I’m seeing some pretty serious overanalysis this morning about last night’s game. Two guys — ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Fox’s Jon Morosi — have “Ned Yost out-managed Bruce Bochy” columns up. Both of them seem like an oversell. Stark called it a “chess match,” and argues that Ned Yost proved all the naysayers wrong with his deft moves. Morosi only briefly goes there — his column is more of a look-ahead to Game 3 — but asserts the same thing.
Is it rude of me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we’ve gone way overboard in attributing wins and losses to managers this postseason?
Certainly bad moves should be called out. Yost made a few early in the playoffs and the Tigers and Cardinals, for example, can point to managerial decisions as a big reason they’re sitting at home now. And as I mentioned earlier this morning, Bochy putting in Hunter Strickland in the game with runners on base was probably the wrong move.
But it’s not as if last night was a master class in managing by Yost or a comedy of errors by Bochy. Hell, even Yost was dismissive of anyone suggesting he was a genius. From Stark’s own column:
Except afterward, with his Royals’ Series-evening 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in the books, Yost had a confession to make, before anyone could induct him into either Mensa or the World Grandmasters Hall of Fame:
“After the sixth inning,” Yost said, happily, “my thinking is done.”
And it is: Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland make thinking something of a redundant concept. Heck, if we can say anything about Yost’s decisions last night, perhaps we can say that he should’ve possibly gone with lesser relievers after he got a five-run lead rather than use his big guns. I don’t mean that as anything approaching a major criticism — there is an off-day today and Yost did what he felt he needed to do to win the game — but the fact remains that Yost didn’t exhibit genius last night. He just managed and didn’t mismanage. The fact also remains that, if we try hard enough, we can find fault in even the no-brainer moves.
It seems to me that, rather than focus on the managers like everyone seems so intent on doing, maybe we can just say that the Giants’ pitchers didn’t make good pitches when they needed to and the Royals handled everything that came their way in that sixth inning. I suppose it’s harder to get 800-1,000 words out of “the Royals hit the ball well and the Giants didn’t pitch too good” than it is to go on about managerial genius or the lack thereof, but the fact is that most games are decided by the players playing, not the chess moves the managers make. Last night was one of those games.
It’s understandable when people overanalyze during the World Series. There is only one game a night and a couple of off-days in the middle. The usual rhythm of the Major League season in which any game is relatively disposable and we get a new slate of 10-15 of them the next evening is out the window. The October schedule lends itself to football-style analysis, in which every single move is scrutinized to the nth degree because, jeez, what else are we gonna talk about? But let’s not forget that this is baseball and that sometimes — probably most of the time — the players decide what happens.