Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fed up

The Nationals - and Dusty Baker - are on the verge of another failed post season, and I don't even want to watch the game tonight.

I don't want to watch the same failed lineup make out upon out. I don't want to watch the same failed relievers be put into situations they shouldn't be in. I don't want to watch Dusty Baker mismanage another team out of the postseason.

Moreover, I don't want to watch the same fans and media make excuses and defend the manager and players as if they can do no wrong. I wonder if some of these people have ever watched a non-Nationals baseball game. I know some of them aren't watching the rest of the postseason games.

It wasn't a bloop that lost the game yesterday. It was putting Solis in the situation to give up the bloop. It was starting a .226 hitter over a .315 hitter in the outfield. It was failing to drop a clueless Trea Turner down in the order and bat one of the few successful hitters, Michael A. Taylor, at leadoff.

It was constructing the exact lineup three games in a row, one that, save for one glorious inning, has produced a single run in the entire series.

And now they turn their hopes to a mediocre Tanner Roark, who can be hit or miss, and when he misses, he misses badly.

This is a five game series played over the course of a week. The games are not like the regular season. There is no tomorrow. There is no "we'll get 'em next time." There is no miraculous recovery from a slump...that can take weeks. The World Series champs will be crowned by then. There is only changing things up, being creative, and approaching the games with a sense of urgency. And we get none of that.

I watch these other managers do extraordinary things like pitching Chris Sale on three days rest when he is supposed to start the next game and struggle to recall any postseason decision by Dusty that was beneficial to the outcome of a game or series.

I lived in California and followed the Giants in 2002. I walked out of Pac Bell Park after World Series Game 5 thinking there was no way the Giants could lose. With a 5-0 lead and eight outs to go to a World Series championship the next game, Dusty made the controversial decision to pull Russ Ortiz and hand control to his bullpen. They lost that game and the next and the World Series.

I didn't follow the Cubs in 2003, but we all know about Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, and Dusty's propensity to leave Wood in too long cost the team a trip to the World Series, that and pitching to Alex Gonzalez with the pitcher on deck.

But the Reds. I watch the current postseason littered with former players from a dismantled team, a team that was good enough to win it all, just as this Nationals team is, and I feel the despair all over again. I watch them scattered across baseball fields other than the one in Cincinnati and I see the same kind of decisions being made here in Washington with the same kind of results, like batting Shin-Soo Choo leadoff against Francisco Liriano in the 2013 Wild Card game despite Choo's .215 average against lefthanders. Or keeping Cueto in with a 2-0 deficit, then 3-0, then when a fourth run scored putting in Hoover and Ondrusek instead of the best pitcher, Chapman, leading to two more runs. It was one of most grossly mismanaged postseason games in memory. Chapman was never used at all.

And he wasn't used for the tenth inning in Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS after a scoreless 15 pitch ninth. No, instead Dusty put in Jonathan Broxton, who promptly gave up three runs to lose the game. And he allowed Mat Latos to continue to pitch as he gave up six runs in the fifth inning of Game 5 of that series, as if there were going to be a game the next day. No, instead, the Reds went home after having a two games to none lead and the Giants went on to win the World Series.

That 2012 division series was a textbook case on how not to manage in the postseason.

This is a guy who famously said baserunners who got on by walks are "clogging up the bases." His disdain for on base percentage is well-known and caused conflict with his GM and with his OBP star Joey Votto. During his five years with the Reds, batters in the second spot in the order slashed .228/.281/.350.

Dusty Baker is one of the nicest, classiest people in baseball and probably on Earth. But class doesn't win championships. I am fed up with the bad decisions.

I am fed up with being disappointed.

So I don't want to watch tonight. I don't want to watch, but I will, because I am a fan of the great game of baseball, even if it is not a fan of me.