AJ Pierzynski and Doug Eddings: A Match Made In Heaven
Baseball is a funny sport, full of crazy little things that make it the greatest game in the world.
Sunday's White Sox game was another example of this.
The Rays were on the verge—just one out—away from sweeping the White Sox out of U.S. Cellular Field, a sweep that could have crippled the White Sox down the stretch.
Then, Paul Konerko delivered a single to left off Tampa Bay's Dan Wheeler. Brian Anderson reached third base about when left fielder Ben Zobrist unleashed his throw towards home. The throw took a few bounces, and catcher Shaun Riggans couldn't get a handle on it, allowing Anderson to score and tie the game at five in the bottom of the ninth.
The fact that third base coach Jeff Cox's "suicide send" worked wasn't the weirdest thing that happened in the game, though.
AJ Pierzynski lead off the tenth with a line drive single to center, and he advanced to second on a deep fly ball by Carlos Quentin.
Then, things got fun.
Jermaine Dye hit a weak ground ball to shortstop Jason Bartlett, and Pierzynski decided he would try to reach third on the play, ignoring the rule of thumb in baseball of "if you're on second and a ball is hit in front of you, don't try to advance."
Pierzynski got in a rundown and tried to extend it as long as he could. Then, he fell down. Whether it was on purpose or just an upshot of Pierzynski not having the baserunning grace of Rickey Henderson, it doesn't matter. The fact is, he fell down, and all camera angles indicated that he wasn't touched by third baseman Willy Aybar.
However, there was one person on the field who thought Aybar knocked Pierzynski down.
White Sox fans remember Eddings as the home plate umpire in game two of the 2005 ALCS. Kelvim Escobar was cruising along, dominating the White Sox up and down their lineup. When Pierzynski swung and missed at a low pitch, it looked to be just another out in the string of Escobar's dominance. However, Eddings didn't see it that way when Pierzynski ran to first base, and Eddings allowed him to stay there. Pablo Ozuna pinch ran, stole second, and scored the winning run on a double by Joe Crede, spurring the White Sox on to eight consecutive wins en route to a World Series title.
But back to Sunday, when it looked like Pierzynski was going to be the second out of the tenth inning. Eddings would have none of it, as he decided that Aybar knocked Pierzynski down and awarded the Eddie Haskell of Major League Baseball third base.
After a lengthy argument by Rays manager Joe Maddon and a meeting of the minds between Eddings and the other three umpires, the decision was made to still allow Pierzynski third base.
That put runners on the corners with one out. After Jason Hammel intentionally walked Jim Thome, the bases were loaded for Alexei Ramirez, who delivered a walk-off single on a line drive to right field. The Sox won the game 6-5, assuring that they would stay at most a half-game back of Boston for the Wild Card and Minnesota for the division.
But the story behind this game was that Pierzynski and Eddings had another encounter that greatly aided the White Sox to victory.
I'm sure you can make the argument that there are biased officials in all other sports, but the great thing about Pierzynski and Eddings is that Eddings is not a biased umpire—he just might be extremely gullible. He certainly doesn't come off as biased towards the White Sox.
It's just another hilarious little occurrence in the history of baseball, and it happened to help the White Sox avoid a sweep.
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