Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brewers Show Lack Of Intelligence By Firing Yost

I've seen plenty of dumb things in my time, following and/or covering baseball since 1971.

Baffling free agent signings. The designated hitter. The Houston Astros' rainbow uniforms. The Chicago White Sox wearing shorts. Jose Canseco having a baseball bounce off his head and into the stands for a home run. George Steinbrenner and Charlie O. Finley. Randy Smith.

Here's one more for the list: the Brewers firing manager Ned Yost. With less than two weeks left in the season. With the team in the thick of the playoff race.

In fact, this might be among the Top 5 in terms of stupidity.

Who does this, anyway? Unless it's another Steinbrenner-Billy Martin drama, who does this? And even King George never had the temerity to can a manager in the shadows of October, the post-season beckoning.

Does a team that's battling for its playoff life REALLY need something to add to the cauldron of emotions? Are the Brewers, who admittedly have been struggling lately, REALLY helped by a change of leaders at this juncture?

The Brewers haven't been to the playoffs since 1982, and they're panicking.

They haven't been quite the same since the Cubs came into Milwaukee in late-July and spanked the Brewers in four straight, by a combined score of 31-11. But they've managed to stay afloat, and are just one-half game behind the Mets for the Wild Card. But like I said, they're panicking. They haven't had much success to speak of since '82, and now they have no clue how to handle it, nor the pressure that a playoff race brings. Firing Ned Yost now is the ultimate panic move.

Yost: deposed in a fit of panic, and stupidity

The Yankees don't fire managers now. The Red Sox don't. The White Sox don't. The Twins don't. The Braves don't. The Mets don't. The Dodgers don't. And the Tigers certainly wouldn't, given the same circumstances. No one, in fact, does what the Brewers have just done, unless they, like the Brewers, are so foreign to money baseball that they overreact to a bumpy stretch.

It's a big PR risk, too. If the Brewers stumble and fail to make the playoffs under interim manager Dale Sveum, then they will be rightfully roasted and sliced and diced by the fans and the media for firing Yost. And if the Brewers would have failed to make the playoffs under Yost, do you think there would have been a bunch of folks saying, "If they only had FIRED him with two weeks to go!"?

I doubt it.

OK, but what if they make the playoffs after all?

Still doesn't excuse the move. In fact, you could argue that the Brewers dug deep and got themselves in, despite the boneheaded move to fire Yost.

If you want to fire a manager in mid-season, you do so in May, or June, or July. Sometimes in August. But there are two months in which you should not fire your manager, of all the months in the year: April and September. And September is only permissible if your team is way out of contention.

Baseball observers are especially surprised because the firing was done by GM Doug Melvin, who's regarded as being very conservative and not one prone to risk-taking. So naturally, speculation has begun that has Melvin simply being the hatchet man for the people upstairs.

But whether it was Doug Melvin on his own or the front office in collaboration, the decision to let Yost go now was dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Panicky and reckless, to boot. The move of losers who have no idea, really, how to win.


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