There have been a lot Rays fans defending Joe Maddon’s actions during Monday’s game in which he had Sam Fuld warm up to buy a little extra time for Cesar Ramos in the bullpen. And some have directed a little heat in our direction for being critical and making this into what some believe is a bigger deal than it truly deserves.
First of all, we think this situation is more than just trying to pull a fast one on the umpires on Monday night. We think this incident highlights why some Rays fans don’t like Maddon as a manager. That is, sometimes he overthinks situations. Sometimes he takes very simple situations and gives them very complex solutions, all in the name of being clever.
How long was Fuld warming up on Monday night? It is unclear from the replay. But we do know that a new pitcher is only allowed eight warm up pitches, and it certainly didn’t look like he was taking his time in between. So at most, Fuld was on the mound for 2-3 minutes, and that might be a stretch.
In that same amount of time, Maddon could have waited in the dugout until the umpire asked where the pitcher was. Maddon could then have walked out to the umpire and explained that there was a problem with the dugout phone.
Worst-case scenario would have been that the umpire orders Maddon to immediately bring his pitcher in to warm up. Best-case scenario would have been that the umpire would have understood and walked over to the Brewers dugout to explain the situation.
In both cases, Maddon would have likely killed more time than he did with Fuld. And he wouldn’t have needed to be sneaky or clever, or break a rule to do it.
And let’s face it. This is the “Rays Way.” The Rays don’t just assume that things have to be done the way everybody does it. But typically, this means bending rules, reinterpreting rules, and pushing boundaries. But it rarely means breaking the rules** or trying to be sneaky and clever at the expense of the opposition or the umpires.
As for our criticism. We usually don’t like to play the hypothetical game. But what if the Brewers had done this with their closer in the 9th inning and they win the game by one run? We would be raising hell and screaming all over the place for weeks. Hell, we still scream about AJ Pierzynski’s play in Chicago.
So it would be a bit hypocritical of us, if we don’t at least question Maddon’s actions.
Hey, we love JoeMa. We wouldn’t trade him for any manager in baseball. And based on our confidence polls, most Rays fans love Maddon. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have flaws. And the one that bothers us the most, is
his hair his need to make things more complicated than they are.
* What happens if another incident someday occurs at the Watergate Hotel? Would we call it Watergate-gate?
** One example would be using the DL as an extra roster spot. But as we wrote earlier this week, that is something a lot of teams are doing, and may even be encouraged by MLB in order to avoid increasing roster sizes.