Prior to the stunning conclusion of Game 4, a World Series game had never ended on a pick-off. And if the Red Sox strategy was up to St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon, it never would have happened on Sunday, either.
Literally seconds before Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara fired to Mike Napoli and caught Kolten Wong offguard, sealing their 4-2 victory in thrilling or heart-breaking fashion depending on your point of view, the former Cardinals third baseman turned radio voice was openly mocking their decision to even bother holding Wong in the first place.
"The first baseman Napoli holds against the runner. Why, I do not know," Shannon says with a chuckle.
"Why would they be holding, John?" A question for broadcast partner John Rooney, with a louder chuckle added at the end.
With those final words barely out of Shannon's mouth, the silliness paid off for Boston.
Here’s the full audio. You’ll have to sit through a couple pitches as Shannon sets up the Red Sox defense, but it’s worth it for the payoff once the pick-off goes down.
That's the ultimate "I should have kept my mouth shut" moment on radio.
To be fair, though, he wasn't the only one questioning Boston's strategy, he's just the guy who had a microphone in front of him. In many ways it would have made more sense to play Mike Napoli in a normal defensive position, especially with postseason legend Carlos Beltran at the plate and Wong's run meaning little to the outcome. But, as always, their strategy went well beyond common thought and practice in game-ending situations.
As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported following the game, the Red Sox extensive scouting and game-planning played an important role in their strategy. They fully understood Wong was an overanxious rookie who was likely to get opportunities as a pinch-runner late in games, and as a staff they identified his tendencies as a runner. It was a long shot to pay off in the manner it did, but that extra attention to detail made a big difference.
And really, that's the true beauty of baseball. You never know when the big moment will come or how it will develop.
BLS H/N: Awful Announcing
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