Granderson could learn a thing or two from Jim Wolf

Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda said it best:

“There are three kinds of people in this world: Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what the hell just happened.”

But for as true as this is – and it is very true – our beloved Tommy missed one:

“Those who make excuses about what happened.”

On Wednesday night, struggling Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson did something that (apparently) no other player in postseason history has ever done before, he struck out five times in four at-bats.

Now granted, the box score will forever show only four Ks, but in his fourth and final at-bat in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in game-4 of the 2017 National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, Granderson swung and missed at strike three and was rung up by 18-year MLB veteran home plate umpire Jim Wolf which, of course, brought raucous cheers from a very partisan Wrigley Field crowd

Granderson immediately protested to Wolf that he had foul-tipped the ball, which brought Dodgers manager Dave Roberts onto the field, which immediately turned those raucous cheers into raucous boos. Knowing full well that you cannot argue balls and strikes with umpires, Roberts requested Wolf to gather with the other umpires and requested that they discuss the call.

Granderson did something very few players ever do – he got an umpire to change his call. But he did something else very few players ever do (if ever) – he struck out twice in one at-bat.
(Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

Sure enough, Wolf changed his call, agreeing that Granderson had indeed foul-tipped the ball and the at-bat would continue.

If you thought the Wrigley Field crowd was raucous before, they went insane over the call reversal now. It also brought out Cubs manager Joe Maddon who went ballistic. The reason was, during Granderson’s and Roberts’ protests, the play was repeatedly shown on the giant video screen (and on television replays) and it clearly … clearly showed that Granderson had swung well under the ball without making contact with it.

As you would expect, Maddon was ejected for indeed arguing balls and strikes – with all six umpires and anyone else who would even consider listening to his rant.

As a surprise to absolutely no one, Granderson struck out on the extra pitch from Cubs closer Wade Davis, thus becoming the only known player in MLB postseason history to have been rung up twice in the same at-bat and causing an eventually much happier Joe Maddon to joke with reporters about the call, his ejection, and the eventual Cubs win to make it a 3-1 best-of-seven series.

“If Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might have come running out of the clubhouse in my jock strap,” Maddon later kidded.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was livid when home plate umpire Jim Wolf reversed his strike three call to a foul tip, for which he was tossed. It turns out that Maddon had good cause to be mad.
(Photo credit – John Starks)

This is where things get a bit dicey, especially for Dodger fans wondering why Granderson was even in the Dodgers lineup to begin with. Heading into the game, Granderson was 1-for-11 (.091) through the Dodgers previous six 2017 postseason games with (wait for it…) four strikeouts. With his golden sombrero performance in Wednesday night’s potential World Series-clinching game, Granderson is now 1-for-15 (.067) with eight strikeouts.

It’s no secret that Dave Roberts is a huge fan of Granderson, who finished the regular season with a slash-line of .161 / .288 / .366 for an OPS of .654 in his 36 games with the Dodgers after being acquired from the New York Mets on August 18. And despite his immediate and on-going struggles, the Dodgers skipper emphatically told reporters – as recently as October 6 – “I don’t plan on giving up on him quite yet.” That same day Roberts included Granderson on his National League Division Series roster over fellow left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder Joc Pederson, who was left off the Division Series roster

But during his postgame interview after Wednesday’s loss, Roberts hinted that he may have changed his position on Granderson. When a reporter asked Roberts about “the Granderson strikeout” clearly meaning the controversial one in the top of the eighth inning, Roberts’ immediate reply was “Which one?” before going on to answer the reporter’s question.

While this may be reading something into the situation that isn’t there, it suggests – at least tacitly – that even the guy who to this point had been in the struggling outfielder’s corner, may no longer be there. It also tends to suggest that Granderson may have swung and missed his way out of a potential World Series roster spot – especially with Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager likely to be added to the potential World Series roster – and that Granderson very well may have played his final game in a Dodger uniform.

But it’s what Granderson told LA Times Dodgers beat writer Bill Shaikin after the game that didn’t (and doesn’t) still well with Dodger fans, and came across as both an excuse and a blow off of his extremely poor postseason performance.

“It’s just baseball being baseball,” Granderson said dismissively. “I wish there was something more to it than that. If so, everybody would be able to figure it out, and you would never be in that situation.

“[Cubs fans] were making their noise heard for the umpires, not for me,” added Granderson. “I wasn’t the one that made the call. I don’t know what it looked like, but I hit the ball. The replay isn’t always going to show it.”

Seriously? This is the best that the struggling outfielder could come up with? This isn’t an explanation, it’s an excuse – and a horrible one at that.

In contrast and yet another example of why veteran umpire Jim Wolf is and always has been considered among the best in the game, he owned up to his blown call (and probably saved Maddon a hefty fine).

“I basically talked myself into ‘He did foul tip it,’” Wolf told reporters after the game. “And after looking at it, I was dead wrong. I talked myself into the whole thing.”

Good on you, Jim Wolf. Good on you.

Please understand that there is no disputing that Curtis Granderson is a great guy and a great teammate. He is also incredibly generous in the community (both New York and Los Angeles) with his charity. But like my father often told me when I was young:

“Son, you missed a perfect opportunity to keep your mouth shut.”

Enjoy your off-season Curtis.


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4 Responses to “Granderson could learn a thing or two from Jim Wolf”

  1. CruzinBlue says:

    Losing a game in the NLCS is all part of Roberts master plan to give Kershaw some meaningful work before the World Series. Think I’m wrong?

    Consider this:

    Game one of the World Series is in exactly five days, which just so happens to be Kershaw’s normal schedule between games. Otherwise the best pitcher on the planet would have waited 12 days to pitch. Just sayin!

    Go Dodgers!!

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Just hoping Clayton will pitch like the best pitcher on the planet as post season play has not been great for him. Hopefully no gopher balls tonight.

    Go Clayton! Go Dodgers!

  3. oldbrooklynfan says:

    I can’t understand why the ump, JIm Wolf, changed his call when it clearly showed that Granderson missed the ball on the video screen. I know it’s not reviewable, but I’m sure he saw it.

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