Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm Getting Soft in My Old Age.

After watching Bill Mota spit the bit on Friday night (I chucked some Cracker Jack at the TV in the hotel room while unleashing a much-too-loud "MOTHERFUCKER!"), I was all kinds of ready to let loose with the great anti-King Ned post that you've all been waiting for.

And then something happened yesterday that caused me to reconsider.

(OK, I couldn't totally reconsider. What a stupid fucking move to bring Mota in right there. Please, someone, tell me what the thinking was. Chuck New Town was fucking dealing Friday night. He had that huge, looping curveball -- you know, that 75 mph beauty that, when he was a starter, kept drifting over the heart of the plate and must've looked like a beach ball to a hitter -- working on the outer half. His spot in the order didn't come up in the top of the eighth. He throws with the same arm as Bill Mota. So, where's the benefit? If you're going to double-switch because the pitcher's spot is up first in the ninth, why not put Cameron in center? Kapler's capable with the glove, but he's not Cameron. I just don't get it. OK, that's all.

(Fuck that, that's not all. You know what King Ned's defense of the move was? "He's my eighth inning guy." Oh. Well. I see your point. You had to take Chuck out. After all, if a baseball player is required to pitch outside of his King Ned-designated role, his wiring starts short-circuiting and his CPU starts to overheat and oil starts to come out of his ears. I think that's one of Isaac Asimov's rules of robotics.

(Oh, wait! That's right! That doesn't happen. Maybe it's because baseball players aren't robots. Their performance actually changes sometimes; sometimes -- like, say, Friday night -- they're throwing the ball as well as they have all season and they need you to send them out for another inning BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY FUCKING FINGERNAILS LEFT IN A WEEK IF YOU INSIST ON BRINGING BILL FUCKING MOTA INTO THE GAME BECAUSE "HE'S YOUR EIGHTH INNING GUY."

(Yeah, that's right, it's another open parenthesis. I'm still going. Here's the thing about baseball managers -- as far as I can tell, the reason there is a manager in baseball is so you have one person making decisions instead of 25. Now, unless I'm mistaken, the way most people make decisions is by a process called thinking. You take some information, chew on it, process it, and make a choice. Putting Mota in because "he's my eighth inning guy" is not thinking. And if you're going to be sitting on the bench just not thinking all the time, then, really ... what's the point of a manager?)

Anyhow, I had a great anti-Ned post that was all ready to go, but I guess I'll save it for another day. Because something extraordinary happened yesterday in the eighth inning, with one man out and the tying run on third:

King Ned brought in his best relief pitcher to get the final five outs of the game.

Holy fucking God. I almost shat myself. What a concept. Bringing in your best reliever to go the last inning and two-thirds? That fucking Nobel Prize shit right there. I might have to start calling him Dr. Ned.

For most teams, this wouldn't be a big deal. In fact, pitching your best reliever for five outs when he hasn't thrown in a week might be considered, I don't know, common sense. For King Dr. Ned, though, this is impressive shit. Consider that CoCo had only four inning-and-a-third saves last season, with two coming in the last week of the year. And that the only time Cordero threw an inning-and-two-thirds last year was when he blew the save in the ninth and got sent out in the tenth (and coughed up the game completely). I'm not going all the way back to '06 (maybe tomorrow), but at least in terms of last year, this was unprecedented.

This is almost like watching a chimp learn to use a twig as a tool. If King Dr. Ned keeps evolving at this pace, we might have a halfway competent manager in the next eight years or so.

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