Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where Does Talent Meet Execution?

I’ve heard it a lot lately. How could the Red Sox let this happen? They had to find a way to win those games in September. It’s inexcusable for Beckett and Lester to pitch the way they pitched down the stretch. Crawford has to hit better than that when he’s needed.

Is it that simple? The implication certainly is that these players were choosing not to do all these things. Do we think that Lester and Beckett wanted to stink up the joint? Were the Red Sox not trying to win any of those games? Or, maybe they were giving it their best, but just couldn’t?

The Red Sox are known for their preparation. They have charts and graphs for every hitter and pitcher in the majors. They know their strengths, their weaknesses, and their tendencies. They have a good idea of what they want to do. What does it mean when they don’t do it? Let’s say Beckett is facing a batter who the Red Sox say can’t hit a backdoor curveball. Varitek flashes the sign for a backdoor curveball. Beckett throws one, but it catches a bit too much of the middle of the plate, and the batter hits a home run. What was the problem with that sequence? Was it the scouting? Probably not. I have faith that the guy really couldn’t hit a backdoor curveball. Some would say the problem was that Beckett didn’t execute. I suppose that’s true. If he had thrown a backdoor curveball, the guy probably would have missed. But, can’t we assume that Beckett did his best to throw a backdoor curveball? Could he have done any more in his power to throw a backdoor curveball? I’m not sure how. What if the example was more extreme? What if for game 163, they decided to call on me to pitch. Varitek flashes the backdoor curveball sign. Now, I can’t throw a curveball. But, I toss up my best effort and the guy knocks it out of the park. Was it just my execution? Is it my fault that I didn’t drop a nasty hook like I was told? Could I be a major leaguer just by simply following direction? That sounds a little silly to me.

Maybe it’s nobody’s fault. Maybe it was a risky pitch selection knowing that any mistake would lead to a homerun. Maybe Beckett just wasn’t feeling the curveball that day for any number of reasons. Maybe he should have said not to try the hook today. Maybe Varitek should have picked up on it and ignored the charts. Or, maybe, that’s why humans and not robots play this game. Maybe these things just happen. Maybe that’s why Pedro was so special.

That’s why I have such problems with some of the complaints coming out these days. I actually heard a caller to the EEIdiots wonder how the Sox expected to make the playoffs when they kept losing the first game of every series in September. Like it was a game plan they were using. It’s why I have a problem blaming the players on the field for this mess.

I have to believe they were trying.


  1. Very well written piece. Glad to see someone understand and not just try to make it seem like players really do not try.

  2. Hi. I just wanted to tell you that you have a great blog. You are obviously very knowledgeable about the Sox. Feel free to email me if you ever want to be a guest blogger at our site. Thanks.


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