Pedroia and Napoli discuss 'The Popup'

Sean Riley, contributing writer

Bottom of the 4th, two outs, and runners on second and third. Game tied at 3, John Lackey against Matt Joyce, Joyce pops up a fast ball a mile into the air up by the catwalk at horrible Tropicana Field. Both Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia made hesitant strides towards the high fly ball in an attempt to get under it and end the inning. Unfortunately neither were able to make the play, two runs score and Joyce gets a very lucky single. That towering pop up single which scored two runs ended up being the game changing play with the Red Sox ultimately losing the game 5-3.

After the game Napoli took full responsibility on that play saying he actually misplayed the ball instead of losing it in the white roof which most fans thought had happened.
“I didn't make the play. I saw it up and overran it. … My first read was stay back and then I started running in and overran it,” said Napoli. “I’ve played here before (at first). It’s a white roof, but I saw the ball and like I said, I overran it.”

Like myself, most fans wanted Pedroia coming from second and taking command on that fly ball hopefully bailing Napoli out of it. However, again, Napoli didn't think so and takes sole blame on the play;
“That’s a long way for him to run. That’s a play I should’ve made and I didn't,” said the first baseman. “Felt bad, because John’s out there, he got the guy to pop up, and if it’s a tie ball game, he probably would've pitched a little longer. Just overran the ball and didn't make the play.”

The unofficial captain, Pedroia, didn't see it the same way as Napoli saying he should have made that play for a few reasons;
“It was up there a while. I’ve played a lot of games at this field. I ran to it and took my eye off it and tried to find it again, and I couldn’t find it. It’s probably an easier play for me than Nap because a left-handed hitter and I had a better angle. I just took my eye off it. I know better than to do that. We lose it. It just drops,” said Pedroia. “I was kind of playing deep, and I just kind of ran up. I know better than to take my eye off it when you run here because then you can’t find it. He hasn’t played that many games in the field here, and I've played a lot. It’s my responsibility to help him out in those situations and catch the ball.”

Bottom line is the ball dropped, two runs scored and the Sox ended up losing the game because of it. Baseball is weird and plays like that will happen from time to time and frustrate the hell out of you. Two things I take from this are the great character you see in Napoli taking the blame and of course Pedroia for stepping in trying to lighten the load that Napoli was getting from it. The second thing would be how horrible Tropicana Field is, not only do they add the most artificial noise in the Majors, but that white roof and catwalk are just not good for the game. That play being a great example of why it's so bad, with the name Tropicana Field you'd expect an orange roof I'm sure that would help the players see the ball better. Maybe Dick Vitale can put in a good word about that seeing as though he's the only fan that goes on a consistent basis. Riley out!