Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Please help me understand

I'm as lost as Ryan Theriot in Cooperstown, NY.

Look, it's election season, and a lot of people tend to get a bit testy this time of year when it comes to politics. 99% (by my non-scientific conservative estimates) of us are biased in these conversations. Let's say a candidate sticks his or her foot in their mouth and says something stupid. (Not the usual stupid stuff, but the stuff they meant or thought was legit.)

When my guy says it, it's excusable for this reason or that. When your guy makes the exact same mistake, I light him up for being a huge imbecile. Your guy breaks an egg, and he's making a huge mess; my guy breaks an egg, and he's feeding homeless children. THIS candidate's Facebook page has this many likes, and posted a *really* clever picture that's actually a saying. THAT candidate just tweeted some pretty amazing stuff in less than 140 characters. Huge double-standard. Drives me nuts, but that's life in politics.

And in sports.

Like baseball...like Cardinals baseball. And their manager.

It's no secret, I'm a fan of TLR. Hell, this blog's name was inspired by one of his many LaRussa-isms. I like what he did for this franchise, and while I didn't always agree with his decisions, I like the two flags that are flying over right field at Busch right now that weren't there before he came to town.

Lefty-righty match ups, late-inning defensive substitutions, "overmanaging", being curt at times with the media...etc, etc. All true. Also true? Tony LaRussa won. He pissed a lot of fans off along the way, but the number of complaining fans dwindled quickly with each passing October win each time it happened. But TLR spent his fair share of time being crucified, there's no denying that.

Enter Mike Matheny. Now, let me just say, I like Mike Matheny, and think he was a good choice to manage this Cardinals team. (Uh-oh, he started by saying he likes him...here it comes)

Where's the "overmanaging" outrage today? I've not heard one person talk about how MM just *has* to put his fingerprints on every game. Not a single talking head on ESPN, MLBNetwork, Fox, or any national outlet calling him out for lefty/righty match ups late in the game. No local radio stations (and there are plenty), newspapers or television channels really ripping Matheny for late defensive substitutions. The saturation of bunting lately? Ok, I'll give ya that one-he's had (earned) his share of criticism for that from plenty of people, myself included.

But, dude. Other than that? This guy can do no wrong. What's up with that?Again, I like the guy, but come on.

What really got me tonight was the decision in the 7th for Carlos Beltran to try to steal third base. I didn't see Matheny get in his ear about it upon his return to the dugout, nor did Oquendo seem to make much of the matter when Beltran was CS. For those reasons, I believe this was not something that Beltran decided to do on his own.

You guys ever heard of Allen Craig? Yeah, he's pretty good. Put a duck or two on the pond, and the guy's sick. Here's a guy who missed all of April, and when he did come back, Matheny put him right into the cleanup spot for 2 weeks. Then, unfortunately, Craig went back to the DL and missed another 14 games. In spite of that, he came into Monday night's night game batting .405 w RISP, 92 RBI (ranking 14th in the NL, 26th in all of MLB), and he ranked 4th in some other RBI/RISP typed stat that I heard earlier, but forgot, so whatever that was...throw that in the mix, and remember he missed six weeks.

Now, file all of it under "Reasons why you would not want to tell Carlos Beltran to attempt a steal of third base in the bottom of the 7th, in a 4-2 October game, with playoff implications, when Allen friggin' Craig is standing in the batters box with one out and runners at first & second". Or just abbreviate to save space. (#RWYWNWTTCBTAASOTBITBOT7IA42OGWPIWAFCISITBBWOOARAFAS)

I watched the post game "Mic'ed up" segment on FSMW after the game. Then, I rewound it, and watched it a second time, just to be sure that's didn't miss one of the reporters asking him about that play. Aaaaaand it would seem that I didn't. No one even asked him about it. (Unless I totally missed it)

Whatever. Like I said, I like the guy, and am not saying he isn't a good manager. I'm just saying that it sure is hard to imagine TLR doing the same thing, and not (at the VERY LEAST) being asked about it. Can't you just hear it?

Some reporter not named Calvin May:
"Tony, what about sending Beltran there in the 7th?"
Tony LaRussa: "What do you...?"
NCM: "In the 7th inning. You had Allen Craig up with one out and two on. He absolutely kills it with runners on, and Beltran gets gunned down trying to steal third, effectively taking you guys out of that inning."
TLR: *scoffs* "I mean...you've gotta watch the game."
NCM: "It just seemed like..."
TLR: Goes off on a diatribe for 6 minutes about all the things he was thinking, and the scenarios he'd played out in his mind.

Instead, we got:
NCM: "Nice win tonight, Mike."
MM: "Thanks."

I know that's just how it goes, and be it sports or politics or whatever, it's not going anywhere. Just saying, I'd like to see the same set of rules applied across the board.  I'm openly a fan of LaRussa, and while I appreciate what he accomplished in his time here, I never gave him a blank check.  If I thought he did something out of line, I'd say something about it.

My point is that Matheny doesn't get a blank check either, or at least he shouldn't.  First year manager, I get it.  What I don't get is why that seems to be an acceptable reason not to question bonehead decisions, whether real or perceived.  I don't pretend to know everything he does, or have access to data/insight that he does, but man oh man, it sure did seem egregious.  I guess if the Cards weren't at least guaranteed a shot at a game 163 at this point as a worst-case scenario, things would be different.  Maybe.

Or maybe he's "your guy" and can do no wrong in your eyes. 

...and don't even get me started on the bullpen & the number of appearances some of those guys have racked up. That's a topic for another day.

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