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Mismanagement is not exclusive to Wall Street

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network


When local sports talk show hosts, such that they are in Philadelphia...and predominantly the drive time voice of WIP in the City of Brotherly Love, berated Charlie Manuel and the Phillies in general at the start of the season, others, like yours truly (and when I am wrong I say so), insisted that this was a team with great potential and both it and the manager needed some time. Done deal, and they are in the World Series.

Point?


Joe Torre took the Dodgers to the playoffs in his first year as skipper.

Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers were not going to displace them. Manny Ramirez donned his personal Superman garb and it was not enough. A team cannot usually be carried by its best hitter but it can win when he does not produce as expected. That is the current case with the Phillies and Ryan Howard.

Torre also mismanaged. He would not have won four of seven but he might have made it closer. He did not. He stuck by his guns of replacing his pitcher(s) after seven innings. His personal book on managing, adapted by others, dictates, after that seventh inning stretch, a new pitcher for just about every batter. It does not work. Players of today are more physically fit with access to regimens that ensure their endurance, strength, capabilities and physical fitness but some inane person concocted this notion of the end of the world after 100 pitches had been thrown, with announcers and color commentators seizing it like a lost winning lottery ticket.

Pitchers of the past, in the day, reveled over completing a game, pitching into extra innings after a night on the town and showing up at the ballpark an hour before the game. Are you kidding me? A set-up pitcher is now paid millions to come into the game in the eighth inning to face three or four batters before calling for the closer in the ninth. They throw more pitches in the bullpen warming up than they do in the game.

It backfired on Torre and the Dodgers. Philadelphia is not a team of destiny. They are not "on a roll." There is no momentum to seize. Fate does not play a hand in this and all the pointing of fingers to the heavens does not mean that some supreme being has either chosen them as the "favored ones" to rise, like the Phoenix, or said being has wagered a few clouds on the outcome of the game(s). They are simply the better team when it comes to the National League.

This brings us to the debacle that might be the dismantling of the team that was having the most fun of any in this near-final lap towards the finish...the Tampa Bay Rays. The fat lady had not sung but she was certainly warming up her vocal chords. Champagne had not been popped but a few cases of bottles were on ice and have since been sent back to Florida. It was not, although the phrase belongs to another sport, game...set...match. But it was the final serve. The crowd awaiting them - both fans in Tampa - had to be sent home.


Tampa Manager Joe Maddon will be questioned about his moves in Game 5 if the Rays lose this series to Boston.

No team that is up 7-0 going into the seventh inning, after scoring runs over three games at Fenway almost at will and having a grand time doing it, should lose. That is like lapping the field in a horse race and then lying down to take a snooze. It matters not what you have to do...not at all. You just do it! Nine outs and you are in the World Series. Are you kidding me? You bring in your starters, not your relief pitchers. You watch their faces and see what we as fans, saw. Fear, consternation, lack of confidence, a need to groove the ball right down the middle, to throw to the sweet spots of the batter and then pray. We can see that but Rays manager, Joe Maddon, perpetually perched on the top steps of the dugout, could not? Then he needs new glasses.

If Boston wins two more in Tampa, sales of t-shirts and sweatshirts that just indicate the date, October 16th, and the numbers 8-7 or 7-0 will sell faster than any others in Beantown.

Game six is Saturday at Tropicana Field and then, if necessary, game seven on Sunday.

Scott Kazmir, a near-last minute choice, pitched six shutout innings allowing only two hits, and Maddon took him out. Am I missing something here? Oh, I forgot. He tossed 111 pitches. I guess the call to 911 went out instantly. The man was making a mockery of the Red Sox line-up and Maddon decided to be merciful by calling a halt to it. Boston applauded this move with great enthusiasm, delighted to see Kazmir leave. It is rumored that they had also chipped in for two first class airline tickets to the destination of this choice if he would move on.

Enter Grant Balfour. Two-thirds of an inning later, the Sox had four runs. They now knew they could win. David Ortiz had not hit a home run in 61 at bats, in 15 postseason games, but he was not to be denied here

With Dan Wheeler in the game, replacing Balfour, not much changed. He was out to prove he could be just as bad. He was. J.P. Howell only added to the disaster, although credit for it certainly has to be shared by Evan Langoria and Carlos Pena on what should have been an inning ending simple out. It was not. No surprise there. Fun 'n games for the Rays over.

So, now it is Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields against righty Josh Beckett Saturday night.

Maddon blew it with the "seventh inning" rule. This is not the Little League. These guys can actually pitch a full game. The man, Kazmir, had allowed two hits. Count 'em!!! Two. And Maddon took him out. Screw the 111 pitches, Get a masseuse in the dugout, take showers between innings, do whatever it takes to keep him going, if he needs anything at all but taking him out? You gotta be kidding!

This was the height of mismanagement and could cost the Rays their first and, maybe, only World Series appearance for a long time. It makes no difference what the book says...seventh inning, number of pitches, rightie versus lefty (basic and proven nonsense), or looking up to the heavens for guidance. You do what you have to do to win and worry about the next game when you get to it. It will be sad to remember these Rays with just one phrase...You gotta be kidding!!!