Stop the Tito bashing! (and save it for later!)
August 17th, 2007 by czar

Sorry for the lack of updates so far this month– it’s been a combination of moving (a couple times), studying for and taking the GRE (perfect 800 in math, baby!), and suffering from flu-like symptoms (seriously– I didn’t make them up so Tito would give me a day off).

The main thing that has irked me in the last couple of days was some of the response to Terry Francona’s handling of the 9th inning the other night. The Sox were down 6-4 heading into the bottom of the 9th vs. Al Reyes, a closer who the night before had been struck down by the trio of Lowell, Varitek, and Crisp. Crisp led off with a bunt single, and Lugo followed with an amazingly lengthly at bat before doubling into the gap in left-center. Pedroia then was up with no outs and the tying run on second. On his first pitch, he attempted to bunt, and fouled it back to the first base side. He then swung away for the rest of the at bat, striking out swinging on a fastball. Youkilis got ahead 3-0, but ended up suffering the same fate, Papi walked, but Manny struck out on an 0-2 fastball up and out of the zone– ending the game, with the Sox losing 6-5.

Message boards were littered with the traditional “F**K YOU TITO!!!11″ posts we’ve come to know and love that appear at the first sighting of the Timlin from the bullpen gates. However, this was different. People actually honestly believed that having Pedroia attempt to bunt on one pitch was the single most boneheaded move of Francona’s season.

Aside from the fact that I personally believe it was letting Alex Cora swing away against Felix Hernandez with the Sox threatening which inevitably led to a 4-6-3 double play, decrying a move that had absolutely no effect on the eventual outcome of the game is ludicrous as best. It was ONE pitch on an 0-0 count with NO outs. “But it was a completely wasted pitch!!!111″ You can’t even prove that! Pedroia could have just as easily fouled it off, or worse, swung and popped it up on the infield.

“But it’s not whether or not it changes the game’s outcome, it’s whether or not it’s stupid.” Well, true, stupidity is never a good thing– but I still don’t buy this as an objective measure.

Hypothetically, let’s say only principle matters, irrelevant of the magnitude of change it forces on the game itself. *breathes* God, the other day (the night before, when the Sox won 2-1 in the aforementioned Al Reyes blowup) when Manny tried to stretch his single into a double after the throw went into third? He’s such an idiot. Child. Retard. Moron. Other words to be censored. Biggest dumb**** decision of his career. And that’s saying a lot.

Where is the uproar over Manny’s blunder last night? If I had made the argument that it was a complete f*ckup for Manny to do that would people have said “We still won the game, so it’s irrelevant!” This isn’t an end-all decree, but I’m merely issuing an example of a play that (in my mind) was far stupider, and far more game-changing than Francona asking Pedroia to try to bunt on the first pitch of his AB. However, since we lost today, and won yesterday, I’m implying that even though people argue the error was irrelevant, the outcome affected the viewpoint of the play. If Pedroia homers on the next pitch, Red Sox fans wouldn’t even remember he fouled off a bunt attempt on the first one. Or even better, if Youkilis had hit a flyball to the warning track after Pedroia struck out, I bet some people might even be a little irked they abandoned the bunt attempt after one AB.

I’m not taking the time to delve into a numbers analysis, but if Pedroia bunts, Youkilis has what, a 65% change (if he puts the ball in play) of it being a FB or a LD? What are the absolute odds of Youkilis driving him in with a ball in play then (sac fly, RBI tapper in the infield, single, etc.)? Let’s say 40%. And I think that’s an underestimate.  The odds of the Pedroia+Youkilis combination hitting the needed single (about 51%, assuming both are hitting about .300, which is generous considering Youkilis latest slump) can’t be so much more than that to justify calling this the “stupidest move of Francona’s tenure.” And even if it was, he either gave up or recognized the mistake before it hurt anyone.

So let’s join hands in the circle of peace and love (and acknowledge than Francona’s WPA for that game wasn’t all that bad). Or at least, until Francona thinks bringing in Kyle Snyder in a tie game late with Papelbon still available is a good idea.

Posted in Message Board Ramblings, Observations

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About The Site

  • Traversing the land that is known as Red Sox Nation, The Czar Who Wears Red Sox is an attempt at compiling a repertoire of my ever-so-sexy forum posts (when I'm too lazy to write my own damn entry) and other random baseball thoughts that strike. For those whose posts serve as the inspiration of my epiphanies and rants, do not be angry, but merely, be honored that you have achieved such status. Names will never be revealed. Feedback appreciated, as this is a work in progress.

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