Friday, August 11, 2006

When do you walk a power hitter?

So here's the situation: Championship game, last inning, Yankees are pitching to the Red Sox. Yankees are up by one, there're two outs and a man on third. Up at the plate is a power hitter who has already homered and hit a triple. Up after him is a much weaker hitter. The coach has the pitcher walk the power hitter. Pretty standard.

Except that the weaker hitter starts crying as soon as he hits the batter's box and doesn't stop once he's been struck out. He's nine years old, a cancer survivor, and, as a result of his medical troubles, he has a tube in his brain. The game happened in what's called Pony League baseball, and the parents are now furious that the coach walked the power hitting 9 year old so that they could pitch to the cancer kid.

The coach is now backtracking and claiming that had he known about cancer kid's cancer: "I would have told our pitcher to go ahead and pitch to their best hitter, but to give every pitch everything he had, and not worry about walking him," he says. "I would have tried to save Romney's feelings." CYA, I think this is called.

So, dick move or smart play?


Arfanser said...

Smart play. The prick was the cancer kids coach. When the kid gets up there and starts crying his eyes out, you call time out, go talk to him, and let him get a pinch hitter. If you are the opposing coach, A: you dont know this kid is fragile (which is the assumption we are making since he has cancer), B: you assume that the other coach wont set up a fragile kid to fail, and C: you are supposed to teach your team the game of baseball. This includes the strategy of baseball since it is a very strategic game. The strategy is that you don't let the other teams best player beat you.

This is an unfortunate situation. I feel sorry for the kid, but most of my pity for the kid is that he has to deal with cancer. The other person who I feel sorry for is the coach that decided to walk the good hitter. He didnt know and was doing a good job for his team.

Fishfrog said...

Walk the power hitter, but then bean the cancer kid right in the noggen. Then say he was crowding the plate. The real world is a shitty place and you can't shelter these kids forever (or at all).

Jason Goldman said...

The thing I find strange is that the cancer kid is apparently batting after the cleanup hitter. If that's who they got hitting 5th, go ahead and load 'em up to bring up the kid with no arms or whatever who's up next.

Having read the article, I don't believe the coach didn't know about the kid's situation. It's Pony baseball and they'd never IBB'd before. I say, pitch to the first kid.

Matt said...

I tend to think that you walk the kid because it's part of the game, and because kids playing sports should be learning how to lose as much as it is winning.

But what decides it for me is whether intentional walks are standard practice in the league. I think that if they are common in the Pony's, then it's acceptable to walk the kid. If not, then it's like the coach is breaking an unwritten rule.