"You Be the Coach"

The Situation - "Slow Train Haselman"

Texas Rangers versus the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston

The score is Texas 6, Boston 3 in the bottom of the fifth inning with two out.

Bill Haselman is on first base and Mike Benjamin is the hitter. On a 1-0 count, Benjamin hits a hard line drive down the left field line and leftfielder Warren Newsom races over to cut it off. Just as Haselman is about three feet away from third base, Newsom, who is 230 feet from home plate, is ready to throw to home. Nomar Garciaparra is the on deck hitter.

The Question

You be the coach. Do you send Haselman home or do you hold him at third base? If you held Haselman at third and subsequently, Newsom fumbles the ball while getting ready to throw home, then what do you do as third base coach?

Give me your answer and any supporting reasons.

Here's WK's answer:

"I would hold Haselman at third base because he would be an easy out at home with Newsom being such a short distance away. In addition, we are three runs behind the Rangers early in the game. We have plenty of time to catch up and there is no need to take any unnecessary risks.

If Newsom does bobble the ball, it will be tough to get Bill Haselman going again after you've just given him the stop sign. It's better to give Nomar a chance to drive in the runs. After all, he is hitting over .300 and leads the American League in hits."

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

"As the ball is hit, I would go down the third base line toward the plate and wave Haselman on toward third. If I see that the ball is picked cleanly by Newsom, I put up the stop sign. You still have Garciaparra up next. If the ball is bobbled, then I wave Haselman home."

Mario Sazo - San Francisco, CA

"I don't think there is any doubt that you have to put the brakes on Haselman in this situation. As you point out in the title of this scenario, 'Hass' is not a swift runner and you take a major gamble by sending him. When you're down three in the middle of the ball game, you must be conservative - especially with Nomar coming up as the tying run. As 'The Kid' has shown throughout the year, he has some pop in his bat and could tie the game up with one swing. In fact, I would hold any runner in this situation, no matter what his speed.

In terms of Newsom misplaying the ball, I would still hold 'Hass' at third as it will be difficult for him to get his motor going again after slowing up in response to your stop sign. Take your chances with Nomar to come up with a big two-out hit."

John Morrissey - Providence, RI

"The basic philosophy with two outs, especially in the mid-innings, would be to be aggressive and take a chance on scoring the run. However, with the leftfielder already in position to make the throw from only 230 feet, you've got to assume he will make that short throw on the mark or he won't last at the major level for long. I would have the runner make a strong turn giving the appearance of going home, but all along, the intention is to hold at third. If it draws a sharp throw to the plate, you will have runners on second and third. If there is a bobble of any kind, it will allow the runners to continue on and score. If you don't have the runner making a strong turn at third, a outfield bobble won't help since Haselman will have to restart from a standing position."

Michael Connell - Nashville, TN

"I would hold Haselman at third because you don't want him making the third out with the tying run coming up next. If Newsom bobbles the ball, still hold Haselman. 'The Kid' is coming up!"

Steve Blatt - Staten Island, NY

"If I'm the third base coach, I'm sending Bill around the corner, but I plan to hold him up. We're down by three and the game is getting on. Scoring Haselman will neither tie up the game nor give us the lead and I've got a damn good hitter on deck. I don't want to kill what looks like a nice rally by giving the Rangers an easy way out of this dig. However, I just can't quit on the play. Newsom could fumble the ball or make a bad throw. If I've stopped Bill dead at third, we'll have missed our chance to take advantage of the mistake. So, I'll send Bill around the corner, but be moving down the line with him, watching Warren Newsom play the ball. If Newsom makes a clean pickup and looks to be ready to make the throw, I'll be sticking a big stop sign in Bill Haselman's face. This will send him back to third with 'The Kid' coming to the plate."

Michael Fuller - Australia

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 "Slow Train Haselman".

Updated September 18, 1997