Baseball season is over, the Boston Red Sox having beaten the St. Louis Cardinals to win it all. The one constant throughout the World Series - and any other series for that matter - is fans criticizing managers (substitute “coach” for other sports). And the criticism doled out is usually in inverse proportion to the amount of actual skill, knowledge and experience the person criticizing has.
You can hear and read it during the season and, as with any type of criticism, some of it has merit. However, when some guy starts in on the manager who just got his team to the World Series - the World Series - the pinnacle that every team and manager - and fan - aspires to, it’s time to call out these fools. The only person who spews more vitriol in his criticism of the manager than the schmuck who has no (and never had any) appreciable talent is the guy who had a few (too many) shekels on the contest and needs to blame somebody for his pissing away hard earned (or inherited) money.
Second guessing might be the most favorite sport for the non-participant for one reason: you’re never wrong! Why didn’t he pinch hit for the guy (who struck out)? How can he have a full bullpen at his disposal and use that pitcher (who got shelled)? My favorite is the media member who asks the question, “If you had to do it all over again, would you have made the same move?”
“Oh, you mean the move that didn’t work and happened to be the turning point of the game? That move? You mean, the move I thought was the right one after thinking about it and consulting with my coaches? You mean, knowing now that it wasn’t going to work, would I make it again? Of course not! Of course I wouldn’t make it - knowing it wasn’t going to work. But I didn’t know that then - and neither did you or anyone else. You might have had a strong opinion but you didn’t know. Be honest, how many times did I make a move that you didn’t like at the time, but it did work? You might say none now because you don’t like to be wrong. Neither do I. And I have more riding on the outcome of this game than you do. Remember, Mr. Know-It-All, I’ve put a helluva lot more into this than you ever thought about doing (and probably more than you put into whatever job you do have) so while your criticism may be on target after the game’s over, I only get one shot.”
I’ve never heard a manager say that, although John Farrell came close when he was asked why he didn’t pinch hit Mike Napoli for Brandon Workman in Game 3. Farrell basically said, in retrospect, he probably should have. But, just for a minute, think about all the heat Farrell and his counterpart for the Cardinals, Mike Matheny, took (are still taking in Matheny’s case) from Joe Fan. Here are two guys who led their team to the best record in all of baseball, then won their respective pennants, leading their clubs to the World Series. It’s like the fan is saying, “OK, you got us this far, now let me take over.” Unless there’s a tough strategical decision to be made. Then, they’d want to see how it turned out before actually committing to it.
Yeah, sounds ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as the clown who criticizes when his team doesn’t win. It’s true that every fan has a right to be heard but in the words of the late Hubert Humphrey:
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”