Managing Time

July 20, 2008


Let’s start managing and stop fooling around!  Cito Gaston took his pitcher out and Maddon did not.  Why?  Cito knows how to manage and Maddon does not- yet.


When substitute catcher Riggins calls for a low outside corner fastball and six times out of seven, Jackson throws a belt high inside fastball over the plate, Hicke should be out there telling him to throw “overhand,” not to slip to “three quarters.” If he can’t then throw where he aims, then after a few hits in a row, “Au Revoir!” The same goes for Kazmir who starts throwing more sidearm when he tires, fingers under the ball and no downward movement.  Either Hicke gets him back to “three quarters” or “Adios!”


For these things to happen, Mr. Maddon has to watch the game instead of the computer printout in his head.  Original thinking would help too.  Much as our friend Coach Steckel had to make the most of what he had inherited in the Bucs- using a fumble fingered tight end to replace Lorenzo Neal (stupidly let go by a good lawyer/ bad general manager), making him into a decent blocking back.  Similarly, he used Dunn at Flanker whenever Alstott ran and vice versa (because the same lawyer left him no viable wide receivers).  Instead of crying about a right-handed hitter, how about placing Dioner Navarro as a designated hitter against lefties and putting Riggins in to catch on those days that Navarro “gets a rest?”


Meanwhile, send Gomes to the Minor Leagues until he agrees to at least try to hit “the other way.”  Until he does, that’s where he belongs.  As a kid, I couldn’t pull the ball, and in our “pick up” games, with only 4-5 players on a side, they made me hit to left as I am right handed.  I cut a handle in a 2x4 and hit rockes to left field, day after day after day.  Finally, I had my friends pitch me hour after hour with a waffle ball until they couldn not get it past me on the inside part of the plate. 


I became a dead pull hitter.  Next, I did the same thing on the outside part of the plate.  I had to relearn how to hit to right.  And I did.  I never again had to worry about hitting the ball on the inside part of the plate.  I could do it in my sleep with the bat that now felt like a toothpick.  It was pure reaction.  Now, I could look for the pitch that was sure to come over that outside corner.  No one threw me backdoor sliders, they were automatic doubles to right- like Mike Piazza’s homers to right on those same pitches.


Gomes is twice as strong and twice as quick on his swing as I was.  He could actually hit homers to right.  What’s more, he would not be a constant liability pulling outside pitches to short for sure double plays.


We now have three legitimate homerun threats on the Rays.  Pena, Longoria, and Henske.  I don’t care if Upton and Crawford go on an indefinite slump as long as they are hitting the ball “the other way” with any kind of authority.  These guys, with Bartlett, cause more aggravation with singles, doubles and triples than any homerun hitters.  If they keep hitting the ball “the other way” (like Crawford is finally doing), the balls will start dropping in.  That’s always been a guarantee in baseball.  What’s more, the only way to hit the breaking ball on the outside corner is “the other way.”  It gives you more time and keeps you from leaning into the plate and flailing at the ball like Carlos Pena was doing before his DL stint.



Allen Finkelstein, D.O.