Sports Medley: Should
Roberts have pulled Kershaw? 30 May 16
by Tony Medley
This is a simple
question: Who would you rather have pitching, leading 2-1 in the bottom
of the 8th against the New York Mets with two outs, a runner
on first, and lefthanded hitter Curtis Granderson coming to the plate,
Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball, pitching a 4 hitter with
in 10 strikeouts and no walks (Kershaw has only walked 5 batters all
year for an unheard of 21/1 strikeout/walk ratio), or a guy named Adam
Libertore? 99 out of 100 would say, “Obviously Kershaw; do you think I’m
an idiot?” Unfortunately, the 100th person is managing the
Dodgers, Dave Roberts, who didn’t like the fact that a batter had just
lined out to center, so he pulled Kershaw and watched Libertore
surrender a hard hit triple (that just missed being a home run by a
pittance) and the game was tied. The Dodgers have the best pitcher in
baseball and the worst bullpen, but Roberts prefers the bullpen. You
can’t win with this kind of thinking.
In the 1950s, no
manager would have ever considered pulling Kershaw. In fact, in the
bottom of the 9th inning of the 7th game of the
1957 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Braves pitcher Lew Burdette was
leading the Yankees 5-0, but the Yankees loaded the bases on three
singles with two outs. Roberts and every manager in baseball today would
pull Burdette. But Braves manager Fred Haney never even gave it a second
thought, saying, “They would have to hit three consecutive home runs to
beat us; why would I pull Lew?” Burdette retired Bill Skowron on a
ground ball force out at third and the Braves were Champions. But that
was then, and this is now, and baseball is run by numbskulls, so this is
what you get.
And what’s the
reward? Libertore, who pitched to two men and allowed the tying run to
score from first gets the win when the Dodgers scored two runs in the
top of the ninth while Libertore was still the pitcher of record!
Kershaw gets nothing.
More Baseball Woes:
In last year’s playoffs, Chase Utley slid into second, breaking up a
double play. In the process, the Mets’ second baseman’s leg was broken,
mostly due to the fact that he was out of position. But baseball didn’t
like this. A few years back, Giants’ catcher Buster Posey was injured
blocking the plate in 2011, so baseball banned blocking the plate, a
play that has been around since 1876, and one of the most exciting plays
in baseball. In response to Utley’s slide, baseball banned breaking up
double plays, another play that has been around since 1876.
Mets-Dodgers game, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard performed the expected
retaliation by throwing behind Utley. The ball never came close
to hitting him. This was a sportsmanlike message because Syndergaard
could have thrown at Utley’s head or his body, risking injury. Instead,
he just threw a ball behind him. No chance of injury but message sent.
Home plate umpire
Adam Hamari totally overreacted and threw Syndergaard out of the game.
That was ridiculous. Maybe give him a warning and let the game continue.
I think that Syndergaard should have been lauded for refusing to risk
injury to Utley, but sending him a message nonetheless. Baseball is
becoming a game for pansies, run by people who don’t understand it. I,
for one, can’t stand what they have done to the game I learned to love
in the 1950s.
Quick reflection on
Former UCLA assistant Coach Jerry Norman, who knows more about
basketball than anyone I know, opines that OKC made a mistake putting
Russell Westbrook on Steph Curry in the 7th game because it
tired him out too much to be effective offensively, even though
Westbrook did a good job on Curry. But offensively Westbrook was only 7
for 21 shooting, missing several short range jumpers and drives that he
ordinarily makes, and that poor performance was a substantial hindrance.
He also points out that Curry was using the pick and roll to get the
lightning quick Westbrook off him and get slow big men guarding him,
which freed him up for easier 3 pointers. Norman said that Westbrook
should have been told by his coach to roll off the screen and double
team Curry instead of switching, letting the slow big men screeners go
relatively free because they are much less an offensive threat than