Joe Maddon: Lost in Cyberspace

October 6, 2010

Why am I so disappointed in Joe Maddon?  Watching the American League Division Series, I see Zobrist on second with no outs. Joe sends up his .196 hitting catcher to strike out instead of bunting.  The next hitter drives the ball to the outfield for another useless out that should have scored Zobrist.  Maddon’s lineup, meanwhile, has Zobrist followed by the slow footed, light hitting catcher who is followed by the speedy Bartlett, insuring that Bartlett’s stolen bases may be limited as much as possible should the catcher reach base. The Master of the worst lineup decisions in baseball history, Joe had his .350 hitting infielder batting in the ninth position for 102 games last year and his .220 hitting outfielder hitting first.  This year, leading off with his decent hitting catcher, an admittedly good runner for a catcher, but not a base stealer, again Joe ensures that his number two hitter will not be able to steal if his catcher is on base.

Maddon’s mismanagement of his pitching rotation and overuse of his relievers is now legendary in the American League, warming up every pitcher for every game, but his “pitching philosophy pales in comparison with his “hitting philosophy.”  The hitting philosophy is based on esoteric conversations that Joe has had with his computer and his new batting coach who shares his “philosophy.”  The “philosophy” is based on the idea of “taking pitches” as opposed to “working the count.”  For instance, with men on second and third and no outs, the goal is not to hit the ball to the right side to score the run,but to walk and to keep the double play in order for the next batter.  The next batter’s job is to strike out , trying to drive the ball instead of putting the ball in play.  This is to be followed by the next batter pulling the outside pitch (that is sure to come) into a ground ball double play, completing the pattern as designed.

There are also “Thou shalt nots” built into the “Maddon/ Shelton/Cyberspace Philosophy.”

(1) Thou shalt not “hit the ball where it is pitched!”  Thou shalt pull the outside pitch into a double play instead.

(2) Thou shalt not look for the “hole” in the infield, but thou shalt pull  the ball instead.

(3) Thou shalt not swing at the first pitch on the outside corner, even though it is the same first pitch thrown to every single batter because noone is allowed to swing at it, but thou shalt swing at the second pitch even though it is usually four inches inside.

(4) Thou shalt not swing with a three ball count even if you see the mouth watering fast ball down the middle that will surely follow.

(5) Thou shalt not try for a scratch hit, even  three runs down  with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but shalt swing as hard as possible in hopes of hitting a useless home run.

(6) If thou art a left handed dead pull hitter (the only kind of left handed hitters allowed apparently) thou shalt not hitt the ensuing outside pitches to the opposite field, but thou shalt hit the ball very hard directly into the shift or strike out trying, with all possible futility, to pull outside fast balls and sliders into easy outs.

(7) Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, with two strikes, dare to move up in the batters box or choke up on the bat to enable thee to see or hit the slider in the dirt.

Not to be left out, of course, are pitching tips out of the Cyberspace Manual:

(1) Thou shalt throw fastballs on first pitches to first pitch fastball hitters.

(2) Thou shalt not use breaking balls or off speed pitches until late in the game/ These pitches are to be saved for “emergencies.”

(3) Thou shalt throw at least ten fast balls in a row to batters hitting under .200, especially if they are well known for being unable to hit Major League breaking balls.

(4) Thou shalt not employ a veteran catcher, either as player or coach, to teach the young catchers, pitchers or the pitching coach how to intelligently call a game.

(5) Thou shalt use as many relief pitchers as possible in each game, no matter how well someone is pitching.  That way, all relief pitchers can be equally exhausted by the end of the season after having warmed up in a hundred and fifty straight games.

(6) Thou shalt never warn “three quarter overhand” pitchers like Price or Davis that they are dropping toward “sidearm,”  rather let them give up a few walks and home runs; it builds character.

(7) If thou art the pitching coach, thou shalt instruct thy pitcher to “just throw it over the plate” to insure a few more home runs, just for the heck of it.

In short, my advice is for Mr. Maddon to take his computer and his “philosophy” in the direction of his hitting coach and deposit both in a place “where the sun don’t shine.”  After that he may be able to remove his obviously high IQ out of his back pocket. He can then remove the obsessive compulsive disorder computer virus and reinsert the IQ back into his head where it belongs.

Thank You,

Concerned Rays Fan/ Allen Finkelstein, D.O.