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Dodgers: Did Blown Call Cost LA the Division? How MLB Should Change its Postseason & More



Despite tying the franchise’s best record at 106-56, the Dodgers still finished one game behind the Giants in the NL West. It took a Giants franchise record of 107-55 to end LA’s streak of eight consecutive NL West crowns and now LA enters Wednesday’s Wild Card game against the Cardinals as the winningest wild card team ever.

While a second place finish to a 107-win team is nothing to be ashamed of, one can’t help but think of LA’s 5-13 record in extra innings games, the 24-24 record in one run games or losing two out of three to the Rockies at home in late August.

Then there’s the blown call by first-base umpire Ed Hickox on Darin Ruf’s check swing that would have given the Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Giants back in late July. Here’s out it went down: Kenley Jansen was in to close it out for the Dodgers and after loading the bases was one strike away from punching out Darin Ruf helping the Dodgers escape with a 3-2 win. That’s when Ruf appeared to swing at strike three, but it was called a check swing by Hickox and as a result, the Giants evened the score at 3-3 after Ruf drew the free pass.

LaMonte Wade Jr.’s two-RBI single on the very next pitch would put the Giants on top for good and San Francisco left LA having taken 3 out of 4 in the key NL West showdown. We discuss how Hilcox’s horrendous blown call now looms larger now that the Dodgers finished the regular season one game behind the Giants.

Plus, we discuss MLB’s current postseason format and tell you why the 106-win Dodgers being a Wild Card team proves that the league’s seeding rules are inherently flawed.

WATCH: Did Blown Call Cost Dodgers the Division, How MLB Should Change its Postseason & More!

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NEXT: LA’s Offense is Hitting Their Stride at the Perfect Time

Written by Doug McKain

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  1. No, 2021 was not the result of one bad call. But look at the wasted bullpen games and the general lack of urgency until it was too late. The Dodgers spent two thirds of the season waiting for the Giants to collapse, rather than going after them. They didn’t.

  2. well yes, that and mike tauchman being a dic k unethical player: (robbing a man who is chasing 700 home runs by stealing one from him)

  3. The bad Ruf call was not the major cause of the Dodgers losing out. They were way underwater on one run games, playing less than .500 on those, and playing barely .500 on extra inning games. A really good team finds a way to win the majority of those. Also, the algorithm on their runs scored and runs against indicated that they should have had a won/loss record of 109-53 rather than 106-56. This indicates that they overscored in laugher games, and did not come up with the clutch hit in the close ones.

  4. I wrote this in another post so excuse the redundancy.
    “The Dodgers did not lose the Division because the Padres handed the Giants the game yesterday nor did the Dodgers lose the Division because Ruf’s strike was called a ball by an umpire in desperate need of an ophthalmologist or optician nor did the Dodgers lose the Division because the Giants experienced an unprecedented (and truly unbelievable) regular season that included a synchronous resurgence of power hitting by their veteran players. Nope, the Dodgers lost the Division because of a myriad of internal factors that sometimes included, but not limited to, poor decision making at the most inopportune times.” Now on to winning the Wild Card, Dodgers!!!

  5. No, their bad run of 5 for 15 in April – May did them in. Not too mention all the extra inning games they lost, the one-run games, not pitching the top rotation against the Giants, etc. Nonetheless, I’m sure the Giants can point to many games on their end as well. Bottom line is the Giants beat us out with an even more phenomenal performance than we had. Hats off to them (as much as I hate to say it). The good news is that the Dodgers won 106 games. That is ridiculous given the amount of injuries this season. AND, the offense is finally clicking and in sync with the pitching. I couldn’t be more confident going into the WC game.

  6. The best way to do the playoffs…have one division AL and one division NL. Play a balanced schedule and take the 5 best teams from each division, make the WC best of 3 and then the rest stay the same. That way you get the teams with the best record seeded correctly, and no longer have teams with just above .500 records in the playoffs because they’re division was weak, like the NL East this year. That will also make sure the trade deadline stays relevant, if you add playoff teams like last year in the Covid shortened season, more teams will be unwilling to trade. The results of more teams also brings in teams with .500 or worse records, not something baseball needs, plus it already prolongs an already too long season. The only way yo add playoff teams would be yo shorten the season, snd I guarantee owners won’t approve that, too much lost revenue.

    • Tommy, that sounds like a really great idea. I think reasoning behind the divisions was to reduce the amount of travel required under a balanced schedule as you suggest. So there is that to consider as well. Lots of possibilities. Hope they come up with a better solution. But hey at least the WC game gives a great team like the Dodgers a chance to win the WS. The 103 win 1993 Giants were locked out thanks to the 12-1 drubbing by the Dodgers on the last day of the season.

  7. Talk about sore losers, this writer sits on top of the piles. They play 162 regular season games in a full season of baseball. Baseball is played and officiated by humans that try their best and use the replay systems available to them. During the season however, there will be balls called strikes, put outs that will be called safe and fly balls that will be dropped. In 162 games each team is given an equal opportunity to overcome these mistakes. A teams inability to overcome a blown call during the season is the difference between winners and losers. The SF Giants were edged out by the Atlanta Braves in 1993 by 1 game. The Braves, in the NL west at the time, won 104 games to SF’s 103 wins. The Giants did not make a post season appearance because they did not have the best record in the NL that year. No complaints, no excuses but a lot of tee’d off fans (including me); but that’s baseball, that’s the rules at the time, and the Giants picked up their balls and bats without complaint and went home. The Giants had a phenomenal season; the best the in club’s history with 107 wins. The did it all through 162 games and even though they had clinched a playoff spot, they never let down, they never used any excuse; they just continued to play the best they could and eventually finished in 1st place in the NL West and with the best record in baseball for the 2021 season. Get over it and get ready to face the SL Cardinals. If you keep looking for excuses, you won’t play or enjoy the post season and won’t advance past the wild card game.

  8. Ok, but a blown call on the first strike would have loaded the bases before ever getting to this pitch. It should have been a 4 pitch walk.

  9. If wildcard team A is ten games ahead of wildcard team B, at the end of the season, wildcard team A should proceed straight to the DS, and wildcard team B’s season should end. Retroactive to 2021. There, problem solved.

    • That is actually quit funny. I like it. But really I have no problem first pounding the pesky little Redbirds into submission prior to thrashing the rest of teams on the way to back to back WS titles! Really, I don’t. 7 other teams have done so since the wild card was introduced. We begin our defense on Wednesday. Go blue!

  10. Ruf definitely swung but, earlier in the at bat, Jansen was givena strike on a ball that was 6+ inches off the plate. If the ump gets that call right, Ruf is already on 1st and the game is tied.
    As a Giants fan, of way more significance, in head to head games, were Bellinger’s throwing error where he missed the 3rd baseman by the length of a runway , and Trea Turner’s throw on Sept 3 that pulled Smith off the bag at 1st.

  11. What if ??? Well with what if on one game you can surely look back at 159 other games Dogers played and were given the advantage call in a game. Stop the whining, Dodgers LOST THE TITLE FOR 2021… Yogi said “It isn’t over till it’s over”,” well people, IT’S OVER !!!

    • Yes Jimmy, the meaningless regular season is over. However, the meaningful post season has just begun. Let’s see who the last team standing is. The betting public has the Dodgers not the Giants as odds on favorites. The crown is theirs until someone takes it from them.

  12. Are you kidding me? You posted this article actually saying that that one bad call cost them the title? Are you kidding me? If the Dodgers were so much better than the old Giants, then they should have beat them MORE.
    What about that bad call at third base for on Sep 3.
    Guess what, the Giants took that ” bad call ” and came out and won the game. Lmfao Puhhleasee, one bad call ruined the Dodgers from getting the title..

  13. Although I believe that the Dodgers continue to live rent free in the minds of the Giants and their fans, welcome. Giants’ fans should be able to express their opinions anywhere that they want, but why feel compelled to get on Dodgersnation to tell Dodgers’ fans how to feel or to illustrate the shortcomings of our Dodgers’ regular season? The fact of the matter is that we lost the Division to the Giants by 1 game…1 game…so, obviously the Dodgers played extremely well, as the Dodgers’ have consecutively done for years in a 162 regular season.

  14. No that game didn’t cost us it was roberts calls giving days off to regulars when they could have easily accounted for at least 4 more wins.

    • The regular season title is meaningless! It’s the WS that matters. The Dodgers still have every opportunity to win another this year. So sit back and enjoy the real season which begins on Wednesday.

      • “The regular season title is meaningless! It’s the WS that matters.”
        Oh, and how many times has THAT assertion come back to bite you in the ass?

  15. It’s absolutely ridiculous to talk abut that missed call as the cause of losing the division. And I’m very tired of hearing Orel keep talking about. I hope he is recovering quickly from covid, but I have to say that it was nice to hear Nomar do a few games.

    I think the overarching cause of second place finish was lack of depth. Ironic, I know. The Giants and Dodgers were very close in terms of WAR lost to injuries, but to me the Giants did a much better job of plugging guys in when those injuries occurred. If Friedman had done half as good as Zaidi in picking up fringe position players who had upside I think LA wins the division by 3 or 4 games.

    Also have to keep in mind that the Dodgers dealt away their top two prospects for Turner and Scherzer, which is the only reason they are at all close to the Giants. The Giants did add Bryant, at a much lower cost. He has helped, but nowhere near the upside the Dodgers saw from their deal.

  16. In that same game, Sheldon Neuse was at 2B and did not stretch at all for a throw from Taylor in the 9th inning. THAT force-out would have ended the game, with the Dodgers winning by one. I recall thinking, “This game is going to come back to haunt them.”

    It was inexplicbale. Who doesn’t stretch?! I have seen enough of Sheldon Neuse.

    It was another outcome of injuries, as Lux normally would have been in and likely would have made that play.

    But every team has things like this. Could have, should have, would have………

  17. Serious! The writer is obviously a hockey writer. That’s the dumbest article I’ve ever read. Why did your so called closer let 3 players on base with a 1 run lead? And wny did the manager leave him there? And how could a team go 5-13 in extra innings, when you start the extra innings with a runner on second? And who could coach this team to a 5-15 stretch of games. Oh yeah. An incompetent manager.

  18. We lost because we had to many games where 1/3 or more of the lineup was batting near 200 when we had better players sent down. Whoever made the lineup or decision to send down players is responsible.

  19. Why is this even a discussion topic?? Who cares who won the stupid, meaningless regular season?? Winning the post season is all that counts! End of discussion.

  20. It wasn’t just one game that did us in. It was Robert the Clown being allowed to manage the entire season.

    • You are the fool who wants to argue against the facts! Facts are DR has the highest winning percentage of any manager in Dodger history. Look it up for yourself. I’ve done the research. End of discussion.

      • Upon further research, not only does DR have the highest winning percentage of any Dodger manager in history, he has the highest winning percentage of any manager in the history of the game!!! Geez folks, get a clue! Everyone makes mistakes, but his record speaks for itself. Go Dodgers.

        • Why do you think his record is so important. Roberts took over a team that had won the last three division titles by winning 92 games or better each season. And he managed for the best executive in baseball who improved the roster each year.

          • Ok, name me one manager with a better record. Oh that’s right, you can’t. Yankees have a pretty solid manager. Last WS appearance 2009. Even talented teams don’t always get to the WS. It’s not easy to get there. DR has 3 trips in 4 years. Pretty heady stuff as far as I’m concerned.

          • Dodgerfan4life you’ve missed my point. Let me ask it this way: Do you think Julio Urias is the best pitcher in the league – or even on the team – because he won the most games this year? I think he’s terrific and I’m a big fan but I’ll still take Buehler.

  21. You know what the nice thing about this tripe is? Not even diehard Dodger fans are buying any today.

  22. There are many flaws in the current structure of eligibility for the playoffs. But the biggest flaw of all is the one-game wild-card elimination. That’s just not baseball. A three game series would be more equitable.

  23. Bum4ever, I’m not sure I understand the point of asking who is better between Urias and Buehler? They are both fantastic! They are both big game pitchers with ice water in their veins. This question is like asking which of your children you love more. I love them both! They each have different strengths and you use them to match up to exploit the other teams weaknesses as best as possible.

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