Baseball is Inflicted With a Serious Sickness 10 Oct 16
by Tony Medley
The mental sickness
surrounding how managers handle pitchers in baseball permeates the game.
And it is a sickness because it defies facts, common sense, and reality
and shows a complete and total lack of comprehension of how pitching
works. I write about the Dodgers’ managing of pitchers because that’s
the team I watch. But every manager of every team in the major leagues
has a complete misapprehension of what pitching is and how it works.
It seems incurable.
In last Monday’s American League wildcard game Toronto beat Baltimore on
an 11th inning walkoff home run by Edwin Encarnacion.
However, how they got to that spot was a result of a typical decision by
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter. He started the 11th inning
with a new pitcher, Brian Duensing, who struck out his batter, Ezequeil
Carrera (who was 2 for 3 at the time), on five pitches. Not satisfied,
Showalter immediately pulled Duensing and inserted Ubaldo Jiminez. From
his first pitch, a weak, high fastball, it was clear to me he did not
have it. On his third pitch Devon Travis belted a line drive single.
So let’s stop here.
Duensing struck out his batter on five pitches and Showalter pulled him
immediately. Jiminez allows a line drive single on his third pitch and
Showalter leaves him in. Is there some kind of logic here? Moving on,
Josh Donaldson blasted Jimenez’s very next pitch, his fourth of the
game, for another hard-hit line drive single. But Showalter still leaves
him in! Duensing struck out a batter on five pitches who already had two
hits in the game and Showalter pulls him. Jiminez allows two hard hit
singles on only four pitches and Showalter leaves him in. This is major
league managing at its highest level.
So the season-ending
run is perched on third base with one out. His pitcher has thrown four
pitches and two of them have been annihilated. In the bullpen is the
best relief pitcher in baseball, Zach Britton, who had 47 consecutive
saves without a loss in 2016. Is there even a decision here? Who would
not bring in the best relief pitcher in baseball to try to save the
season? The answer to that question is Buck Showalter, who left Jiminez
in. Showalter got his just reward because Jiminez’s very next pitch was
blasted out of the park by Encarnacion. Five pitches resulted in 2 line
drive singles and a home run.
They all drink the
Along those lines, here’s what Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after
Madison Baumgarner pitched a complete game 4-hit shutout against the Mets in the
wild card game:
“To be honest I was a
little nervous because Parker (a pinch hitter Bochy had sent to the on
deck circle to hit for Baumgarner) was right there in the batter’s box
high-fiving and I was screaming at him to get out of there. I didn’t
want the umpires to put them in because Baum was hitting and sometimes
you’re forced to make a move and his pitch count was getting up there
little bit to where I had to hit (for Baumgarner) but when Carter came
through, that’s a no-brainer.”
If there was any
doubt about your brain, Bruce, even thinking about pulling Baumgarner
under these circumstances, in the top of the 9th of a
scoreless tie in a game that ends your season if you lose, confirms to
me that “no brainer” describes you to a T. But you’ve got plenty of
company with all your fellow managers.
I am a voice crying
in the wilderness against this nonsense, but I will continue to shout.
So bleached blonde Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. moans and groans
that he “isn’t having fun anymore” playing football. Put this spoiled,
pampered brat who makes millions of dollars playing a silly game for a
living in a coal mine for a week or stand him behind a teller’s window
in a bank or let him walk a cop’s beat in Chicago or Baltimore or
Detroit and see if he still whines and whimpers about not having any fun
playing football for an absurdly lucrative living.
“I’m Dumb; hear me
The Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher keeps adding fuel to the fire about his
acumen and comprehension of the game of football. When the year ends,
his fake punt call on 4th and 5 from the Rams’ 23 trailing
Buffalo 23-19 with 3:45 left holding all three timeouts will still stand
as the dumbest call of the year, if not the decade.