Friday, July 21, 2006

A Bunch Of Numbered Topics

1. One last thing about the World Series ball. I never thought Doug did anything wrong. I don't remember anyone saying anything about the actual ball right after Game 4. I know I wasn't thinking about the ball at that moment. Had someone asked me what I thought about the final ball at that moment, I'd have said, "What, the last ball? Yeah, Doug got it. Cool. Why?" As far as giving out game balls, that could've been done with other balls from the game. As far as the "historical significance," again, there was no talk about it going in, and none right after. Besides, the Hall of Fame and the team could have gotten one of the hundreds of other balls used in the series. I wonder if the real casual fans don't understand that. It's not like they use one ball for the whole game. If they, did, then of course that ball would be historic. It would be the ball. But it was just one of many. We got the ring. We got the trophy. That ball was just one of thousands we used in 2004 to get us there. Everybody gets to put stuff in their own personal trophy case. Doug got the ball, it's his to choose to keep it or not. Kind of like how Mariano kept his 400th save ball. Because he wanted to. And that's finally the last I'll say about that.

2. There are a lot of traditions in baseball. The third baseman always throws the ball back to the pitcher after an out with the bases empty. The first baseman always throws the ball to the crowd when he makes the final putout of an inning before having someone toss him a ball for next innings warmups from the dugout. The home plate umpire always dusts off the plate with his butt facing the pitcher. Joe Castiglione has to refer to the Blue Jays as the "Torontonians" once per series against them. Jim Kaat has to tell us, ten times a year, that if pitchers were meant to throw overhand, we'd all be walking around with our arms over our heads.

But today I noticed one I didn't know about: Youk made the final putout of the game, and Timlin was nearby, in case he needed to cover the bag. Youk was kind of running toward Timlin when he hit the bag. Then, instead of giving him a high five or a butt-pat, he avoided him. Once safely out of the way, he flipped him the ball, and kept jogging toward the middle of the field, leaving Timlin to high five Varitek. So, I ask you, is this a tradition? That the pitcher and catcher always congratulate each other first? It makes sense. I just never knew that if the pitcher ended up really close to another fielder, the fielder will avoid him so he can go do his special exclusive battery-fest first.

3. About NESN's "What If?" show. Terrible job. I can't see it here in New York, but I wouldn't watch it anyway. One of the key things that made 2004 so great was 2003. Now NESN feels the need to just go ahead and change the outcome? What's the purpose of this? It's a little Yes Network-ish to pretend your team has never lost at any time in its past.

I know, I'm the guy who suggested they have the '86 team come out and re-do the end of Game 6. And they ended up doing a radio version of that game on WEEI (which I also didn't hear, or even find out what the mystery ending was) with an alternate ending. Well, that was 20 years ago, the team never got their due for what they did accomplish, and besides, those guys deserved to win a World Series possibly more than any other that came up short. So it kind of made sense. Just a fun thing. But 2003 was a few years ago. Many of those guys won the next year anyway. None of those guys are asking anyone to make it appear as if they actually won.

I will say that I was glad that they were showing what would happen if Pedro had come out, simply because I can hope that they lose anyway, to prove my point that we would've been even worse off without Pedro in there. That's right, people, I'm the only one in the world who admits he wanted Pedro to stay in. My theory that whole season was: A tired Pedro is better than a healthy anyone else. For me to say that I wasn't saying that in that game would be a lie. I know all about how good that bullpen got. But I also remember how many games they blew earlier in the year. The ol' Bullpen By Committee. I panicked like Costanza when he decided the answering machine plan wouldn't work. "Tippy toe! Tippy toe!" "Keep Pedro in! Keep Pedro in! Let's go with our ace! Even though he's reched the dreaded 100 pitch plateau!"

Besides, on the Matsui hit, he made a good pitch. The Posada "double"? Come on. Cheap bloop. And Giambi hit two steroid-aided homers in that game. BSM has told me that Grady was the worst manager in history. I think if one ball is a few feet to one side, he ends up being manager of the A.L. Champion, possibly World Champion, Red Sox. And Joy of Sox recently said that any intelligent person would've wanted Pedro out of the game. I got, like, 1300-ish on my SATs. I win at Scrabble and Boggle at a 90% rate. Brian's girlfriend refuses to play me. And I didn't mind him being in, simply because he's Pedro Mar-effin'-tinez. Who's with me!? (crickets) If you or someone you know is a pro-keep-Pedro-inner, please direct them to this support group. I'm actually serious. I want to meet someone who agrees with me, at least a little on this. Anyone?

Also, if Grady did take him out, what if we'd won?* How un-sweet would 2004 have been? It would never have happened, actually. So, thank you Grady Little. For the slap. The comeback. The breaking of the curse. Grady Little: The most important man in Boston Red Sox history!

*Hey, did we? Did anyone watch the show tonight? You know those computers are 100% accurate, right?

I did not see the show. I will catch a repeat, and if it floors me, I'll dust off the VCR (I'm a happy DVR guy now, but the VCR is still in the video loop of cables) and tape it for you. And the '04 ball? So much said about it, all blown out of proportion. If the Cardinals really wanted it, which they didn't, never have, never will, it has been their's the whole time. Good job on this post. Have a great weekend.
YOu don't need to tape it for me since I have no interest in seeing it. Those channel 30 80s broadcasts, on the other hand....
I have absolutely no interest in "What If?" and I certainly don't care what outcome they reached. I wasn't preturbed at the time when Pedro was left in, but I thought for sure he was coming out after seven.
But every Red Sox fan seems to forget 2003 ALDS Game 1 against Oakland. In the bottom of the seventh, Pedro had a higher pitch count than Game 7 (he was at about 110 pitches), and Oakland had the bases loaded with one out and was down by a run. Little left him in. Pedro got the last two outs and got out of trouble. Little figured he did it once, he could do it again. I'm surprised that NOBODY mentions this. Ever.
Thank you so much for that, Q. I will mention that next debate I get in over this.
Ah, but you're modest. Not me. So about your perfect take on the Grady/Petie thing: let me tell everybody that you also scored 1200-ish on the SAT's (via Johns Hopkins) when you were ELEVEN. You and Pat. And the two of you are still going to Fenway Park in keeping with the tradition started in kindergarten only now Pat gets to stay for the whole game instead of having to leave in the 7th cuz Dad couldn't stand the traffic causing Pat to cry one night as we walked out the gate only to hear the wild cheering when Spike Owens hit a grand salami.
I think if one ball is a few feet to one side, he ends up being manager of the A.L. Champion, possibly World Champion, Red Sox.

And still a terrible manager. More than a few awful awful managers have won World Series. Bob Brenly, for example. I really can't think of one worse than Little in all my years watching baseball. With a more competent manager, for instance, the 2002 team wins the division. Ditto that the 2003 team, who may have won it all.

To your point that a tired Pedro is better than the bullpen- that's the point. He wasn't. Once he crosses that plateau, he became Jeremi Gonzalez all season, something Grady wouldn't have known because he refused to hold hitter's meetings, pitcher's meetings, read scouting reports and avail himself of the breathtaking amount of research and resources the Red Sox put at his disposal.

If the tired Pedro point were true, he would have been left in to finish all his starts. As it was, from the 7th inning on, outs or hits, nearly every pitch they connected on got hit hard. Grady had countless opportunities after making the initial call to send him back out after he'd mentally turned off to relieve him and stop the bleeding. It wasn't just one bad decision, it was the same bad decision like eight times in one game. Just like he wasn't fired for that decision, he was fired for that decision and two seasons of poor management.

I mean no offense, but I think there's a reason you and Grady are the only ones that think it was good idea.
Little figured he did it once, he could do it again. I'm surprised that NOBODY mentions this. Ever.

No one mentions it because it's irrelevant- watching that game again, Pedro had NOTHING after around 102 pitches (watched it this AM).

This was almost as bad as the Game 7 decision, but at the very least OAK wasn't hitting him hard. NYY were, however, and Grady sat on his ass.

Using this to bolster the argument is like saying you wouldn't bring Ortiz in as a pinch hitter against Tom Gordon late in a game because Gordon struck him out once a couple weeks ago.
mom--good call, except it was Sam Horn, ot Spike Owen. (See the April '04 archives for full story of that day.)

BS--Regardless of the history of Grady, I still just think that one decision is made too much of. At least the one to let him go out for the eighth. I'm not a fan of Grady, really, just think he got a raw deal about that Pedro thing. Maybe he was a bad manager, I can't tell the difference between one manager and the next. But I'm sure there are people who at the time said, Yeah, good call, let's stick with Pedro, as opposed to the collective groan by New England that everyone meakes it out to be after the fact.
Well what about all that stuff about going the extra mile and whatnot? Why couldn't Grady's defense have been "I thought he'd step it up when it really counted despite that he may not have had gas in the tank, as he did in a recent, relevant playoff game against the A's"?

What if Francona didn't let Schilling pitch in the ALCS the next year, because he was bleeding?

My point is, in that key spot, in the final game, I was totally willing to go with the best guy, and I can't fault Grady for making that call.
There is a huge difference between how you manage a game 1 of the ALDS and a game 7 of the ALCS.

My problem with Grady's decision is that he knew what he had in the bullpen and ignored them. Petey pitched well, and threw a lot of pitches...and he could have easily let him sit to bring in Embree to pitch to Matsui (which is how they started the simulation part of the "What If" show). That, coupled with his letting his players tell him what to do (which he's still doing in Los Angeles), tells me he wasn't using all the managerial brains God gave him.

Mind you, I think things worked out the way they were supposed to. Doesn't change the fact that Grady let Pedro manage the team for that moment and it came back to bite him in the ass.
My point is, in that key spot, in the final game, I was totally willing to go with the best guy, and I can't fault Grady for making that call.

The point is, where Pedro was pitch count wise, stuff-wise, and results wise, calling him the "best guy" is demonstrably false. We're not talking about sending him back out in an inning where they're tied, and he gives up a HR to lose.

We're talking about over the course of two innings where it's obvious he needs to be releived, Grady choking on the bench.

Grady wasn't fired for that one game, though I'd fire a guy for making one of the three worst managerial decisions in baseball history. Grady was just bad, period. John Henry wanted to fire him midseason he was so bad.
I caved and watched the What If game last night.

Choppy. Unrealistic. Weird. And not at all gratifying, if that was how I was supposed to feel afterward. It wasn't real. Why get all excited about a "probable" outcome? Baseball is not a movie, though it is filled with a lot of drama often times. You can't re-write history. Cause, if it were at all possible, I'd be re-writing a lot of my own.
Oh, one thing I forgot to add - watching the What If non-game, I was able to reaffirm my hatred of Nick Johnson.
About WCSG's coments: While I appreciate the Grady debate, and I did bring it up, this is what I really wanted to talk about. The fact theatthey re-did this game, as if we'd all be in suspense and be talking about it at the proverbial water cooler. "Hey, did you see that non-existent play by Todd Walker? I have so much more respect for him now!" It just doesn't make sense.
I have written my Sarcastic Take on "What If" called "What TF If", for your reading pleasure.

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