Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Firemen and closers

Brian O'Neill has a good point.

Another somewhat dubious move in that now-infamous Saturday game: leaving Gorzelanny in there to finish the fifth. This is more debatable than calling on the guy with the biggest rash of recent troubles to face Tony Clark. But at the time, I was annoyed. You have to win these games, and it looked to me like Gorzelanny was being left in there so he could get the win. He got the final out, and he came back out there and did the sixth. But he was laboring, the team had a big lead, and a sure win appeared to be within reach. I thought at the time that Tracy was taking a risk by leaving him in there; I wondered if Gorzelanny was not getting the chance to continue only so he could get the win.

It would be a dumb thing to risk a team win so that one particular player has a greater chance of getting a personal win. There is the notion that players "have to grow" and that a manager might turn a kid into a proven veteran by showing how he can overcome adversity in a situation like that. This I consider worthless psychobabble. The best thing a manager can do is teach the player an unconditional respect for the team winning the game. There can be no compromise of this. There may be more to life than winning games, but if that is true, the big-league manager should be the last person in the world to believe it. So if a kid starter walks the bases loaded and has fallen apart after his team just batted around and he got a cute trophy for his fireplace and ran the bases etc., why not take the ball from his hand. Why not say look man, nothing personal, but you look distracted to me. So get out of here.

I could be all wrong, but I ramble on this way to compare that move to neglect of the firemen O'Neill describes. Tracy's narrow-minded view of the need for clear roles strikes me as something that might be too deferential to the save stat. It betrays a concern for something other than winning. On a losing team, no player deserves any kind of job security. I don't know. I could go on but I'll stop.

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