as outdated as the team yearbook.

Football communicates with wireless helmets, baseball with landline phones. Is it any wonder which mode appeals to a generation of digital-game players?

The normal middle-school student is more technologically updated than the major league dugout. The only thing that could have made Texas’ Game 5 victory look more ancient was if the mistake had happened because the phone was a party line and the Cardinals couldn’t get on. Maybe next year MLB will update to crank phones.

(Ralph Kramden once asked Norton on an episode of The Honeymooners if yelling was too good for him. That would have been an upgrade over Monday night.)

Manager Tony La Russa said Monday it was noisy and hard to hear on the phone. And that’s why the dugout — twice — said to warm up Jason Motte and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist served up Lance Lynn — as if those two names sound anything alike. Maybe Lilliquist heard stir the pot, or lace on a lot.

I don’t know if Tony’s noticed, but it was noisy in Games 3 and 4, and it was loud in Philadelphia and Milwaukee. No one told Al Hrabosky to loosen up when La Russa wanted Arthur Rhodes.

The Rangers won 4-2 in large part Monday because left-hander Marc Rzepczynski had no business facing Mike Napoli — three-fourths of his way to being Series MVP — in the eighth inning with the scored tied, the bases loaded and one out. It seemed odd when La Russa allowed him to, even odder when he explained it.

That La Russa didn’t want him to makes it even more maddening. It’s one thing for the Rangers to rally in the ninth inning against Motte; quite another for the Cardinals to get cut off because the game uses 20th-century equipment in the 21st century.

“From a St. Louis standpoint,” wrote Bernie Miklasz in Tuesday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “this was the most disappointing phone-call experience since Chuck Berry called Memphis, Tennessee and couldn’t get in touch with his Marie.”

A nation of TV viewers watched it unfold — predominantly on HDTVs, not black and whites.

It will take its place –particularly if the Rangers win the Series — among the game’s most curious moments. Future generations will look quizzically back on it the way we do 1908’s Merkle’s Boner (the New York Giants’ Fred Merkle failed to advance from first to second on a teammate’s hit and the Giants lost the pennant because of it).

There’s one difference though. Future generations will be learning about it on their iPads when they do.

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1 Response to Game 5’s wrong number

  1. Mike says:

    Question is, will this spur any changes to the way teams communicate internally? If this hadn’t happened on the game’s biggest stage, I would write it off and figure that’s bound to happen in a 162-game season. But in Game 5 of a 2-2 series? Might that have teams re-think how they do this?

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