The case for Chris Taylor and Jay Cutler

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On October 21, 1975 I was watching the sixth game of the World Series between Cincinnati and Boston. At the completion of the top of the eighth inning with Cincinnati leading by three runs, 6 to 3, Cincinnati had only six outs to get before they would be world champions.

At this point, before the Red Sox came to bat in the bottom of the eighth, my friend, George Mekjian, called me on the phone and asked me what I thought was going to happen. I barely paused when I said, “Bernie Carbo is going to hit a pinch-hit three run home run to tie the game.” George laughed at me and hung up.

About a half-hour later, after Carbo had come up to pinch-hit for pitcher Roger Moret with two outs and two runners on base, and had, as I predicted, blasted a three-run pinch-hit home run over the centerfield fence to tie the game, George called back and inquired, “How in the world did you know that?”

The game remained tied until the bottom of the 12th inning when catcher Carlton Fisk hit a home run to win the game for Boston and send the series into a seventh game. Fisk’s home run has passed into lore as one of the most famous hits in baseball history. Carbo’s home run has been virtually forgotten. But Carbo’s home run was far more historic than Fisk’s. If Carbo does not hit his home run, Cincinnati wins the game and the World Series in nine innings. If Fisk does not hit his home run, the game continues. Yet Fisk got all the glory.

I raise this, not to suggest anything about my prescience (astounding as it was) but because of my contention that, to date, Chris Taylor has been the Dodgers most valuable player, despite the fact that most of the glory has gone to rookie Cody Bellinger, shortstop Corey Seager, and veteran Justin Turner who leads the league in hitting.

I outlined my reasons a few weeks ago, and they were validated in a game last week. The Dodgers were trailing the Giants 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Taylor came to bat with two outs and the tying run on second base. After getting two quick strikes on him, he worked the count to 3-2 and then lined a double to left field scoring the tying run in keeping the inning alive for Corey Seager to follow with a two-run home run to give the Dodgers their final victory margin of 6-4.

The next day in the newspaper Seager got all the glory (to be fair, Seager deserved a lot of credit since he hit two home runs in the game, just not all of it). His picture was on the front page of the sports section and the game writer spent the entire article gushing about Seager. In fact, Taylor’s name was mentioned only once, after the jump to page three, where it was stated in passing that “Chris Taylor doubled off Kontos to tie the score.”

Taylor is constantly getting the overlooked and virtually forgotten hit with two outs that keeps the inning alive and allows the Dodgers to win. Like Carbo’s home run in the ’75 World Series sixth game, Taylor got the hit that kept the Dodgers in the game without which they would have lost while without Seager’s home run, the game would simply have continued in a tie. Taylor is the Dodgers MVP so far this year, but he will never get credit for it because the people who write about and publicize what happens in each Dodgers game don’t understand the essence of the game well enough to tell the real story. And the writers like the one referenced here are the ones who vote for the MVP.

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The Miami Dolphins made what may prove to be their best play of the year this week. They got a huge break when their underperforming starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, was injured in practice and is probably out for the year. They took advantage of this to sign former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as Tannehill’s replacement. Cutler never got the protection or had the receivers he needed in Chicago. Miami has a better offensive line and better receivers. This could be the breakout year Cutler fans have been expecting throughout his career and put Miami in contention for the playoffs.

Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.

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