A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fade to Black

I'm afraid my beloved and long suffering Milwaukee Brewers are done. They trail the hated, evil, slimy, over-paid, over-hyped Chicago Cubs by 2 games with only four games to go. Not impossible, but pretty darn unlikely. Tres sad because the Brewers are a very good young team and they should've coasted to the division title and their first playoff appearance in 25 years.

Sadly, I have to blame their manager, Ned Yost. I say sadly because I like Ned Yost and I think he is a very good clubhouse manager. He has kept a young team focused and even-keeled through the roller coaster ride that is the ridiculously long baseball season. No small feat. But as good as he is with that aspect of his job he is a lousy to downright awful game day manager-- which has led to at least a dozen losses this year. And in the grand scheme of things, the Brewers need a manager that is good at both aspects of the job. If they had one, they would be the team with a two or three game lead rather than a two game deficit.

I've reserved judgment on Yost because I do think he's good at much of his job-- but last night was the clincher. He has to go. Here's the set up: Brewers trail the Cardinals 3-2 entering the 8th inning and the Cubs have already lost to Florida. If the Brewers can win the game, they will only be 1 game down with four to go and all the momentum will be on their side heading into the final four games of the season. If they win the game, their chances of catching or passing the Cubs by year end are probably 50/50 or better. But they are down by a run and it is absolutely CRITICAL that the deficit not get any deeper. The Brewers have one of the more prolific offenses in baseball and they have hit more home runs than any other team in baseball. A 1-run deficit isn't good, but it isn't awful either.

So. Cardinals coming up in the 8th. Huge opportunity to close the gap with the Cubs to 1 game and put all kinds of pressure on those same Cubs entering the final weekend of the season. But the Brewers have to keep their game with the Cardinals at only 1 run down. Have to. The 157 games previous to last nights are merely a prelude to get you to the point of being able to win this game, number 158. This is the season-- do or die. Ray King starts the 8th for the Brewers and gets a routine fly ball. Yost then pulls King-- a left-handed pitcher-- for Scott McClung, right-handed, to pitch to the Cardinals best hitter, Albert Pujols. McClung hits him. Oi.

Ned Yost calls on Derrick Turnbow. I groan as I'm watching this unfold on the TV. Derrick Turnbow has two settings as a pitcher-- "Lights out" and "God awful". There is virtually no middle ground. Turnbow is either virtually unhittable or a guy that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He is also a guy with a fragile psyche who gets rattled easily and he usually does not pitch well when he comes in during the middle of an inning with runners already on base.

Yost KNOWS all of this. Last year, as the Brewers' closer, Turnbow cost the team four wins on a nine-game road trip that turned a fairly good season into another sub-.500 season. This year, Turnbow has blown 2, 3 and even 4 run leads in the 8th inning. Yost KNOWS this.

But Turnbow can be lights out. He can be unhittable. So, okay give him a chance but give him a VERY quick hook if he doesn't have good control. Turnbow strikes out the first guy he faces. Nice. Ok. Two outs. Next batter, single to center. Urgh. But okay, it wasn't a bad pitch, the guy just got a little lucky with a little bloop. One out. Just one out to go. Next batter. Walk.

Bases now loaded. Two outs. Turnbow is clearly rattled. Your season is on the line-- THIS IS IT. Give up any runs here and you have effectively wasted all of the effort the team has put in since April. Pull Turnbow now! I think I actually yelled that at the tv. Bring in Cordero (our closer who is almost perfect at home) and get this one out!

I did scream that at the tv.

Yost leaves Turnbow in. The only thing that prevented me from throwing the tv remote at the tv was that I can't afford a new tv. I honestly couldn't believe it. Just couldn't believe it. Your entire season is on the line and you leave in a guy that is clearly rattled and who you KNOW is mentally fragile.

Ball 1

Ball 2

Ball 3

YOU HAVE TO PULL TURNBOW! He has CLEARLY lost it. Bring in somebody from the stands for goodness sake-- they have a better chance of getting an out than Turnbow at this point.

Ball 4.

On four straight pitches Turnbow walks in a run and now it's 4-2. The home crowd is dead silent. Stunned, I imagine. I know I was. Just sitting on the couch shaking my head over and over again as Yost FINALLY pulls Turnbow and brings in Brian Shouse. Still no Cordero in the biggest game of the year.

Shouse then gives up a ground-rule double to the next hitter and the game is effectively over as the Cards go up 6-2. They tack on one more but it doesn't matter. Brewers are done. Stick a fork in 'em.

Un-f'ing-believable. I know Yost wanted to keep Cordero in reserve for when we got the lead but this is IT. The Brewers absolutely HAVE to get that third out in the 8th to give your team a shot to win it. You have to. Bring in Cordero and cross your fingers that your offense can get you some runs in the 8th or 9th.

Absolutely unacceptable. Maybe if this was a one-time thing and Yost decided to role the dice, maybe you give him a pass. But. This is just the latest example of Yost's poor game management, particularly with his pitchers. I'm not kidding when I say that Yost's decisions have probably cost us a dozen games this year. Here's the most obvious example: In a close game a few weeks ago Yost lets the starting pitcher, Dave Bush, hit in the bottom of the 6th inning. The only reason to do that is if Bush is going to pitch in the top of the 7th. If you're going to make a pitching change in the 7th you bring up a pinch hitter for Bush in the 6th. Because pitchers aren't usually very good hitters. Bush strikes out. The inning ends two outs later... and Yost sends out Scott Linebrink to pitch.


For a pitcher, Dave Bush is adequate as a hitter. But compared to any of the guys on the bench that Yost could have had hit for Bush, he's a lightweight. The move made no sense. Not a lick. It was completely bassackward.

So, much as I like Yost, I think he has to go. Stupid little mistakes add up over the course of the year-- and Yost's stupid little mistakes are going to cost us a playoff berth.

Sigh. At least my beloved Green Bay Packers are 3-0.


And here I was the disbeliever at the beginning of the year.

But you end up being the one hating the coach, after a fine season that no one expected.

Can that join your previous post on Irony? Or, like that Alanis song, is it merely a wryly amusing coincidence?
No one expected? Dude, most MLB experts had the Brewers pegged to win the division. I thought we had an excellent shot to win the division this year. I refer you to my post back in May. wherein I specifically state: "The reason I believe they are a legitimate playoff caliber team is that their pitching is by far the best it has been since the early '90's, and they are playing together-- as a team. Chemistry is important in all sports, but I think baseball is second only to football in terms of the importance of team chemistry."

So, yes, they have had a fine season but it should be much better. They should have the division wrapped up by now, not be two games back and on life-support. And no, not all of it falls on Yost's shoulders. He had no control over Sheets' fragility or the struggles of Weeks and Hall. But what he did have control over he frequently over-thought or simply flat out blew.

And I don't hate the coach. In fact, I specifically say I like Ned Yost at least twice. But he is a lousy game day manager-- and throwing out the Irony Strawman (I think that was Black Sabbath's follow-up song to Iron Man) doesn't change the fact that he's a lousy game day manager. Please offer me a reason to believe he isn't a lousy game day manager and we can talk-- but I don't think you'll be able to find one.

Honestly, I thought liberals were supposed to be the nuanced ones, yet you continue to paint me with a hugely over-stated, vividly stark and not at all shaded brush, Mr. Pilgrim.

So, no, this post will not be joining the previous post on irony as I do not believe there is the slightest bit of irony involved. It is a sad reality imho that the Brewers have blown a rare and golden opportunity to win a weak division. Teams like the Brewers-- who can't go out and buy a playoff berth like the Yankees-- don't get that many of those opportunities. And Yost squandered this one.

It is time for him to go.
Hey, don't tell me I'm being overly broad when I'm not following the game, Mr. Writer.

I don't know anything that's been going on. well that's not true; Iknew that the Brewers were doing well, and I knew that people were hating on Yost.


Not that I care, or anything.
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