If I had been at the Cardozo-Francis Lewis softball game last week, I probably would have fallen over dead. The classic match-up between two of the top teams in the Queens Division III ended in a way no one would have predicted.
Lewis, which went into the game fighting for the last playoff spot with Bayside, needed the win to get one step closer to a post-season berth. And though the team was playing a proven contender in Cardozo, the Lady Patriots seemed up to the task and ready to take the game over in the top of the seventh inning.
With two outs and runners on first and third, Cardozo pitcher Josephine Georgio prepared to make her next pitch when the umpires employed the seldom-used "three second rule," calling out base runner Jenn Ferdinandi.
According to the rule, Ferdinandi froze in the base paths for three seconds, neither motioning to home or back to third while Georgio was on the mound with the ball. The game was over, Cardozo had won, improving to 10-2, while Lewis dropped to 7-4.
The very next day Lewis battled Bayside for the last playoff spot and lost 8-4, a defeat that pretty much ended the Patriots' season.
And according to Lewis head coach Judi McCleary, it was not just Bayside that beat her team last week.
"I think yesterday took a lot out of us," she said. "The kids all day today were moping around in school. It was a very tough loss."
"It's not a call you make in the top of the seventh with two out," McCleary added. "They just took the game out of our hands. It's a rule, but it's a ridiculous way to end a game. It wasn't like my kid was halfway down the line or anything. I spoke to other umpires and every umpire I spoke to said they would never make the call."
If that were my team I would not have been as diplomatic as McCleary. Surely she was upset, as were her players, but I don't think I could have been contained.
Can you imagine watching your team battle back from a 7-0 lead on the verge of tying the game in the last inning when a call that is seldom if ever made costs you the game?
That's like the Yankees losing the pennant because of a balk in the ninth inning or the Jets missing out on the playoffs courtesy of a holding penalty.
As was made clear by the Knicks' loss to the Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference semifinals, when Miami won in overtime on an "illegal" basket by Anthony Carter, good officials let the game be decided by the players or teams, not by taking matters into their own hands. Seldom do you hear a whistle blowing in an NBA game in the final seconds unless the foul is truly flagrant.
Now, this being New York, I am sure I did not win a lot of people over with that argument.
But the bottom line here is that if Patrick Ewing had hit both of his free throws and the team played better offense throughout the game, the Knicks would have won, without having to rely on officials to make a questionable call down the stretch.
I am sure all the Knicks would have been more satisfied with a win courtesy of a blocked shot than a win courtesy of an official's decision.
What the umpires did in Cardozo's win was more than just a judgment call. It affected the morale of a team striving for the playoffs, a team that has worked hard together for months in trying to earn one of three playoffs spots in what is arguably the deepest softball division in the city.
In short, what the umps did last week just wasn't right.
Cardozo could have won the game anyway. After all, all the Lady Judges needed was one more out.
And even if Ferdinandi had scored there, the game would have been tied, with Cardozo, the home team, still to bat in the bottom of the inning.
But we will never know what would have happened. Maybe Lewis gets two runs across if the game continues and goes on to win. Buoyed by a dramatic come-from-behind victory, the team then goes on to beat Bayside and lock up a playoff spot. That alternate reality could have happened as well, but we'll never know.
As a big fan of "Star Trek," I recently caught an episode of "The Next Generation" in which one of the main characters - Security Chief Worf -
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