Boston Red Sox versus Florida Marlins at Pro Players Stadium in Miami
It is the top of the sixth inning and the Red Sox are leading 4-1 with nobody out. Jason Varitek is on first base and Reggie Jefferson is the hitter. On the first pitch to Jefferson, Jason takes off for second base. Reggie hits a deep fly ball to left field. Cliff Floyd is the Marlins' left fielder. Varitek doesn't see the ball, but you do.
Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! Once you get Jason's attention, tell me what you would have him do if the ball is going to be caught and if the ball is going to hit off the wall. Be sure to give me your supporting reasons for your answers.
"If you see that the ball is going to be caught by the leftfielder, Cliff Floyd, you must try to get Jason's attention and direct him back to first base. If you see that the ball is going to hit high on the wall, then you try to get Varitek's attention to come to third base by waving your arms. It is important to know that at the beginning of the season, I tell all the players that if they do not see the ball, to look at me and I will direct them."
"Once you get Jason's attention, you've got three possible actions:
Option one is the least likely event. It is difficult to advance on a fly to left if the outfielder is facing the infield. Odds are, this will occur rarely and it is even more rare that someone with Varitek's speed would make it anyway. A decent outfielder will decoy the runner even if the ball will hit the wall. Unless one is an excellent judge of trajectories and has good speed, tagging is unlikely to succeed. The one saving grace for tagging is that "they don't drop many balls in this league."
The majority of the time, option two is the likely scenario. It is difficult to take second on a fly to left, even when the outfielder is marginal. If the ball has the potential to be caught, you want Varitek watching the play in front of him, so you need to stop him and point out where the ball/play will be. Once he has the outfielder in his sights, he can make his own judgement to progress toward second or return to first.
Option three is available only when you are certain the ball will hit the wall or the ball will likely fall (either due to error, poor positioning, or obvious lack of confidence by the outfielder). In this instance, you want to give the runner the go ahead as quickly as possible (big arm circle and lots of "GOs"). Once he rounds second, you want to catch him as he looks up after touching the bag to give him an update. It is unlikely he'll score, but one needs to be ready to wave him home should there be a miscue. You've got a 4-1 lead, so you shouldn't be afraid of a play at the plate. The worst that happens is that you have a runner on second with one out and there is a great potential for scoring, especially if there is a collision (slow as he is, I bet he can pack a wallop on a stationary catcher - ouch)."
"If the ball was going to be caught, then you would have Jason wait halfway between second and third base. That way if the ball was caught, he could get back to first base in time to beat the throw. If the ball was going to hit the wall, you would tell him to keep going to third. If the ball took a funny hop, maybe you can send him home."
"As the runner, Jason's job is to pick up the third base coach if he doesn't have a clear view of where the ball went. The coach must try to make eye contact with him to let him know the direction and trajectory of the ball. In this case, the coach will be pointing out to left high into the air. At the same time, the coach will be yelling instructions to him. If I feel the ball will be caught, I let Jason know he will need to head back toward first. If I feel the ball will drop, I wave him on toward third base and prepare to send him home. The hit and run will have given us a good chance to score Jason from first base on a ball to the fence. If the leftfielder makes a diving catch, we tip our hat and accept the double play fate that awaits us."
Port Alberni B.C. Canada
"Here's what I'd do. If it looks like the ball might be caught, I'd have him stand on second base. If the ball is dropped, he can easily make it to at least third base. If it is caught, he can beat the throw back to first. If the ball looks like it will hit off the wall, I'd get him moving and be ready to send him home. Cliff Floyd is deaf and so communications from his infielders would be visual and might be confusing. It seems cruel, but you have to take advantage of any advantage you have over the opposition."
"I would yell to Jason to stop short of second. If the ball is caught, I tell him to go back to first and he does not have to retouch second base since he didn't go that far. If the ball hits off wall, I would instruct Jason to come to third base and Reggie should be at second. I would not allow the runners to stay at first and second to stay out of double play situation at next at bat. I know the cardinal sin is making the first out at third or home, but this runner should be able to make third on a ball hit off the wall. The chances are very slim the ball will bounce right to the fielder and for him to turn around and make a great throw or good relay to shortstop to get Jason at third. I would have to re-evaluate this decision in Fenway with the short fence. Pro Players Stadium is long enough for Jason to go to third."
"Once Jason would pick me up, he would already know if the ball is caught. I'm yelling back and pointing at first base. He better make sure he re-touches second unless he wants me on his behind. If the ball is missed, I'm waving my arms as I always do."
Thanks for answering my situation. Be sure to include your name and where you are from with each response.
That's it for "Hasten Jason".
Good luck until next time!
All my best,
Updated July 28, 1999