Saturday, August 27, 2005

Blame the Youth

"I think we saw where we have a lot of young people that made some mistakes out there today that really hurt us... We didn't need them to come in here and win two out of three. The sad thing is we had chances out there. We just didn't get it done. We didn't finish them off today. We showed a little youngness in the clubhouse today, I thought."

--Ron Gardenhire, after losing 2-1 in extra innings to Chicago on Thursday
That's right, blame the youth for losing the Chicago series. I know, it's hard going up against Chicago when they're throwing Mark Buehrle at you and you're stuck matching him with a kid just up from Triple-A... oh, wait. Scott Baker won't join the team until Monday, right? Sorry, wrong parallel universe.

As it happened, after Buehrle and the White Sox beat Joe Mays on Wednesday, Chicago took the Thursday rubber match, 2-1, scoring the winning run in the 10th inning after Luis Rodriguez tried to swipe a tag on a runner coming to 3rd base, but missed, and then Timo Perez singled in the run. LaVelle's recap in the Strib also notes that Michael Cuddyer struck out looking at 3 pitches in the 9th, after getting to a 3-0 count. Michael Ryan, apparently still wet behind the ears at 28 years old, failed to take 3rd base although he was running with the pitch on a Cuddyer single up the middle; then he was thrown out at home trying to score on a hit by Terry Tiffee.

These are mistakes that may have lost the ballgame, but I'm not so sure they're necessarily mistakes of youth. Occasionally an infielder will miss a tag. We've all seen veteran players, even on this team, get lost on the basepaths. We've seen veterans strike out looking or choke in some other way in a crucial spot. I can't recall hearing Gardy rip octogenarians when Mulholland hangs a pitch that gets blasted into the bleachers. Why ya hatin' on your youth again, Gardy?

Besides, when the manager all but concedes Game 2 of the series by sending Joe Mays to the mound rather than skipping his turn or bringing in a fresh prospect, he forfeits the right to complain about the little mistakes that cost the team Game 3 and the set. He can talk about his players' brain cramps when he admits to one of his own.


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