Baseball can leave even the most faithful fans with unanswered questions, and in a postseason filled with replays and controversial calls, this year in the Dodgers’ favor, has the narrative of October changed?
The postseason is completely and undeniably intriguing. The postseason is filled with high leverage situations and debated calls that give us the unmistakable and unignorable feeling of October baseball, in particular, Dodgers baseball.
Then, there are the calls that challenge our knowledge of the game. For example, the play in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the NLCS. Dodgers 3rd Basemen Justin Turner hit a single and Charlie Culberson sprinted from second base and slid into home.
He was originally called out, but after a replay and review, the umpires determined that Cubs catcher Willson Contreras blocked the plate with his left leg, giving Culberson little to no path to tag the plate.
Originally, I thought Culberson was out at home. My mind changed when I saw the replay. The call was controversial, a debate that led to Cubs Manager Joe Maddon being thrown out of the game. The play eventually fell in the Dodgers’ favor.
Did Contreras unintentionally block the plate? Probably. Did he mean to challenge the rule? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, the call was overturned. Even if it wasn’t, the run wouldn’t have made a difference in the end, as the Dodgers went on to win 5-2.
Challenging calls are becoming more and more common in the postseason, and reasonably so. In the regular season, a manager deciding not to challenge a call at the plate may not have any consequences. Some games simply mean more the closer a team gets to October.
In the postseason, the goal is that eleventh win, and you never know which play will make the difference.
In the playoffs, there is no shortage of debated calls.
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Most recently, Yankee’s manager Joe Girardi decided not to challenge a play against the Cleveland Indians. New York reliever Chad Green was on the mound against Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall. At first glance, Green’s pitch to Chisenhall looked to have hit him. But after a replay, it was concluded that the ball hit the knob of the bat and then dropped into catcher Gary Sanchez‘ mitt.
Girardi decided not to challenge, and Chisenhall took first base. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor came up to bat and hit a grand slam. It began a rally that would end with the Indians taking a 2-0 NLDS lead.
Though the Indians lost to the Yankees in Game 5, that play could’ve very well-defined the NLDS for the Bronx Bombers.
With all the challenged calls and controversial plays, is this the new narrative of October?
If it is, I don’t really mind.