Friday, October 09, 2009
“I couldn’t see the ball. I lost in the lights. I had it in the beginning but then the ball came down through the lights and I lost it. When that happens, you hope it hits your body or hits your glove. I just lost it. Tough to swallow. I feel terrible. The ball hit my stomach. I think I can catch a fly ball hit right at me. Wainwright pitched a good game, the bullpen did its job. I just didn’t catch it.” Matt Holliday [STL Today]
Now let's throw a bag of skepticism on this whole "lost it in the lights idea". First off it wasn't the sun as that would have an effect on the right side of the field only. Secondly, it was just after 6 pacific time that Holliday dropped the ball aka the sun was still out in Los Angeles. The lights of the stadium have significantly less impact on your eyes when the sun is still out, even if it is buried behind the upperdeck. The sky was still lit up in powder blue. Just think about the difference car lights have on your eyes during the day and at night, your pupils take in the light differently. The stadium lights would not be blinding and I highly, highly doubt that they had anything to do with Holliday dropping the ball. So if not the lights what else...
"He lost the ball in the 50,000 white towels shaking in front of his face, it doesn't seem really fair that an opposing team should be allowed to shake white towels when there's a white baseball flying through the air. Dodger blue towels — how about that?" Adam Wainwright [STL Today]
Theoretically this makes sense, if everyone is waving a white towel in the background than its going to be difficult to follow the white baseball. The picture above is a screen cap of Ethier coming out of the box and shows the issue with Wainwright's statement. Find one person that's waving a towel. You can't. There's two out in the ninth with nobody on, people are generally going to be less enthused than they would be immediately following the hit when the rally looked in effect. Perhaps the folks sitting in cheaper seats and not the luxury seats behind the plate were waving a towel, but I guarantee there weren't enough to make the background a blanket of white.
So why did he drop the ball? It's simple, he crossed himself up and looked like a little league outfielder. He charged the ball and put himself in a position where he originally thought the liner would be about knee high, thus he threw the fingers of the glove downward for a basket catch. The ball however was belt high making a basket catch the complete wrong play. By the team he would have realized this it was too late to adjust. Forced to attempt to catch the ball with the glove tilted the wrong way, he couldn't coordinate his body enough to make the catch. It happens to outfielders all the time, it just happened to Holliday at one of the worst possible times. No need to make silly excuses, just say you missed it and move on.