Mookie Betts

USA Today

Cowboy Joe West

This is Joe West’s series and you better recognize.

October 18, 2018 - 9:34 am

Where to freaking begin with that ALCS game last night. It had everything. Mookie Betts nearly making the catch of a lifetime to rob a home run. George Springer going yard. Jackie Bradley Jr going yard. Again. And then there was Andrew Benintendi saving the game with a diving catch to preserve the 8-6 win and give Boston a stranglehold on the series. 

But the real name of the game was Joseph Henry West. Joe West. Cowboy Joe. Oh, you thought Betts was going to impose his will on this game? You thought JBJ was going to be ALCS MVP? What about Benintendi? Nah, you’re all wrong, this is Joe West’s series and you better recognize. In fact, this is Cowboy Joe’s world and everyone’s living in it. 

And he got to work inserting himself in this series in the bottom of the first inning.

Let’s go to the rulebook, which reads: “No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.”

So that question is: where did the contact with the glove occur? If it was in the field, it should be interference and an out. And if it was in the stands, it’s a home run. 

And nobody is quicker to bash fans for reaching over the railing than I am. Any fan who does that is a colossal bag. And tool. And hurts their team. But I’m not sure that’s what happened in this case.  

And knowing that, let’s run it back again.

Did you like that play-by-play? I thought it was good, but Joe West thinks that Joe West’s play-by-play is better. 

And here it goes, as told to a reporter after the game: “Here’s the whole play, here’s the whole play. He hit the ball to right field. He jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That’s why I called spectator interference.”

Gotta love that. Because watching it live, it sure didn’t look like the fans reached into the field of play. If anything, Betts glove was going into the stands and hit the fans. But not according to Cowboy Joe. 

And let me pause here for a moment – the old adage is that if we know an umpire’s name, it’s a bad sign. And if you’re an umpire with a nickname, that’s an even worse sign. And we don’t just know Joe West’s name, we know he’s Cowboy Joe West. 

Okay, back to Cowboy Joe West doing what Cowboy Joe West does. 

Cowboy Joe says that the fans reached into field and interfered with Betts. So who are you going to believe? Your eyes or Joe West. Joe West says you should believe Joe West. 

And Jim Rome says if Joe West called it interference, it probably wasn’t. And if Joe West is telling a pool reporter after the game that the replay officials said he was right, he’s probably wrong. And by the way, they didn’t say he was right: that would have meant the call was confirmed. They said the call stood, which means they couldn’t overturn it. That there wasn’t evidence conclusive enough to overturn. To me there was. Here’s all the evidence you need. Evidence being that since it was Joe West who said it wasn’t a homerun, it probably was. And evidence being, that I have two eyes, very good eyesight and it’s pretty clear to me that ball was over the yellow line and in the stands when contact was made. Again, the issue is, was contact made in the field of play or in the stands; and to me and most everyone else who’s not a Red Sox honk, that ball was in the stands. 

Except the powers that be felt like they didn’t have a definitive angle to overturn it. And a reason they didn’t, was because the camera angle down the outfield railing was blocked by a security guard who was leaning in to watch the play. 

So, the Astros got jammed… If Joe West ruled it a home run, it would’ve stood as a home run. But instead, he ruled it as spectator interference, which called it an out. 

And that cost the Astros two runs in the first inning and maybe more. To say nothing of the momentum of starting the game by tying it up in the bottom of the first. Oh, and in case you’d forgotten, the final margin of error, I mean victory, was two runs. But at least it wasn’t an important game…

And then there’s the game itself. And Astros fans, I completely get why you’re bent today. I totally understand. Normally, I would say if you’re blaming the umpire, you’re blaming the wrong thing. But it in this case, I can’t blame you for blaming Joe West. He took two runs off the board. And it was a two-run game.

I’m not going to say it cost them the game. But it sure didn’t help. There was no definitive replay to overturn West’s call, so you have to live with it. And that sucks, because it sure looks like he made the wrong call. And then you have that security guard taking away any chance you had of getting the call overturned. 

Yes, there were eight more innings to get those runs back, but damn, that sucks. That really sucks. Especially in a game as crucial as that and a series as tight as this. Win that game and Houston is tied with Justin Verlander going to the mound tonight to take the lead. Instead, they need Verlander to save their season tonight. 

But if we completely focused on the Astros getting jammed, we’d be missing out on something else. The Boston Red Sox are good. They are damn good. Even on a night where Rick Porcello didn’t have his best stuff, they still found a way to win.

Because they have guys like Mookie Betts doing what he nearly did in right field. When the ball left Jose Altuve’s bat, it looked like it was a no doubt home run, but Betts, who is listed at 5’9, can get up, now. And he got way the hell up to nearly get that ball. If Mookie Betts doesn’t get as close to it as he does, Joe West doesn’t get to make his call from wherever he was. Which, by the way, was nowhere the play. 

But it wasn’t only Betts, it was Jackie Bradley Jr as well. Of course. 

JBJ, if you need him. And the Red Sox really need him. That’s a two run homer to give them the lead after a grand slam in Game 4 and a three-run triple in Game 3. So here’s what I’m thinking, maybe you don’t give Bradley anything to hit from now on. Especially when there are runners on base. Because he is on an absolutely epic heater. 

But the game, and potentially the series, all came down to this play. Craig Kimbrel on the mound, his arm barely attached to his shoulder, just doing whatever he can to get the ball over the plate, and struggling. Looking for the first six-out save of his career and making one hell of an adventure out of it. 

He got a foul out to start the inning. Then walked two batters in a row. Then a fly ball to right. And then another walk and then this.

That was a hell of a play by Benintendi. And took incredible stones. Make the catch, win the game, and take a 3-1 lead. Miss the play, lose the game, and it’s 2-2. Game-saving catch. Series-changing catch. 

And if you want to know why the Red Sox are so good, it’s not just because of their talent, which is unreal. It’s because they are really well prepared. And because they know how to show up in the moment. And in the moment before THE moment, Benintendi took a step and a half forward. 

As he told Yahoo Sports, “Not a huge amount, just enough.” It sure was. If he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t get to that ball and Boston loses that game. But he did and they did.

And while Joe West is getting a ton of heat today, and deservedly so, don’t sleep on the fact that this Red Sox team is damn good and they are one win from going to the World Series. To quote that one legendary dope who called this show back in the day, West isn’t helping em, he’s hurting em man, and he shouldn’t be butchering calls like that on TV. Man. But he’s not the reason they lost that game. The Red Sox are.