Buck Showalter isn’t playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. He’s just doing the game better than most managers. On Sunday, he proved time away from the game didn’t slow down his ability to take advantage of the rules. It helped represent exactly why the New York Mets will be a threat all season long.
In the bottom of the sixth and Oliver Perez on the mound, Dominic Smith scored on a sacrifice fly except the Arizona Diamondbacks believed he left third base early. As is routine in the game, the way to check is to toss the ball over to the previous base he had been: third.
That’s when Showalter showed off. J.D. Davis was at first base and received a signal to head for second. Befuddled by the whole ordeal, Perez and his Diamondbacks friends panicked then threw the ball to third base after Davis had gotten to second. Whether Smith left third base early or not would never be known. The appeal was dead.
The Mets are already feeling the effect of Buck Showalter’s baseball wisdom
Honestly, who knew this was the rule? Once Perez stepped toward second base to go after Davis, there was no chance for the Smith to ever be out. So, even if he had been retired, the run would have counted. The Mets would have remained up 3-0.
This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment play. Apparently, it’s something the team practicing in the spring. Back in the dugout for the first time in a few seasons, Showalter didn’t just sign the terms of agreement without reading through every page. He got to know the baseball rule book from the cover to the glamour shot of the author on the back.
Heads up plays like this are going to games for the Mets. Hopefully, this wasn’t the only rabbit Showalter had in his cap to pull. I’d hate for it to be put on full display in April against possibly one of the worst teams in the league.
Next on Buck’s list of tricks, the hidden ball trick and a mega-fan in the hands of his corner outfielders to blow towering flyballs foul. He may need to check the rule book again on that second idea.