October 18, 2009, 1:53 p.m. Leave it to Mitch Williams to diagnose a Phillie’s location problems. Or to come up with a good theory, anyway.
The term, “Steve Sax Syndrome,” has been bandied about pretty much the blogosphere over, and Chuck Knoblauch’s name was mentioned more than a few times, to describe what may or may not be wrong with Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley.
And let’s not even start with poor Steve Blass. Obvious answers all, but nothing more than wild guesses. Pun intended.
Meanwhile, in an MLB Network studio in Los Angeles following game two, former Phils’ reliever Mitch “the Wild Thing” Williams calmly pointed to Utley’s unwillingness, or inability to plant properly with his right foot, making a textbook double-play turn nearly impossible.
Hence, “something with Utley’s right side,” probably an injury to the right hip, or perhaps the right ankle. Both, according to Williams and partner Joe Magrane, are areas of previous injury for Utley.
I watched a lot of post-game analysis Friday afternoon and evening, with solid attention paid to TBS and ESPN, along with several L.A. local news accounts, and if the explanation was out there, I didn’t see it. I didn’t read about it in the LAT or in any of the major Internet outlets either.
But there was the MLB Network, not only with video close-ups of Utley’s right side highlights of the errant throws in games one and two of the National League Championship Series, but with similar planting issues evident in recent plays which were converted successfully.
Williams admitted to having no inside information, but suggested that if Utley is not healthy enough to throw accurately on an unhindered dp, he really shouldn’t be out there playing.
I imagine Charlie Manuel and company know what’s going on with their number three hitter, and if it is an injury, are under no obligation to share the infomation with the media, much less the Los Angeles Dodgers. So we won’t hear it about unless and until Utley comes out of the lineup, or comes clean at some point during the winter.
Sax committed 30 errors in 1983, many of them on easy throws to Greg Brock at first base. The Dodgers won the West anyway, and faced Philadelphia in the NLCS. The Phils won the series despite out-erroring the opponent five to one, with Sax fielding 1.000 in his team’s three-games-to-one elimination. L.A.’s one miscue was committed by Derrel Thomas, in right field.
I don’t know if this was where the “Steve Sax Syndrome” phrase was coined, but the first I remember hearing it was in a season five episode of Northern Exposure, called “Blood Lines, which aired May 16, 1994.
In the show, Dr. Fleischman can’t find a vein during a blood drive, giving squeamish Chris Stevens an excuse to back out of donating. Stevens consoles Joel with the “Steve Sax Syndrome” notion, pointing out that since Sax overcame his throwing problems and went on to have a fine American League career, the good doctor would no doubt be able to overcome his problems too, and all will be right with the world.
Then, of course, Chris recalls Steve Blass, and can’t fathom allowing the error-prone Fleischman to have at him with a needle.
Anyway, let's congratulate the MLB Network on a wonderful first year in business. It’s simply a great channel all the way around, and if you haven’t given them a look-see, you really ought to. Especially this time of year. It’s channel 213 on DirecTV and basic cable around the country. And props to the Wild Thing re Chase Utley…
Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…
1988 Talk: I know we go to the 1988 well a lot around here, but when the cleat fits. And for some fan comfort, at this particular moment, when perhaps you might be needing it.
The Dodgers lost the first game of the NLCS to the Mets at home that year too, and in dramatic fashion, with New York finally snapping Orel Hershiser’s scoreless streak, which had extended into the postseason, scoring three in the ninth and pinning the loss on Jay Howell, 3-2.
Los Angeles came back the next evening and battered David Cone around, after the Mets starter had created some ill-advised bulletin board material for the Dodgers a couple of days before. Final 6-3, and the series tied 1-1 heading east.
New York won a wild 8-4 game in the rain, with Hershiser starting and Howell being ejected, and subsequently suspended by then-National League president Bart Giamatti for having pine tar on his glove.
With the Dodgers on the precipice of a 3-1 series deficit the following night, Mike Scioscia blasted a two-run homer off Dwight Gooden in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Kirk Gibson homered in the 12th to give L.A. the lead, and Hershiser came out of the bullpen on zero days rest, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom half, getting Kevin McReynolds to fly out to short center, with John Shelby racing in to make the grab off the shoe-tops.
Gibson homered yet again as the Dodgers won game five, with Tim Belcher beating Sid Fernandez, 7-4.
The series returned to Chavez Ravine for game six, with Cone getting a measure of revenge, beating Tim Leary handily, 5-1.
Hershiser returns for game seven, this one a 6-0 breeze, with the Dodgers scoring five in the second off Ron Darling, essentially counting down the innings to the pennant from there.
I believe you’re familiar with what happened three days later, when a little thing called the World Series opened against Oakland…
Media Savvy: With Hiroki Kuroda going tonight, seems like a good time to recommend a couple of great articles by Orange County Register travel editor and IBWAA founding member Gary Warner, in last Sunday’s paper. An Insider’s guide to Japanese baseball and American pastime, Japanese style…
Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…
Remember, glove conquers all….
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