This 2011 World Series is thus far proving to be a showdown between two managers with polar opposite managing styles. Both got their teams to the big game but both did so with wildly different styles. Only time will tell which style is more effective
I find it interesting the contrast in styles as both teams are very similar. Through no fault of either organization, St. Louis and Texas are built to score runs and rely on their starters to get them to the sixth inning where the bullpens take over. Apart from Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals, neither team really has a dominant starting pitcher. I mean, generally speaking. Any of the starters can have one of those dominant games but the teams are not built around starter dependency along the lines of a team such as the Philadelphia Phillies. Never mind that games one and two were low scoring and pitching dominated. That can be explained by some stellar infield defense, especially from the middle of the Texas infield. Certainly, either manager would like to have a starting staff whose numbers one through three could dominate but both managers realize, especially in a short series such as a best of seven, waiting for the starter to work his way through a tough inning could be a dangerous form of strategy.
Both managers continued to use their pitching staff as if the game was a low scoring affair as in the previous two matchups. Each had different reasons and in doing so, shone the spotlight on how different they really are. The college professor vs. the high school coach. Both wore a path from their respective dugouts to the pitching mound despite a score which ended up more like a football game than anything else. Both had different reasons for doing so.
Texas used five relief pitchers, St. Louis used four. Washington’s’ hand was being forced by the prodigious offence of St. Louis and with the knowledge that his team were equally capable of another touchdown or two. But he also knows that there is a limit to how many runs any team can score and continued to try to find someone in the bullpen that could stop the Cardinal onslaught. Obviously, he wasn’t successful last night.
Tony LaRussa had a different motivation in almost emptying out his bullpen despite the offense he was getting. He is from an older school of managing. These managerial types worry no matter what the score. They are often accused of over managing but their thinking is as follows. They worry if their team is well out in front because losing a big lead would be disastrous. They worry if they are far behind and try to come up with a way to catch the opponent and eventually win the game. If the game is close either way, they worry equally. When the game is over, win or lose, this type of manager is already planning the next day’s strategy immediately after the last pitch has been thrown. The joy for them seems to be in the intellectual pursuit of a victory. Sometimes how the game was won rather than if the game was won. Every pitch is analyzed, second guessed and fretted over.
Ron Washington seems to be more of the let the guys play and cheer them on. It’s a kids game and after the game let’s all go out for a soda and a couple of Big Macs. Nothing wrong there. His style has obviously worked well as this is the Rangers second straight World Series appearance. His Rangers might be looser than the Cardinals and he unabashedly cheers his team on with every success, minor or important. The Rangers looked tight last night which would explain the physical and mental errors which lead to the lopsided game three score, with three Albert Pujols home runs certainly not helping things.
But I think Texas will bounce back from game three and, if not able to win the trophy, at least make the World Series interesting and hopefully a seven game affair.
The professor is deadly serious and using a surgeon’s knife to cut precisely where it is needed. The high school coach cheers on his guys and hopes to get them tomorrow. Both styles are interesting and both are legitimate. We shall see which works better in the next few days.