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Didja ever notice The Player of the Game?

Part of a continuing series of posts related to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

I don't remember if it was during the initial viewing or one of the many reruns of the events of October 25, that my dad and I became rather puzzled by the judgement of NBC's broadcast crew.

"The Miller Lite Player of the Game (portrayed humorously in the "RBI Baseball Reenactment of Game 6") is Marty Barrett," Vin Scully declared with two outs, nobody on, and Gary Carter up in the last of the 10th inning. Scully proceeded to run down Barrett's credentials- three singles, two walks, two RBI, and "handled everything hit his way" (one putout, four assists).

Several issues come into play here. One is that the game was not over yet, but that one's so obvious that it goes without saying? The other issue is this: By citing Barrett aren't you slighting the man who, had the Red Sox won, would have had the biggest hit in franchise history?

It's not like Dave Henderson hasn't gotten his proper due, but consider this. If the Red Sox had won, wouldn't he have had THE HIT MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR WINNING THE TEAM'S FIRST WORLD SERIES IN 68 YEARS???

Henderson's resume for the rest of the contest wasn't as good as Barrett's, but it wasn't exactly all that shabby. Prior to the home run, Henderson went 1-for-4. He too handled everything hit his way (his catch of the second out in the 10th inning gave him five putouts).

Any way you figure it, Henderson's performance was better than Barrett's. Common sense tells you that, but so does mathematics. I ran the numbers for "Win expectancy" (a neat new stat that calculates player value based on moment-to-moment performance) and found that Henderson's home run increased Boston's chances of winning by 36.7 percent. By comparison, Barrett's three hits and two walks increased Boston's chances of winning by a combined 31.4 percent. Never mind that Henderson had THE HIT MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR WINNING THE TEAM'S FIRST WORLD SERIES IN 68 YEARS.

The other issue I want to ponder is this: Had NBC shown the proper patience and discipline and waited until the game was over to decree a "Miller Lite Player of the Game" award, who should they have chosen?

Think about that for a second. Who was most responsible for the Mets winning the game? (don't cheat and answer "Bill Buckner."

Do you give the award to Mookie Wilson? Well, that would be giving Mookie a significant amount of credit for a few two-strike foul balls and his "One Giant Leap for Metkind" (I refer to his dodging Bob Stanley's wild pitch...interesting to note he got hit in a similar such situation in Game 7). Considering that Mookie's success comes from the misfortune of others (Stanley/Gedman and Buckner), that isn't necessarily an easy call.

Do we give the award to Ray Knight? Knight had two hits and two runs scored. He drove in the first Mets run of the game, with the team hitless and down 2-0 in the 5th, then fought off an 0-2 pitch from Calvin Schiraldi for an RBI single in the 10th inning rally and scored the eventual winning run after Mookie's grounder rolled through Buckner's legs. But we can't forget Knight's foible, an 8th inning error that led to Boston's taking the lead.

Do we give the award to Gary Carter? Carter was the batter in two of the biggest moments in the game: The first came with the bases loaded and one out, down one run in the eighth, when his sacrifice fly tied the score at three. Detractors will note that the out came on a 3-0 pitch, one Carter might have been better off taking. The second didn't do much for the scoreboard, but his two out single in the 10th inning kept the game alive.

Considering that 20 years have passed, I think it's about time we corrected NBC's faux pas. Would anyone like to cast their vote on "The MetsWalkoffs Player of the Game?" Feel free to do so in the comments section.

Other installments of "Didja ever notice?" can be found...


Stormy said…
I have to vote for Mookie & not for the little roller, but for The Jump.

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