"You Be The Coach"

The Situation - "Collision Course in the Making"

Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington

The score is 3-1 with the Red Sox leading in the bottom of the seventh inning. There is one out. Nomar Garciaparra is on second base after hitting a double. Darren Bragg is the hitter facing Texas right-handed pitcher Danny Patterson. On a 1-0 pitch, Nomar breaks for third base with a great jump. Darren rolls over on the pitch from Patterson and hits a medium roller up the first base line about twelve feet from first base. Texas first baseman Will Clark is not close to first base.

The Question

Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! What do you tell Nomar Garciaparra to do? As always, keep in mind the setting, the players involved, and the time in the game.

Give me your answer and any supporting reasons.

Here's WK's answer:

"As I see it, there are two possibilities. If the Texas pitcher, Patterson, continues toward first base after picking up the ball, then you send Nomar towards home plate. Remember, Darren Bragg has good speed and it's going to be a close play at first. In addition, Patterson may not be aware that Nomar was running on the pitch.

On the other hand, if Patterson stops and turns toward home plate after picking up the ball, then you stop Nomar at third base. By looking at home, Patterson has just given up a hit to Bragg. Now you have runners at first and third and still only one out.

Hint: To make this call, you as the third base coach must come down the line towards home to give you a little more time to read the play. This is always important for a third base coach to gain a little advantage."

Here are some good answers from various coaches on the internet.

"Because the runner is Nomar (recent shoulder problems), I'm not going to involve him in a possible collision play with a catcher. If the Red Sox are going to contend for the wild card and post season play, I cannot afford to have Nomar out of the line-up.

At my level (high school), the runner would score due to the defense's lack of field awareness, lack of arm strength, or lack of throwing accurracy. However, at the major league level, your chances for success are lower because of talent on defense.

The bottom line is there should be no chance for a collision involving Nomar."

Gary Voelker

"Consider the following points:

  1. Nomar has better than average speed.
  2. Nomar's great jump and the fact that he is already breaking for third while the pitch is being delivered.
  3. The Red Sox are up by two runs in the seventh.
  4. Texas has three more chances to score and they are a good offensive team.
  5. It is more valuable for Texas to get the guaranteed out at first if Will Clark can flip the ball to the pitcher covering first. They allow one run to score, but at least there are two outs and no one on as opposed to one out and two
    men on.
  6. If the pitcher is the one covering first, he is at a disadvantage on a throw to home. He is running away from home plate.

We would send Nomar all the way home from second on this play."

Patty Morneault & John Richter
Alexandria, VA

"My gut instinct is to send him. Clark is, most likely, going to check the runner with a glance and then look toward making the play (or flip to the pitcher) at first. If Nomar is running all out, he has a pretty good chance to beat the throw to the plate from either player (especially the pitcher, as his momentum is taking him into right field). If Clark throws home and ignores the situation at first, you still have a runner on second (as Bragg is fast enough to take second) and two outs. Basically, you are not seriously worse off than you were before the play. Also, as you already have a 3-1 lead with a solid pitcher, an out probably won't seriously hurt you here."

Rick Donnelly

"You hold Nomar beacause you are in a good part of the lineup and good hitters are coming up. There is only one out and therefore a flyball or possibly a ground ball will score a run. Nomar has good speed and can easily score on a medium or deep fly ball. The Sox hold the lead and don't need to run themselves out of a possible big inning. So the right decision would be to hold the runner and not take the bats out of your hitters hands! Nomar should stay alert in case the ball gets through. "

David Chilcote
Castro Valley, CA

"Hold 'em. Maybe bring him around just enough to freeze things up at first base and guarantee Bragg an infield single, but by all means hold him. First, you can always squeeze him with the next hitter (assuming that Bragg gets on) if the run is *that* important. Second, the defense has to make the play at the plate- the fourth run is the back-breaker and has to be stopped. Nomar is running into the teeth of defensive intent. Third, at best this will be a very close play at the plate, risking the health of your clean-up hitter and certifiable stud on a collision with Pudge (do *you* think he'll drop it?) on a run you're probably going to get with the next hitter anyway."


"With the speedy Nomar Garciaparra already runnning on the pitch and with a good jump, I sent him home. There are two outs and we have a two run lead. Getting a two out hit could be a problem. Also, with Clark not covering the bag there are two more factors in our favor to send him:

  1. The pitcher is covering therefore, running towards first (down the right field line away from the plate).
  2. The pitcher is not going to expect the runner from second to hurry home and will not be expecting the play at the plate or having to stop a make a throw from past first base (a throw that is neither practiced or done very often).

At worst, Nomar is out at the plate and you go into the top of the eighth with a two-run lead."

Scott A. Odom
Smithville, Tennessee

"I would be watching to see who will be fielding the ball, Clark or Patterson. If Clark is fielding the ball, he can see the baserunner and I hold Garciaparra. If Patterson is fielding the ball, I probably send Garciaparra home knowing Patterson is blind to the play and if he has to make a play at the plate, he will have to make an off balance throw. Pitchers, at the best of times, do not handle these situations very well. With the play at the plate either being a run scored or a collision, this should also allow Bragg to get to second base. Either way, the fans will like the call. The Red Sox score a run or a good collision will get everybody into the ball game."

Rennald Holland
Port Alberni B.C.

Thanks for answering my situation. Be sure to include your name and where you are from with each response.

Good luck until next time!

All my best,


That's it for "Collision Course in the Making".

Updated September 7, 1998