Of All the Words of Mice and Men, the Saddest Are 'It Might Have Been'

Of All the Words of Mice and Men, the Saddest Are 'It Might Have Been'

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been.’
–Kurt Vonnegut

Kansas City Royals fans will debate for years whether third-base coach Mike Jirschele should have flashed green instead of red. Like Red Sox fans ruminating over John McNamara leaving Bill Buckner in the infield or Cardinals die-hards lamenting Don Denkinger calling Jose Orta safe at first, Royals fans will brood over this moment.

Why not take your chances with Brandon Crawford’s arm instead of Madison Bumgarner’s?

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Gordon hit a shot to left that center fielder Gregor Blanco wisely let bounce in front of him rather than attempt to catch on the fly. In the process of trying to corral the ball on the bounce, Blanco appeared to slip. The ball dribbled to the wall and Gordon speeded to second. Left fielder Juan Perez compounded Blanco’s error by not handling the errant ball as cleanly as he could have, allowing Gordon to go to third.

Here’s where the counterfactuals and wouldas, couldas, shouldas come into play. 

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford took the relay well into left field as Gordon reached third. Given the propensity of Giants fielders to mess up on this one play, perhaps Crawford catches the bungler bug. Or, perhaps a major-league shortstop makes a routine major-league shortstop throw to the plate. Jirschele, seeing the cutoff man in position to beat the runner home with his throw, threw up his arms. Gordon put on the breaks.

Had he blown through the stop sign, Royals fans would likely be dubbing Gordon the goat this morning. But because he stopped–and the game stopped shortly thereafter on a Salvador Perez pop fly right next to Mike Jirschele—they sadly wonder today, and tomorrow, and for many days after that what might have been.


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