Usually, I agree with Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune, but for once, I am going to agree to disagree with the man. As the Cubs beat the Sox in a rain shortened 6 inning game on Saturday, Greg Maddux came out to pitch after 3 separate rain delays totalling 1 hour and 45 mins. I didn’t really think anything of it, but Morrissey did.
“Greg Maddux is a big boy, and if he says he’s OK to return to the mound after three rain delays that last a combined 1 hour 45 minutes, he probably is…..Against the White Sox on Saturday, Baker chose to bring Maddux back into the game after a third rain delay. You had the distinct feeling that if there had been a flood advisory, Baker would have handed Maddux a canoe paddle. It’s not for a player to say he’s able to pitch again after a weather delay. It’s for a manager to take that decision away from a pitcher.”
While I agree with the fact that it is indeed the manager’s decision, Dusty is not the kind of guy that is going to be a tyrant. One of the reasons players like to play for him is because he maintains an open line of communication with his players. He consults them on what is going well, and where they are struggling to get their opinions. When he consulted Maddux, Greg said he was fine. How do you tell Greg Maddux that he’s done for the day? This is one of the smartest men to ever pitch, he knows his body and what he is capable of. If you remember, he took himself out of a game earlier in the year, and when asked about it in the press conference, he said that he felt he was done.
“When Maddux walked onto the field for the sixth inning Saturday, the risk-reward ratio seemed skewed toward some risky business. The Cubs were leading 4-0. If somebody is at risk of hurting his arm at that point, I’d prefer for it to be middle reliever Mike Wuertz.”
I don’t know about you, but if I were Wuertz, I’d be pretty pissed if someone said they would rather I got hurt than Maddux. Why even make a statement like this, let alone name an actual player? Not too smart there Rick.
Dusty Baker said it best when asked about his decision.
“When you have a player out there who’s truthful and honest with you, you’ve got to listen to him. I’ve known Greg three months. Greg has known Greg 38 years. If it had been a younger, lesser player, I would have taken that decision away from him. But when it comes to Greg Maddux, you have to give this guy some props.”
Baker isn’t stupid when it comes to dealing with pitchers, no matter how much everyone wants to believe he is. If he were, he wouldn’t have the reputation he has with players, coaches, and owners. He’s one of the best, and people in baseball know it.
In the end, I want to re-state my complete confidence and trust in the way Dusty handles this team. He does it better than any of us ever could. Don’t agree? Let me know when you’re in the bigs and I will apologize.