You have to say all the obligatory stuff up top, which is why they call it obligatory. There were a lot of other plays in the game. Check swings are a notoriously tough call. The difference in the regular season standings between the teams could also be attributed to a check swing call that went in the other direction. Even if this call was different, that doesn’t mean the game outcome would’ve changed. All right. I’ve done my duty.
Because with all those caveats in place, you simply cannot deny that the call that ended the decisive NLDS Game 5 between the Giants and Dodgers was flat out wrong. Blown. Missed. Terrible. How do you blow it that badly?
With a one-run lead, the Dodgers called on Max Scherzer to finish off the game. After Kris Bryant had reached base as the would-be tying run, Wilmer Flores was up with two outs, trying to extend the game. On an 0-2 count, Scherzer threw one of his nasty sliders, and Flores started to trigger his swing, but held up. Except an appeal to first base umpire Gabe Morales yielded a strike call that ended the game. It was shocking.
Here’s the video:
This “swing” ended the Giants’ season … pic.twitter.com/MAB5mhaYAq
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) October 15, 2021
That’s not a swing. 😑 pic.twitter.com/xI5b4KUT1N
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 15, 2021
Notably, there is no hard-and-fast rule on what constitutes a “swing,” at least not what you’d be looking for in a situation like this. Instead, a swing is simply defined more or less as “an attempt to hit the ball.” On checked swings, we use various checkpoints to decide – did his wrists break? did he go past the plate? etc. – but ultimately the decision comes down to whether an umpire feels a batter went too far in an effort to make contact with the ball. That’s really it.
I think 95 times out of 100, we would all agree when watching a play whether a batter truly offered at a pitch or whether he successfully checked his swing. That other 5% is really tough, and we might have debates. That’s just the nature of an ambiguous non-rule like this.
But this situation was one of the 95. It’s an easy call. You look at it and you can just see that Flores held up. I don’t even know for sure how I’d *define* it, but I can just tell that he did not go too far in offering at that pitch. I suspect virtually everyone here agrees.
The umpires probably will agree later when seeing the replay, but they don’t have the benefit of that in the moment.
Asked if he still thought he made the right call, crew chief Ted Barrett answered: “Yeah, no, we, yeah, yeah, he doesn’t want to say.”
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 15, 2021
In the end, all those caveats up top apply. There were dozens of outs in the game, hundreds of pitches. That was the final one, but it wasn’t the only play that mattered. It just sucks for the Giants that their season – in a tight, decisive playoff game against their bitter rival – ends on a clearly incorrect call.
Bad call in a huge game wooooow
— Willson Contreras (@WContreras40) October 15, 2021