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Everybody Fucks Up Sometime

So. My Giants stunk on ice for June (and the last bit of May and the first bit of July), and won last night. So there’s that: at this point I’m happy for any game that goes into the W column. But in getting there, we made total idiots of ourselves on national TV.

The headline version is Batting out of order costs Giants a run. I’ve seen this reported as something like Buster Posey batted out of order, which is clearly wrong: Mr. Posey batted where he was told to bat. The mistake was not his.

For those who don’t know this particular baseball rule, essentially there is an official lineup which is signed by the manager and presented to the umpires (and the opposing manager) before the beginning of the game; the manager is not allowed to change batting order during the course of the game except for substitutions. If the team does not follow the lineup correctly, the opposing manager can call them on it and the offending team is penalized one out—the way it works is that the other manager waits to see if the batter gets a hit, and if he does, alerts the umpire and the hit doesn’t count and the penalty out goes up on the scoreboard instead. Is this a good rule? Dunno. C.L.R. James thought that the whole business of not letting people sub in and out during the game took away good strategy options. Be that as it may, that’s the rule that exists.

What happened last night was this: one lineup—let’s call it lineup A—was released to the press and the public and put up on the scoreboard and in the dugout.

Buster Posey batting in third ahead of Pablo Sandoval was in some sense news, at least to the extent that it was highlighted in the pre-game blog post on the San Jose Mercury News site. The manager Bruce Bochy was actually asked about the lineup before the game began, and he evidently rambled a bit about it not mattering whether Mr. Posey batted third or fourth.

Then Mr. Bochy signed the card with what we’ll call lineup 1, which was the same as lineup A except with Pablo Sandoval hitting third, ahead of Buster Posey in the cleanup spot.

When the whole thing came down in the first inning, I guessed that Mr. Bochy had just signed and handed over the wrong lineup—that is, that he intended Mr. Posey to hit third all along, but gave the wrong lineup to the umpire. After the fact, though, he says that he meant Mr. Posey to hit fourth, and that somehow the wrong lineup got posted in the dugout (and everywhere else). Some of the blame appears to be on the tech guys, since evidently they have only just this weekend installed a screen with the lineup and active-roster information in the dugout. Evidently in June they were still scrawling names on a dried scrap of naugahyde with a charred stick. I’m not sure how this is a technical problem to do with the display, though, as this was the lineup that everybody had. Except the umpire and the other manager, I mean.

Well, and here’s my question: Which scenario is more embarrassing for Mr. Bochy and his people? The one where he screws up and costs us an important out by handing the wrong lineup to the ump? Or the one where he fails to notice that the wrong lineup is on the big screens in the dugout and the clubhouse and the scoreboard—and fails to understand the reporter that asks him a question about it—and then on top of that fails to notice that the fellow who he thinks is supposed to bat third is not getting up to go into the on-deck circle and the other fellow is? And continues failing to notice it during the course of the at-bat?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,