THE BILL CHUCK FILES: IT’S TIME TO PLAY…”SECOND GUESS!”
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck
October 23, 2009
(cue the music) Yes, America’s favorite participation show is back with more fun, more angst, more second-guesses. Here’s how it works: We’ll name a topic and then you just second guess. There’s no right, no wrong, no logic! That’s what makes it so fun! As always, “Second Guess!” is brought to you by talk radio and all those wonderful hosts and callers who spend every day, every night, every waking hour…second-guessing!
Now on to topic #1...
The Angels beat the Yankees last night in Game 5 of their ALCS, yet the Yankees stormed back from a 4-0 1st inning deficit by scoring six runs in the top of the 7th. When they faced the Angels in the bottom of the inning, starting pitcher A.J. Burnett was back on the mound for the Yanks.
Second guess: “C’mon what was Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinking? Burnett had toughed it out after giving up four in the 1st before retiring a batter and had been sitting and cooling down during the long rally. Girardi had a full and rested bullpen, what was he thinking? Jeff Mathis singled to left to open the inning with his team-playoff-record sixth-straight hit. Why wasn’t Burnett pulled immediately?”
That’s a pretty good start. Let’s move to Topic #2:...
John Lackey had the Yankees under control holding a 6-0 in the 7th. He had walked Derek Jeter to load the bases but then retired Johnny Damon on a short flyball to left for the second out. Angels manager Mike Scioscia then pulled Lackey.
Second guess: “Lackey is a bulldog. This team was holding the lead because he got out of a 1st inning jam in which the Yanks had runners on first and second and no one out. He was in control of this situation and you could read his lips as he said, “Sosh, you’ve got to be s***ing me!” as he was pulled. Then Darren Oliver gave up a bases clearing double to Mark Teixeira. Even though Scioscia wanted Teixeira hitting from the right side of the plate, you put a weaker pitcher in and take out an effective pitcher. This isn’t second-guessing. That was a no-brainer.”
Excellent job on that one. Let’s move on to Topic #3...
Second guess: “The Yankees have a payroll the size of “Oprah Winfrey’s yearly Cheeto’s budget. On top of that, they have developed a bunch of young players, particularly pitchers, who have done an excellent job shoring up their bullpen. But you have to think of a team as a finite unit, shall we say ‘a barrel,’ and if you think of it that way at the bottom of the barrel is Damaso Marte. The fact that Marte is on the ALCS roster at all remains a mystery as Brian Bruney continues to throw to no one in Tampa. On top of that, the Yanks have an effective lefty who has done well for them all season in Phil Coke. You might remember in Game 3, Girardi replaced the lefty Marte, with Coke, at the start of the 8th inning despite the fact that Marte had retired only the last hitter of the 7th. Last night, Marte retired one batter on a bunt and then a groundout produced the run that cut the Yankee lead and made the game, 6-5, but you could tell Girardi’s wheels were spinning in neutral.”
Interesting response there, not a great second guess, but the argument was plausible.
For Topic #4 we move back to the Angels manager Mike Scioscia and our topic is: Jered Weaver versus Brian Fuentes
Go ahead caller, second guess: “Oh my god, oh my god, O-M-G! What is the supposedly brilliant tactician Mike Scioscia thinking?!? We are up by a run, your entire season is on the line and you bring the pyro into wildfire country. Jered Weaver had come into the game in the 8th. Last October he was a bullpen guy for the Angels. This October, he started Game 3 and is scheduled to start Game 7, but he had plenty of time to warm up in the 44 minute plus 7th inning. He strikes out Melky Cabrera to start the inning. Jorge Posada bounces back to the mound. Then Derek Jeter goes down on strikes. Weaver throws 11 pitches, 8 of them strikes. He is sharp, effective and the best pitcher that Scioscia has coming out the pen. Then Fuentes comes on to pitch a very scary 9th inning. What was Scioscia thinking?”
Beautifully done. Ladies and gentlemen, that was a well-constructed second guess. You see the great thing about playing “Second Guess!” is that even if things work out successfully you can still point out other people’s “almost errors.” On this show, we make you the world’s wife.
For Topic #5, which will wrap things up for us today, I want to hear what you have to say about Joe Girardi’s substitution strategies:
“They suck, and you do too Chuck! You call this a column? I only wish I paid to read this so I could get my money back.”
Thank you for that feedback, let’s go to another responder:
“Simply put Girardi seems to be kind of clueless and does not really think ahead. First of all, the postseason is about pitching. Offense is hard to come by so by acceding to A.J. Burnett and starting Bengie Molina over Jorge Posada immediately weakens the starting lineup. Using Posada as a pinch-hitter in the 5th immediately weakens the bench. Then, the Yankees did everything short of feigning a heart attack to give Mariano Rivera time to warm up in the 8th. Why wasn’t he ready? Then in the 9th Girardi pinch-ran Freddy Guzman after Alex Rodriguez was intentionally passed in the 9th inning. First of all, I don’t take out A-Rod unless an alien is bursting from his chest and I have Usain Bolt ready to pinch-run. A-Rod’s run only counts once and if the Yanks had tied it up not only is a-Rod out of the lineup but so is Hideki Matsui because Brett Gardner, who pre-second-guessing should be starting in centerfield Saturday night and Melky Cabrera should move to right and Nick Swisher and his woeful batting average of .103 should be on the bench, pinch-ran as well. Girardi shows very little foresight, in fact, he barely shows three-sight.”
Wow! You guys were great. That last second-guess rant was our second-guess winner of the day. You get a copy of my upcoming book, “20-20 Hindsight.” What a terrific job all of our participants did in second-guessing. I guess its only appropriate that there was no pie-in-the-Yankees-face on night that the great Soupy Sales died.
Just remember you can play the home version of “Second Guess!” any time. The fun with family and co-workers includes topics like” “Your first wife.” “I can’t believe you actually bought that and thought that I would like it!” “Mr. Expert, you had to listen to Bernie Madoff.” “Okay, what could happen if I have one more drink?” “I’m telling you Jay Leno will be huge at 10. Huge!”
Well, that’s it from Anaheim, the Angels take Game 5, 7-6, and we head to New York for Game 6 Saturday night.
Just remember, it’s not what somebody does that counts, it’s how you second-guess that decision. See you next week!
Bill Chuck is a regular contributor to NESN and NESN.com and is available at Bill@billy-ball.com or by calling 617-566-2784.