(Photo Credit: Kennebec Journal)
By Ted Gay – @TedG63
It is the one play, during the best April in Red Sox history, that cast a cloud over their success. Brock Holt hit a clutch two-out single to left field to tie the game, but suddenly the jubilee turned to sorrow when third base coach Carlos Febles inexplicably waved Eduardo Nunez home where he was easily gunned down while the best hitter in the American League watched helplessly from the on-deck circle.
There may be a new coach standing in the third base box, but the result is the same. A Red Sox runner is thrown out by several feet and a key run cut down. The history of bad third base coaching goes back to at least to Game Six of the 1975 World Series when with one out in the tenth inning and the series-tying run 90 feet away in the presence of Denny Doyle, Fred Lynn lifted a fly ball to left mid field. George Foster settled under it and coach Don Zimmer yelled “no, no, no,” which after being filtered through 35,000 screaming fans, sounded like “go, go, go.” So Doyle went, went, went, and was thrown out by several feet, feet, feet, for the third out, out, out. Why Zimmer picked a word that rhymes with go instead of saying “stay,” “hold,” or a dozen other words is just another in a long line of unexplainable decisions made by third base coaches. To punish Zimmer for his mistake, he was named manager.
This phenomenon is not confined to those wearing Red Sox on their chests. If you spend enough time watching MLB network, you are bound to see some foolish third base coach sending a runner into an inning-ending out.
Why are third base coaches historically so bad? Is there some sort of optical illusion that acts like a side view mirror making runners appear closer to home plate than they actually are?
Maybe third base coaches are the result of a partnership between Major League Baseball and mental health professionals. If these men weren’t frantically waving every runner in sight home, they would become crossing guards and walk a group of children straight into a semi, because sometimes “you have the make the trucker hit the brake.” Also, it keeps the coaches from driving for a quarter of the year and causing accidents by cutting off drivers on the grounds that they were sure they’d make it safely.
Why are third base coaches needed anyway? On several levels of baseball, and in the past, the majors, managers occupied the third base box. With bench coaches, there is no reason for the manager to be stuck in the dugout while his players blindly circle the bases. Putting the game’s biggest decisions into the hands of third base coaches is like NFL head coaches pulling off the headsets with two minutes left and announced the rest of the game have nothing to do with them.
We must save our teams by eliminating the unhinged third base coaches. As productive members of society, we need to find a role for them that will not cause harm to the public.
Perhaps we can put them in Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thrus where there is always someone who lets five car lengths get between them and the nearest vehicle as they search their car for money before ordering. Having a middle-aged man in a uniform waving his arms and shouting “go, go, go,” will keep things moving on our morning commute.
Until the day comes when we can remove third base coaches from the field and improve both baseball and coffee sales, we must endure more games ending with a runner being tagged three yards from home plate.