George Springer came to the major leagues at 24 years old with great talent and high expectations, and he's really struggling for the Houston Astros. He's batting .182/.262/.218 with 19 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances, and he's made five errors in 14 games in the outfield. This is how the Associated Press described Springer's most recent mistake in the field, an error during a triple by Denard Span of the Washington Nationals:
Span put the Nationals up 1-0 in the third with a triple to center field, and he scored on an error by George Springer.
No. The description takes it way too easy on Springer. The error he committed Wednesday night on the Span hit was just... just... just... just... Springer just couldn't pick up the dang ball. He misplayed it at least four times, starting with an ill-conceived feet-first dive (on which he might have tripped a little) to his inability to pick up the dang ball another three times, at least.
All that was missing was a banana peel on which to slip. Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin and Max Patkin were watching somewhere going, "Why didn't I think of that?" It was unintentionally hilarious, pretty embarrassing and kind of sad, depending on your point of view. If you don't laugh, you've got to cry, because baseball isn't important enough for scorn. Much scorn, anyway.
As the AP said, the play was ruled a triple and an error which, given where the ball was hit and Span's speed, is absolutely fair. And the Nationals beat the Astros 7-0, so it's not like Springer's mistake was the only one, or the reason they lost (even though it was the first run of the game) and finished April with a 9-19 record.
Washington's TV analyst, F.P. Santangelo, made some prescient comments about Springer's gaffe(s):
"George Springer made a young mistake right there. He's got to realize that as soon as that ball splits he and (center fielder) Dexter Fowler, it's a triple. And just keep it a triple. There's no need to go diving into this ball, sliding into it — it's already a triple. ... Credit for the hustle, but it's more of a panic than a hustle."
Via the Ultimate Astros blog at the Houston Chronicle, manager Bo Porter alluded to Springer's play in describing what many of the younger Astros players are going through right now:
“I think a lot of it is the speed of the game,” Porter said. “There has to be a maturation that takes place of – you look at the play today. It’s a double or possible triple.”
But what Santangelo described with Springer — using the word "panic" — is a little more serious than he's just not used to the "speed of the game." Springer just doesn't seem ready at all for the majors. OK, this is getting too serious. It's just baseball.
This is even better video of what happened.
Imagining this music as the soundtrack to Springer's follies makes the Span moment complete. George Springer will do better someday soon. He just needs more time. Not time to keep Denard Span from scoring, though. Time's way up there.
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