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E pur si muove!

September 11, 2010

I promised, and fully intended, to wait until tomorrow to resume carping at Tony La Russa; however, I cannot. In the wake of another Cardinal loss—this one in 12 innings to the Braves, who tried very earnestly to let the Cards win it several times—I need to take a quick late-night dig at Tony’s managerial bullheadedness.

Some happy brew of historical record and urban legend tells us that Galileo, when informed by a Vatican heavy that the Earth, being the center of the universe, could not possibly move about the sun, shrugged his shoulders and muttered “E pur si muove”— “And yet it moves!” In other words, you can say it as often as you like, but reality demonstrates otherwise. Point, Galileo! (They proceeded to imprison him and execute him nine years later. But he was right, dammit.)

Only slightly less revelatory than the news that the earth orbits the sun is the news that Tony La Russa is a relentlessly formulaic (some would say “obsessive”) manager (some would say “over-manager”).* For example, in the cosmos Tony inhabits, left-handed hitters cannot hit against left-handed pitchers as successfully as they can against righties, which is why he brought in the team’s only non-ailing lefty “specialist,” Dennys Reyes, to face Jason Heyward leading off the seventh inning of a 2-2 game this afternoon.

I put those quotation marks around “specialist” because—guess what? It turns out that left-handed batters were hitting .288 and slugging .394 against Reyes entering today’s game, while righties were hitting .208 and slugging .226 (the rest of his platoon splits are equally stark). While none of the Cards’ relief corps had any meaningful history against Heyward, there were pitchers in the bullpen with markedly better records against left-handed hitters. But in La Russa Land, lefties come in to face lefties, and the empirical evidence we’ve racked up while watching Reyes serve up big hits all year doesn’t seem to count for much.

Those who don’t study the past are doomed to repeat it, of course, and thus it surprised precisely no one when Reyes needed a mere four pitches to be taken out of the park on a towering Heyward homer that may, in fact, still be orbiting the earth in a fashion that would make the 17th-century Holy See feel vindicated.

Statistics show that when doctrine faces off against real life, real life usually wins out, as it did again today in supremely frustrating fashion.

Galileo would understand. He always had trouble with Cardinals.

* I feel that there should be a term for Tony’s system. “Stubbormetrics”?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Longbeachrookie permalink
    September 12, 2010 6:51 pm

    Insanity = repeating the same actions but expecting different results…..

  2. jrf permalink
    September 13, 2010 10:22 pm

    Love this one for so many reasons!

    (“…trouble with Cardinals.” Hee.)

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