Roberts’ Use of Pitchers Defies Rationality 16 May 16
by Tony Medley
Choice of pitchers
On Sunday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts epitomized why today’s game is
virtually unwatchable for anyone with even a modicum of common sense.
After six innings,
Dodgers’ starter, Alex Wood, had allowed only three hits, one run, and
one walk while striking out five in six innings. Apparently because of
pitch count, Roberts yanked him. Wood had thrown 92 pitches. Wood is 25
years old, young and healthy. There’s no earthly reason why he can’t
pitch an entire nine innings like pitchers did from 1876 to around 1980.
For the first 80 years of the 20th Century (1901-1980), the
pitcher who led the league in complete games averaged 27.13 complete
games a year, and that’s just the league leader. Since 2000, only one
pitcher has pitched more than 10 complete games (James Shields pitched
11 in 2011). Clayton Kershaw led the NL last year with 2! Either
pitchers are getting woefully weaker or the pitch count theory is
Roberts yanked Wood
for Louis Coleman, who pitched to one batter and retired him. Apparently
that’s not what Roberts wanted, so he pulls Coleman, and inserts J.P.
Howell, who allowed an infield single and retired the next man, moving
the runner to second.
hitters is apparently not what Roberts wants, so out he pops again, and
removes Howell for a guy named Joe Blanton, who was ordered by Roberts
to intentionally walk .224 hitting Bandon Moss. Up walks pinch hitter
Yadier Molina who immediately blasts a 2 run scoring double. After a
passed ball, Blanton served up a run scoring sacrifice fly.
Roberts had finally
found the guy he wanted on the mound, someone who allowed lots of
runners to cross the plate, so he leaves the obviously ineffective
Blanton in for the next inning and he allows another run. As a result,
the Dodgers are now behind 5-1.
This leaves everyone
to wonder what would have happened had Roberts just sat on the bench and
left his starting pitcher in the game. Wood allowed one run on 3 hits in
6 innings; the bullpen allowed 4 runs on 4 hits in two innings, and the
two relievers who actually got people out were pulled. Only the reliever
who got bombed found favor with Roberts and stayed in the game.
Here’s some free
advice for Dave: your bullpen is well below par; forget the simplistic,
irrational pitch count theory and stick with your starters when they are
pitching well. When it comes to charging out of the dugout to change
pitchers, you would do well to follow the Latin proverb, Bene qui
latuit bene vixit, “He lives well who lives unnoticed.”
But I don’t condemn
Roberts alone. All 30 managers in the Major Leagues act and think in
lock step. This nonsensical handling of pitchers drove me from the game
decades ago. The only reason I watch major league baseball now is
because I’m writing this column.
Sour grapes or
“For him (Steph Curry) to be the first player to get that (unanimous
MVP) I think it just tells you how watered down our league is. Think
about when MJ played and Shaq. Those guys really played against top
notch competition. More superstars on more teams than there is in our
league today. I just think that someone like LeBron deserved to get at
least one vote.” Tracy McGrady, ESPN analyst.
I’m no ESPN analyst
(for one thing, I use proper grammar), but I’ve watched the NBA since
the inception of the 24 second clock in 1954, so I’ve seen a lot more
than McGrady has (he was born in 1979, so his personal knowledge of
basketball couldn’t be much before 1990). That means that I have 36 more
years of personal knowledge of the NBA than McGrady. While I admire the
quality of players I saw in the ‘50s and ‘60s (Russell, Sharman, Cousy,
West, Baylor, Robertson, Pettit, Schayes, the list goes on and on), the
athleticism of the players today far exceeds what I saw in those days.
I’ve never seen a quicker guard, for instance, than Russell Westbrook
(he would be a blur to guys like Cousy and Sharman). I’ve never seen a
better shooter than Curry. There is as much, if not more, talent in the
NBA today than there ever has been. McGrady is out to lunch.
“They have to do a much better job of keeping he and Dwayne Wade out of
the paint.” Jalen Rose, ABC NBA analyst, who majored in mass
communications at Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science degree
from Maryland. In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter named Rose the most
influential media voice in the NBA with the title of “The Smartest
Specialist.” Apparently “smart” and courses in “mass communication”
don’t include the knowledge and use of basic grammar.