In the event that you neglected to fetch from the end of your driveway this morning your city’s widely circulated and totally infallible morning daily, please excuse me for informing you right now that the Milwaukee Brewers fell Sunday night to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the NLCS by a score of 12-6.
Following the elimination of Milwaukee, there was considerable discussion of the team’s defensive weaknesses. Although defense certainly appeared as though it would be an issue for the team entering the season, the Brewers actually finished around league average in terms both of defensive efficiency and UZR. The seven errors committed by Milwaukee between Games Five and Six of the NLCS, however, certainly played a part in the team’s dismissal from the postseason.
Curiously, the most notable defensive shortcoming of the night was the product neither of a misplayed grounder nor poor throw, but rather that most silent destroyer: ennui.
In the top of the third inning — with runners on second and third, two outs, and the Cardinals winning 7-4 — Tony LaRussa made the somewhat unorthodox decision to pinch hit for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson with Allen Craig. Brewer manager Ron Roenicke countered LaRussa by replacing left-hander Chris Narveson with LaTroy Hawkins. Despite falling behind 3-1, Hawkins managed to induce a weak-ish chopper up the middle.
What happened next is captured by the GIF’d footage you see below. Craig’s batted-ball makes its way up the middle and into center field, scoring David Freese and Yadier Molina from third and second base, respectively. While that sequence of events is all-too common, it’s difficult not to observe something curious about the play — namely that, even though the Craig’s grounder clearly makes its way through the infield on the shortstop side of the second-base bag, it’s second baseman Rickie Weeks who comes within, say, three or five feet of playing the ball (and perhaps preventing run No. 2 from scoring). Meanwhile, actual shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is seen merely trotting towards the middle of the infield.
The explanations for Betancourt’s behavior are as numerous as the stars in the sky or sands on the beaches or SQL queries yet to be made of 2011’s play-by-play data. But for those of us with some expertise in psychologizing from our respective armchairs, there is one likely cause for the sort of symptoms Betancourt exhibits: enn-frigging-ui.
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