Saturday, September 6, 2008

here goes nothing

Welcome to the fun part of a less-is-more season. I say less-is-more primarily in reference to the lineup which, while usually effective, is also usually bone bare due to the ridiculous overuse--and therefore unavoidable stacking--of the bullpen. It's been going on all year, but somehow we managed to work around it, or through it, if you will, without too much random shuffling. César Izturis here, Brendan Ryan there, Felipe Lopez stuck pretty much anywhere, and Aaron Miles making Tony look really smart. All in all, guys played hard wherever they happened to be stationed, and offensive performance was stunningly adequate. (In other words, no, it wasn't a perfect system, but our infield was not banging on all cylinders even when things were lined up according to "infinite wisdom". It wasn't because of the assignments, but rather some other external force beyond our control.) I guess what I'm trying to say is that after a season of wondering how much playing time Kennedy could possibly hope for when he couldn't seem to get it done at the plate, we are now at the point in time when we can have all those extra bodies around and still come up short. I looked at the team site a few minutes ago and saw a picture of Brendan Ryan with a caption that read: "Brendan Ryan has never played center field in the majors." Why would anyone care if he has or hasn't? I asked myself. The caption might as well say "Brendan Ryan has never hula danced." Is it "Weird things you didn't know about Brendan Ryan" day? Is it "Things Brendan Ryan has never done and has no intention of ever doing" day? And then it struck me, good gods are they thinking of putting him center field? You know they are. I have no doubts that "boog" (incidentally, this was my son's nickname for a long time, short for "booger butt") is a good athlete. I am sure that he will be a top-level middle infielder someday and make us all very proud. And I know that he is a stand-up guy who would do anything to play at the big-league level, even catch, or pitch, or (shudder) play center field. But really? Center field? The most difficult of the three outfield positions? Mm-hm. So that brings me back to the fun stuff. When you come to the point in the season where things aren't going exactly as you had hoped and the chances for a real surge are dwindling, you have a couple of options. You can (a) sit back and act like it's the ninth inning of a 20-2 game, focusing on keeping your star players from getting hurt and giving some of the younglings a chance to play, or (b) you can take off the gloves, lay yourself and your team on the line, and go out kicking and screaming (and maybe taking a few other teams with you as you go). This might call for some creative (or fun) management. It might mean your catcher playing first base, your first-baseman playing third, your bat boy pitching, or your shortstop running the slushee machine. It might mean someone has to take one for the team. I totally support option b. I am in no way, shape, or form conceding that anything is done or over or finished. It's merely time to put everything we've got out there and find out if it's enough. No regrets, right? Do you want to spend the off-season wondering what if? or do you want to spend it knowing you did everything possible, no matter the outcome? Never surrender.