Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Classic "Second Guess"

A few weeks ago, at a sports bar in upstate NY, I engaged in a conversation with several intelligent baseball fans about the idea of “push button” managers versus those that trusted their instincts, went with whims or generally did not “follow the book” as related to baseball decisions. One of the “discussees “, who I will call Maqz, stated that he did not like current Yankee manager Joe Girardi, because he was the ultimate push button guy, following conventional wisdom, never bucking the trends, with a stack of computer printouts that he allowed to form his opinion, that , well you get the idea.

So last night (Wednesday, May 18) Girardi did something that I imagine has my buddy Maqz pulling out any remaining hair he has while wildly yelling and cursing at the TV screen. In a nutshell, Yankee pitcher Bartolo Colon, the round mound on the rebound, was pitching an absolute gem of a baseball game against the Orioles. In 8 innings he had allowed no runs and was clinging to a 1-0 lead. Colon had needed just 87 pitches, 80 of which were fastballs, over eight scoreless innings holding the Orioles to three hits and one walk while striking out seven. Girardi went with his “book” brought in Mariano Rivera, the best reliever baseball has ever seen, and he promptly blew the save, allowing a run to tie. The NY Yankees eventually won in 15 innings but Girardi followed the book and Maqz is now bald (well in the truthfulness department, Maqz is already bald but don’t let that get in the way of a good story, is my motto…). We are set up for the classic “second guess.”

Today’s newspaper articles, blog posts and sports talk radio are filled with the discussion of this action and opinions are extensive. But before dissecting the decision let me just say that Girardi was faced with an absolutely impossible decision to “get right”. A classic ”no win” situation is presented and everybody gets to pick sides. This is like how do you answer the question from your wife or girlfriend “Do you like this dress?” An affirmative answer often leads to the follow up statement “Well I hate it, it makes me look…add your own wife’s/ girlfriend’s descriptive words here” A negatory response leads to crying and screaming and who know what else. THERE IS NO CORRECT DECISION IN THIS CONTEXT. THERE IS NO CORRECT DECISION IN GIRARDI’S CONTEXT EITHER.

Think about it, If Girardi leaves in Colon and he even gives up a tying base runner, the first question he is asked in the clubhouse after the game is “Why didn’t you bring Mo in?” If Colon is kept in and succeeds, he is asked “Why did you warm up Mo, if you weren’t going to use him. If Mo comes in and gets the save Girardi is asked “How come you didn’t let Colon finish up, he only three 87 pitches?” If Mo blows the lead, everyone questions it. Girardi cannot win in this situation. Thank God the Yankees did.

As for my own personal thoughts on it let me say that Mariano is the best, 1-0 games are what you pay him the big bucks for. Baseball has changed over the years and complete games are just not as important as wins. This is why we now have 7th inning guys and 8th inning guys and we pay them accordingly. The decision to bring in Rivera is not a “button pushing” move, it is common sense move. He is the best, let him do his job. Girardi is not wrong here. I mean it’s not like he’s bring in Kyle Farnsworth or something. It is not like Mo is overworked right now or tired. Mo is the best we have, he is ready, willing and able, let him do his job.

So, that is it – plenty of room for discussion and difference of opinion but that is mine. The comment section below is for yours. Have at it…

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