Just a few more thoughts after some sleep.
It's not like I can stop this train now, but the Jerry Meals hate-bandwagon is uncalled for and I think it makes Pirate fans look bad and I really think it should stop. He made a bad call, that upon video review was a much, much more difficult call than it initially seemed to be. You can see below that I was as mad at Means as anyone right as the game ended, but the fact is that McKenry made a swipe tag that at the very most, just dusted Julio Lugo's upper thigh. I'm certain he got the call wrong (there's no clear evidence he didn't tag him and you can tell from Lugo and McKenry's body language after the play what they thought happened) and I suspect that the circumstances dictated the way he made that call (most often, umps seem to err on the side of the fielder in very close swipe tags), but it's hard for me to feel that the call is indefensible or the Worst Call Ever. It sucks that circumstances may have dictated the way an ump called what he likely saw as a 50/50 play, but some calls are simply hard to make in real time.
That's the kicker for me. I don't know if having instant replay in baseball would've actually reversed that call (I think it might have, Meals said after seeing the replay that it seemed like he got it wrong and the camera angle from the first baseline is pretty convincing), but seeing all of the replays and angles of that play made it clear that the home plate ump was in a very tough place to make a decision there. I'd still be angry today if there was a replay review that didn't reverse that call, but I'd feel a little better knowing that a second set of eyes got to see such an important play. I'll reiterate again what I say in the post below: it's crazy to me that we rely on imperfect humans to make decisions that they're just not capable of making when the technology exists to help them. It's unfathomable in any context outside of baseball.
That said, let's talk about Clint Hurdle. I like Clint Hurdle. I think it's hard to deny that the Pirates play hard for the guy, that they're a little more sound fundamentally, that there's an extra something that he brings to the club that's helped them this year. Still, I absolutely hate the amount of credit he gets for this team's record. It's disrespectful to the players, in my opinion, to give a manager that much credit. When the Pirates break a losing streak or win a close game and people say, "This would've never happened with John Russell," it drives me nuts because that's something that's impossible to quantify or prove. Hurdle brings something unquantifiable to the table, but it's meaningless without the players pulling the cart.
One thing Hurdle does not bring to the table is a mastery of in-game tactics. I've written a million times before that in-game tactics end up counting very little for or against a team when a season's all said and done and so I tend to let things like Pedro Alvarez bunting in the Nteenth inning go. It's awful strategy to use Alvarez to move a runner over for Overbay and Cedeno, but it doesn't guarantee that a run won't score, nor does letting Alvarez swing away guarantee that a run will score. The players are still heavily involved and in the end, stuff like that counts for very little. The one play that does drive me nuts, though, is that squeeze play in the ninth inning. It was obvious the Braves knew it was coming, and Hurdle still went for it. It wasn't Xavier Paul who caused the out, it wasn't the Braves who made a great defensive play to earn an out, it was Hurdle who packaged an out up, but a bow on it, and handed it to the Braves. There's not one example of Clint Hurdle's in-game tactics helping the Pirates win, nearly as much as that decision hurt them last night. According to FanGraphs, the Pirates had a 59.7% 69.7% chance of winning with Xavier Paul up, runners on first and third, and one out in the ninth inning. With a runner on first and two outs, their chance of winning dropped to 43%. (It looks like Brandon Wood did advance to second on the play, which was neither recorded by Root Sports, nor FanGraphs. I think that brings the Pirates WPA to somewhere around 53%) That's all on the manager and that's an insanely huge shift in WPA that didn't involve the players one bit and I think that's unacceptable. Couple that with his refusal to bring Joel Hanrahan into the game in the 19th when Dan McCutchen ran out of gas (this much more speculative, but is there any chance Joel Hanrahan lets Scott Proctor make contact?), and Clint Hurdle hurt the Pirates just as much as the umpiring did last night.
First send D. McCutchen to the plate to deliver the lineup until he gets ejected, then send last night's starting pitcher, then send the bullpen coach and so on..... Stand up and make a statement about the unfair and unlevel playing field of MLB.
As has been said by so many others, if this had happened to the Red Sox or Yankess things would be different.
Getting 3 or 4 people ejected at the plate tonight before the game even started would be a great protest within the rules of baseball.
@MRH1` No. The best thing to do would be to let it go and concentrate on winning the next game. Look forward, not back.
Also, why doesn't MLB remove Jerry Meals from tonight's game? I suspect there will be 1 or 2 ejections tonight before the game even starts.
Hurdle should MF and CS him at the plate before the game even starts until he is ejected!
Why put the Pirates in this position? Get him out of there and avoid the problem. Is MLB asking the Pirates to stay quiet or are they putting it in their face?
For all involved remove him tonight and tomorrow to remove ay issues!
Also, why is no one talking about the DOUBLE PLAY the Pirates would have turned since Proctor fell down? McCutchen is clearly calling for the throw to go to first and it would have got Proctor?
ESPN's highlights last night showed home plate criminal Jerry Meals joking and laughing with Scott Proctor at the plate before his at bat.
Has anyone else seen this?
This may be a subtle issue, but clear;y had it had a huge impact. I disagree that Jerry Meals' integrity "cannot be questioned."
For me, after seeing this vide, it is an open question.
@MRH1` Really? The powerful, well-liked and influential Scott Proctor? Is there a grassy knoll in center at Turner Field I missed?
Joe Torre just said that the call was missed, but the human element will always be a part of baseball.
Translation: We don't care about getting calls right or wrong.
I don't think it makes the fans look bad to be complaining about the play this morning, literally less than 12 hours after arguably the most dramatic game of the season. Now, if it keeps up for a week or something, yeah, let it go. I agree that maybe he should've tried to get Dan out of their before that inning started, especially with an all star still in the bullpen but I understand the thinking. And yes, while I think there were a few instances where Hurdle might have tied our hands during the game (the squeeze, namely) I can't think of a manager I'd rather have help the team get past this game. That said, the cards traded Rasmus and I think that's something we should all be happy about.
Um, I just wanna add that I was talking about people complaining about the call on message boards and the like... I had no idea until a few minutes ago that people were making threats towards Meals and showing up at his home.That's disgusting and a poor reflection of Pirates fans.
@Joshh And the fans that posted Meals' personal information on message boards and have made threats to him and his family? That's OK, too?
@whygavs No, sorry, I didn't read the report about that til after I posted my comments. You are totally right to call people out on that behavior. It's gross.
Hurdle deserves alot of credit. He not afraid to play the kids when there called up, they hustle and he holds them accountable. You can monday morning quarterback any manager's in game moves on a daily basis. The bottom line is after 18 years of losing this guy has brought an energy and passion, his players like playing for him.
Y'know, I actually AGREED with the Alvarez bunt. The guy isn't doing anything, and you can expect him to strike out or hit into a dp before you can expect him to advance the runner. Maybe after a couple dozen games and he shows that he's not going to flail at a slider away and in the dirt, but for that guy and that situation, I can see the bunt. At least get the guy to second. I'd rather have Overbay up with McCutchen on second than Alvarez up with McCutchen on first. Say what you want about potential, Overbay > Alverez so far this year.
@TomBrenholts Alvarez looked much better than Overbay last night. Two of his three really bad at-bats were against Venters and Sherrill, two guys he'd very possibly be overmatched by even if he weren't struggling. Otherwise, he had a hit, he hit another ball pretty solidly, and he worked quite a few counts pretty deep.
@whygavs @whygavs & @joshuabobby, I didn't get to see the ABs, I was listening on the radio (phone, MLB AB), so I couldn't really tell that. I'm not negative on Pedro, if he were the next Brandon Moss his numbers last year would have reflected that. However, I think the front office thinks he could have used more time in AAA. Anyhow, I still didn't mind that bunt. Now, the squeeze, I was laying there thinking, "Please, please, don't squeeze! The Braves just tried it, it's not going to surprise anyone!"
@TomBrenholts "The guy isn't doing anything" that's a 2 game sample size. And he was tearing it up in AAA before that. Pedro hasn't been great in the majors, but he doesn't have to be to be a better option than overbay.
I will agree that some of the stuff Hurdle did was pointless and probably caused us to lose that game just as much an anything else. Even I knew the squeeze was on and I was fighting off falling asleep on my couch. However, you just can't brush off Meals call like it never happened. In order to make that call, McKenry would've had to BLATANTLY miss that tag. It was a standard play, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason he should've been called safe. All parties involved in the play knew he was out, except for Meals. I can only believe that he was looking for any reason to get out of there and go home after 7 hours of umpiring. I have never been on the instant replay bandwagon (at least as far as some want to take it) but in situations where the umpire is obviously out of his mind, maybe something should be done.
I agree with your remarks about Hurdle. That attempted squeeze in the 9th was awful. But don't let Meals off the hook. That call IS indefensible. Have you EVER seen an MLB umpire call a runner safe when the throw beats him by a, non-exaggerated, 5 feet and the runner slides right into the tag? NEVER! NEVER! That was not a close play IN...THE...LEAST. Lugo's pick up slide came up a foot short. There is an excuse for missing close plays. I'm always impressed by how many calls umpires get right. But Meals missing that call was incompetent.
All true. Hurdle's strategies contributed to a few zeros up there. But the extra inning strategies by Carlos Tosca, filling in after Gonzalez was tossed, were equally poor. 2 innings in a row, he bunted with runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. When you need one run to win, you don't give up an out in hopes of a wild pitch. You give two batters a chance to drive in the winning run, not only one. Is the risk of a double play really that frightening that you avoid it at all costs? And one of those innings, he had runners at 1st and 2nd and NO OUT, and DIDN'T bunt. THAT'S when you do that, setting up a chance at a sac fly or deep ground ball. Who cares if Uggla was up? Make him bunt.
So most of the game was a sequence of lessons in "what not to do as a MLB manager when you only need one run." And any game that goes past the 12th inning usually ends on something fluky anyway. It sucks, but these things happen to every team throughout a 162-game season. It just feels worse because it's the Pirates.
I also like the direction of the team under Hurdle, but I just can't fathom the obsession with bunting. It seems like he doesn't trust the players' ability, which is just weird given his rah-rah attitude. The bunts with runners on first and second and no out, the squeezes like last night, it all says to me that he thinks the batter will fail, either striking out or grounding into a double play. He's been very good at convincing these guys that they always have a chance to win, but then when it comes time for them to prove it he doesn't let them.
This is a terrible article. You are jealous of Clint Hurdle or something??.... I mean, answer this question honestly: John Russell is Manager. The Pirates record is: _____ ? The players deserve credit, yes, and it's their talents that get the job done. But it's Clint that has changed the culture. He deserves the most credit, WITHOUT DOUBT.
Actually let me clarify- This is NOT a terrible article, I apologize for that wording. The author is of utmost integrity.... I disagree w/ the contention that Hurdle deserves any less credit. Clint does not 'hurt' the Pirates in any way and after 18 years, we should be very thankful to FINALLY have someone that can push the right buttons, create enthusiasm, looseness, and inspiration. Not to be forgotten, Clint has been an amazing mind in the realm of front office as well, ala Michael McKenry and Grilli. He knows this team and he knows what it needs. @CoachMartz
@CoachMartz Guys, let's not forget to give Searage his props as well.
[quote]we should be very thankful to FINALLY have someone that can push the right buttons, create enthusiasm, looseness, and inspiration.[/quote]
I agree with you. My point is that that is unquantifiable, whereas when he makes huge tactical errors like he did in the ninth inning last night, that is quantifiable and those things tangibly hurt the team.
Don't get me wrong: I like Hurdle, I want him managing the team and not Russell or anyone else. But I think that it's unfair to say he's the biggest reason for the turnaround, and I don't like that just because the team is winning that he gets let off the hook when he makes big mistakes. Bottom line is that if he lets his players play, there's a really good chance the Pirates win before the 19th inning last night.
@CoachMartz I'm too lazy to look this up. What is Clint Hurdle's WAR this year?
I'll disagree that it makes Pirates fans look bad; it makes us look like fans. Just like all the other fans. In previous years, we would have been laughed at for caring, but now we are on the exact same footing as all the other fans who have been screwed by, or have benefited from, bad umpire and official and referee decisions. We now are allowed to be the same, and that is good.