Martell Webster Has A Merkle’s Boner Moment

by Micah Hart

Martell Webster, you’re going to be kicking yourself for this one for awhile:



Everyone makes mistakes, so I don’t want to be too hard on Martell, but this little faux pas is particularly grating to basketball fans, because we like to think the players should be aware of the time and score at all times. Scoring two when you need three is infuriating (I’m still angry at Texas player Darren Kelly for making the same mistake against Arizona in a college game in 1999), just like when you give up an unexpected onside kick in football because your blockers turn their backs before the ball is kicked. Like the boys scouts, athletes should always be prepared.

Obviously Webster didn’t mean to do it, and he showed the requisite contrition over the flub on Twitter this morning. But one has to wonder if this mistake could end up costing the Timberwolves in the long run*.

Minnesota came into last night’s game trailing Denver by one game for the 8th spot in the Western Conference, and had they won would be tied today. Instead they are two games back, and as we all know, every game has added importance in this shortened season. Obviously, his mistake didn’t specifically cost them the win. There is no guarantee he or any of his teammates would have made the game-tying three, or that they’d win in overtime even if they had. But it was a wasted opportunity, and if the Timberwolves end up missing the postseason by a game they may remember this one. Or at least Martell will.

*If you are not a baseball fan, you may not get the reference to Merkle’s Boner in the headline. Fred Merkle was a rookie with the New York Giants in the National League back in 1908, and in a game against the Cubs forgot to run to second base on what was should have been the game-winning hit. Instead he was tagged out, the game ended in a tie, and ended up being replayed after the season when the Cubs and Giants finished the same record and tied for first. Had Merkle simply touched second, the Giants would have won the pennant. Instead the Cubs won the replay and went on to win the World Series, which isn’t a big deal because they do that all the time. Kidding!

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3 Comments

  1. Raf says:

    It would have been hilarious if the defender fouled him for the “and 1″ though.

  2. Larry says:

    The Merkle story is interesting and is often used to suggest a really dumb play, but the truth is that Merkle was doing what most if no all base runners did at the time. [read Public Bonehead, Private Hero for the full story –www.sportingchancepress.com]. Merkle took off for the club house as soon as he thought the game had ended–in the Polo Grounds where the game was played the spectators actually existed through the field so players would race to get out of their way. The ball had gone out to the outfield. Although at the time, the rule that stated that the runner had to advance and tag the next base on such a play to avoid the force out existed, it was not enforced at the time–perhaps never when the ball had gone past the outfield. A similar play had transpired a few weeks earlier in a Cubs-Pirates game and the umpire for that game (Hank O’Day) had been engaged by the Cubs second baseman (Johnny Evers) in a conversation about the play at that time. The umpire agreed at the time that the rule existed, but he said he did not see the play, but he decided to enforce the rule during the Cubs-Giants game. It would be a little like an NBA ref deciding to enforce the traveling rule more rigidly right at a critical moment at the end of a game. The Giants did not play very well heading into the end of the season and their coach John McGraw never blamed Merkle for the loss. Merkle was only 19 years old at the time, but he had a long career and at one point actually played for the Cubs. Merkle was often ridiculed as Bonehead Merkle by the press and ignorant fans. His teammates and coaches knew better–he spoke two languages, was a good students and McGraw and others often consulted him for his knowledge of the game.

  3. Latigo says:

    For a wolves fan like me, it was really tough to accept that we lost like that. But then again, even professional athletes playing at the highest level of sports are still human.

    We can be sure though that he will never ever ever ever commit the same mistake again.