Maddoning Game 7 Shouldn’t Have Been That Close
What do you do when you’re up seven runs late in Game 6 of the World Series and you know Game 7 is the next night? Bring in your closer for another inning. Of course.
What do you do early in Game 7 when you don’t trust your bullpen, a runner is on, one of your starters -who fears throwing to all teammates but the catcher- is warming up in the bullpen and the game starter -the league’s earned run average leader- is doing just fine?
Pull the starter. Why do you ask?
What do you do when the reliever you overused the night before can’t find the plate and is running on fumes? Leave him in to give up a 2-run jack and the lead. Duh.
While Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona was forced to use every last member of his club to make up for a depleted pitching staff that was missing two starters and was flat-out gassed, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon wet himself with fear and made a list of some of the worst moves ever in a World Series.
The 1919 Chicago Black Sox -who were paid to intentionally lose that series- are looking on from beyond saying, “Gosh, that guy has GOT to be in deep to somebody.”
Of course Maddon wasn’t trying to throw the series, but he did throw his back out trying to throw his team’s title hopes out the window.
He seemingly couldn’t help himself from making moves that didn’t need to be made, from over-using players who needed to be rested, and from not trusting players that needed to be trusted.
Yet, somehow, he will go down officially as the manager of record for the 2016 Chicago Cubs team that broke a 108-year-old title drought and won it all.
The Cubs won Game 7 of course, 8-7 in extra innings. But, what if Maddon had just played it straight? What if he’d left starter Kyle Hendricks in until the 6th inning, and gave up, what, maybe 3 runs? What if the normal slate of relievers had come in based on matchups and averages and who had the hot hand?
Maybe another run?
What if your fully-rested closer then comes in blowing 103 with the fastball and 86 with the slider?
Three outs. No runs.
Cubs win 6-4. Simple, boring, smart.
But, this is what happens when the skipper, the guy who is supposed to keep saying, “Focus on the process,” is instead focusing on the prize and panicking at the thought of being the guy who didn’t make enough moves or do enough to give his team a chance.
Smart: four runs.
Panicking: seven runs and almost another colossal failure by the team synonymous with “loveable” and “loser.”
Maddon almost made this year’s team both, again.
They won in spite of him. Somehow, along with a momentum-killing rain cloud and a couple of pitches in exactly the same spot from Indians reliever Bryan Shaw, and a huge series from Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist.
Somehow, panicking won. Maybe next year, stupid will too.