To the mats: Reader comments from Game 5
1: DESPITE WHAT W.C. FIELDS SAID, SOMETIMES WE GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK
I’m surprised you ignored the single worst tactical decision Girardi made: pinch-running for A-Rod. See this article at Fangraphs. And while there is an argument to be made for starting the 7th with a reliever, leaving Burnett in is also an acceptable decision. It’s not Girardi’s fault that Mathis has turned into Superman this series, or that Hughes grooved one to Vlady when Posada’s target was at eye level.– L.Bury
Always good to hear from you, Dr. Bury. To deal with the last point first, a few readers took my including Mathis’s success in the list of questions as a criticism of Joe Girardi. That wasn’t the case. It was, probably alone on the list, a rhetorical question with a bit of Old Testament “How long, O Lord?” tossed in (let’s go with Habakkuk 1:2, just to be esoteric). As I said in an earlier installment here, these things happen — Pat Borders, a thoroughly risible hitter, was the MVP of the 1992 World Series after hitting .450 in six games. Bucky Dent was the MVP of the 1978 World Series, having hit .417 with seven RBIs in six games. Dent probably went whole months during the regular season without driving in seven runs — the guy averaged 38 per 162 games played. When a hitter muscles up and goes crazy like this during a short series, it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, nor an indication that the scouting reports are off. It just happens. Dent played in five postseason series and didn’t come close to that level of success in the other four.
Pinch-running for Alex Rodriguez was ludicrous. Even with a bum hip, Rodriguez is still a relatively fast runner (he does take some bad gambles running the bases); it’s not like we’re talking about Jorge Posada, who by one measure was the second-worst player to have on the bases this year. Had the game gone into extra innings, that move would have badly punished the team. I stayed away from it because I was focusing on the crucial seventh inning, whereas the removal of A-Rod came in the ninth and had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It was a decision that had an extremely limited upside compared to the possible negative consequences. A full-blown “Coffee Joe” call by Mr. Girardi.
2: FAIR IS FOUL AND FOUL IS FAIR
Haven’t been here for awhile. Are you still pushing Nick Swisher as the be all end all? How could you have left him out of your Friday Morning Quarterbacking Second Guess-a-thon? We all knew his odds of hitting safely in that situation as close to nil. Other commenters were dead on – HINSKE NOT GUZMAN ON THE BENCH. In fact I’d start him over Swisher with the funk he’s in.– Javamanny
Welcome back, Javamanny (is that like Coffee Joe?). Among the things you missed: I said Hinske-not-Guzman as well. I’ve also brought up Duncan-not-Guzman and am leaning towards Chicken Stanley-not-Guzman. Also, these are first-guesses, not second-guesses. If you read the live chats I’ve been doing during these playoff games, you will see me make a lot of the same points, though it happens I didn’t do one for Game 5. I wouldn’t kill the manager for something that wasn’t an obvious problem as it was happening. In fairness, I would use words like, “In retrospect…” Thursday’s game situations weren’t all that subtle.
As for Swish Nicker, I still think he’s a very productive player and far superior to the alternative initially proposed, but right now he’s in a disastrous slump. There’s just no other way to put it. That’s he’s in the wrong slump at the wrong time doesn’t change my earlier opinion on him, just like Gil Hodges’ infamous 0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series didn’t make him a bad player or Dave Winfield’s 1-for-22 in the 1981 World Series made him bad player. In the same way that sometimes a hack like Jeff Mathis suddenly turns on the hitting in a short series, other players… don’t.
3: THE EXECUTION BLUES
Why, why, why do you throw Vlad a fastball again with 2 strikes, curveball, curveball, curveball. Posada/Hughes come on, are you guys kidding me.– jesseguerrero30
I find this one harder to complain about. Sometimes pitchers just miss their spots. By a lot. Had the pitch been out of the strike zone where it was supposed to be, there might have been a different result. As it was, it’s not like Guerrero nuked it. He hit it up the middle and Derek Jeter just missed catching up to it. It was a mistake, but pitchers miss their spots and hitters swing at bad pitchers. I’m trying to imagine the mechanics of the game if players always performed exactly as they intended to — you get into a paradox where hitters always swing at pitches they can hit, but the pitchers always make the right pitches so they get them out. I think my head is going to explode like one of those computers on the old “Star Trek.”
4: DETAILS, DETAILS…
Don’t the biplanes win in the end???? Otherwise, I love Rally Kong.– stultusmagnus
This remake ends differently. The biplane pilots realize that their reliance on fossil fuels is damaging the environment and fly home, leaving the giant ape to root on his favorite baseball team and turn the Union Square Greenmarket into a million-dollar business due to his high-volume grape purchases.
5: SOMEDAY THEY’LL KNOW BETTER
Goldman, posts like these are why you are my favorite NYY analyst. WHERE THE HECK IS DAVID ROBERTSON!?!?– nyyls1fan
I happened to tune in to WFAN in the car this afternoon, and Mike Francesa was shooting down callers who were intent on asking why Robertson hasn’t been used properly by saying that you shouldn’t make him the flavor of the month based on two innings in this season. “He hasn’t been there all year,” he said, which I found very odd given that he pitched in 45 games and generally did very well, with that high strikeout rate to which I keep referring. Francesa is correct in insisting that Robertson is in no way a proven postseason performer, but then no one is asking for him to close games, just to be used in the situations in which he might help the team. He also was incredulous that Robertson might be ranked ahead of Joba Chamberlain, but that fails to take into account just how poorly Joba has been pitching. Better to go with the untried pitcher who you feel has a reasonable chance of succeeding than with tried solutions that have already failed.
MORE FROM ME…
After the game. If we have a game. I just saw Aquaman swim past my window, and I’m on the second floor.