Someone hire Lou Pinella, please, name him manager, and make him report for duty without further delay! The guy is killing me with his colorless commentary. I could only take about three or four minutes of Lou’s unsweetened voice in game one of the ALCS last night before hitting the mute button. I’ll grant Lou knows baseball and I will assume that is the reason the networks who hire these guys for post-season duty don’t ask them to audition, but for god’s sake, shouldn’t there be some requirement about having a voice that isn’t grating?
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Speaking of grating, Tony La Russa is in fine form already. The smug manager of the Cardinals, already a genius in his own mind, had this to say on the subject of whether or not the Mets would pitch to Albert Pujols:
"I keep repeating Felipe Alou's quote about this being a competition. You raise competitors, not cowards. I don't think [pitching around Pujols] is the right way to compete."
Raising “cowards”? I’ve never known a manager to cry so much before the fact than La Russa. If he were facing a team with only one reliable hitter in the lineup and with the guy batting behind him favoring a surgically-repaired shoulder, what would Tony do? Challenge him for the good of the game? Set an example for the kids who are watching? Pitch around him? Pick one.
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More thoughts on managers today. What in the world was Joe Torre thinking when he re-upped for another year in New York? I assume he doesn’t need the income (though it is never wise to count other peoples’ money). He doesn’t need another ring on his fingers. And he couldn’t possibly need the public second-guessing and carping from his owner. So, what makes Joe run? The guess here is that Joe is motivated by the perception that the Yankees were expected to win it all and haven’t…lately. But as commenter extraordinaire (domestic division) RSB pointed out yesterday, these Yankees are less a team than a collection of All-Stars. I agreed with RSB and likened them to the collection of basketball superstars the United States persists in assembling to represent the country in the Olympics and World championships. Still, though I am the last guy in the universe who could be called a Yankees apologist, New York might have fared better had they not suffered a lot of injuries that persisted into the playoffs. Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson were coming back from various ailments and, frankly, are old and older. Johnson is just the sort of over-the-hill superstar King George likes to acquire. Jason Giambi’s wrist and questionable fielding even when healthy forced Torre to use Gary Sheffield at first base, a major mistake. Sheffield was also just back from the injury list and looked completely overmatched. A-Rod, of course, simply disappeared as did Robinson Cano.
Don’t get me wrong, the Tigers won rather than the Yankees lost, but I remain convinced that the long season wore down those aging veterans more than it did those young cats.
Memo to Joe: your guys aren’t going to be younger next year.
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One last word on managers. The Tigers are starting to look like destiny’s team. A good mix of veterans and youngsters, they are making the pitches, getting the clutch hits and catching and throwing the ball well. Their manager has been through the post-season before and appears to have prepared his players, virtually none of whom has played this deep in October before, well. Leyland doesn’t second-guess himself; nor is he unwilling to make unconventional moves. When he yanked Jeremy Bonderman the other day when the kid had a chance to pitch a complete game, was holding a comfortable lead in the top of the ninth inning, and had a 1-1 count on the batter with one out, Leyland was making the kind of decision that sets him apart. Rather than be ticked off, Bonderman agreed with the move.
I am picking the Tigers to go all the way.