Kallas Remarks: No Matter What You Hear, That’s No Error On Albert Pujols

By Steve Kallas
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You know the play. Game 2 of the World Series, top 9, St. Louis 1, Texas 0, nobody out, Ian Kinsler has just stolen second, Elvis Andrus at the plate.  Andrus singles to center, John Jay fields the ball on one hop and comes up throwing home.   Albert Pujols is the cutoff man but can’t catch the (offline) throw.  Kinsler stays at third while Andrus moves on to second on the (errant) throw.

This, of course, is huge as the next two batters (Josh Hamilton and Michael Young) hit sacrifice flies and both Kinsler and Andrus score.

Final score: Texas 2, St. Louis 1.  Texas steals home field advantage away from St. Louis as they go to Texas tied at 1 game.


As soon as the play happened, expert analyst Tim McCarver decided that Albert Pujols should be given an error.  After all, according to McCarver, Pujols touched the throw and, thus, should be given an error.  McCarver later expanded, stating that the fact that Pujols touched the ball hurt the chances of Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina to throw out Andrus at second.

An interesting analysis, unchallenged by Joe Buck (or anyone else, for that matter, as everybody seemed to jump on the Pujols-made-a-big-error bandwagon).

But that analysis, on this play, was dead wrong.


Interestingly, the official scorer, originally, did not give Pujols an error.  He was correct, but must have bowed to pressure and changed his decision AFTER the game, giving Pujols an error on what turned out to be a play that changed the game and, possibly, the 2011 World Series.

Here’s the rule (Rule 10.12(a)(8)):

“The official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder:

(8) whose failure to stop, or try to stop, an ACCURATELY thrown ball permits a runner to advance.” (emphasis added).


Take a look at the replay.  The throw was a bad one.  Albert Pujols, coming over from first base to be the cutoff man lined up with home plate, took one step, then another, and lunged to try and get the ball.  The throw wound up 15-18 feet (maybe even a little more) from home plate up the third base line.

Under no definition of accurate was that an accurate throw.

Therefore, under the definition of an error set forth above, that simply could not be an error AGAINST ALBERT PUJOLS.

And while Tim McCarver said that Pujols tipped the ball, that wasn’t clear to this writer even on a slow motion replay.  But let’s assume he did slightly tip it: if he tipped it a little, it was 15-18 feet up the third base line.  If he hadn’t tipped it (again, assuming that he did on the actual play), it would have been 12-15 feet up the third base line.

Either way, a bad, inaccurate throw by John Jay.

Had Jay made a perfect throw, the ball would have been right on Pujols’s chest, an easy catch.  If he had made a good throw, Pujols would have taken one step to his left and caught the ball easily.  But once you go to two steps AND a lunge, well, there’s no chance that this was an “accurate” throw.

And, thus, no chance that this was an error on Albert Pujols.


Well, a far more interesting question, since this clearly was not an error on Pujols.  Once again, let’s look at the rule:  Rule 10.12(a)(6):  “The official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder: (6) whose wild throw in attempting to prevent a runner’s advance [Kinsler] permits that runner or any other runner [Andrus] to advance one or more bases beyond the base such runner would have reached had the throw not been wild.”

The only question now becomes:  Is there anything between an “accurate” throw and a “wild” throw?  But that is beyond the scope of this column (if there is nothing between accurate and wild, this was an error on the outfielder, not the lunging first baseman).

There’s no chance that the throw from John Jay was an “accurate” one.  Again, just watch the replay.  If it’s limited to accurate or wild, then it was wild.  If there is something in between (inaccurate? bad?), then I would vote for an inaccurate throw or a bad throw.

But, whatever it was, it was not an accurate throw.

And, whatever it was, it was NOT an error on Albert Pujols.


While everybody (other than the official scorer, and keep in mind that the New York Post actually reported that there were official scorers, plural, who changed the scoring after “numerous reviews”) immediately (and later, see, for example, every expert on SportsCenter) accepted Tim McCarver’s explanation as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the reality is that he made a snap judgment which, frankly, given the rule and the actual throw, was incorrect.

But don’t take my word for it.  Watch the replay, watch the throw, watch Pujols take two steps and lunge, watch where Molina fields the ball and draw your own conclusion.

Sometimes even the experts make mistakes.

But if this error stands (and, hey, presumably it could be changed again) and the Rangers win the World Series, 10, 20 or 50 years from now (or maybe even next week or next month), someone will “break down” the 2011 World Series and come to the conclusion that that big error by Albert Pujols in Game 2, which allowed the winning run to unnecessarily get into scoring position, was the key play in the Cardinals defeat.

And, frankly, that would be dead wrong.

  • Fred Carter

    Mr Kallas :
    I hope you and others do not allow this obvious bad call of saying error on Pojlos, to go unchallenged . When I first saw it , I knew it was a ridiculous comment by MCCarver , who is so bad at what he does , he gets spoofed on ” Family Guy ” cartoon show . I had his signature catchers mitt as a kid ( McCarver ) and at the time he was my idol. Which tells you a lot , my age , human error and sincerity . McCarver should be paying for full page ads across national newspapers apologizing for his ridiculous comment that started all of this . The MLB rule is clear . This was no error . McCarver , of all people should know this . It was a off target throw by Jay . Or was it , you have two base runners . If the man rounding third continues to home , Pojlol’s tip of the ball is a sensational play . Watching the replay , you have 3 Cardinals lined up between Jay and Molina . The 2nd baseman and shortstop then Pojlos ( from 1st base ! ). Throw from Jay off mark only for cut off , on mark for runner rounding 3rd . The MLB rules do not give an error to a catcher ( McCarver a good catcher , only in the eyes of a kid with his glove ) for failing to throw a runner out at second , or better yet , no error for stolen base at third . If the MLB rules would give error for this , McCarver would have been laughed out of the league 45 years ago . The no error rule for stolen base is because there are multiple variables , slow pitching delivery , allowing too big of lead off etc.. The catchers throw can go ten feet over second base and no error ( as McCarver knows well ) . This ridiculous “on air babble” by McCarver is never ending . Pojlos may not have even tipped the ball . Two angles of replays can not prove a tip , they can prove throw off any target , but third base line . This error call is wrong and every baseball official in the country knows it . McCarver is the only over paid party in this affair , followed right behind by Joe Buck and I am obviously from St Louis and can read , as only you can too , the simple MLB rule pertaining to this event and wrong error call . There should be no error called on this event due to base runner rounding 3rd and a stolen 2nd base . Period .

    Fred Carter

  • David

    Well done, Kalas. Finally somebody said it. Props for clear and independent thinking.

  • clayton

    hi noname,

    *The only reason the ball looked catchable is because of Pukols’ effort to get to it.
    *Pujols could have been squared up but that would only help on an accurate throw.
    *(to me) it looked like he was trying to catch up to the throw. It was a hard it ball and got to the outfielder quickly. He may not have had time to the right position. I think he hustled just fine


  • noname

    hi steve,

    you’re kidding right?

    who gets charged the error doesn’t seem like something to get all worked up over, but i thought Pujols made a bad play, a play who could have made and probably will make the next time.

    * one job of a cut-off man is to catch balls that ARE off-line; the throw wasn’t awful, looked catchable to me
    * pujols wasn’t squared up before the outfielder threw the ball, he could have been in better position to receive the ball.
    * (to me) it looked like he was offline to the first base side of home plate as the ball was coming in.
    * looked like he could have hustled more. or shown more effort/urgency. (maybe he’s hurt?).

    i think he deserves the attention he may/will get when people look back on this WS game. he made a bad play at a critical time in a game his team lost. PLUS it was more of a mental error. (to me)

    in addition, i expect little league managers will use the play as an example of how NOT to receive a cut-off throw regardless of the official scoring; i.e. get in position quickly, square up, put both arms in the air, and if possible don’t let the ball hit the ground. in short, go catch the ball.

    have a great weekend.

    • steve kallas

      Thanks for the comment, no name. Frankly, it’s a simple analysis. Was the throw “accurate” or not? Pujols might be hurt (although he did hit 3 home runs last night), the ball might have been hit too hard for him to get over (especially if he is hurt). But the bottom line, according to the rule, is was that an accurate throw? Since it was well up the third baseline (if it was tipped; it still would have been well up the third base line had it not been tipped). Again, under no definition of “accurate,” was this an accurate throw. Just watch the replay and come to an independent thought. Maybe some people can watch the replay and say that was an accurate throw. But I don’t think so..

      By the way, don’t forget that, when you hear that Pujols is now in the company of Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only guys to hit three HRs in a WS game, Ruth did it twice.

      Thanks again for writing.

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