No. It’s not the players.

There are a few antiquated mantras in baseball that are somewhat nonsensical that I find it very hard to prevent my eyes from rolling when they’re uttered.

One is, typically after a tough loss, where the manager made some really bad moves, is to say something along the lines of “Well, it’s the players who are playing – they’re the ones who win and lose the game”.

No shit?  The players are the ones playing?  (Eye roll.  I told you I couldn’t prevent it.)

Nobody is saying the players aren’t deciding the game. Hell, I’ve said in this space multiple times that the team whose players play best is going to win most of the time, regardless of what the manager does.  MOST of the time.  There are times however, in which managerial decisions go a long way towards a team winning or losing.

If you have a team that’s expected to win 70 or so games, it may not be an issue in the big scheme of things.  But if you’re team is expected to win 90 plus, be in contention for winning the division and/or a wild card spot, then managerial decisions that contribute toward losses – yes, even in April, these games count – need to be examined and hopefully prevented, ongoing.

For example:

Yesterday, and for the 2nd time this week, Yankee manager Aaron Boone in an effort to protect a 1 run lead, used pitcher #13 on a 13 man staff.  This isn’t a knock on Domingo German, who Joe Girardi used in a similar situation last season, or on Jonathan Holder from earlier this week – by process of elimination, someone is number 13.

Yesterday, with starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery struggling, Boone called on German with one out in the 5th and the Yankees leading 5-4.  Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve, David Robertson, Aroldis Chapman and presumably Chad Green were available.  But Boone went with #13.  Again.  As he did in a similar situation with Holder on Tuesday.

And just like on Tuesday, the lead was gone pretty quickly.

To add befuddlement on top of bewildered, with extra innings a clear possibility, Boone decided to use Betances, Shreve, Robertson and Chapman all for only 1 inning each.  With extra innings (or “bonus cantos” as Michael Kay would say, speaking of things that make me stick my finger in my throat) looming and a day off on Monday, if there was a time to stretch one or more of those guys out, Sunday afternoon was it.

As you probably know, the Yanks lost in 12 innings on Sunday.

Now if you want to say the Yankees had bases loaded with nobody out with Judge and Stanton due up in the 12th and their failure to come through was the game, go ahead.  If you want to say the vaunted bullpen added another “L” to its record, go ahead.

But you’d be wrong.

The offense scored seven runs.  Betances, Chapman, Shreve, Robertson and Warren combined for 5 innings giving up one run with 6 Ks and 1 walk. Pretty much everybody did their job except for Montgomery but he left with a lead regardless.   And German pitched like pitcher #13 on a #13 man staff – again, not a knock, but a reality.

The manager put the wrong player in the game at the wrong time.  Period.

I don’t know much about poker, but I do know if you have a pair of 3s and a pair of Jacks and you only put the 3s down, it’s not the cards’ fault you lost.  It’s yours.

It’s so odd how baseball is the only sport where not only this happens, but it isn’t even questioned.  Imagine if the Cavaliers lost a close game with LeBron on the bench.  Or if the Patriots lost a close game with Brady sitting out.  It makes no sense – that’s a head coach is getting fired of situation.

But in baseball, it’s status quo.  It’s the players’ fault.  There are 162 games so, so what?

Well, after 6 combined games this past week against one crappy team and one God awful team, the Yankees went 3-3.  Remember this stretch if they lose the division by a game or two.


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