MLB Opening Week Madhouse

Let’s recap the lunacy of the first half-week of the 2012 season, disorder by disorder; mental issue by mental issue.

Mariano Rivera blew a save on opening day leading to speculation that he may need a replacement; the YES Network, appealing to its enabled and spoiled constituency of Yankees’ fans, assuaged the fears of their viewership by showing clips of Rivera blowing April saves in seasons past.

Of course there’s no connection between the two, but the same people who are consoled by this are the ones who think Rivera is finished after one bad game.

Yoenis Cespedes displayed awesome power with home runs of ludicrous distance thereby “validating” his signing by the moribund Athletics.

The Red Sox staggered out of the gate looking identical to the team from last September that blew their playoff spot and led to a mass exodus in their braintrust and odd personnel moves.

And Fredi Gonzalez is already under attack because of his bullpen maneuverings.

Yah. After what? 2 games?

Here’s reality.

Rivera:

If you’re actually concerned about Rivera based on one game, then you’re either overindulged; delusional; a plain moron; or all three.

If his velocity was down; if he was laboring; if he looked hurt then it’s cause for concern.

He blew one game.

Get over it.

Rivera already did.

Cespedes:

How many players have burst onto the scene with a flourish only to falter and need to be sent down? He’s an entirely new entity, completely unknown so far. Teams are testing him by throwing him fastballs to see where they should pitch him because the information available on him is limited to propaganda films by his representatives and poorly masqueraded lust for Billy Beane to defend his fictional persona of a “genius”.

Carlos Delgado hit 8 home runs in the first 15 games for the world champion Blue Jays in 1994, was in the minors by June and didn’t make it back to the big leagues full time until 1996.

Calm down with young players getting off to blazing starts.

The Red Sox:

It’s deuces wild. They’ve lost their first two games and Josh Beckett allowed two homers each to two of the the best hitters in baseball, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. It’s not a reflection of September nor is it something about which to overreact.

What would concern me more was Bobby Valentine’s strange bullpen calls on opening day and that he doesn’t appear to trust his players. The over-the-top reaction from fans and media doesn’t have as much to do with the poor start, the perceived organizational disarray or September of 2011; it has more to do with the acceptance/realization that this Red Sox team simply isn’t particularly good.

F-F-Fredi and the Braves:

Gonzalez won’t be able to win until he gets fired.

He got roasted a year ago because he overused key members of his bullpen to their detriment and came home to roost late in the season during the Braves’ September swoon.

Now he makes the choice not to overuse the same pitchers, inserts Livan Hernandez and Chad Durbin and it backfires. Because of that he has to hear from the armchair experts on social media unloading on him again.

How do you argue with a monolith of “experts” who have no accountability and maintain the mentality that if you were right about a particular decision they don’t agree with, you were lucky; if it fails, then you’re a fool?

How do you counter that?

If Hernandez had coaxed a pop up; if Durbin had gotten a ground ball, would they still have been “wrong” decisions? Or would Gonzalez have been lucky?

What’s most grating is that the same people who are on the constant tangent about negligible strategic decisions are the ones who defend the Red Sox 2003 bullpen-by-committee as “gutsy”, “innovative” and “revolutionary” for no reason other than they agreed with it!! In essence, it was a viable defense to have a bad bullpen because the Red Sox front office was populated by individuals from the same school of thought that creates this dynamic of nitpicking on tiny decisions over the course of a game and season that can go either way based on fortune, good and bad.

That “logic” has been evident with the Mariners under Jack Zduriencik and is happening now with the Astros and Jeff Luhnow.

Failure is justified by noble intent, but in a results-oriented theory, isn’t the result more important than the process?

I don’t particularly believe that; I want my managers and coaches to have an explainable reason for what they do and if they have that, I can live with their decisions.

I don’t think Gonzalez is a good manager, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win; that his calls won’t work. Ron Washington is no better a manager than Gonzalez and has won consecutive American League pennants.

Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

But that’s not the prevailing viewpoint in the world of social media. It has to stop and will only stop if you stop indulging in it.

Or at least put it in its proper context.

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  1. #1 by Mike Luna on April 8, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    So, what to you is an explainable reason? I would guess that “I went with my gut” isn’t acceptable, but you’re not a huge proponent of stats either.

    So what does your perfect manager do and how does he explain himself after the fact?

    • #2 by admin on April 9, 2012 - 12:00 am

      Saying he went with his gut might work for me with a veteran manager like LaRussa and Leyland; with Fredi Gonzalez? Not so much. It depends on the manager. I’m not a proponent of stats as the final arbiter, but they’re important if they’re put in the proper light.
      An example is last year when Leyland started Don Kelly at third base in game 5 of the ALDS. That Kelly homered in his first at bat was irrelevant. He said he had a hunch. Maybe he likes the way Kelly was swinging the bat; maybe he just had a feeling. It doesn’t matter. As long as he says something I can understand and accept, then I’m okay with it.
      But when a manager does something idiotic that makes zero sense, I don’t really care what the explanation is because it’s not going to calm my anger at him doing something blatantly ludicrous.
      I don’t necessarily have a perfect manager. It depends on the team; whether they’re rebuilding or ready to contend. For a team ready to win, you want a veteran manager who’s not going to screw it up; with a younger team, you want a manager who’s going to teach, implement, discipline, but not frighten the players into making mistakes.
      Everyone wants a carbon copy of a manager they think is “perfect” and it doesn’t work that way.

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