There are two great axioms in baseball. One is, “When Julian Tavarez asks you if you’d like to see his pet snake Armando, never answer in the affirmative.” The other and perhaps more famous one is, “Good pitching beats good hitting.” Yesterday, Justin Verlander (AKA, pretty freakin’ awesome pitching) took on a Red Sox line-up sans Youkbacca and Dustin Pedroia (mediocre, streaky hitting). So you could pretty much see where this one was going before a single pitch was thrown.
Youk, of course, is still sitting out his suspension. Elf, on the other hand, was getting one of those critical “rest” days.
Would Pedroia’s presence in the line-up have made that much of a difference? Against Verlander, who might as well have been kicking each batter square in the nuts after every pitch, probably not. But in a situation where you’re up against a flamethrower and your best hitter is down by law, I would think a Malcolm X mentality would prevail — win this thing by any means necessary. That means not laying down and trotting out a line-up better suited for background vocal duties at a Steely Dan concert.
There’s an interesting piece over at NESN.com in which the writer eloquently points out how resting Pedroia yesterday was, in fact, the right thing to do. And I’m certain that there are people far, far more learned than me who can pull out pie charts and spreadsheets that support the sentiment that the baseball season is, in fact, a marathon, not a sprint, and that resting Pedey so he’s in top shape to tackle Texas is worth far more than letting him take fruitless hacks at Verlander.
But as someone who just plays it from the heart, I say that a line-up that doesn’t include the guy who’s leading your team in hits and is one of the few players you’ve got hitting anywhere near .300 isn’t your best line-up. Where a far smarter person who can see the big picture might say, “Gotta rest the kids,” I would say, “You’re the reigning AL MVP and one of the few legitimate threats we’ve got in this line-up. I don’t expect a lot of hits today, but I would suspect you’d be more likely to get one than some of these other jokers, so get yer cap and yer glove and get the f@#k out there.”
Every game counts. Every game means something. And not putting Pedroia in the line-up yesterday seemed like something of a white flag. Alls I know is, if we miss the playoffs by a half-game, someone owes me a steak sandwich. Oh, and I’ll be expecting no less than 2 home runs tonight from the presumably well-rested Elf.
I’d like your thoughts on the “rest ‘em for the long haul” or “play ‘em today or take October off” debate. That’s why Thomas Edison invented the comments section.