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Clint Hurdle Is a Stupid, Stupid Man and Other Observations
2007-10-29 19:03
by Mike Carminati

I spent the last night of the World Series with a raging 103-degree fever, and yet I had more brain cells at my disposal than did the manager of the Colorado Rockies.

Before game three Clint Hurdle said, "I don't think it's a coincidence. I think this game drips with irony...God's fingerprints are all over a lot of things…There's a battle that can be on your hands, but there's a battle that can be fought, and just as importantly there's a battle that could be won." And apparently, it is a battle that can be lost…miserably.

Aside from not knowing the definition of irony except for the Alanis Morissette connotation, Hurdle puts way too much blame on god and not enough on himself. Hurdle is not much for "The fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves" mentality (though admittedly, the man who stated this, Cassius, had himself killed amid a battle that was not quite over—that might be taking the motto a bit too much to heart). Though his players struggled almost to a man and were overmatched in the Series, the last three games were within their grasps until late into the game. I have to think that the many, many boneheaded moves by Hurdle helped do in the Rockies at least as much as his team's lackluster play.

Hurdle's devotion to his starting pitching no matter the circumstance was one of the most befuddling strategies he constantly employed. In game four, Hurdle stuck with starter Aaron Cook, who had not pitched since August 10, so long, one had to wonder if Cook had naked pictures of his manager. Cook's spot was due up in the bottom of the fifth with the Rockies trailing 2-0 with 14 outs left in their World Series life. Cook ended up bunting perfectly for a hit, but that is no excuse for a bad decision. Cook was left in until the top of the seventh when he gave up a leadoff homer to series MVP Mike Lowell. Cook's last start longer than six innings was July 31. How long can you rely on a pitcher starting his first game off of the DL when you are at the brink?

When the Rockies finally scored and were down to six outs, who did Hurdle turn to to pitch the eighth? Brian Fuentes, the man who gave up three runs in the disastrous eighth the day before. Fuentes' first pitch was deposited in the left field bleachers by pinch-hitter, Bobby Kielty. This turned out to be the difference in the game. Hurdle's devotion to Fuentes to pitch the eighth reminds me of Jim Fregosi's misplaced reliance on a worn-out Mitch Williams to close out games in the (for me) disastrous 1993 Series.

Hurdle's next decision was to pull Fuentes, mercifully, for closer Manny Corpas, a man that Hurdle neglected to even get into the game when it was close the night before. Corpas' only other appearance came in game two with two out in the bottom of the eighth with the Rockies trailing 2-1. Corpas is the best pitcher he has in the pen so no problem there, and Corpas struck out Manny Ramirez to end the inning, so the move worked.

However, at the same time Hurdle pulled a double-switch, a feat I was impressed he could accomplish, putting Jamey Carroll at second base. Sounds fine, except that all Hurdle accomplished with the double-switch was to move the pitcher one spot down in the order and at the same time remove one of best batters ostensibly, Kaz Matsui, while ensuring that a man (Carroll) who batted .225 with a .617 OPS batted before the end of the game. The final inning featured at-bats by the catcher, Carroll, and Seth Smith, a player with eight career major-league at-bats prior to the postseason and no career home runs or RBI.

"God's fingerprints" indeed!

In my flu-induced stupor I mistakenly thought the Red Sox had to win by a large amount (at least six runs) to register the most lopsided win in World Series history. Silly me, I ran the numbers today and lo and behold, the 2007 World Series comes in at number one.

Here are the worst series sweeps by average margin of victory:

YrRoundWinnerWLoserL#GsR WinnerR Loser Avg MoV
2007WSBoston Red Sox4Colorado Rockies042910 4.75
1932WSNew York Yankees4Chicago Cubs043719 4.50
1989WSOakland Athletics4San Francisco Giants043214 4.50
1928WSNew York Yankees4St. Louis Cardinals042710 4.25
1990ALCSOakland Athletics4Boston Red Sox04204 4.00
1976WSCincinnati Reds4New York Yankees04228 3.50
1990WSCincinnati Reds4Oakland Athletics04228 3.50
1995NLCSAtlanta Braves4Cincinnati Reds04195 3.50
1927WSNew York Yankees4Pittsburgh Pirates042310 3.25
1938WSNew York Yankees4Chicago Cubs04229 3.25

The 2007 playoffs end with yet another sweep. That's the fourth in six series. In total just 28 of 41 total possible games were played. Aside from the seven-game ALCS, just one extra game was played in the other five series. 28 is the fewest played in a postseason since baseball went to the three-round system in 1994, and the fifth fewest by percentage of possible games since baseball turned to divisional play in 1969:

YrMax GGames Played%

Baseball has a lot to answer for here. They had eight days off this postseason. That has been eclipsed only by the earthquake World Series in 1989, the rainout-infested 1975-76 playoffs, and the first season with three rounds of playoffs:

YrLast PO GFinaleDiffLast Mo/Day#RoundsTot Max G per Rd Days per G Days w GsOff Days
1989198910281989100127102829 3.00 1116
19751975102219750928241022210 2.40 1014
1976197610211976100318102129 2.00 99
19951995102819951002261028317 1.53 179
20072007102820071001271028314 1.93 198
1911191110261911101214102616 2.33 68
19961996102619960929271026317 1.59 198
19731973102119731001201021212 1.67 137
20012001110420011007281104317 1.65 217
20022002102720020929281027317 1.65 217
19861986102719861005221027214 1.57 157

Of the games broadcast on TBS, only one game above the minimum were played. I wouldn't be surprised if the networks forced baseball to go to a seven-game first round next year. Surely, they no longer have any excuses given the number of off days this postseason.

2007-10-30 09:16:46
1.   Mark Auten
Welcome to the life of a Rockies fan... The teams success was in spite of Hurlde, not because of him. I cringe everytime his name is brought into the conversation of MOTY
2007-11-02 17:32:45
2.   TFD
Mike...omigod(!) it's been too long. great post. Trust you're well...all the best, TFD
2007-11-04 20:38:16
3.   Mike Carminati
Hey thanks, welcome back.

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