"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) --
Now there's a brilliant statement if I
ever heard one. Sort of observance of the status of the calendar, time of
year, seasonal update. It was what one is made aware of ceaselessly by
managers of baseball teams, by folks like Joe Girardi. Mind-boggling is an
understatement. Mindless would be infinitely more suitable. It is as heedless
a comment as the one Noah made to his wife when asking, "Was that a drop I
just felt?" Or as fatuitous as the young man's intention to impress his
girlfriend with whom he was walking in the streets of San Francisco when
telling her, "I just felt the ground move at the thought of being with you
this day." How about one politician to another in Chicago that uttered those
now famous words, "There is not necessarily fire when you see smoke."
Blow the pennant by a game and the two you lost in April, thanks to stupidity
and dumb witted management, with illogical moves loom larger than ever. Every
game counts! Every managerial decision looms large. Jim Carrey and Jeff
Daniels, in their 1994 film, gave meaning to the phrase and folks like Girardi
maintain the substance and integrity of it. Just when you think it was dumb,
damn dumb, he reaches into his irrational repertoire and outdoes himself with
an even dumber decision.
Entering this season, Yankees were 287-199, including a World Championship, under skipper Joe Girardi.
You are losing by a run, late innings, man on first and Russell Martin at bat.
Yes, you want to advance him but Martin cannot bunt. He is a power hitter.
Consequently, he is asked to try and fails miserably at two strikes, finds
himself in a hole and promptly hits into a double play. Might have done that
anyway. True. But he would not have been in a hole. Similar situation some
games later with man on first, down by a run late in the game and Brett
Gardner up. Not only the best at bunting on the team, but someone who might
actually beat one out if laid down well, besides advancing the runner. And,
he is not hitting!!! He is ordered to hit away. Double play!
Having played the game does not make for knowledge of the game. And announcers
or talk show hosts who spew forth the "You may not agree with managerial
decisions but they know what they are doing" nonsense are simply protecting
their luncheon seats at the games they attend. Stroking to the victimized
teams, players and, in particular, the manager.
I checked the rules thoroughly and baseball is still a nine-inning game. Not
six or seven, nine. The astoundingly asinine and unfathomable barometer of 100
pitches being the "crisis point" for a major league pitcher of today, someone
who, more often than not, is in his twenties or early thirties, an alleged
world class athlete with every resource at hand to be physically fit borders
on lunacy. How many pitches could one have thrown in a two-hitter and might he
not continue for six more outs without having to call 911? Instead, the Yankee
manager goes to his bullpen without hesitating, without asking his starter how
he feels, without getting a "gut check" from his catcher, without looking at
the line-up card to see who is coming up for the opposition.
And then set-up pitcher number one takes about 10 pitches to retire the side.
One has to question whether he has a contract that restricts him to that one
inning since he is removed without breaking a sweat. In comes the next, the
eighth inning pitcher who just about blows the game and then, to the delight
and relief of all wearing "NY" in the stands, Mariano Rivera comes jogging in.
Yankees win despite their manager and his myopic version of micro-managing
with the imagination of a fly in heat. One does not manage from a book that
says lefties pitch to lefties and those on the starboard side of the mound go
against right-handed batters. Total over-exaggerated nonsense. When it seems
to work you are then drowning in falsified and unknown stats born of "It's
time to go to the bullpen for a right-handed [left-handed] pitcher."
Professional athletes are not made of breakable glass nor should they be
treated as if they were. Where else that you know of do you work for six-to-
seven months and then get the rest of year off to do what you wish,
anticipating that you might be thinking of staying in shape or improving upon
the one that you already have and find slightly offensive?
One cannot manage in the professional ranks and abide by a "book" that is
wrong as often as it might be right, perhaps more so. Yet, the Girardis of the
world, since he is not the only one, do it at just about every game and
opportunity. Predictable is an under-statement. They can mail in their
decisions and stay home. They have the imaginative prowess of a rock and no
"feel" for the game.
AJ Burnett has pitched six innings or better in just two of his four starts this year.
A.J. Burnett will implode during any game with which he is involved. That is
as predictable as the earth rotating on its axis. One must see and sense that.
Not difficult...except to the manager that is blind to it.
Consequently, against the Blue Jays the other day, there it was and no one was
warming up in the bullpen while a lead dwindled and Burnett's biggest concern
of the moment was his evening appointment for another tattoo. Finally, bases
loaded, one out and Girardi to the mound trying to look like a manager with a
secret formula as he tapped the forearm of his right arm. Aha, a right-handed
pitcher...David Robertson. How about a call to the bullpen to have Robertson
head in? Oh well. Robertson to the rescue and strikes out the next two he
faces to end the inning and save Burnett for the moment.
But, the next inning, instead of staying with the guy that was throwing fire
and mostly strikes, he is sent to the whirlpool and in comes Joba Chamberlain.
Uh oh! But, he comes in and goes out ... one, two, three. Yankees cling to a
lead so why not leave him in? He just cleaned the slate like a school teacher
at the blackboard. Nah! Three batters. He must be exhausted and ready for
time off. In comes Rafael Soriano. Why? Someone, anyone, tell me why? Please.
What is the objective here? Bases quickly loaded and he is saved by an inning
ending double play.
Mariano Rivera to close it out. But, sadly, he does not. He is having a bad
day, a terrible inning. The two pitchers that might have done this, won the
game, are sitting on the bench wondering what the heck is going on. There is
doubt that anyone confronts or questions Girardi but it is guaranteed that the
Yankees win despite him and he just might manage them out of the pennant. If
the team overcomes his inane approach to the game, he will blow the "Series"
with moves like these.
Rivera had a bad inning but he is the best relief pitcher in the history of
baseball. Ask him how he feels, can he go out again? Was that which just
happened a bad dream? Ask Russell Martin if Mariano had anything at all on
the ball. Nah, we have Ivan Nova in the bullpen, a starter (pardon me while I
laugh a bit) with a 7+ ERA. Now, there's a guy to save the game. Not! Someone
who struck out three times and grounded out twice hits the game winning shot
as if he was Mickey Mantle. Duh!!
Mariano Rivera is just about automatic when preserving a Yankees' lead - coverting better than 91% of his career save opportunites.
Yankees lose and some dolt on talk radio will insist that Girardi knows what
he is doing. Wrong, he is a mental midget. That paperwork he keeps consulting
and referring to in the dugout, those wonderful and game winning decisive
notes, are there only to hide his bankbook, the one that consoles him a bit
after every absurd, pointless and, yes, stupid move.
How else to describe Girardi other than a book and a prayer...no mind? He is
the same manager who removed two pitchers in separate games, both of whom had
two hitters going at the time and were ahead, basically coasting. Uh oh, sixth
or seventh inning and his mind jingles like a morning alarm clock. I checked
the rulebook of the MLB and found, without surprise, that baseball is a nine-
inning game...not six or seven. There is also no rule, medical or otherwise,
that dictates or encourages removal of a pitcher, a starter, after seven
innings, even if he is throwing a no-hitter. And, upon in-depth investigation
of contracts, I could not find one that has a clause stipulating that any of
the pitchers on the Yankees and, likely, other teams, are signed to go for
just a particular inning, specific number of batters, outs or otherwise.
Unbelievably, he, Girardi, is faced with a similar situation the very next
night. Lead late in the game, pitchers being juggled like an act at Cirque du
Soleil and the scene on the field worsening with every decision. And the color
commentator making the outlandish statement that "Mariano is exhausted after
last night and throwing 25 pitches or so." Amazingly, you are inclined to
believe that Girardi thinks the same. Bartolo Colon was impressive, to say the
least, but it became the seventh inning and time to go. Into the ninth and
Lance Pendleton to close it down?!?!? Lance Pendleton??? Second and third in
a heartbeat and in comes Rafael Soriano to save the day.
It has become a game where the strike zone is mercurial at best, going up and
down like the temperature in Michigan and changes at the whim and fancy of the
umpires while Girardi adds to that confusion by inserting pitchers like
thermometers at the children's ward of a hospital. The STRIKE ZONE, so it
says, is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal
line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the
uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the knee
cap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the
batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.
Note that this definition does not include the opposite batter's box nor the
tops of the shoes of the man with the bat.
It is enough to contend with the nonsense behind the plate without having to
see it compounded by the preposterous and incomprehensible decisions of Joseph
Elliot Girardi, a former Major League Baseball catcher whose credentials, such
as they are, do not qualify him to manage the storied New York Yankees.
There may be others like him throughout the leagues, men who drive fans crazy
with decisions that are off the charts, or by not making the ones that are
obvious. You cannot watch every team and evaluate these pretenders to the
position. But, on the east coast and nationally, they are The Yankees and
they are there for all to see more than any other team. So is Girardi. He will
blow this season unless his charges save him with their talents. It is his
destiny and lack of knowledge despite having played the game.
Will the clan Steinbrenner see what everyone else does and start thinking of a
change? Will they do what their father would have done in a heartbeat?
You gotta be kidding!