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The Uncertainty of Everything, World Series Edition

Maybe this World Series isn't the one readers of this blog would have had--"Maybe" is probably not the right term there--but the first two games have been tense, close confrontations, crisply played. My sense of how long a baseball game should be has been ruined by too many hours of Yankees-Red Sox and Yankees-Orioles. In addition, my sense of accuracy has been destroyed by Albert Einstein and my flawed human perceptions. Over at SB Nation, a good man named Rob Neyer explores the question of Albert Pujols' key error, reprints the rule regarding the awarding of such an error: "The official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder... whose failure to stop, or try to stop, an accurately thrown ball permits a runner to advance."

As Rob points out, that "accurately" is a really loaded term. My initial reaction on seeing the play during the game was that Pujols had made a less-than-extraordinary effort to stop the ball. He went two steps and ticked it when 2.5 steps would have meant catching it. Watching it again (and again and again) it's still hard to know if the throw was accurate or not. One of the problems with judging defense via video, or even in person, is that you don't get to see all the pieces or know their intentions. Who was John Jay aiming at? Where was the target when he made the throw? What expectation should we have of a fielder moving to intercept said throw? In a world of moving parts, accuracy is relative.

Meanwhile, Tony LaRussa came in for unfair criticism, because we're always on the hunt for goats. I often think about Heinie Zimmerman, the goat of the 1917 World Series. Zimmerman made several errors in the Series, climaxing in a botched rundown when the third baseman ended up chasing the winning run across home plate because no one backed up the play--he had to hold the ball because there was no one for him to throw it to. Zimmerman was a scumbag and deserved most of the grief he got in life, but not that--it's hard to fault a guy for having no partner in a rundown. Zimmerman supposedly said, "Who the hell was I supposed to throw to, [the umpire]?" In some ways it's similar to Jay's "accuracy"--if you only saw Zimmerman holding the ball, you might have thought he screwed up the play.