Cash’s stupidity more proof of baseball’s decline
What the hell?
We know baseball isn’t the same game as what our fathers grew up watching and what their fathers before them watched. A big change in the game is how mangers handle their starting pitchers, especially in the postseason. The Bob Gibson’s, Nolan Ryan’s and Warren Spahn’s of the world are gone. Now, in many cases, starting pitchers are, hopefully, just good enough to get through until the bullpen is ready. Even the best of the best are merely part of the ensemble. They aren’t there to steal the show.
With all of that being understood, Kevin Cash’s decision to yank Blake Snell in the midst of what could have been an iconic World Series performance Tuesday night was still surprising and still idiotic.
And it’s part of what’s killing our national pastime.
For as badly as Cash deserves to get taken to the woodshed, he is far from alone in being held hostage by a computer. Sure, the Rays— and for that matter, the Dodgers— have more of a hard-on for analytics than most teams in baseball, but I’d be willing to bet that if we polled the 29 other managers in baseball, we’d find several of them that’d back Kevin Cash.
But even if Cash’s bold move paid off, and the Rays ended up winning the game and, possibly, the World Series, taking the ball out of Snell’s hands took away what could have been a special October moment.
To say Cash’s decision represents everything wrong with baseball would be harsh. But it’s a big problem.
Advanced Data has a place in the game. After reading “Smart Baseball” by Keith Law three years ago, I understand and respect how far advanced the game has become over the past two decades. But “smart baseball” isn’t always for the people watching at home.
The New Jersey Devils won two Stanley Cups by putting hockey fans to sleep with the neutral zone trap. Baseball’s version of the trap is the Nick Anderson’s of the world seeing airtime over the Blake Snell’s.
What if the Red Sox pulled Curt Schilling in the fifth inning of his “Bloody Sock” game? How lame would that have been?
Baseball is my favorite sport. When at its best, I think it’s the greatest sport. But great moments in this game are becoming few and far between. Blake Snell’s performance Tuesday could have been one of them. Instead, analytics won, while the Rays and entertainment lost.