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Here lies Jerry Manuel….

May 17, 2010

A moment of silence, please.

Sunday afternoon was a beautiful day on the Island, complete with sunny skies and a cool refreshing breeze.  However, instead of lounging on the beaches, firing up the BBQ, or taking a stroll with my girlfriend on the boardwalk, I decided to torture myself like I was starring in Saw 7 and plop on the couch to catch the Mets/Marlins game.  The “Amazins” were attempting to impede a four-game sweep at the hands of the fish.  The contest began like a scene out of Groundhog’s day, as the third inning came equipped with defensive follies, clutch hitting by the opponent, and an injury to a pitcher to boot.  All things that Mets fans have become accustom to  for the past 10 plus seasons. 

The die-hard fan inside never lets me turn off a Mets game, despite whatever deficit they are facing.  Nonetheless, I turned SNY off at around 2:15pm with the Mets trailing 7-0 and watched re-runs of the Soprano’s.  At around 3:30pm, that inner fan in me caused my fingers to click the “back” button on my remote, and I saw Alex Cora rip a two-run double pulling the Mets within 7-6.  Like too many times in the past, however, the Mets drew me back in, only to let down in the end.  Jason Bay and Jeff Francouer failed to get Cora in from second, and Jerry once again inserted Nightly Nieve into the game who proceeded to surrender a three-run homer to Chris Coghlan. 

Sunday afternoon appeared to be one more nail into the coffin of Jerry Manuel.  I was all ready to spill my feelings into a post, but I found an OpEd that expressed my thoughts as well as I ever could. 

The following is taken from FireJerryManuel.wordpress.com and is written by “BigBabyGive.”  

Enjoy…

It appears as though this train I’ve been tortuously riding is pulling into the station.  Jerry’s head is firmly on the chopping block and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which he will be spared the guillotine.  Whether having his head severed from his body will actually prove to be an impediment to his ability to blather on like the inane idiot he is, well, one can only hope.

Now that my dream is about to become a reality, I’m unsure of what to think or how to react.  I don’t think it’s postpartum depression, but rather the fact that this team is so far removed from relevance that firing Jerry is largely meaningless.  I created this blog when it appeared the Mets had a chance at contending for the playoffs, and that the margin of error was so slight that having a complete idiot steering the ship would undoubtedly lead to a massive iceberg ripping apart the hull.  Now the good ship Mets is hemorrhaging fuel, surrounded by land mines, and has about 3 capable deck hands left; no captain alive is getting them out of this mess.  Convoluted nautical metaphors aside, my point is the impetus behind firing Jerry isn’t really there anymore; this team isn’t a contender, the organization itself is infected, and a new manager isn’t going to do diddly.

Throughout this horror show, I’ve often been asked who I would choose to manage the Mets instead of Jerry.  I never really had an answer, for a couple of reasons.  Somewhat hypocritically, I don’t generally believe managers make that much of an impact on a team.  I also don’t think that there are more than a handful of good managers.  And as I said earlier, this team is much more than a good manager away from being a contender.

As I see other Met fans calling for Jerry’s head, be they fans who have hated Jerry for a long time or only because the team is now struggling, I can’t help but feel disaffected.  Who really cares if Jerry gets fired?  It’s a palliative move that doesn’t address any of the real problems facing this team.  Firing Jerry isn’t going to put competent, healthy starters in the rotation.  It’s not going to put above average ball-players in right field and second base.  It’s not going to change the fact that the Wilpons kept Omar from matching the Angels’ offer to Joel Piniero.

So is it a bit disingenuous to clamor for the head of Jerry with all of those caveats?  No.  Why not? Because his stupidity goes so far beyond the average idiot manager that, simply for historical reasons, it needs to be documented.  In twenty years, I want all Met fans to be able to bounce their child/grandchild/illegitimate mistress on their knee and tell tales of just how awful Jerry Manuel was as a manager.  About the time he called a career minor league back-up catcher that was warming up pitchers in the bullpen up as a pinch hitter, in place of an established major leaguer who had two hits on the day, then justified it by saying that “sometimes somebody in the bullpen is “more into the feel of the game” than other people.”

Pshaw they would say.  Argle-bargle. Foofarah.  Only now, thanks to the dedication of one masochistic fan, you can point them here http://firejerrymanuel.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/some-of-the-jerry-classics/ and prove to your skeptical loved one that indeed, Jerry Manuel once did something that stupid.

Likewise, in that same spirit, I’ll write a proper obituary for Jerry.  My first instinct was to gloss over it, say “who cares?” and then just excoriate the Wilpons and Omar.  Realizing that would be a cop-out, and cognizant of the fact that I hate LOST because I know I’m not going to get resolution on half of the questions it brought up, I know now that I should channel Pancho Villa and at least say something.

When Jerry replaced Willie,  I was initially quite happy.  Willie, despite the fact that the press lionized him and said he “deserved better,” ( the same media who was dragging him through the mud for weeks.  Lesson here: never fire a manager after newspapers have gone to print), was a horrific manager.  He never stood up for his players, he bunted as though he had OCD and giving away outs was his primary tick, and generally did everything I hated as a manager.  Anyhow, Jerry took over, the team started winning, and we had a jive talkin’ manager that at least laughed at press conferences.  What could possibly go wrong?

Bunting

For starters, Jerry perpetuated the practice of what I like to call, “The Worst Play in Baseball.”  Namely, if Jose Reyes got on base with no outs, in the late innings of a game where one run was crucial, Manuel wouldn’t have him steal, but would rather sacrifice bunt him over to 2nd.  A move so mind-boggling conservative it could host a post-campaign fundraiser party at a lesbian BDSM strip club.  He would do this every time, without fail.  Jose Reyes, supposedly the premier base stealer in the National League, would get bunted over to second base.

Jerry’s predilection towards giving away free outs led the Mets to be third in baseball in sacrifice bunts in 2008 with 88.  Number one was the Dusty Baker lead Reds, which I don’t think needs any further comment.  A team that has difficulty scoring gives away the equivalent of 3.3 games worth of outs.  Genius!

Jerry’s awesome “bunt early and often” strategy reared its pathetic head the last few games when he made Jose Reyes try to sacrifice on back to back nights.  This move is so bad on so many levels, it’s almost delicious.  For starters, Reyes stinks at sac bunting.  He’s always stunk at sac bunting.  Having him attempt to bunt while knowing that he is bad at it is bad managing.  Secondly, you’re having your number three hitter sac bunt.  While line-up labels are all but meaningless, the point remains that you yourself subscribe to the notion that the three hitter must have some mystical RBI ability.  So rather than letting your chosen RBI man do some hitting, you’re telling him to give up an out as quickly as possible.  Thirdly, you yourself moved Reyes into a spot he was uncomfortable with presumably for these very situations.  So you take a player who is coming back from a missed year due to injury, who didn’t have Spring Training, thrust him into a role he isn’t comfortable with, and then when the time comes for the actual pay-off, you make him bunt.  And finally, in the most recent case, he was bunting against Leo Nunez for Jason Bay and David Wright.  Castillo was already on second, and Nunez is a big time strike out pitcher who would face two batters who strike out a ton.

How much does Jerry like to bunt? So much so that he sac bunted against a position player.  I think I can leave it at that.

Part Two of this amazing series will deal with his bullpen usage. Part Three will likely be a grab bag of his most idiotic quotes. Part 4 will deal with the actual problems facing this organization.

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One comment

  1. Couldn’t agree more!
    Great article Willy.



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