The Smartest Man in the Room
Nothing gets more tired more quickly than the endless praising of Joe Maddon. He and his staff certainly do think outside the box and make what appear to be, given orthodox baseball thought and the relative paucity of information available to us compared to him, some curious choices.
But Maddon’s madcap selections have a nice regular season track record. After last night, they extended into the Wild Card round of playoffs as well. As I touched on last night, the decision to insert Jake McGee against Ryan Raburn looked good, as Raburn looks like a guy who has trouble with elite heat. A decision made by looking beyond standard left/right splits.
Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus keys on another, arsenal-based player selection. Delmon Young rocked Cleveland with a huge home run in the third inning, taking Danny Salazar‘s big time fastball high and far into the BrOhio night. Wait, what was scrap heap signing (and right-hand hitting) Delmon Young doing in the starting lineup against a right-handed starter with elite stuff?
Just like Maddon’s use of McGee, this comes back to fastballs. Righties hit Salazar’s fastball hard and Delmon Young is about as a crimson a dead red fastball hitter as you’ll find (as evidenced by his loltastic strikeout against Justin Masterson later in the game.)
It is easy to point out the genius of a move when it works out as dramatically as Young’s home run or McGee’s high leverage strikeout. Calculated risks are still risks. As the play-in game stretches to a longer series, it will be important track how many of these little peculiarities go the Rays way, and how that helps or hurts them against a better team.
Cleveland Sends Out An SOS (strength of schedule)
final tally for 2013 Cleveland Indians 36-9 vs chw/min/hou…12-22 vs AL East
— Doug Walton (@JaysProducer) October 3, 2013
The Cleveland Indians had a very easy schedule in the month of September. Cleveland posted an incredible 16-9 won/loss record in the season’s final month, including winning their final ten games in a row to earn a Wild Card berth.
They won 92 games in 2013. Yes, they beat up on some bad teams. Yes, they struggled against the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. But to chalk up a single-game loss as some sort of indisputable proof that they were paper tigers, undeserving benefactors of baseball’s unbalanced schedule, is just dumb.
One could argue they did have an easier path to the Wild Card game than the Rays. But that cannot and does not have any effect on the outcome of one game. It was just one game! Anything can happen in one game – which should help make their ten-game winning streak appear more like an achievement than skating through on a powder puff schedule.
Cleveland deserved to be in the Wild Card game. All last night proves is they don’t deserve to move on. That’s how it works, see. If the Rays don’t squeak through a few grounders or Cleveland manages to push a line drive through the Rays defense, we aren’t running around accusing the Tribe of slipping in through back channels to reach the ALDS. Which means it’s crap. Leave it out.
It would be easy to destroy these fans for dressing in this way. To cast blame at the feet of the Cleveland Indians franchise for refusing to address the changing landscape in which they conduct their business. For failing to acknowledge the inherent awfulness of their team nickame.
Easy. That sort of white knight behaviour keeps twitter pumping and keeps white guys from drowning their guilty sorrows six nights a week.
Instead of condemning these men as idiots and tin eared to the modern world, turn inwards and be thankful. Be thankful you, personally, have a strong enough moral compass to know you would NEVER EVER do this. That under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would your friends or family or associates or bus driver tolerate this sort of display. Just knowing that people love and respect you enough to say “JESUS MAN, WTF ARE YOU THINKING?!” before you stepped out the door is a good feeling. Reassuring that you made good choices in your life and surrounded yourself with good people.
Clearly, not everyone is so lucky. For them, feel pity. For yourself – relief.