The Lance Barksdale Show

Astros up 3-2.

Jim Rome
October 28, 2019 - 10:26 am
Lance Barksdale

USA Today

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The old cliché is what a difference a weekend makes. But in the case of this World Series, what a difference a weekend makes. When the show ended on Friday, the Astros were down 0-2 to the Nats. Their aces had just been beaten at home, they had been smoked and melted down in Game 2, and they were heading to DC, which you knew was going to be a madhouse.

Houston didn’t just have their backs against the wall, they had their backs against the wall with a Nationals shaped buzzsaw coming at them. Washington had won 8 straight playoff games, they were doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

And then Houston went to work. 4-1 win on Friday. 8-1 win on Saturday, including a legendary showing from Jose Urquidy and a grand slam from Alex Bregman.

Now it’s a series again and we’re going into a Game 5 battle between Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. Except it wasn’t.

Because a few hours before the game, Scherzer was scratched with an irritated nerve in his neck. And let me pause for a second here, because if any of you losers want to take a run at Scherzer for not pitching yesterday, if that thought even crossed your mind for a split-second, you better apologize.

You know Max Scherzer. That’s not a little issue. You know he has to be wrecked physically if he’s not out there and raging emotionally that he’s not out there. As he said: “I’m as disappointed as I possibly can be to not be able to pitch tonight. It’s Game 5 of the World Series. This (injury) is literally impossible to do anything with.”

And before any of you dopes say anything about how you’d still go to work if you had a stiff neck, that’s not what it was. “I woke up this morning completely locked up. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even dress myself; I had to have my wife help me. So that’s where I was at.”

That is a guy who is looking to compete in anything all the time and you’re telling me he can’t go in Game 5 of the World Series at home to give his team a 3-2 lead? That means he’s in complete and total agony.  Not to mention, he did take the spike: he got hammered with a cortisone shot that doctors say take 48 hours to kick in; so if he can get it to a game 7, he might still be able to take the ball.  Point being, this guy is doing everything in his power to be out here with this teammates: no one needs to tell Scherzer how important this: he simply couldn’t’ go. 

So Washington gave the ball to Joe Ross in the first inning. And Yordan Alvarez took that ball from Ross and hit it about a thousand feet in the second: inning. 2-0 Astros. And then Carlos Correa went yard in the fourth inning.

4-0 Astros. That was smashed. But don’t focus on that rocket. Did you see the pitch that he took down 0-2? That was brass. Almost as brass as the Astros coming into DC down 0-2 and leaving up 3-2. And giving up just three runs in three games in Washington. 

Houston had so many guys step up last night. Alvarez. Correa. Cole going 7 innings, striking out nine and allowing just one run.

But the real star of last night was Lance Barksdale. And if you didn’t know the legendary name of Lance Barksdale before last night, you do now. Because L.B. was working behind home plate.

And he might have done more than anything to usher in the era of robot umps.

Yeah, I said it. Look, there are few things worse than complaining about balls and strikes, but last night, just about every complaint was justified. And that is yet another problem for the game of baseball.

Let me say this right now – the Nationals have nobody but themselves to blame for last night’s loss and for losing three straight at home after taking a 2-0 series lead. As Ryan Zimmerman said “Lance didn't lose us the game tonight, Gerrit Cole beat us.”

But that doesn’t mean that Lance did a great job last night. Because he didn’t.

And I’m not just talking about whatever the hell Barksdale was seeing and calling in the bottom of the seventh when he called ball four on a pitch from Cole to Zimmerman that Cole thought was a strike.

Or when he called strike three to Victor Robles on a pitch that was higher and further outside than the pitch to Zimmerman.

Is that a makeup call? I don’t know. I have no idea what it was, but I know it made a difference.

A walk there and AJ Hinch probably comes to get Cole and who knows what happens. In that case, Houston’s going to their bullpen with the tying run at the plate and anything can happen.

Instead, the inning is over and the game was pretty much over. Houston added another in the 8th and two more in the ninth for the final score of 7-1.

But like I said, I’m not just talking about that call. I’m talking about this one in the sixth inning. Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey is on the mound, pitching to Michael Brantley and here’s his 2-2 pitch.

That sure looked like a strike and Nationals catcher Yan Gomes sure thought it was a strike, because he hopped up to throw it around the horn. But apparently Gomes jumped up too quickly and didn’t hold it in the strike zone long enough for Lance Barksdale to call it a strike.

How long does he need to hold it there before Barksdale thinks it’s a strike? Isn’t a strike when it crosses the plate or does Barksdale need a few minutes to decide. Apparently, it’s the latter. Or Barksdale knew it was a strike and didn't like Gomes getting up, so he called it a ball. Either way, it's a terrible look and something that had the whole world wishing for cyborg umps.

And then you hear Gomes say to Barksdale, “oh, it’s my fault?” And Davey Martinez yell from the dugout “It’s the World Series! Wake up!”

That’s the thing. You might think it’s the World Series, but it’s the Lance Barksdale Show. And if you think you’re going to jack with the Lance Barksdale Show by getting out of your crouch too early or by asking him to be consistent, you better check yourself. Because Lance Barksdale does whatever the hell Lance Barksdale wants to do.

And because of that, robot umpires can’t come fast enough. Because I’d rather watch the World Series than the Lance Barksdale Show.