Los Angeles, CA: Buck Showalter is the reason why the Mets are a different team than they were in the past few years.
In the top of the ninth inning, with the Mets up 9-4 in the third game of this 4 game series between the two top teams in the National league, Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts called for his sixth reliever of the night. It would be a position player, rookie Zach McKinstry. Everybody does this when they are losing by a big score differential late in a game.
In this case Roberts was looking to just save one real bullpen arm with another game to be played against the Mets in an early start tomorrow. A 5 run deficit is not out of reach with the way balls fly out of Dodger Stadium but saving an arm seemed more important to Roberts.
What happened next was classic Showalter. He informed the umpires that a team can not use a position player unless they are losing by six or more runs. A rule that even the umpiring crew, lead by crew chief C. B. Bucknor embarrassingly was not aware of at first. Necessitating a call to New York for a clarification on the rule. Buck knew the rule.
It appeared that Showalter wanted to see the Dodgers use another real pitcher in this situation rather than have his batters face someone who would most likely give up a few more runs that would pad their lead. And that is exactly what happened. Roberts was forced to bring in Evan Phillips to pitch the ninth inning.
The confusion amongst the umpires, the Dodger coaching staff, the people doing the TV and radio broadcasts and the print media in the press box created a bunch of questions about this little known rule. A rule that Showalter knew.
When the Dodgers made the changes to their lineup in the top of the ninth inning they were forced to not only bring in a real pitcher but now they had to figure out who would be playing where since McKinsky had now entered the game.
Then the umpires allowed Phillips to take as many pitches as he needed to warm up. That is only if a reliever was coming in after either an injury or if there is an ejection of the pitcher he is relieving. Crew chief Bucknor and his fellow umpires didn’t apply this rule correctly.
Dave Roberts said after the game that not knowing the rule was just an oversight on his part. He was just being the gentleman he is in saying that.
Having a manager with all the years of experience that Showalter has is the reason we are seeing a big difference in this baseball club. He doesn’t wait for some young analytical genius to send him a chart or a plan for a game and neither does he need to be taught anything about the rules of the game. He has seen so many things playing this game as well as managing 3,122 games and that is just how many games he has managed in the major leagues.
There are plenty of really good well experienced managers out there that have been let go because some nerds who have little experience in this game have convinced owners that those baseball lifers are dinosaurs and can be replaced by anyone who can follow their mathematically laid out plan for how baseball should be played.
What the Mets are doing here is showing everyone that baseball is a better watched sport when it is allowed to be what it has been since Babe Ruth played. They are putting the ball in play more, going the other way when a shift is on and just getting back to fundamentally sound baseball.
This is something that Buck Showalter has gotten his players to buy into and they are seeing the results as they continue to dominate this season.
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