Re: "They'd Rather Be Lucky Than Good," October 21:
The third strike call did make A.J. Pierzynski famous or infamous, but why did the controversy really occur? First, while it happened and immediately afterward Fox Sports commentator Tim McCarver (aided by only a long-distance and ambiguous camera angle) firmly and fervently whined, "He caught the ball, he caught the ball." McCarver had no basis for being so certain of himself.
A couple minutes later Fox finally (and only once) showed the close-up, straight-on video of the ball entering Josh Paul's glove. It showed the ball changing directions, apparently bouncing off the ground. There was only a minute possibility the ball had bounced within Paul's glove, which had been held perpendicular to the ground, so the McCarver-generated controversy should have immediately dissipated.
Except there was one problem: pundits and talking heads didn't want to let go of their precious controversy. That and melodrama sell newspapers and pull TV viewers, and reality wasn't as much fun. The sports media had already boarded the McCarver bandwagon at the sound of his voice and was making up a story. Groundless controversy quickly became consensus reality, Pierzynski played the Snidely Whiplash role, and even the hometown sports media went along.
But now the Sox are champs, the controversy is old news, and there is nothing left to sell. So let's not take Ted Cox's suggestion and "agree to call it A.J. Pierzynski's stealing first." Instead, Chicagoans should just call it a smart play by one of the town's sports heroes.
End of story.