When playoff time comes around and the crisp, autumnal chill descends upon our American ballparks, the cold feelings of remorse and regret follow quickly after any loss, be it close or of the blowout variety. The only thing that fans of losing teams have to warm them on mornings after sad outcomes is the wasted heat energy generated by brain matter that over-analyzes every managerial move. I know this to be true. There is a second-guessing, coal-burning oven in my noggin as I type this emitting all kinds of irrational ideas and carbon monoxide.
We are all Wednesday morning bench coaches; we are all op-ed columnists and television squawking heads. At our water-coolers and on the Twittersphere, fans and non-fans alike will look back and judge. What do we judge? Every damn thing, from the fastball left too high to the jamooks who lean over outfield walls to the cable outlets who don't protect their video equipment well enough. But more than anything, we judge the discretion and decisions of managers, and usually give them far too much credit for both success and failure.
For the second night in a row, the Texas Rangers piled run after run upon the recently beleaguered Yankees bullpen, turning an otherwise close game into a huge blowout. So when we look back and write our history of Game 4 of the 2010 ALCS, do we judge Yankees manager Joe Girardi for leaning too hard on his 'pen or not leaning hard enough on the relief crew?
Was Girardi's decision to intentionally walk David Murphy ahead of eventual game-winning homer-hitting Bengie Molina a mistake? Or did his error lie in the fact that he didn't call on warmed-up reliever Joba Chamberlain to pitch? Did Girardi mismanage the 'pen later in the game by asking Boone Logan to retire Josh Hamilton? Or was Hamilton simply too good for any Yankees reliever to retire?
All of these questions, whether or not you have a good answer for them, are rendered moot by the final score. So instead of second-guessing a manager, or cursing the bad timing of Mark Teixeira's hamstring strain, perhaps the Yankees fans are better off shrugging their shoulders when they try to understand why everything went wrong.
Or better yet, Yankees fans ought to look at this shockingly dominant Rangers team and tip their caps. The Rangers can pitch, the Rangers can hit. They did both last night with far, far better results than the Yankees. So Girardi made a couple bad moves, but in the end, it was all for naught. Texas is a hot team and even the cold-hearted jamooks can give credit where it's due.