No One Would Remove Koufax Up 1-0
The manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Charlie Manuel, removed star pitcher Pedro Martinez in the National League playoff game with the Dodgers last night after the seventh inning. Martinez had thrown a two-hit shutout over that period, and was leading 1-0.
The Phils went on to lose 2-1, evening the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
For my money, the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax was the finest pitcher in the history of baseball, and certainly the guy you wanted on the mound in a tough game. His world series earned run average (runs allowed per game) was .67; he threw four no-hitters in his career, including a perfect game. Over a six-year period, after which he retired due to injury, he posted the most impressive performances of any pitcher in history for my money, for example, winning 27 games one season when the Dodgers were averaging less than two runs per game (he lost only 5).
My point is that no one able to walk erect would have thought of removing Sandy Koufax from a game after he had completed seven shutout innings and had the lead. If the manager did so, he would have required police protection upon leaving the ballpark.
Today, everyone is a specialist, some pitchers only allowed to pitch for an inning in relief, and starters are subject to “pitch counts,” meaning they are yanked if they throw too many pitches. Managers don’t use their heads—they use numbers, and charts, and odds.
Many people have likened Martinez to Koufax for parts of his career. I don’t think they’re close, but I do believe Martinez is a terrific pitcher. Last night the players were congratulating him in the dugout after being removed, having completed seven innings. He was praised for an incomplete job. No one goes home after seven innings, or at 3 pm, or takes a weekend on Thursday.
We see the same kinds of “over-managing” and misdirection in business every day. The greatest leadership involves the ability to refrain, to resist, to relax. Sometimes, doing nothing other than allowing the momentum to continue is simply brilliant.
But that extra acquisition, that transfer of people, the investment in new facilities, the termination of an agreement—they represent ACTION and that’s what the leader perceives is important (instead of results).
Well, there was managerial action last night, and Philadelphia is now tied with the Dodgers instead of up two games to none. That manager interfered with a good thing and took action.
And this morning, he’s a loser.
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.