Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dangerous and Insane

Much as I have previously supported Jerry Manuel, and much as I do like some of the things that he has done, tonight, in his post game interview he exposed a line of thinking seems dangerous and insane-- to the extent that if someone were to advocate removing him, I could not say that they did not have a point.

Specifically, I have generally liked the way that Manuel has used the shiny new bullpen: his willingness to use K-Rod in non-save situations speaks of a flexibility of thinking, a capacity to look beyond the specious statistic of the Save, that speaks well of Manuel’s managerial abilities. On Tuesday, however, after Sean Green allowed two walks and the tieing run in the seventh, he opted to leave him in the game to give up a decisive three-run homer. The Mets never scored again, and suffered a depressing three-run loss.

When asked about the bullpen’s failure in the post-game interview, Manuel said that it did not bother him, because these types of meltdowns were inevitable in a bullpen (this is actually true, see Mets--2008, and also Mets—2007), as much as his club’s inability to score an extra three runs over the last three frames (this is also true—the Mets inability to score in the final innings has gotten to be depressing and weird). However, while both these statements are true, taken together, the way that Manuel put them, they yield a line of thinking that seems deranged at best, and sneaky and disingenuous if seen in a less sympathetic light.

Manuel should have taken Greene out—and even if he thought that his club should have come up with three more runs, there was no sane reason to put that theory into test, when he could have kept the lead or the tie by managing the bullpen more aggressively. There was no reason to test Sean Greene’s metal in a game which, while played in April, counts every bit as much as a game in September.

It is less flattering to think that Manuel deliberately chose to deflect attention from the aspect of the game that he screwed up (bullpen management) by bringing up the aspect of the game that everyone has been whining about in the papers—namely the Mets’ inability to hit in “clutch” situations. If Manuel had removed the struggling Sean Green, and then Green’s replacement had screwed up, Manuel would have been blamed for making a bad choice—if he left Greene in to give up a mere four runs, then the obvious culprit becomes the Mets’ well documented inability to hit late in games or with runners in scoring position. When you find your in-game decisions influenced by the ravings in The Post and the fear of blame, you are failing at one of the extremely few responsibilities of a manager. Yeah, the Mets could hit more, but Manuel also straight-up goofed with the bullpen—which is fine, as long as he admits it.

Speaking of dangerous and insane, Steve Somers is an escaped mental patient who is, for reasons thoroughly beyond my understanding, allowed to host a late-night sports talk show on WFAN—which I feel compelled to listen to, like a teenager playing with an infected pimple. His deal is that he calls out Latino players for not hustling, while doing something that is approximately a Jewish-psychiatrist/Jerry Seinfeld shtick. For the last week and a half he has been going on and on about Beltran’s lack of hustle as evidenced by the two (count ‘em—TWO) recent times when he failed to slide, when he probably should have slid (Beltran is hitting about .400—for as long as he does that, he can ride around the bases in a fucking unicycle), while extolling the hustling virtues of Daniel Murphy—I like Murphy as much as the next guy, but if he ever turns into a gold glove fielder hitting .400, let me know.

…also his show features a clip that is dialog from The Untouchables set to music from The Godfather—which is like incest or something. The quote is DeNiro going on about how “every man who gets to be a certain age should have enthusiasms” which is a great quote to use as a hook for a radio program about baseball, but the music just makes it…wrong.

J.J. Putz had his first real screw up as a Met today, giving up the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth. I await the back page of tomorrow’s New York Post with interest.

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