OK, so there might be a little hyperbole in that headline. Surely there were other baserunners this season who made worst decisions in taking an extra base and were thrown out by an even greater distance than Mark Ellis was at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.
When it comes to a bad judgment that's going to stick with everyone in the offseason, though, Ellis' eagerness surely takes the cake. The Dodgers second baseman tried to stretch a double into a triple in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants and, well, this happened:
Had Ellis made the right decision and stopped at second when he saw Angel Pagan pick up the ball, he would have represented the tying run at second with only one out. Instead he made the second out of the inning and created a lot of what-might-have-beens when Shane Victorino hit an honest-to-goodness triple to right field in the next at-bat. The Dodgers ended up losing 4-3 to eliminate themselves from NL wild-card contention on the second-to-last day of the season.
Ellis said he made a "bad read," while Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a different explanation: "Yeah, I think he got excited," he told reporters.
"If anything, we all wanted it a little too much," Ellis said. "I think that happened with all of us."
Aware of the silence and emptiness in the home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium as he sat in his office, manager Don Mattingly praised his team's effort.
"I'm never going to fault a guy for wanting it too much," Mattingly said.
Indeed, it's easy to criticize Ellis when you're sitting at home in a quiet living room and the entire situation is laid out in front of you in high def. It's quite another thing to battle the adrenaline coursing through your veins as the ball bounces against the fence in deep center, 40,000-plus people go wild in Dodger Stadium and the Cardinals loss from earlier in the night rests in the back of your brain.
Ellis wasn't the only Dodger at fault, either. Chris Capuano only went three innings after giving up two homers to the least homer-happy team in the bigs and Matt Kemp went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts including one in the seventh with Victorino standing on third base.
Still, it's going to be hard for Dodgers fans not to replay that scene of Ellis picking the wrong time to show off his wheels. This picture of Ellis walking back toward the dugout pretty much says it all.