Fascinating. I noticed the Diamondbacks were up 2-0 after seven last night, so I broke my “no Yankees on television” rule to see how Bob Brenly would manage to blow this one. Actually, that’s a bit harsh. What I really wanted to see was how he would try to end the game without his closer, Byung-Hyun Kim, who presumably would be unable to work after throwing 62 pitches the previous night. But I did tune in fully expecting to see the Yankees win.
What I didn’t expect was for Brenly to bring Kim in again. In fact, when Fox did their little poll, I scoffed, thinking, “Even Brenly’s not stupid enough to bring Kim in after overworking him last night.” When he did call on his nominal closer, I was stunned. What the hell was Brenly thinking? I know he doesn’t like to be second-guessed (try a different line of work, Bob) but if you couldn’t see this blowing up in his face from a mile away, you probably weren’t paying attention.
Kim, to his credit, despite having poor stuff and worse command, battled and damn near bailed out his manager. But with two outs in the ninth, for the second night in a row, he served up a game-tying homer, this time to Scott Brosius.
Then it became a battle between Mariano Rivera and Mike Morgan. And Morgan, to his credit, kept Arizona in the game. But eventually Brenly’s luck ran out and the Yankees won. As they always do. Others will analyze this more and probably better than I can, but for me, one of the most telling stats of the past two nights is pitch counts. Schilling, one of the best pitchers in either league, throws 88 pitches; Kim, nominal closer and one of the few guys in his bullpen Brenly seems to trust throws 77; Batista, third or fourth starter, throws 126.
What in God’s name is Brenly thinking? Hasn’t anyone explained to him how to use a pitching staff? You don’t pull a guy with a reputation for going deep into games after he’s thrown only 88 pitches and replace him with a guy who seldom throws more than 25 pitches only to leave him in for 62. And you sure as hell don’t bring the second guy into the following night’s game to throw 15 more!
I understand that managing a big-league ballclub must be a very difficult task, and I’m sure Brenly has his strengths as a manager but as the past two nights have shown, in-game strategy is decidedly not among them. I feel badly for Kim, who gave up game-winning homers in back-to-back games against the Padres the first weekend in September. I didn’t feel too badly for him then, although my wife did. But this time, I feel terrible. His manager set him up for failure two nights in a row, first by leaving him in way too long, then by bringing him back exhausted. Honestly, the way Brenly has treated Kim, I’m hoping all he blows is the World Series. I don’t want to put some kind of jinx on Kim but if he does come down with a major arm injury next season, we won’t need to look too far to figure out why.
I’ll be honest; I don’t care for the Diamondbacks much as a team. I don’t care for the way the organization is run, and I don’t like their attitude. But I feel badly for the fans. If I were one of them, I’d be furious at Brenly. Heck, I’m furious at him and I don’t even like the team he manages. And yet, like a car wreck, it is horribly compelling to watch a manager almost singlehandedly give the World Series to his opponent.
I could go on at great length but I’ve taken up enough of your time already. Here are some other items of note:
- The Closer: San Diego Padres (ESPN)
- The Curse of the Balboni (ESPN)
- More on (not “moron”) Bob Brenly’s work in Game 4: Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Primer
Finally, if you’re interested (or even if you’re not), our group won the “Something-Dreadful-Made-Fun Award” for our interpretation of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquistion. Which proves that once again the judges had no idea what we were doing. If they had, they would have given us the “Something-Hysterically-Funny-Made-Mildly-Amusing Award.” But hey, we got more recognition this year than we did last year for dressing up as members of the Borg collective.
My cultural reference points are all screwed up. Maybe next year we’ll dress up as the New Kids on the Block. They’re still insanely popular, right?