Baseball and the Blame Game: Scapegoating in the Major Leagues

Overview

Most baseball fans know what links Fred Merkle, Fred Snodgrass, Mickey Owen and Bill Buckner. It's a pantheon of public failure. They would be harder put to say what links Eric Byrnes, Tony Fernandez, and Babe Ruth, though these players made misplays every bit as egregious. In this smart, highly readable history of scapegoating, John Billheimer identifies the elements that combine to condemn one player to a life sentence while another gets a wrist slap for the same offense. As it turns out, the difference between...
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Overview

Most baseball fans know what links Fred Merkle, Fred Snodgrass, Mickey Owen and Bill Buckner. It's a pantheon of public failure. They would be harder put to say what links Eric Byrnes, Tony Fernandez, and Babe Ruth, though these players made misplays every bit as egregious. In this smart, highly readable history of scapegoating, John Billheimer identifies the elements that combine to condemn one player to a life sentence while another gets a wrist slap for the same offense. As it turns out, the difference between a lower-case e in some forgotten box score and a lifetime of ignominy can hinge on a number of factors, including timing, geography, reputation, misunderstanding, media bias, and just plain bad luck.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786429066
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/2/2007
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

SABR member John Billheimer is also a member of Mystery Writers of America. A transportation analyst, he lives in Portola Valley, California.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Preface     1
Introduction: Disgrace Under Pressure     3
He Who Hesitates     11
Scapegoat: Johnny Pesky, 1946 Red Sox     11
The Legend: Pesky Hesitates     11
What Really Happened     12
Escaped Goats     15
Dick Bartell: Everybody Was Yelling "Home! Home!"     15
Why Pesky and Not Bartell?     17
Johnny Evers: "Pulled a boner which he usually works on the other fella"     17
What's Remembered and What's Forgotten     20
Baserunning Gaffes     21
Scapegoat: The Merkle Incident     21
The Dress Rehearsal     21
The Merkle Game     23
The Play-off Game     25
Afterthoughts     26
Escaped Goats     29
Eric Byrnes and Miguel Tejada: Three Stooges Baseball     29
Babe Ruth's "Only Dumb Play"     33
Stand-up Guys     34
Muffed Fly Balls     39
Scapegoat: Fred Snodgrass and the {dollar}30,000 Muff     39
Escaped Goats     42
Max Flack: The War-Shortened Season     42
Bob Meusel and the Heroics of Pete Alexander     43
BobbyTolan and Riverside Stadium's Center-Field Fence     45
Hack Wilson: "The Most Spectacular Rally in the History of Sport"     45
Willie Davis: The Laurel and Hardy School of Outfielding     47
Summing Up     49
Dropped Foul Pop-Ups     50
Scapegoat: Hank Gowdy and the {dollar}50,000 Muff     50
Escaped Goats     52
The Mathewson-Merkle-Meyers Mix-Up     52
Jack Clark's Royal Screw-Up     54
Yogi Berra and the Reynolds No-Hitter     55
Bob Boone and the Rose Rescue     56
Botched Grounders     58
Scapegoats     58
Bill Buckner and the Curse of the Bambino     58
Roger Peckinpaugh and the Record     62
Escaped Goals     65
Honus Wagner: The Pre-Peckinpaugh Record     65
Tony Fernandez and the Curse of Rocky Colavito     66
Mike Andrews and Charley O.     68
Leon Durham and the Cub Curse     69
The Role of the Press     71
Gopher Balls I     72
Scapegoats     72
Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard 'Round the World     72
Mitch Williams: The Ditch Mitch Movement     78
Donnie Moore: In Memoriam      80
Gopher Balls II     85
Escaped Goats: Two Pitchers Who Shed Goat Horns     85
Ralph Terry: Redemption     85
Dennis Eckersley and Gimpy Gibby     89
A Few Who Were Never Crowned     93
Bob Lemon and the Long and Short of It     93
The Ordeal of Byung-Hyun Kim     96
Other Walk-off Home Runs     98
Keys to the Goat Pen     99
Errant Throws     101
Scapegoat: Zimmerman and the Chase     101
Escaped Goats     103
Buck Herzog, Art Fletcher, and the Series Error Record     103
Vern Stephens' Brown-out     105
Al Kaline's Near-Perfect Throw     107
Summing Up     109
Weak-Fielding Pitchers     111
The Bungled Bunt Defense     111
Designated Fielders?: Escaped Goats     112
Bullet Joe Bush's "Whimsical Throw"     112
Nelson Potter's Double Dip     113
Calvin Schiraldi: One Throw Away     114
Dave Stewart and the Defunct Dynasty     115
Mariano Rivera: No Relief from the Best Reliever Ever     117
Passed Balls     119
Scapegoat: Mickey Owen and the Dodger Debacle     119
Escaped Goats     123
Boss Schmidt and the Gathering Darkness     123
Jimmie Wilson, the "Almost Goat"     125
Passed Balls from 1903 to the Present     126
Wild Pitches     129
Scapegoat: Jack Chesbro and His "Revolutionary" Pitch     129
Escaped Goats     132
John Miljus vs. the 1927 Yankees     132
Bob Moose and the Bad Bounce     134
Wild Pitches from 1903 to the Present     136
Asleep at the Switch     139
Scapegoat: Ernie Lombardi and the Schnozz's Snooze     139
Escaped Goats     142
Jack Lapp and Larry Doyle's Fadeaway Slide     142
Art Wilson and the Greatest Game Ever Pitched     144
Misjudgments and Miscommunication     148
Escaped Goats     148
Turkey Mike Donlin: 1908 (the Merkle Game)     148
Christy Mathewson and Cy Seymour: 1908 (the Play-off Game)     149
Art Fletcher: 1912 (the Snodgrass Game)     149
Mark Koenig and Bob Meusel: 1926 (the Meusel Muff)     150
Charlie Dressen and Gil Hodges: 1951 (the Shot Heard Round the World)     151
Willie Davis and Ron Fairly: 1966 (the Davis Drops)     151
Curt Flood: 1968 (Brock's Stand-up Play)      152
Marty Barrett and Bob Stanley: 1986 (the Buckner Boot)     153
Defensive Misplays     154
Managerial Misfires     155
Scapegoats: Grady Little and Pedro Martinez     156
Escaped Goats     157
Personnel Moves That Backfired     157
Defensive Oversights     162
Strategic Second-Guessing     164
Decisions and Outcomes     167
Fan Interference     169
Historical Perspective     169
The Primal Urge     170
Scapegoat: Cub Fan Needs Witness Protection Program     171
Escaped Goat: Yankee Fan Lends a Hand     175
Blown Calls     178
Scapegoat: Don Denkinger's Death Threats     178
Escaped Goats     180
Doug Eddings and the Not-Yet-Out Call     180
Ken Burkhart's Behind-the-Back Call     182
Bill Stewart and the Timed Pickoff     185
Art Passarella and the Six-Column Photograph     186
Other Calls and Consequences     187
Errors, Scapegoats, and Escaped Goats     191
Errors in Season and Series     191
Characteristics of Scapegoats and Escaped Goats     193
Lost Games and/or Lost Championships      193
Superstar Immunity     197
Late-Inning Prerequisite     197
East Coast Press     198
Turning Victory into Defeat     199
Mental Errors     199
Epilogue: Injustice, Failure, and Redemption     200
Baseball and life     200
Failure and Redemption     203
Bibliography     205
Index     211
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