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Do the Yankees have another problem with their third base coach?

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Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin had a bad send last night. Will this be a problem?

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Yankees fans have a difficult relationship with the team’s third base coaches. Their one job during the game always seems to have the biggest impact on it, especially if they mess up. Since the days of Rob Thomson, third base coaches have been a liability. Joe Espada might have been an improvement, but he still made his share of mistakes. Now Phil Nevin is at third, but are we at a point where we need to worry? After last night’s game against the Red Sox, we might be getting close.

The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh inning. With Aaron Judge at the plate, they had Boston exactly where they wanted them in a 2-2 game. Judge managed to get the job done with a single through the left side of the infield, putting New York up by one. Unfortunately, third base coach Phil Nevin got greedy, and he decided to send a second runner to the plate. As a result, Gleyber Torres was nabbed at home, and in the end, the Yankees only got the one run. It was a big mistake in a big game, and it could have cost them dearly if they weren’t able to hold on.

It was the kind of decision you hope a professional won’t make, and yet here we are. The first thing someone in Nevin’s position has to understand is that the ball was on the ground. One of the fundamentals of baseball is that you don’t run on a ball hit in front of you. It’s how you end up running into outs. If you watch the video, Gleyber holds up until the ball is out of the infield. Job well done, that’s what you’re supposed to do. So with the understanding that Torres is already not running at top speed, I’d like to use my very legitimate skills as a graphic artist to illustrate what exactly went wrong here.

After Torres holds up, he’s able to easily get into third before Andrew Benintendi has the chance to get the ball in. However, Nevin makes the wild decision to send the runner, and in the above image you can see that the left fielder is now fielding the ball and Torres has not yet reached third base. Remember, this was a single through the infield, so Benintendi is in fairly shallow left in order to field it quickly. Perhaps the Yankees were trying to test his arm, but at that depth, it’s not a particularly hard play to make.

This next slide shows Benitendi in the process of throwing the ball in and Torres is only just hitting third base right then. Under normal circumstances, this may be where the third base coach throws up the stop sign a little late, and then the runner has to scramble back to the bag. Instead, these are Nevin circumstances, and he goes right on ahead with the windmill, as if they have all the time in the world.

Now at this point in the play, we’ve already come too far. There’s no going back so all we can do is hold our collective breath and hope to make it through. The ball is coming into the infield, if Torres stops Rafael Devers is right there to catch the throw and possibly get him out. As we know, he keeps going and gets nailed at the plate.

Meanwhile, Phil Nevin is over in the corner seeing this all play out, and he knows what is happening. See how his arms are near his knees right there? The video doesn’t show it well, but as the play continues, he actually places his hands on his knees as if he’s lurching over and dry heaving onto the infield grass. Even he is disgusted by what he has wrought on this field. Please, go back and watch the video to see for yourself. This goes beyond ‘oops’ and is somewhere between ‘oh no’ and ‘oh god.’

All this is a long way of saying that Phil Nevin messed up. I seem to remember other instances where he has made questionable decisions, but this one definitely stands out. When Nevin’s name comes up, it will be this play that comes to mind. Let’s just hope there won’t be any repeat performances in the near future.