Upon reflection, Royals’ Jirschele still says stopping Gordon at third was right call
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It has been two weeks since Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele threw up the stop sign on Alex Gordon in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
Two weeks for Jirschele to reflect on whether he made the right decision to not send Gordon, who represented the tying run in what would ultimately be a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
And Jirschele still believes now what he believed then.
"I couldn’t possibly have sent him," Jirschele said by phone Thursday from his home in Clintonville, Wis. "He would have been out . . . by a lot."
That conclusion seems obvious to anyone who watched the game in person.
After Gordon’s sinking liner was misplayed by the Giants, Gordon was heading toward third when the relay throw from the outfield reached shortstop Brandon Crawford, the cutoff man.
Jirschele instinctively stopped Gordon. And we all know what happened next: Sal Perez, the next hitter, fouled out to end the game and the World Series.
But Jirschele isn’t second-guessing himself.
"You can’t just knowingly run into an out," he said. "Believe me, if there had been the slightest chance, I probably would have tried it. But there wasn’t.
"And with Sal up, there’s still a chance. But if you send (Gordon), even if the throw is 10 feet off line, the catcher would still have had enough time to come back to the plate and get Alex."
Yet immediately after the game and even in the past two weeks, the decision has been questioned on talk shows and on Twitter, odd as that may seem.
"Actually, I was kind of shocked that I was getting asked about it after the game," Jirschele said. "I know people have a job to do. I understand that. But it seemed kind of obvious to me.
"But you know what? Getting second-guessed is just part of the job. I can handle it."
The debate apparently made its way all the way to Clintonville, so much so that Jirschele’s son, Justin, has a replay of how the play developed stored on his iPhone, just to settle any potential arguments.
"It shows Alex’s foot just reaching third when Crawford secures the relay throw," Jirschele said. "There would have been no chance.
"You know, you take a lot of things into consideration, starting with Crawford’s arm, which is above average. And he’s very accurate. And then you judge whether or not he has secured the relay throw, which he did.
"Once he secured it, that was it for me. Shut it down. And actually, the other thing you have to worry about is to make sure you give the stop sign soon enough or the runner is going to come barreling around third and then Crawford can back-pick him pretty easily."
In all, it was a sad ending to an otherwise inspirational playoff run for the Royals and Jirschele, who has been re-signed for next season along with the rest of the coaching staff.
"It was pretty special," Jirschele said. "It didn’t end the way we wanted to, but it was special. I’ve never been through anything like that."
The homecoming for Jirschele in Clintonville made it even more so.
"I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me here and said they are now diehard Royals fans," he said. "People have said they were never baseball fans before but after watching us, they are now Royals fans. That’s right here, in Clintonville."
Indeed, Clintonville (population 4,508) became a sea of blue during the playoffs.
"It was crazy, I guess," Jirschele said. "People put blue ribbons in the trees. There were banners around town. People painted their shop fronts blue. There were ‘Go Royals!’ signs everywhere and ‘Good luck, Mike!’ signs everywhere.
"It was pretty amazing. It still is."