Communication matters…and that’s never more evident as when it breaks down.
A recent case in point: Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ decision to pull Dodgers starter Rich Hill in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night. Or was it even his decision? Therein lies the heart of this communication snafu. This ESPN.com piece by Tim Keown is one of the first drafts of this little slice of history—the “why oh why?” of that highly questionable move.
While Keown provides context that wasn’t immediately captured during the broadcast, already this account is old, incomplete news: Fox broadcasters last night noted (and video replay of Roberts’ trip to the mound appears to confirm) that Roberts was not necessarily looking to replace Hill–only to check on him.
Without a word being exchanged, Hill, assuming Roberts was taking him out, handed his manager the ball. Only then did Roberts signal to the bullpen for another pitcher. In that fateful moment, the Dodgers may well have handed the Series to the Red Sox.
What If Hill Had Stayed In?
We’ll never know how the game would have turned out if Hill had remained for at least one more batter, and very possibly through the end of the 7th inning. Given Hill’s excellence on this night, it’s highly doubtful it would have unraveled as it did, ushering in a Red Sox offensive surge that resulted in a remarkable 9-6 comeback triumph.
On Sunday evening, the Red Sox rode the momentum of their unlikely victory to a 5-1, Series-ending win. They are flying back to Boston for a Victory Parade, not Game 6.
And you can trace that outcome directly to this momentous mound miscommunication.