Sunday, October 24, 2004


Achilles and LaRussa

Oh what damage an overthinking manager can do...

Schilling had injured his ankle and was pounded by the Yanks in Game 1. When presented with the information that the ankle was the definitive problem site, common sense was that you had to "attack" it. Make Schilling throw as many pitches on that bad ankle as possible and try to make him field more, in other words bunt. The Yankees said "To hell with that, we pounded him once we can do it again" and ignored the advice. Well Schilling is a smart enough pitcher to know when he's not at 100%. He was slightly better in game 6, but more important he approached the game differently and with the help of an over-zealous and pressing Yankee line-up, a cold dreary night, and a few breaks on hard hit balls, he was able to keep the Yanks at bay. (For those thinking I'm downplaying Schilling's game - he said so much himself) Not great overpowering pitching but real smart pitching.

So tonight, you are Tony LaRussa and you have seen that simply trying to hit Schilling on a cold and dreary night, such as the one you'd face tonight, would probably not end with the results you want. You might get a few runs, but a veteran pitcher of his quality would keep it close. All experts at least advocate trying bunting to take advantage of this situation. The last thing you want is to keep it close. So what do you do?

Plan A - Bunt early and often; making Schilling field. Be real aggressive on the base pathes to make him throw over a lot and throw from the stretch. Anything to aggravate that ankle.

Plan B - Talk about bunting, but in reality do nothing different than the Yankees did and hope that somehow this works out completely different than everyone expects it to. Like dropping a stone out of a window and hoping it flies instead of drops to the ground.

If you chose Plan A, go back to coaching Little League, pops. You're not ready for the show. If you chose Plan B, start pulling out your quotes about "Going with your gut" and "Taking it one game at a time" You're ready to go in.

(As it stands now the Cardinals were shut down by Schilling thanks to smart pitching, the weather and some luck on hard hit balls. Who would have guessed. Oh yeah, that's right. EVERYBODY)

I believe that if it were LaRussa sent out to face Achilles the conversation would have gone something like this:

"Hey, Tony. You need to hit his ankle that's his weak point"
"That's nice but it's not my usual game plan. I like attacking the crotch with my sword"
"I'm serious Tony. The only way you can hurt him is by hitting the ankle. He's invulnerable every where else"
"Ok how about this. I'll tell him I'm going to hit his ankle and then when he's busy protecting that. WHAM, straight in the groin!"

"Tony, you're not listening. I'll make it simple for you. Ankle=victory. Not ankle=loss. "
"Gotcha. Fake toward the ankle, then he'll totally be exposed for the ball shot"
"I can see how you turned the most dominant team of the late 80's into a one WS wonder."

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