Sunday, October 19, 2008
Can Rays Win one for the GIpper?
In today's New York Times, columnist, George Vescey, compared Rays' manager, Joe Maddon, to one of baseball's most pitiful figures: The late Gene Mauch. With only a week remaining in the season, he was the un-lucky skipper of the Phillies who lost a division lead to the Cardinals. In 1986 against the Red Sox, Mauch came under more condemnation for changing pitchers when the Angels were only one out away from winning the pennant. Mauch went to his closer, Donnie Moore, who gave up a game tying home run to Dave Henderson. The Sox rallied to win the series in seven games. Meanwhile, Mauch's managerial history of injecting himself into games, rather than trusting his players was one of several reasons Mauch's talented clubs never won a World Series. In a bit of irony in 1986, Maddon was sitting in the stands at Anaheim Stadium when the Red Sox mounted their first of three historic rallies against 3-1 deficits. Maddon, furthermore, admits to emulating Mauch's debatable strategy of imposing his will on the players.For example in the costly game 6, he removed pitcher, Scott Kazmir, despite the fact he retired nine consecutive hitters. The move backfired and the Rays lost. The defeat proved critical considering Tampa Bay was only seven outs from winning the pennant. If fans are questioning Maddon's untimely moves, what are the Rays thinking? Conversely all these years, Maddon has had their backs. When the Rays were horrible, Maddon protected them by pointing out the positives, rather than negatives. Tonight, the Rays can save Maddon from being mentioned in the same breath as scattered brained Mauch. A win, and everything is forgotten. A lost, and Maddon goes down in infamy. Unfortunately for Maddon, forminable Boston Red Sox pitcher, Jon Lester, will write the final chapter to this suspenseful narrative.