We got a history lesson by searching our stats database for any player who has ever gone 0-5 with 5 strikeouts and had an error that lost a game, and Michael Taylor‘s name would be the only name that would pop up in all of baseball history, but if you searched for a 0-5 game with an error that lost the game a familiar name came up—Bill Buckner with the date October 25, 1986. Buckner was 0-5 but with no strikeouts in that game, but his public faux pas was the infamous Mookie Wilson grounder between Buckner’s legs and Ray Knight scored the winning run. To make things even more bizarre is that Vin Scully was the play-by-play announcer for both games.
The 30th anniversary of that game is coming up, and Buckner’s life was never the same after that. Death threats and hate mail and the following year the former All-Star and MVP candidate was released by the Red Sox. Sure, later on Buckner was part of autograph shows and had a gig on Seinfeld and talk shows, but years of reliving that moment really was felt until he said the burden felt lifted when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.
After the 6th game of the World Series, Mookie Wilson said, “I don’t feel sorry for Bill Buckner. Bill doesn’t want ANYONE to feel sorry for him because…what happened, was baseball. That play [the ball hit between the legs] has happened a thousand times before then, and it will happen a thousand times after so long as we keep playing this game.”
Mookie Wilson is correct. Baseball is a cruel game and failure is part of it, and still, the Red Sox got rid of Bill Buckner. They did not even trade him. He was released.
Long before the Mookie play, Buckner was Davey Lopes long-time teammate with the Dodgers and the starting Dodgers outfield 40 years ago today was Buckner who led off and played LF, Dusty Baker in CF, and Reggie Smith in RF. All avenues seem to go back to Dusty Baker and Kevin Bacon.
Dusty Baker has been in this game so long he knows just about every player who has played for the last 60 years. A call from Buckner could help Michael Taylor to put it all in perspective.
“I’m sure [Michael Taylor] feels terrible,” said Dusty Baker.“We’ve got to stay with him. We’ve got to give him some love because right now he’s probably feeling like the loneliest guy on earth.”
Michael Taylor of course feels bad, but this was not a World Series game. This wasn’t even a division opponent. The question was whether this historically bad day was somehow avoidable? Should Dusty Baker have pinch-hit for Michael Taylor in the 7th inning with the score tied at 2-2? Taylor had already struck out 3 times, and was never even close to most of those pitches he was swinging at. Something was wrong with Taylor. The situation in the 7th inning was runners on 2nd and 1st and 1 out.
When does the manager become a part of the problem in these situations? It was mentioned on our in-game comments section by more than 1 person that when Joe Ross singled that Dusty better bring in Stephen Drew to pinch-hit. These were real-time comments, not the hindsight type that so many love to tell you afterwards that you screwed up. Again in the 9th inning, the identical situation came up with runners on 2nd and 1st with 1 out with Taylor coming up to bat, and Dusty again did not pinch-hit for him. That was not the only questionable managerial decision on the night, in fact with Espinosa up as the 2nd batter in the inning Dusty did not have Espinosa bunting Rendon to 2nd base and Espinosa popped out for the 1st out of the inning. Of course Clint Robinson would single Rendon over to 2nd and then it was Taylor who would strike out for the 5th time in the game.
Taylor is not to blame solely for this loss. There is enough blame to go around, but a coaches job is to put their players in the best situation to succeed and you have to ask yourself, did Dusty Baker do that on Wednesday night?
Taylor would see 23 pitches on the night and foul off 3 pitches. Taylor took 8 pitches called balls. Taylor would see just over 4.5 pitches per at-bat and there is no nickname beyond the ‘Golden Sombrero’. Let’s just say it was historically bad.
When does it become baseball insanity when you do the same thing over and over and over and over and over again and expect a different result? Yes, the law of averages on paper probabilities would say the likelihood that Taylor would strike out again was remote but when you look at the quality of the first 3 strikeouts the baseball ‘scout’ and ‘coach’ must take over and say that ‘we have a problem’ and we have 5 players on the bench that could help us in this spot.
Michael Taylor faced the print media members after the game who shoved microphones and cellphones in his face. He stood up to face the media.
“0-for-5 I can handle,” Taylor said. “When I do something like that to cost the team the game, that’s pretty tough. I know this isn’t the player that I am. Just a bad day.”
At what point does General Manager Mike Rizzo put his hands in the air and yell in Spanish ‘No Mas’. The lead-off spot for the Nationals has been the biggest problem facing the Nats unless you want to debate it is Ryan Zimmerman‘s spot in the line-up. Both have been problematic and both can be fixed. Both areas rank at or near the bottom of baseball.
The Nats were rumored to be attached to a Colorado Rockies outfielder in the off-season, do you look to Charlie Blackmon who is having another fantastic year and on top of that has been very good on the road. His road splits have him with an equal number of HRs away from Coors, good platoon splits against lefty pitchers and he can lead-off. Is it time to move Ben Revere to the bench and Taylor to AAA or trade one or both?
Is it time Trea Turner gets an outfielder’s glove and starts taking reps? This isn’t a case of desperate times seeks desperate measures. This is not a time for panic as you are in 1st place, but it is a time for action.
The other strange coincidence as we mentioned as that Vin Scully was the television announcer doing the World Series for NBC when Buckner missed the groundball.
Michael Taylor was a recipient of Cespedes whiffing on a similar type of play last year but the replay showed the ball hopped over Cespedes glove possibly as F.P. Santangelo pointed out that it might have hit a sprinkler head. Listen to F.P. refer to Taylor as “Mr. Clutch”. There was that time when Taylor stepped up in big situations like we saw in last week’s walk-off against the Cubs.