CITIFIELD – The Dodgers’ dugout-to-bullpen phone fiasco of Wednesday night has been explained – kinda.
“It was hung upside down,” explained a denizen of the Dodger bullpen just before Thursday’s getaway matinee here. The denizen shall remain nameless because we didn’t want to risk trying to make a phone call to get approval from the team. “That’s how it was explained to us, anyway. So it couldn’t ring and nobody could hear anything.”
So the receiver was where the microphone should’ve been and the microphone was where the receiver should’ve been? “A little more complicated than that. But I’m not sure how exactly.”
Further probing by the estimable Ben Walker of the Associated Press suggested that the way the phone had been placed back on its cradle had tripped a wire that rendered the whole bullpen without communications. As delightful as it might be to imagine a major league coach screaming “Hello? HELLO?” into the end of the phone with the cord coming out of it, it wasn’t that simple.
Baseball had supposedly fixed the phone problem – which was, er, called into prominence by the Cardinals during the 5th Game of the 2011 World Series – by replacing the cranky landlines with state-of-the-art cellular communications this season. But the new system has not reached CitiField and the old one has now twice had problems or, if you prefer, hang-ups.
As we approach 24 hours after the bizarre bullpen screw-ups that may have helped to cost the Cardinals Game 5 of the World Series, one question crystallizes out of the haze:
Tony LaRussa expects us to believe that his bullpen was told to get closer Jason Motte and lefty specialist Mark Rzepczynski ready, but heard only “Rzepczynski”? And following that disaster, they were again told to get Motte ready but instead thought they heard “Lance Lynn”? That the noise was so deafening and the bullpen phone so reminiscent of a string-and-juice-can, that they missed the name of the number one guy down there, and then mistook one name for another that doesn’t sound anything like it?
And most importantly, after it happened once, nobody double-checked the second time they tried to get Motte warm? No “repeat it for me! Spell it!”? Nobody down there with a sense that in a sport where the bullpen coach was blamed and fired for Bobby Thomson’s home run (“Erskine is bouncing his curve,” Clyde Sukeforth said in 1951, sending the other pitcher warming, Ralph Branca, to his Dodger doom), that screwing it up once was a fireable offense?
Even if the bullpen staff is – so to speak – off the hook in the responsibility equation: are there no monitors? Are there no coaches who don’t think Jason Motte and Lance Lynn aren’t the same guy just because they both have beards? Did we really luck out last night because Bruce Sutter didn’t find himself warming up? LaRussa and Dave Duncan never noticed the wrong pitcher was throwing? When it was shown on tv? The second time?
If all of these questions are legitimate, there should have been people fired this morning, LaRussa included. My guess is the questions are not – they’re too amateurish to be believed of the worst manager in baseball, let alone LaRussa.
And if that’s true, it raises two more and far more disturbing questions: why is LaRussa lying and what really happened?
What? You want to know about the Albert Pujols “I called the hit-and-run then chose not to swing” fantasy? Don’t get me started. Let’s just chalk that one up to extra-terrestrials.