Rays Diary  8/15/12  The Theater of The Absurd

After a seven game winning streak which saw the Rays’ great pitching and resurgent hitting make Joe Maddon’s job really easy, the team’s managerial brain trust has come back to earth. When the team is is hitting and pitching, it’s obvious that all the manager has to do is not screw up the lineup and manage pitchers.  Unfortunately, in the close games when managing is at a premium, our managerial consortium continues to come up short.  In an amazing display of incompetence, the Rays fail to bunt in the both the seventh and ninth innings, again violating the hell out of “Baseball 101.”

In an obvious situation, with men on first and second, no outs, fearless assistant leader and part time batting instructor, Derek Shelton can be found either snoring or discussing the finer points of NASCAR with Boss Joe Maddon.  Both coaches, being almost totally ignorant about hitting, have nothing to offer the young and oblivious Desmond Jennings.  They can’t tell him to bunt because some idiot higher up in the organization claims that philosophers Immanuel Kant and Martin Heidegger came to him in a dream and told him not to believe in giving up an out for a base, even if it means the difference between a win and a loss.  They can’t tell him to bounce the ball toward first, to avoid hitting to third at all costs, because unlike real coaches and managers, they’ve never considered telling a hitter how to think when he steps up to the plate.  After all, it’s against their philosophy!

The real problem is that despite having a degree in philosophy, I still couldn’t find out what teams Kant and Heidegger played for.  Even more frustrating, I couldn’t find the teams that Maddon and Friedman played for when they developed their esoteric philosophies about not bunting except with two strikes, not using advanced scouting, not watching film, not changing players’ horrendous batting stances ( Pena, Rodriguez, Jaso, Upton) for years on end, no matter how unsuccessful they might be.  God forbid Longoria should move up in the box with two strikes so he can avoid his yearly hamstring tear while lunging at sliders moving outside,  off of the plate!

Meanwhile, the ninth inning was even worse than the seventh.  Again, by not even trying to advance runners to second and third, Rays management showed why they have cost the team at least ten victories this year and a solid hold on first place!  Sorry, apologists, but  if you look back at the game “films” as I did, then any argument is patently useless and even more asinine than Rays’ management’s “philosophy.”  I mean, why would Maddon want to pick up an insurance run or two, when he can get really greedy and end up with nothing except a worthless “philosophy?” and, oh yes, a needless loss.

It is becoming abundantly clear that despite being blessed with the best pitching that I have seen in more than forty years, even if the Rays make the playoffs, with poor managing and poor coaching on the field, no amount of brilliance in the clubhouse will bring the team a World Series.  Management failed at crunch time last year and will continue to fail at the highest levels as long as they are arrogant enough to believe that they know more than the last 150 years of “Baseball 101.”

Al Finkelstein, Rays Fan