Son of Yhency

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The nightmare becomes reality

Watching the 6pm SportsCenter last night, Dan Patrick comes on and says, "Breaking news for the Dodgers. They have scheduled a news conference for 8pm and are set to announce that their new manager will be..."

Hearing these words, I become fully alert and begin to feverishly sweat, not really knowing what to expect. This process has been so drawn out that Patrick could have said that Wilford Brimley would be renamed as manager and I wouldn't have been surprised. But as covered in my post last week, I was fearing that he'd be uttering the name of a certain Grady Little. Not that he's any worse than some of the other candidates we've been hearing about, but just because of the place he holds in my heart. Anyway, back to Patrick:


I'm screaming. Seriously, that's all it took. Didn't even have to hear the rest of it.

Now I'm laughing. Because, really, it's just funny at this point. Why even care about this team if this is the path they're headed down? So I took a good minute or two to laugh.

But the laughing is now over. And the horror has set in. So I'm smothering my face with a pillow. Oh, the HORROR!!

With a night to sleep on it, I'm not really sure what to say. In the great words of George Costanza, I'm speechless. I am without speech. For Frank McCourt, who is from Boston (!!), to allow this guy to be signed (let alone considered), is just beyond anything comprehensible to me. Then again, McCourt has proven himself to be quite the douchebag in his two years as Dodgers owner, so I guess there's no reason to expect any less of him.

Besides the Pedro gaffe, why is Grady so awful? Let us count the ways...

1. Premature defensive replacements - Grady has this penchant for making ridiculously early defensive replacements, which is probably best illustrated by Game 5 of the 2003 ALDS, when he put Damian Jackson in for Todd Walker in the sixth inning. Not only did that take Walker's much more potent bat out of the lineup, but it also horrifically backfired when Jackson collided head to head with Johnny Damon on a blooper into short center field, thus forcing Damon to miss the first two games of the ALCS.

2. Lack of respect for his peers - Grady has this habit of not listening to those around him, even the ones he's hired to consult him. For example, during Game 7 of the ALCS, pitching coach Dave Wallace actually suggested that Grady take Pedro out. We all know how that ended up.

3. Complete lack of reliance on statistics/scouting - In the last few years, two factions in baseball have been battling over what's more important in creating a successful team -- stats or scouting. Grady has somehow actually managed to spurn both sides. For example, midway through the 2003 season, a scouting report had been issued that Nick Johnson had altered his swing because of a wrist injury. Grady didn't relay that info on to his staff or pitchers, and Johnson went 4 for 5 against the Sox in their next game.

But Andy, you say, your third point only covers scouting. How did he ignore the stats? Glad you asked. Because that leads me to my number one reason for why Grady is completely inept and doesn't have the character that should warrant him getting another job for the rest of his life, for a baseball club or otherwise.

According to Bill Simmons in his book, prior to Game 7 of the ALCS, "the owners and Theo Epstein had ordered Grady to remove Pedro either after the seventh inning or at 100 pitches, whatever came first." Yes, he was explicitly ordered. Based on hard, statistical evidence.

So what does Grady do, with the Sox up 5-3 in the eighth? He sends Pedro back in, thus defying his bosses. That, right there, is worthy of his dismissal. But just to add insult to injury, and to make sure no Sox fan would ever forget (or forgive) Grady, Pedro implodes five outs away from the World Series, thus sending the entire New England region into cardiac arrest.

Being the admitted baseball bigamist that I am (Dodgers and Red Sox), I will never forget Game 7. In a packed New York bar, being mercilessly heckled, having about three other Sox fans to cheer with, I couldn't believe it when Grady left Pedro in. With all the talk of Pedro hitting a certain wall late in games (this wasn't a secret or anything), here we are, with a two run lead, the bullpen has been lights out in the series (2 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings!!), and Grady leaves Pedro in?!? Pretty inexplicable. The inevitable meltdown and an Aaron Boone home run later, I was out the door and almost walked the entire distance home from Grand Central Station to the Upper East Side at 1am. The feeling I had, one which lasted straight through to the next day -- I will never forget that feeling.

With Grady now manager of the Titanic, it really isn't funny. But with Franky McCourt at the helm, there really is nothing to do but laugh.

Peter O'Malley, where are you?