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Radio Free Montone: Why I Love Baseball

By John Montone, 1010 WINS

Eric Hosmer's daring dash home in the 9th-inning of game 5 broke the hearts of Mets fans.  And I am a Met fan, but…

The play Hosmer made is why I love baseball.

Asked about it after the game, series and season were over, Lucas Duda, whose errant throw allowed Hosmer to score said, "It took a lot of….(guts)."

Duda is only partially right.  And I'll return to that later.

But first, recall that after being shut down for 8-innings by Matt Harvey, the Royals had broken through for a run in the 9th.  They were still trailing 2-1 with Hosmer on third and one out.

Here are my calculations after carefully considering the possibilities which presented themselves after Salvador Perez hit a broken bat groundball to Mets third baseman David Wright.  Breaking for home on contact and Hosmer would be a dead duck.  But staying put which is what Wright wanted him to do when he looked at Hosmer before throwing to first would mean being stuck on third with two outs.  Had Hosmer not moved he would have left it up to the on deck hitter, Alex Gordon, to drive him.  Gordon is no slouch.  His 9th-inning home run in game 1 allowed the Royals to win the opener in 14.

But Gordon is a .280 hitter and even with the Mets dicey defense the chances of him driving Hosmer home would be under 30%.

Now consider these factors which I did driving home from CitiField in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Wright's look back did not send Hosmer back to third because no one was covering the base.  Wright's right arm is no longer a strong one because of injuries and wear and tear.  His throws to first are almost sidearm and lack zip. The Mets first baseman, Duda, is adequate but he's no Keith Hernandez in the field.  And he throws with his right hand which means he would have to make a longer pivot to get the ball home, perhaps causing him to rush the throw.  Add to that the element of surprise -- why would the slow-footed Hosmer take such a chance?

But while I had time to think and refine my theory, Hosmer did not.  He had to rely on years of accumulated knowledge and his feel for how the game is played.  Call it his, baseball instinct.

Less than a 30% chance to score if he stays on third base.  Compared to maybe a 50% chance if he breaks as Wright goes into his throwing motion.  50% is a guess on my part, but given the situation, I think it's fair. Slow throw to first, right handed first baseman with average ability, surprise and a dash of World Series pressure.

Hosmer probably understood that even if he was thrown out, the Royals would return to KC up three games to two.

So then why did Duda say the play, "…took a lot of (guts)?"

Well, what if Hosmer was thrown out and the Royals blew the last two games at home?  Not likely.  But you never know. Fireballers deGrom and Syndergaard were schedule to pitch for the Mets.

Then Hosmer becomes Bill Buckner.  Ingrained in the memory of a generation of Kansas City fans as the guy who denied them the title that was their's for the taking.

So yes, it was a (gutsy) play.  And it was a smart play.  And it's why I love baseball.

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