October 7, 2004
Before I begin let me say that I am not, nor will I ever be, a manager in baseball. Not little leagues, and certainly not in the major leagues. The game was painful last night, as I'm sure you'll agree, and I can't decide if I would rather lose in a blowout, or a close game in extra innings. I am leaning towards a blowout.
Having said that, I would have left Nathan in, too. I cringed when I saw Jesse Crain warming up. Granted, he might be the closer of the future, but this was going to be too much for him. His first postseason appearance at Yankee stadium in an extra innings game? Come on. No way. When Nathan walked back out I was relieved. In hindsight, should Gardy have put Crain in? I have no idea. Should he have put Romero in to face Matsui? Possibly, but Romero has really struggled as of late. I would have liked to have seen Nathan finish it off. My question now, though, is will he be able to pitch Friday? Probably with a day off. And yes, I would still put him in. No question.
And speaking of managerial decisions, I would have pinch hit for Kubel in the 8th. Here is another situation where a rookie was expected to produce, but it wasn't even a normal situation in regards to a playoff game. He was facing possibly the greatest reliever of this generation: Mariano Rivera. I know Gardy probably liked the fact that Kubel was a lefty, but the rookie looked so outmatched out there, it wasn't even funny. If only Koskie's ground rule double would have stayed in the park! We wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Have no fear, though, Twins fans. We only need to go back 2 years to see somewhat of a repeat of this situation. In the 2002 ALDS vs. Oakland the Twins won the first game and then lost game 2 in Oakland 9-1, and then lost game 3 at the Dome 6-3! Man that was painful. However, you all know the rest of the story, the Twins take the last two games and go on to the ALCS. Here is hoping the Twins won't even need game 5. Come on Silva!
Non Twins news, I don't know how many of you saw this, but Charley Walters reported on Tuesday that Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker are getting closer to making an offer for the Vikings. I predict next week. It is funny how my mind can change so quickly. When we first heard about this maybe happening, I was freaking out. Who is this Reggie Fowler character? Now I think it is exactly what the Vikings need. It will be a happy day when I don't have to think about Red McCombs and his veiled threats ever again.
Mr. Cheer or Die of Vikings fan fame has created a blog on my humble U of M blog system, UThink, called Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground. I am thrilled to have him aboard! Anyway, he has already posted a hilarious account called "The Switch" which describes his efforts to display a Vikings lamp in his house. I encourage you to check it out and the rest of his site as he gets more content up.
I think Nathan was a good call to leave him out. He pitched his butt off and I do not blame him at all. My question comes in 2 parts:
1- Why start Kubel at DH to begin with, and not Ford? Ford is a proven commodity.
2- Why, with a lead in the 12th, do you not put Ford in defensively for Stewart? If the game gets tied, you lose nothing from the plate. We can argue ad nauseum on if Ford could have chased that fly ball down, but does anyone really think that Ford would not have had a better chance at it? He's a better fielder and would have taken a better route. Heck, Hunter almost beat Stewart to the ball due to Stewart's poor angle of approach, and Hunter had further to go.
One humorous comment on the game: My wife believes that professional sports (baseball especially) are rigged. She was saying during the game that a memo went out that the Twins win game 1, Yankees win 2 and 3, Twins win 4 and Yankees win 5. It's all for ratings and money. Well, about 5 minutes after her latest rant, in the 12th, when Hunter hit the HR, I jumped up and yelled at her "Well Hunter didn't get that memo!". Needless to say, about 5 minutes and 2 Yankee runs later, she was the one smiling.
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 7, 2004 9:43 AM
Yes, Ford should have been put in at some point last night. And I agree whole heartedly with your Kubel thoughts. Why did he get the start in the first place? What did he go, 0-6? After 0-3 you would think Gardy would say to himself, "You know, I think the kid is a little overmatched out there." Oh well, we've still got Dome field advantage and we got a split in New York. That is nothing to sneeze at.
Posted by: Shane at October 7, 2004 9:55 AM
Uffda. Productivity is taking a beating at offices all over the country today, not just NYC and Twin Cities, thanks to that game. What a hanging curveball for second-guessers. I wouldn't be surprised if Gardy is second-guessing himself, but I agreed with his decisions at the time. Usually he is inclined to boost his relievers' confidence by putting them right back in after a shaky outing, but he clearly didn't want to do that with Romero last night, after his late-season jitters.
I think Ford was being held for last-man-on-the-bench emergencies, rightly or wrongly. Remember the extra-inning game in Atlanta in the 1991 Series when TK out-managed himself and had to use Rick Aguilera as a pinchhitter with the winning run on base? (He flied out deep)
Here is a concern about Friday night. Can we expect Carlos Silva to be ready to pitch on two days' rest? That had to be him out there in the opener, with a #57 jersey over a slim suit. Who else tiptoes through 9 hits by inducing enough ground balls to produce five double plays?
Posted by: oldstuffer at October 7, 2004 10:15 AM
Kubel was in because he was 3-4 versus Lieber when the Twins visited Yankee stadium in the last week of the regular season. That being said, he should have been pinch hit for in the 8th. Nathan should have been out there, but he should have been on a limit. The moment a runner got on, he should have been out. A fresher Crain would still have been better in that situation than a tired out Nathan, in my humple opinion.
Curt in Grand Forks
Posted by: Curt Hanson at October 7, 2004 1:02 PM
It wasn't just that Kubel was hitless. It's that all of his at-bats were poor. That's why I suggested that we pinch-hit for him (Gardy couldn't hear me).
As for Nathan, you can't beat yourself up if your best pitcher loses it. I would have cringed to see J.C. on the mound any earlier.
Posted by: QWERTY at October 7, 2004 1:23 PM
In truth, Lew Ford's at bats in the opening game weren't much more authoritative than Kubel's the next night. They'll be OK, but I think they both had some first playoff game jitters
Posted by: oldstuffer at October 7, 2004 3:27 PM
I love Bat Boy! Believe it or not that picture brings back a lot of good memories.
Posted by: Stick and Ball Guy at October 7, 2004 11:35 PM