Well, the World Series is over, and I want to talk about weathermen (weatherpeople?).
Think about it, weathermen predict the weather daily. They use science and modern technology, all kinds of instruments to come up with ways to tell us what is going to happen on any given day. Then, on any given day what happens? We look out the window and we see something entirely different from what that sharp dressed, good looking man or woman told us the night before and we think to ourselves, “Self, I wish I had a job like that where I could be on TV and make predictions and if I’m wrong I just ignore it and make a new prediction the next day with no ramifications.”
And how many times have we said to ourselves, “Why don’t these guys just look out a window?”
Enter Major League Baseball and Analytics!
Analytics are a great tool, a tremendous resource, and a very smart modern technology that every team should employ and embrace on some level. So, do not get me wrong–I am not against them. But, at the end of the day, if you are a long-time baseball person your eyes–and your gut, especially–must tell you something! How many times have we heard over the years about a manager putting a player in a game because he had an instinct? Perhaps the player was ripping the ball in batting practice, or maybe the guy he is replacing did not look well or had a fight with his girlfriend? (Did that cost me my shot at the majors?)
Yes, over 162 games the analytics will probably bear out 95% of what they are telling you to do. (I actually do not know if that is accurate. I need an analytics guy.) But when you get into a playoff series or a World Series, you must use all your senses, what your trick knee is telling you, and any intuition you have. Instinct, or your practiced eye, will tell you, “Man, I know that the numbers are telling me to do one thing but I’m just going to stick with this guy or move to that guy.”
Case in point, Game Five, Brett Phillips a member of this (well-constructed) Rays roster must bat because he is the only one left TO bat! He is on the team to service them as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. The team is down one run and on its last out and yet he gets one of the biggest hits of this series against the Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to win the game. What were the odds of that? If it were a Disney movie one might say, “How corny!”
The guy gets the biggest hit of the series, one of the biggest hits in World Series history, wins the game (with a little help from some Dodgers playing soccer instead of baseball) and it’s a great moment for the sport! But the Rays were forced into that decision. They did not think that it was feasible or possible to bat Phillips, they just ran out of players and he had to hit. Based on analytics he would never, ever, ever have been chosen to hit in that situation but, what happens? They called for a foot of snow, they cancelled school and we got flurries!
That was a really thrilling ending (except for Dodgers fans) but as we know they regrouped and took home all the marbles. Which brings us to Game Six. Everybody say it with me, “STOP THE MADNESS!”
Blake Snell is pitching a freaking masterpiece. He gives up two hits in 5.1 innings and strikes out NINE (including Mookie Betts, who could not even see Snell’s pitches, twice!). And after giving up a one-out single, here comes “Manager” Kevin Cash to relieve him of his duties.
The weatherman is calling for a sunrise in the East!
The moment he came out of the dugout, every baseball fan worth their salt thought, “Game over, the Dodgers are about to take the lead and win this game/Series.” And, of course, they did. Can you (older folks) imagine what Bob Gibson or Tom Seaver (rest their souls) would have done if a manager even thought to come out of the dugout at that point of the game? They would have given him a death stare that would have melted the guy like the Wicked Witch of the West before he crossed the foul line! Not that Snell was happy about it. Clearly, he was incensed, and rightly so.
Now, the Dodgers finally have their first world championship since 1988 (a really sour one for NY Mets fans) after having one of the biggest payrolls in the game over the years and coming within reach several times. Congratulations to them. I do not begrudge them their victory, but I thought it would be kind of neat if a team with a $28 million payroll could beat the one with the payroll almost 10 times its size.
The Tampa Bay Rays are very smartly and wisely put together and maybe the analytics had come into this roster selection picking up players such as Randy Arozarena, who was sensational in the playoffs (and a very likeable guy)! Arozarena has made the St. Louis Cardinals publicly rethink the way THEY do business. Trading this kid makes them look not so smart. Only surprise to this writer is that it was not the Mets who did it!
And finally, we have Justin Turner. Oh, JUSTIN. We get it! You were excited. You paid your dues. You have been a great playoff player for the Dodgers. You wanted to celebrate with your team. You wanted to be a part of that celebration. You felt you needed to be there…but, good grief, Justin! At the end of the day what you did was so totally stupid, selfish, and wrong, no matter where you fall on this thing. (I am more conservative than most, but respectful of the rules and the people around me and their wishes.) Quite frankly, if you are going to do something this inane–on national TV, no less–then you really should suffer the consequences. I hate to say this, but I would suspend him for half a season. I know that sounds harsh and it probably is, but if you’re going to blatantly say “screw you” to the face of the commissioner who is standing on the same field as you, then said commissioner needs to man up.
By the way Rob Manfred was booed off the field and seemed very surprised and upset by that–what did he expect? But that’s a whole other article. Turner deserves punishment and it should be harsh. That being said I hope he is OK and nobody else gets sick. Let us hope that we have a regular baseball season next year.
And may Steve Cohen bring the Mets to the promised land! (Sorry had to go there.)