I have very mixed feelings about Tim Krul’s performance in the penalty shoot out with Costa Rica.
I think it was an inspired coaching decision to bring him on as a substitute goalkeeper at the end of extra time. However, I thought his behaviour towards the early Costa Rica penalty takers was contrary to the spirit of the game. I am at a loss to know why the referee, Ravshan Irmatov, permitted the proximity of the goalkeeper to the penalty takers.
In a BBC Sport interview, Tim Krul is quoted:
I psyched them out. You try to do everything you can without being too aggressive. I tried to get in their minds.
Daniel Memmert and his colleagues have looked closely at penalty duels.They conclude that one of the ways goalkeepers can control penalty shoot outs is to employ ‘tricks’. The Daily Mail has an account of the tricks Tim Krul used.
In the midst of the shoot out, Tim Krul took me back to another innovative coaching decision … in baseball.
On 19 August 1951, Eddie Gaedel made his only baseball appearance for the St Louis Browns. He came out to bat once. He was 3 feet 7 inches tall. This meant that the Detroit Pitcher’s target zone was one and a half inches. It is reported that the catcher, Bob Swift, wanted to lay down behind Eddie but the umpire, Ed Hurley, would not allow it. The pitcher, Bob Cain, threw four consecutive balls and Eddie walked to first base … for his only baseball appearance.
The uniform he wore was said to be that of the nine-year-old son of the club’s vice president. It had the number 1/8.
Brian McKenna observed:
Gaedel’s single at-bat polarized those within the baseball, as all contemplated at what point entertainment in sports becomes a farce.
Tim and Eddie
Eddie did not touch a baseball during his entire career. He does appear in official baseball records.
Tim did touch the football twice for two saves. His team won and Eddie’s lost.
Both are joined by innovative decisions. I believe that both are connected in any discussion about the spirit of a game too.
Whilst there was immediate regulation to prevent the reappearance of another Eddie in baseball, there has been a precedent in football for Louis Van Gaal’s decision to substitute goalkeepers. Martin O’Neill brought on Željko Kalac to replace Kevin Poole in the 1996 First Division play off final for Leicester City against Crystal Palace. He was not needed in that game as Steve Claridge scored a goal 30 seconds after the substitution and 2 seconds before the end of extra time. Leicester won 2v1.
The Independent notes:
As it turned out, Kalac’s only contribution was to carry Claridge half-way up the stairs to the Royal Box for the presentation.