The Tampa Bay Rays, seeking their first World Series title in franchise history, came up short against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 on Tuesday. They led 1-0 after the first inning but lost, 3-1.
The Rays’ decision to remove Blake Snell with one out in the sixth inning may have had something to do with that.
Tampa Bay didn’t want Snell, a former Cy Young winner, to face Mookie Betts a third time, so the Rays removed Snell from the game – and promptly lost the lead.
JR SportBrief couldn’t believe it.
“Are we watching Major League Baseball players, or am I watching a game of chess?” JR asked on CBS Sports Radio. “Granted, you want the strategy there. The game is about strategy. The game is about matchups. Where do I slot this hitter? Who’s my closer? Do I leave my starter in, or do I pull him? What has he looked like the entire game? Not what have the stats shown for the past two years. What is he doing right now? Is the batter hot or cold? Has he been lifting the ball into the air? Is he hitting it onto the ground?
“But now we’re treating Major League Baseball like it’s an exchange on the stock market,” JR continued. “We got to weigh risk versus reward. This is still an athletic competition. I want to see them go at it. I want to see the batter, I want to see the pitcher, I want to see them go mano-a-mano. I want to see them go man-to-man. I don’t want to see a boxing match or a UFC fight where the two guys get into the octagon and they’re busting out their calculators figuring out which punch to throw. No, they’re just going in there. They’re utilizing their instincts.”
Baseball, JR says, has lost that. The game is now entirely driven by data and statistics. Gut feel is gone.
“If I want to look at a bunch of numbers across a screen, I can set up the Matrix screensaver on my laptop,” JR said. “When I watch baseball, I want to see baseball. I want to see the best versus the best. All this micromanaging is for the birds; they might as well let it fly off. Major League Baseball – a sport that I have loved, a league that I have loved – has devolved into watching two old guys move pieces at the park. Come on. Utilize the numbers, utilize the stats. But don’t make the game a math-off. It’s ridiculous. Baseball micromanagement is hurting the game. If you’re the Dodgers, it obviously worked. But it’s mind-boggling. Let the best play the best. If a man is rolling, let him go. This is one aspect of baseball I absolutely hate.”