It’s hard to tell what kind of a job Ryne Sandberg is doing managing this pile of garbage he has been handed. Most of us don’t pay attention the way we used to, or hang on every pitch, swing and managerial decision like we did from 2007-2011. So after the Phils’ mini winning streak last week, you might think that Sandberg should be up for coach or saint of the year honors. But every time you take a few minutes to pay just the slightest bit of attention, there always seems to be a common denominator: Sandberg is an idiot.
If it’s not his power struggle with aging vets, or his dumb insistence on not pitching young thrower Ken Giles when the Phils are behind, or having Cody Asche bunt with runners on first and third and no outs, or his decision to pull another young hurler after only 64 pitches in the fifth, it’s something else… like pitching to Bryce Harper, who is murdering the world right now, in the seventh inning of a one-run game with a runner on, two outs, and two bases open. Which is exactly what Sandberg did on Sunday.
Trying to pitch to Bryce Harper right now is like staring into the sun. At some point, you probably are going to regret it.
Ryne Sandberg did that Sunday. He did it with Jake Diekman — a pitcher trying still to get his sea legs after a shaky start. He did it in a big spot of a close game in a series that the Phillies could have won to keep some momentum going.
And in the end, they all got burned. Harper’s bloop single scored Denard Span with a big insurance run, followed by a Ryan Zimmerman double off the wall to bring Harper home from first as the Nationals took the rubber game from the Phillies with a 4-1 win before 41,044 in the nation’s capital.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg walked to the mound Sunday afternoon and the door to the team’s bullpen swung open. The manager had decided to attack Washington’s Bryce Harper, instead of intentionally walking him in the seventh inning with two outs and a runner on third. Two pitches later, a 4-1 loss at Nationals Park was sealed.
Sandberg inserted Jake Diekman to face Harper. Diekman, the team’s top lefthanded reliever, had enjoyed success against the lefthanded Harper, limiting him to one hit in eight at-bats. Those results did not guarantee success.
The problem is that though Diekman has had success against Harper in the past, this isn’t the same Jake Diekman. He’s been positively awful this year. And Harper is currently on pace to have, like, the best season ever. So having Diekman man up to face Harper is akin to fighting every video game boss by just charging right at them and trying to jump on their head. Sure, it’s commendable, but it’s also dumb. Sometimes the best tactic is to hide behind a conveniently-placed shipping crate and push them off a ledge when they turn their back… or just walk them. It’s smarts, not brute strength, that win the game.
Did Sandberg consider that fact? Well, the little hamster spun his wheel… or at least he tried to:
“There was some thoughts about all that,” Sandberg said. “Diekman has been tough on Harper in the past. He was one of those hot hitters. Even a ball that gets in on him — a jam — finds a hole there. Looks like he made a decent pitch. He just fought it off and blooped it in.”
There was some thoughts about all that, the manager said about having his struggling reliever pitch to the best player in baseball. Thanks, Ryno.
This has been Ryne Sanderg: The Idiot Files.