So the Dodgers hired Grady Little as their manager. Hmmmmmm. On one hand, there is the natural tendency to think that this is an absolutely ridiculous hire, what with his incompetence and all. On the other hand, if he can manage to cost the Dodgers the NLCS the way he cost the Red Sox the ALCS three seasons ago, at least it will mean that the Dodgers managed to win a playoff series for the first time in eighteen years to get to that position.
Actually, I don’t know if Grady Little is incompetent. I DO know that everyone who knows anything about baseball knew he should have taken Pedro out in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. (For the record, I read quite a few articles at the time talking about how easy it is to second-guess, etc., and how no one in America would have taken Pedro out of the game. Well, I call bull on that. I was screaming at the TV with every batter that Grady let Pedro give up a hit to, and it had nothing to do with hindsight. My brother was rooting for the Yankees, and we were talking on the phone during that inning about how inconceivable it was that Pedro was still in the game. My wife of two months at the time, who knew nothing about baseball before she married me, was sitting there asking me why in the world Pedro was still in the game. “Posada and Matsui are both left-handed. Didn’t you tell me that left-handers hit right-handed pitchers better? And doesn’t it seem like Pedro is throwing a lot softer than he was earlier in the game? What about that mean-looking, ugly left-handed pitcher the Red Sox have [Alan Embree]? He throws really hard. I bet he could get these guys out.” So don’t talk to me about second-guessing.)
Wow, that was quite a digression. Anyway, other than that meltdown, Grady had two pretty darn good seasons in Boston. His regular season record was stellar, and his postseason woes can easily be blamed on a curse. I didn’t watch enough Red Sox games at the time to know if he is a good manager or not. I hope he is. I am firmly convinced that the Dodgers’ problems last year stemmed more from a lack of leadership than from the injuries they were up against. The Braves and Cardinals both had lots of injuries, too, and they both won their divisions (good divisions, too, not the NL West). What the Dodgers lacked was someone reminding them that every player on the roster was a Major League Baseball player. So guys are hurt? Suck it up and do your job. Play as a team, and win some games. Jim Tracy may be a nice man, he may be a good technical manager, but the Dodgers’ performance last year convinced me that he is not a leader. (Which is why it baffles me that the talentless Pittsburgh Pirates think he can lead them to victory, but that is neither here nor there.)
Bottom line: I hope Grady Little has the leadership abilities to get these guys to play to their potential. If so, maybe he can be remembered for something other than the Aaron Boone Game.