For the most part, fans of the Chicago Cubs haven't had much to cheer for or get emotionally invested in during the 2012 season. That has changed a little bit recently, though, as second baseman Darwin Barney's consecutive games errorless streak continued to grow and brought him closer to franchise and season-single records at his position.
The last time Barney was charged with an error was all the way back on April 17 in Miami. On Aug. 5, he officially became the franchise record-holder for a single season when he eclipsed Ryne Sandberg's 90-game errorless streak from 1989. Then, on Wednesday night, Barney set a single-season mark for the National League with his 114th straight errorless game in the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, surpassing David Eckstein's record set with the San Diego Padres in 2010.
It's without question a remarkable stretch of defense and a tremendous achievement. However, his record-setting performance didn't come without a tiny bit of controversy as at one point in the seventh inning the streak was essentially over after Barney was charged with a throwing error after aggressively trying to cut down a runner advancing to third base.
The throw happened after catcher Wellington Castillo's attempt to throw out base stealer Jean Segura skipped past Starlin Castro into short center field. Barney, backing the play up as he should, hustled to grab it and came up firing to third. That's when everybody's heart stopped for a second as the ball squirted past third baseman Luis Valbuena, allowing the runner to score.
"E4" was the immediate ruling of the official scorer at Wrigley Field. However, as you can see in the clip, Barney's throw was precise, didn't hit the runner and it didn't kick up any dirt. It simply wasn't handled by Valbuena, so after further review, the error was correctly changed to the third baseman, preserving Barney's well-deserved place in history.
And if you look at the play in question here, it should tell you how truly impressive his streak is. Barney is not a conservative defender by any means. He's not afraid to take a shot or make an aggressive play to get an out for his pitcher, and that didn't change on a play where it would have been easy to eat the baseball and not risk the streak. That's just not in his nature, and he was more than comfortable accepting the consequences.
"I figured it was mine," Barney said of the error. "At that time, your thoughts are on (Jeff) Samardzija. Your thoughts are on doing whatever you can to help win the ballgame. When I made that throw, you walk away thinking those are the kind of errors you're willing to make at this point. I wasn't too upset, it was just one of those things. It's not fortunate because the guy scored -- you can't be happy because the guy changed it."
Barney may not be overjoyed by the scoring change, but I think most of us are pleased. Far too often on a play like that the error sticks on the guy making the throw without so much as a second thought about it. I'd like to see more errors like this changed, even on throws that bounce and could easily be handled. And I also think it's time to start assuming double plays and charge a few errors when they aren't turned.
But that's a different argument for a different time. For now, congratulations to Darwin Barney, and good luck as he closes in on Sandberg's overall franchise record of 123 games without an error.