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Lackey’s comments and the ‘tag’…..

October 7, 2008

A bunch of people have been asking me about both of the topics.

I don’t know John Lackey beyond a few conversations. He seems to be a real nice guy and he’s a damn good pitcher. I heard his comments last night and before commenting there is one real important piece of information many members of the media fail to acknowledge, downplay or just refuse to admit.

Sound bites taken after a game are dangerous. As the author of WAY MORE than I should have been, I can tell you that regardless (speaking about a pitcher of course) of the amount of time between me leaving the game and the interview I am still ‘processing’ the game and very much ‘in the moment’. Emotions for me are raw for days after a game, much less an hour or two. You ask me about something that I’m upset/fired up or/excited about and many times I will give an emotional and probably more times than I would like to admit, irrational, response.

I am not making excuses, I’ll stand by everything I’ve said, apologize for my screw ups and move on.

That being said I disagree with his comments. The better team ALWAYS wins in October. Like it or not the better team wins, always. I don’t care what your regular season record is, it means zero other than to determine where we are playing.

He was mad, their season was over, it happens and I completely understand his emotional response. Don’t put too much stock in it. Fact of the matter is the better team won and he got out pitched, twice. I don’t care about ‘bloopers’ or the ‘field effects’, both pitchers started even, Jon out pitched him. October has never been, and never will be about pitching good. October demands pitching great, pretty much every inning of every game. Good gets you early tee times. Great gets you a ring. He knows this because he was that guy in 2002.

Contrast his comments with Mike Scioscia, class whether he wins or loses and he’s always been that way, even when he played. I’m old enough to be speaking from experience since I competed against him. What he said was true, they played their asses off but the Sox played better. Understand you are hearing from a team and players who had 8 months of competing together, coming out on top 101 times, and feeling as if it was ‘their year’, all 6 teams feel that way in October. It’s an amazing low when it ends. One minute you are sitting there with a runner on third, 1 out, 90 feet from a lead and heading back to California, thinking momentum will swing your way, the 10 out 11 streak is over and you might even be thinking about the Rays. 15 minutes later you are standing there knowing you are flying across country to pack your locker and go home. It’s an incredibly empty and very surreal feeling.

Speaking of that 90 feet and runner on third. As I understand it a player must only retain control and possession of the ball during the tag of a runner. I would assume that means before, during and after. The grey area I would assume comes in determining the ‘after’ and when that timing actually occurs.

At some point the ‘tag play’ is over right? That’s where I think the umpire interpretation comes into play. I thought the call was correct simply because Jason made the tag and sometime after that his glove hit the ground and the ball popped out. Unlike football I don’t think the ground matters for a ‘fumble’ on a tag play. For a catch sure, but not a tag play. I am sure someone will cut and paste the rule a some point.

Should be a fantastic series in both leagues. Holding to my Sox/Phillies World Series though.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. joker7041 permalink
    October 7, 2008 9:10 pm

    I dunno Curt, I am thinking for some crazy reason that it’s gonna be Sox and Dodgers in the World Series. I personally think would be great. I wanna see Nomar back in Fenway…..I sure as hell wouldn’t want him to win….haha, but I would like to see him back. I do know if this does happen though that the media will have a flippin field day over the whole Manny/Bay thing. I personally think they should let it go. They need to mover on…..I mean both of the players have. Anyways… is to another ring baby!!!!!! and the Yankees watching it on TV…haha. Go SOX!!!!!!

  2. thedoctorx permalink
    October 7, 2008 10:09 pm


    While I can take issue with his comments–and have on other fora–reporters love to shove a mic in the face right after a tough loss and ask: “how do you feel?” Reporters then act surprised the player is not Mr. Gracious. I am reminded of a post you did last year after a tough outing where you basically wrote, “I pitched like shit can we leave it at that?” As you know, reporters expect you to say more.

    Still, The Better Team catches routine pop-flies. The Better Team does not lose two at home when you have home field advantage.

    Just as Pats fans wonder about “the sack” and the “interception” that never happened . . . MFY fans about the “steal” that DID happen, and all of those other “what ifs”–Red Sox fans have had books of them prior to 2004!–I am sure Angel fans and players will replay the “what ifs” for some time. The last two games were fantastic to watch. The Red Sox “coulda” won Game 3 . . . but they did not. They had all the opportunities.

    The Angels “coulda” won Game 4.

    But they did not.

    My understanding of the “tag play” in how it is different from “at the plate” is the runner coming into home is, literally, trying to make the catcher drop the ball. The catcher is, of course, blocking the plate which allows the runner to run over him. In a base-rundown, the guy with the ball merely needs to tag the player. IF, in tagging, he drops the ball, that is a different story. That is what A-Fraud McSlappy’s interference looked like to the first base umpire back in 2004–Bronson dropping the ball on the tag.

    Once Tek tagged him, he tagged him. Play over. I suppose if in the process of tagging him the ball popped out, that would be a different story. However, he clearly has the ball as the umpire points to signal the tag. As I forgot who said it, “the ground can’t cause a fumble.”

    Also rooting for Sox/Phillies . . . just to avoid the 24/7 “Manny Returns to Boston” crapola.


    P.S. Hope you are around next year, and not in a DEVIL Rays uniform.

  3. aaaaah permalink
    October 7, 2008 10:21 pm

    Kudos to the Angels for their great season. They have been nail bitingly great in the off season too, but none of these could and should overshadow the fact that the Sox did better. I don’t do stats well, but the Sox has to be the most amazing clutch team ever since 2003. Pushed to the ninth with 2 outs, they always dig deep to make miracles happen.

    Here in Singapore, BBQed rays are a delicay, SO LET’S GRILL SOME RAYS!!!

  4. TheNorEaster permalink
    October 8, 2008 12:25 am


    I absolutely went ballistic–in a good way, of course–when Jason made that tag. Watching it was so surreal. A catcher–the smartest and toughest guy on the team, but also the slowest–chasing down a runner for ninety feet and making the tag?

    Only The Red Sox. Only Tek. Only in October.

    And you’re absolutely right–the better team always wins in October.


    By the way, my grandparents used to live in Phillie. I still remember seeing Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose play (this was long before Rose got banned from baseball, mind you). So I’m hoping to comes down to The Red Sox and The Phillies, too.

    AND I hope Boston WINS!!!

  5. rodfromholyoke permalink
    October 8, 2008 12:42 am

    Yes, we have all said things that we often regret later, especially in very low and frustrating moments as Lackey had to experience from yet another defeat from the relentless Red Sox. Somehow though I feel a day later he probably still feels he was with the better team. I was more upset by some of his team mates comments, especially the one toward Dustin’s double off the wall. Such comment make them look foolish. Just be good losers guys! I agree, the better team always wins. For someone to say they had an off day, or made a mistake, or anything to that effect is just silly, for the best teams never allow themselves to have an off day on elimination games, that’s what makes them the best team. I am a huge Patriots fan, and I have no choice but to say that the Giants were the better team in last years superbowl. The Pats had a chance to prove themselves and they blew it, plain and simple.

    I feel the Sox will beat the Rays and face the Phillies in the seriers. I think the Phillies are being overlooked over the hype of Manny and the medias desire for a Dodger/Sox world series. I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself.

  6. October 8, 2008 12:45 am

    Hey Curt –

    Glad to see a great series with the Angels. I think Tampa will be a tougher series and will probably go seven games. Always nice to read your thoughts, but I think Varitek may have gotten away with one. It was hard fought by both teams and those 2 games at Fenway had the tightest strike zones I have seen in quite some time. Should be a great week and we can’t wait to go to Fenway on Monday.

    The Sparhawks

  7. cjcingjt permalink
    October 8, 2008 2:18 am

    Hey Curt,
    Great analysis. I’m happy with the game 4 outcome, of course, but my work buddy is an Angel’s fan so I have to be extra nice to him for a while.

    I just read you might try to pitch the last half of the 2009 season.

    How’s the shoulder? I wrote you back on 6/24 about my surgery (Reply 595 in your no regrets post). I’ve made great progress on my rehab, but the RC muscles are badly atrophied, especially the supraspinatus. I have in the neighborhood of 5 anchors in my shoulder and the tendon has healed well. I just have a long, slow, boring road ahead of careful, and well targeted exercise and stretching to get it all back in shape. Here I am 8 months after surgery, I can do all the normal day-to-day stuff, but I can’t believe how much certain motions still hurt.

    I would be nice to hear a little about your rehab. I’m sure your fans would be very interested in the amount of work you’re putting in to try and come back. Thinking of what I’m trying to do just to be able to golf and play softball again, I can only imagine how much more you’re doing to get back into pitching shape.

    Good luck, keep at it, and we’re all rootin’ for ya.

  8. October 8, 2008 5:10 am

    Had to stay up late and watch the game on last night and was blown away. Lester ist so great and especially the young guys played great, even though Dustin is in somekinda slump.

    I have yet to hear what Lackey said but if you lose 3 out of 4 your are NOT the better team AT THAT MOMENT. The Red Sox as a team where better prepared and played better then the Angels. This is all that mattered right then.

    This all can change on friday but I will be there, perhaps this time watching live again, as I did for the 2004 WS, even thought it is in the middle of the night here in germany. At least my wife doesn’t have to call me during my train ride to work, since I switched jobs.

  9. jsindal permalink
    October 8, 2008 10:18 am

    Hey Curt – As others said, in that case where the runner was tagged and called out by them ump before ‘Tek even fell, he was clearly out.

    The Angels bench saw the ball fall out and where it happened so fast, I think they were so heated about it.

    Don’t know why I’m telling you this, since you were there and are a longtime pro baseball player and all, but whatever!

    Good call on the Lackey comments. I’m sure he’d feel a little different after a day or two to digest what happened.

  10. avidsoxfan permalink
    October 8, 2008 10:23 am

    I was at Game 4 on Monday and it was a amazing to watch live. Even better was to see Varitek tag out the runner on third…where did his speed come from? The ump got it right, he was out.
    I have to say, having a mom with ALS, now in a nursing home, being at the game felt like a 4 hour vacation escaping from real life. Watching that game took my mind off of everything. It was such a stress-reliever! Thanks, Mr Schilling, for your tiredless efforts for raising money and awareness for ALS. Unless you actually live through it, I don’t think anyone can really appreciate and understand all the work you do.
    Hoping to see you on the mound in 2009 and hoping the Sox will bring home another ring.

  11. jas62 permalink
    October 8, 2008 11:55 am

    I’m with you on the Red Sox/Phillies World Series!
    As for the ‘tag’, I believe it was complete and the right call was made. The base runner had no interference with the ball so when it rolled out of Tek’s glove after the tag was made, the runner was out. The reason this play might have been called out if it took place at home plate is the base runner usually is the cause of the ball popping out of the glove at the plate.
    But what about plays in the outfield when there is no base running interference? If an outfielder catches the ball but it pops out of the glove if the player falls to the ground, isn’t that a hit? These rules can be as convoluted as the tax code!!
    Either way, the look on Tek’s face after that play was priceless! Good luck Red Sox and I hope Philly keeps Manny out of Fenway. I’m tired of the whole Manny story, ad nauseam.
    Love Ya!

  12. superman4699 permalink
    October 8, 2008 3:10 pm

    Hey Curt,

    I may have to disagree with you on the tag. The way you rationalize it you’re saying that at some point the ‘tag play’ is over; therefore, when Jason makes the tag, he has possession and at some point the play is ruled over before it hits the ground and pops out.

    Imagine if this were a play at the plate and the runner barrels into the catcher. Suppose the catcher has possession as the runner barrels into home… the runner runs into the glove/catcher in attempt to knock the ball loose thereby being “tagged”, the catcher then falls to the ground and the ball pops out. Don’t you think he would be called safe (assuming the runner touched the plate)? At what point is the “tag play” over in that scenario? Typically it’s after the collision and after the catcher stands up to show he still has possession. I don’t really see how it’s different here. If you ask me, I think Jason should have been required to retain possession. Just my two cents.

    -Mike D.

  13. loisrgriswold permalink
    October 8, 2008 5:16 pm

    Dear Curt,
    “Mom” is very proud of the TEAM. I’m following each game from our new location — a small town called Wyoming, OHIO. We have a beautiful new home here — three blocks from our granddaughter, Emma Grace, who also moved from Boston to Ohio in late April…We LOVE it here, but I miss greeting all of you to work and baking for the guys — even though you have given up on cookies. I have too, pretty much..and lost 40 lbs. It feels really good. But, I still bake for everyone here…May God Bless you and each of the Guys as the TEAM heads toward the goal — with steamroller fashion attire. I love you all. Of course, “Mom away from Mom” is praying for all of you. Please give my regards to everyone at Fenway.
    Love, Lois (“Mom”)

  14. October 8, 2008 5:26 pm

    Shoot. If this is a duplicate post – I apologize. Something happened and the page refreshed!!

    What I had started to say was that I will reserve my thoughts on any games outside of this upcoming series until after the series. I’m just preferring to air on the side of caution; I think this series is going to be more difficult than the last one; there’s a reason why we couldn’t catch them in the division.

    So while I share the optimism and enthusiasm, I’ll hold off on thoughts regarding the World Series.

    The press is a funny animal. They ask the clearly keyed up John Lackey what he thinks just minutes after the season ending game; it was obvious on the mound he was frustrated — what did they think he was going to say? It’s generally easier for the manager to be more level headed — he didn’t just pitch 8 innings and watch the defense make some errors that cost them the game, potentially – amongst other things. Though what he said was clearly out of line and foolish – it was in the heat of the moment and I think most people get that.

    What we don’t get are the whiny reporters that go on shows like “Around the Horn” or whatever and cry that it wasn’t a fair game, bad calls, etc. Man up, shut up and sit down. Just my humble opinon.

    Truthfully, I dont know what all the drama was about Jason’s tag out anyway. It was abundantly clear that it wasn’t a “fumble”. A tag is a tag is a tag – no? He was tagged out long before the ball hit the ground. I thought it was a non issue, truly.

    Off topic – how are you feeling about the latest “debates”?

  15. jay8338 permalink
    October 8, 2008 8:23 pm

    Hopefully the RedSox and the Dodgers make to the World Series so that Manny can punch you Curtus in your fat racist mouth. You are a piece of Crap just like the rest of the losers leaving comments. GO OBAMA 08
    Before I forget just in case you didn’t know which I’m pretty sure you losers do Obama’s mother was a WHITE lady too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. October 8, 2008 8:45 pm

    Curt, just wanted to thank you for your time here in Boston, you have been an inspiration. I hope to see alot more of you, especially on those NESN commercials for charity with your family. You’ve done alot here in the years you’ve been with us, and i hope you are able to play for us more when your healthier… if that day doesnt come, or you decide to call it a career, thank you for everything sir. you are a great guy, and a damn amazing player.

  17. prodl permalink
    October 8, 2008 9:18 pm

    well, this thread is probably old news. but, just in case…

    1) Curt, really appreciate your candor (as always)

    2) the tag play isn’t our opinion, it is what the rules say. no one here has cited the rule book. what does it say?

    3) Lackey – whatever, what do you expect. they must be frustrated as h*ll. who wouldn’t be

    4) the Angels played ATROCIOUS defense

    5) if the wall is such a chip shot, why were so few balls hit off it, by either side?

    6) back to sound, winning baseball: how is that squeeze bunt completely missed? big papi could’ve gotten the bat on that pitch. maybe not down on the ground, but the bat would’ve hit the ball

    7) bring on the dodgers. who doesn’t love the subplots? manny is a j’o’, but he was a big part of us winning 2 WS (the first and only 2 of MY lifetime). let the fun happen!

    p.s. Curt, I had an offer from a friend of a friend to sit with you in your seats. maybe some time soon!

  18. October 9, 2008 3:40 am

    Lets see:

    7.08 Any runner is out when—
    (c) He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base. EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base;
    APPROVED RULING: (1) If the impact of a runner breaks a base loose from its position, no play can be made on that runner at that base if he had reached the base safely.

    Doesn’t apply because it was not the impact of the runner that broke the ball lose.

    And that’s it. The tag at home is different because the runner tries to break the ball lose from the catcher.

  19. thedoctorx permalink
    October 9, 2008 6:39 am

    If jay8338 is indicative of the intelligence of an Obama supporter, I fear for the future of our country.


  20. smokey7293 permalink
    October 9, 2008 8:48 am


    I was always find it amazing when a fan, let alone a player says the “best team always wins” Anyone who has played sports at any level or even watched a fair amount knows this just isn’t true. AND THAT IS JUST WHAT MAKES SPORTS SO GREAT!!! That’s why we watch. If the best team always won, why play the game? If Dave Roberts gets caught stealing & the Yankees go on to sweep are the Yankees a better team b/c of that 1 play. Was Villanova a better team than Georgetown. Of course not…but that day they were. If the better team always wins why did the Bulls lose 12 games in ’95-”96? Is Ole Miss better than Florida in CF?

    The point is you never know. You never know who’s going to choke under pressure….who’s got the stones to come through in the clutch….who’s going to get the lucky bounce…the recovered fumble….the blocked punt….I’ll never understand that comment that the “best team always wins”

  21. soxfanincalgary permalink
    October 9, 2008 11:05 am

    The definition of “tag” in Rule 2.00 is:

    A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.

    Unfortunately, this is all there is to go on. Based on this definition, Jason completed the play and the runner was out.

  22. metaphase permalink
    October 9, 2008 1:28 pm

    I sure hope you’re right about the Sox/Phillies world series. I just don’t want to see a Sox/Dodgers. I’m just not ready to watch Manny come out to play against the Sox. That wound is healed over but still tender, I guess.
    As for the tag, I think the play was over when the ball popped out. All I could keep thinking was that Tek just ran down that guy and tagged him- in all that gear!

  23. justautilityinfielder permalink
    October 9, 2008 11:47 pm

    The only time a player has to have control of the ball throughout the play is in a collision at the plate. If an outfielder makes a catch and drops it on the transfer, it’s an out. If a 2B tags second and drops the ball going for a double play, the runner going to second is still out.

    I have no problem with what Lackey said. Even though they won’t read this, I congratulate them on a great season and wish them good luck next year.

    As far as the best team not winning; Bill Russell once said, “that’s why they keep score”.

  24. October 10, 2008 2:04 am

    @thedoctorx: I follow all that from afar (I’m german) and can say that there are idiots on both sides, normal men and women on both sides and brilliant people on both sides. I, myself think that Obama would be better for the world as whole, but I do NOT think that McCain is a warmonger or that supporting him is an act of evil.

    Politics seldom is a clean business and as a politician you have to make choices that are morally questionable. As soon as you forget that fact the man or woman in the office becomes something he or she is not.

  25. drc500free permalink
    October 10, 2008 7:17 am

    starocotesAPPROVED RULING: (1) If the impact of a runner breaks a base loose from its position, no play can be made on that runner at that base if he had reached the base safely.

    From my experience, umpires traditionally give all benefit of the doubt to the runner. If the runner impacts the catcher, and the catcher only loses possession upon hitting the ground, the runner is often called safe. I hadn’t realized that the rule specified that it must be the runner’s impact that breaks the ball loose.

  26. likeproy permalink
    October 13, 2008 10:04 pm

    Hey Curt….I am a diehard Yankee fan living in RI…just thought I’d share some information about myself…..In my opinion, you are the best postseason pitcher of all time and despite the loss, my favorite world series of all time was 2001….I also agree with your statement that the best team always wins in October……With that said man those Rays look good….what do you think of this Tampa Bay team and do you think that they can actually win the World Series? I don’t mean to be irrelevant on this current topic, but I would be interested in what you’d have to say and there is no topic on your blog concerning the Rays.

  27. theclassofbasball permalink
    October 21, 2008 8:25 am

    Hi Red Sox nation

    Just couldn’t sit back and not say anything about the Red Sox, Rays series, So much for you’re repeat, Maybe it will shut up all you red sox fans for awhile, and realize you just can’t waltz through the playoffs and get to the world series just because you won it last year, You fans are starting to think you can win it every year, Sorry wrong answer, To many tough teams now, the Ray’s are gona be around for a long time, Don’t feel bad though, the Red sox can go back to doing what they always have done,…………………Losing

    Really? No matter what you put on the table, from 26 World Championships (last century) to a laundry list of hall of famers, you’re still a fan of the team that authored the worst choke in the history of sports. Not baseball, not soccer, ALL OF SPORTS. That’s good stuff, you just hang in there though it will get better. Chin up.

  28. tigersrulebaseball permalink
    October 22, 2008 8:36 am

    hey curt

    Is this the same Curt Schilling that wana to play for the yankees two years ago? how you called Brian cashman and told him you rather play for the yankees than the red sox? How do i know this? Mike and the mad dog “The fan” Wow strong words from a player who waited until he sighed a contact to tell them he had a bad shoulder, Lets not talk about how long the yankeess have gone without winning and how many chokes the red sox have had mention a few?

    can’t take away what we have Curt 26 to 2? and by the way i’m sure you won’t post this don’t want all you’re great fans know you wanted to play for the Yankee’s


  29. dboone25 permalink
    October 30, 2008 2:53 pm


    I noticed that you are going to be 42 in a few months, and that you had surgery in June. Is it possible that you will be able to return like Ryan, Clemens, Niekro, Spahn, Paige…etc, pitchers who were unstoppable in their 40’s?

    Is it possible that you will return to the top? Is it possible that you will win the Cy before your’re all done? Personally, I’m not a huge Curt Shilling fan, but I think you were the most dominate pitcher of my time by far (Im 26). I think it would be an injustice to your career to never win one.

    I’m sure that that you have a million trophies…but how does the greatest ever (that I’ve seen) not have the big one? Don’t get me wrong, Eckersley was dominate in his prime, but he was a relief pitcher. And he sure wasn’t Curt Shilling.

    Comeback and smash em Curt!

  30. stat1 permalink
    November 3, 2008 7:06 am

    Curt, for a guy who made millions this year never throwing a single pitch, using the word “integrity” in decribing McCain, is an oxymorn in your vocabulary. If you want people to believe that you know the meaning of the word integrity, you might want to return the millions of dollars that you took from the Red Sox this year.


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