I spent a decent chunk of last night giving a Mets fan my twelve-point presentation, "No, Odubel Herrera is Good, Actually," which for the 18th or 19th time failed to convince anyone of anything and has a weirdly dense section on Chase Utley.
The thesis focuses on how for the most part, a hotshot young player with an unkillable sense of excitement is a notion I think everyone should get behind, and also, the Mets suck. But there are times when Odubel looks like he’d rather be doing anything else. And that makes sense. If he can reach such high levels of enthusiasm, then he can probably reach opposite levels of lifelessness. Some days I don’t understand how the players on this team get out of bed in the morning to play baseball again. Today, following a just terrific 7-6 loss that kept them on what I assume is a 310-loss pace for the season, is one of those days.
But Odubel didn’t help matters last night during a tie game with two outs in the ninth inning by ignoring third base coach Juan Samuel’s stop sign and chugging all the way home to be thrown out by about five feet. I mean, "ignore" is a little generous. Odubel basically ran a quick lap around Samuel on his way to ending the inning, confusing fans and imploding the arguments of his defenders across the city.
Not everyone saw the bizarre move as a bad thing. Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham, who quite lazily threw Odubel out from left field, loved it.
"When I saw that he was going, I was like, wow, thanks."
"Gaffes," the Phillies web site labeled it (and every other Phillies brain fart of the evening). "Emotions," Pete Mackanin explained it. "Aggressive," Odubel called his intentions.
Regardless of the definition - official word is that Odubel, running with his head down and wanting to win the game, didn’t see Samuel’s stop sign until it was too late, and also Pham got a decent kick back on the ball allowing him to recover it more quickly than one would think, also the small cartoon bird that only Odubel can see told him that he should do it and then burn the stadium down - Odubel was pulled from the game.
Odubel wasn’t the only poor performer of the night. Edubray Ramos looked terrible on the mound and, with a throwing error to first base that allowed the winning run to score, did everything but walk over and sit in the Cardinals dugout. Mackanin’s official stance on that was "I don't know what to tell you." But in a season of constant disappointment, this was a moment that will make all of the lowlight reels, and goes to show that however much Odubel has matured over the years, he’s still capable of moments like this that make your jaw drop.
All the bat-flips in the world don’t make up for blowing a scoring chance in the bottom of the ninth. Do the Phillies have a reputation as a team capable of getting a runner in from third with two outs? Of course not. And if Pham’s throw is several more feet off line, we’re all sitting here watching walk-off clips. But there was no wisdom or foresight put into this decision. It looked bad and it was bad, and even the louder of the Odubel zealots such as myself should be willing to admit that. There’s... not really another argument. With so many young players clamoring for outfield playing time, and Michael Saunders finally purged off the roster, mistakes like this are glaring. Also it is glaring because of how dumb it was.
We are not even halfway through the season.
What’s that, cartoon bird? You want me to burn the Phillies down? Ha ha, well, you’re the boss.