Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Texas Rangers lead in World Series, 3-2; Tony LaRussa’s Mismanagement Steals Show

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What would baseball be without a little controversy?

Amidst the Texas Rangers convincing 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last evening, there were a bunch of odd managerial decisions that made absolutely no sense by Tony LaRussa.

Consider this:

A pitcher, Lance Lynn, was called in to pitch when he’d been told he’d “only pitch in an emergency situation” before the game began.  (Lynn walked the only batter he faced intentionally, as once he was in the game, by rule, he had to face one batter before he could be removed.)

The bullpen coach, Derek Lilliquist, didn’t hear the right name when Tony LaRussa had called asking to get bullpen specialist Jason Motte up, which is why Lynn was up and pitching; Lilliquist, inexplicably, heard the wrong name (or at least that’s what everyone’s saying now).  That the names “Lynn” and “Motte” do not sound remotely the same makes no nevermind.

And third, because Motte wasn’t up and called in when he was supposed to be, Texas had two guys on rather than one when Rangers’ catcher Mike Napoli came up; Napoli hit a two-run double (when if LaRussa had properly managed to convey that he wanted Motte in there a batter earlier, only one run would’ve scored at maximum rather than two), and that was the ballgame.

Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan has an excellent article about this here; for now, I want to give you a few of his thoughts, because I find them both cogent and compelling.

Passan writes:

Seriously, La Russa wants people to believe that he, the most controlling of control-freak managers, would let a failure the magnitude of his best reliever not warming up go by without a trillion precautions to ensure it didn’t happen again? The guy who, when the bullpen phone malfunctioned earlier this year, sent one of his players sprinting from bench to bullpen to relay instructions – he would sit there idly in a swing game of the World Series and leave his chances up to a set of ears on the other end that blew the first conversation?

Inconsistencies between La Russa and Lilliquist’s stories were plentiful enough that it’s impossible to know what is truth and what isn’t. There could be more. Did La Russa forget the number of outs when he walked Cruz? Did he forget to mention Motte’s name on the first phone call? Most important, in what universe does “Motte” sound like “Lynn”? Especially a Lynn who isn’t supposed to throw.

As Passan says, this story doesn’t fly.  And quite frankly, it makes me wonder if LaRussa was having a “senior moment” with regards to this huge mistake in judgment, considering the amount of “cover your rear” that’s going on today over it all.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

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