Here are three weird things that happened around the majors last night:
1. The Cubs and Pirates ended in a tie. A tie, believe it or not, was the least offensive of the three. It is silly, but the subtleties of a baseball game, seemingly more so than in other major sports, change based on the stakes. The Cubs had clinched the best record in the National League; the Pirates had been eliminated from playoff contention.
It started raining in the sixth, and after nearly 90 minutes, officials decided to call the game as it stood (1-1). There’s no reason to make it up and the Cubs left town after the game. It was the first tie in MLB since 2005 and is different from a suspended game in that the stats will count.
For those wondering — and I know there are some degenerates out there — all wagers on the game would be refunded except those made on the five-inning over/under (four runs). If you bet the five-inning over/under of a meaningless game, well, OK then.
2. Big Papi gets a big painting. I am not one to tell another team’s fans how to react in this situation. Most Yankees fans cheered rather than boo retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in his last game at Yankee Stadium. I was surprised Ortiz preferred that. “Fans don’t boo nobodies,” Reggie Jackson once said, so I’d have figured Ortiz would have taken the negativity as a sign of respect. I had no problem booing Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter that last time I saw them; it was almost playful, and the players seemed to realize that.
Much more so than the fan response, I have a disliking for the farewell tour, as I’ve written before. The Red Sox manager described it as the “most meaningful” gift package he’s received. Hear that, every other Boston opponent this season? Your gifts weren’t as good.
3. Cardinals also get a gift. This is why Major League Baseball needs instant replay. I’m joking, of course, because last night’s ending in St. Louis between the Cards and Reds could and should have been reviewed. Apparently the “instant” part of instant replay came into play here, and I have no problem with that.
The situation: With a runner on first in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, the Cards’ Yadier Molina smacked a hit to left field that one-hopped off of the digital advertisement board beyond the outfield wall. Nobody will doubt that it was a ground-rule double that should have kept the baserunner at third. Instead, the umpires allowed the runner to score the game-winning run.
Unlike the result in Pittsburgh, you can’t say this one didn’t matter. The missed call allowed the Cardinals to stay one game behind the Giants for the second wild card spot and two games behind the Mets. Then again, the Reds are not in contention. They were slower to realize what had happened — their left fielder never threw his arms up and the manager, Bryan Price, didn’t rush out of the dugout to argue — than they might have been if they were the team chasing a playoff spot.
Their indecisiveness assured a St. Louis victory, and that’s fair. For game-ending plays, the intent to challenge has to be “immediate.” Price was told after the fact he had just 10 seconds. I am fine with that. As hard as it is to imagine a World Series Game 7 ending like this, imagine it ending with a call being reversed. Not all replay reversals are equal, and a game-ender has to be treated with more respect. If you want to rip the hearts out of the opposition and its fans, you better do so immediately.