Thursday, 4 June 2009

Day of the Lunkhead

Yesterday, one of the last links to the 2004 Expos, Randy St Claire, was fired. He was philosophical about it all, which is fair enough. He was unlikely to be part of a contending Nationals team, which is probably one more manager away from that destination. Pitching coaches are often cronies of the manager, and it seemed unlikely he'd survive the next change. He'd also had a good run, some seven years as a pitching coach, and built a good reputation. I imagine he'll get a new job soon enough.

In the evening, Broadcaster Dibble, who is chalk to my cheese, started the game preview with a comment that basically said St Claire wasn't really the problem, that the pitchers need to throw strikes. Fair enough. If he'd left it there, I would have had nothing to blog about. But that's the trouble with Broadcaster Dibble, he never leaves well enough alone. Later in the broadcast, he launched into an incoherent ramble that started with pitchers needing to throw strikes, wandered into enthusiasm over Steve McCatty's 'by the gut' approach in contrast with St Claire's cerebral emphasis on game plans and mechanics, highlighted the fact that it wasn't just this year that Nationals' pitching was below league par, and wound up on a note that St Claire couldn't carry the entire can because the talent pitching for the Nationals wasn't up to scratch.

You're left with three conclusions - Broadcaster Dibble doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings; Broadcaster Dibble doesn't like an intellectual approach to the game; Broadcaster Dibble will just say whatever sounds good at the moment. And why not? Broadcasting is a very ephemeral occupation, very much here now, gone in a second. Unless, of course, you can watch the game again on the Greatest Invention Before Matt Wieters,

Then, while listening to the rain delay for tonight's game, I hear Pitching Coach McCatty. He's a sincere enough fellow, it sounds like. However, he was asked some question about video and said something along the lines of 'Yeah, I liked Lethal Weapon.' Now, I ask you — is he being glib or sarcastic? The persona he evinces suggests glib. However, would any modern pitching coach not consult video? Is this just a humourous way to say, Weaver-style, 'that's a @#$%!+\*&/(>< dumb question'? I don't really like bright people who pretend to be stupid, though. It often carries this kind of double-message, and might take advantage of the innocent waïf in a cruel and un-Christian manner.

Finally, the whole business raises some questions about this odd organization. At the AAA level, they had McCatty, who at the very least pretends to a radically different method to St Claire. Once you graduate McCatty Academy, you get to the Collège de St Claire, where suddenly you are asked to learn a whole new approach to pitching. These guys come up from the minors, nervous as a virgin on her wedding day, and they start getting seminars in place of heart-to-hearts? This does not suggest a seamless garment of organizational philosophy from Rookie League to The Show. I think that tells us more than General Manager Mike Rizzo might have intended about The Nationals' Way.

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