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Dodgers Win First World Series Since 1988, Rays’ Kevin Cash Inexplicably Bad

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally won a World Series for the first time since 1988, beating the Rays 3-1 in Game 6 tonight. The Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell was absolutely stellar, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing only one run. His night was cut short by a questionable decision to pull him with one out in the sixth. It was a decision that potentially cost the Rays a World Series and may have tarnished the resume of Rays Manager Kevin Cash for the rest of his career.

Blake Snell was in control of the game, striking out nine batters and giving up only two hits. What was Kevin Cash thinking?

Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Cash wasn’t actually the one making pitching decisions, that Tampa Bay management instead trusted analytics to make decisions for them. Such blind faith in analytics has proven costly for other teams and in other postseason situations, yet the Tampa Bay Rays placed their trust in analytics once again. Last night on the big stage, Snell gave one of the best performances of his career, only to be yanked because a spreadsheet said so.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, have finally delivered the goods. It’s about damn time. Mookie Betts had another tremendous game with an enormous one-out double in the sixth that put the Rays on the ropes after Snell was pulled. He again cashed in for a big insurance run, going deep in the bottom of the eighth.

Red Sox fans have to be ripping their hair out. They traded away a generational talent in Betts, then watched him sign a 12-year, $365 million deal and win a World Series.

When people claim stars are rarely worth their salaries, they’re usually right. But Mookie Betts is worth every penny to the Dodgers. The 4-time All-Star came through with his bat and his speed in some clutch moments, and his experience and confidence brought a steadiness to his teammates that this Dodgers team once lacked. In failed trips to the World Series in 2017 and 2018, guys like Cody Bellinger struggled to produce. They also weren’t having any fun. They spoke of pressure and making adjustments, sounding worried and uncomfortable.

Mookie Betts showed the Dodgers how to win with style and swagger, and the rest of the roster followed his lead. The Dodgers finally looked like Champions.

Julio Urias

Unlike Kevin Cash, Dave Roberts ditched analytics and won his ball club a championship. Science and statistical have a role to play in baseball, but they shouldn’t supersede the instincts of experienced managers. Instead of leaning on the numbers, Roberts leaned on the hot hand of left-hander Julio Urias, and the decision paid dividends this year. If Roberts decided to live and die on the hill of Kenley Jansen as analytics told him he should, the Dodgers wouldn’t have won tonight. Dodger fans should be grateful that Dave Roberts grew a pair and told the analytics department to kick rocks.

Clayton Kershaw is also a World Champion now, and the ring might be enough to consider him among the greatest lefties of all time. He always performed well during the regular season, but he had a streak of postseason collapses, most recently against the Braves in the 2020 ALCS, that left people scratching their heads. Not this round. He has two clutch World Series performances to hang his hat on, and his team honestly couldn’t have won it all without him.

Kevin Cash

To fully address the incompetence of Kevin Cash, I had to give him his own paragraph. His frustrating decision to pull Blake Snell isn’t entirely his fault. Part of the reason he was hired is because he is willing to bend the knee to the analytical department who now get to make the tough calls. An organization that pays millions of dollars in management salaries has thrown all its eggs in the basket of a spreadsheet.

It doesn’t take a wizard to realize Snell should have stayed in the game, but the Rays don’t trust the managers they’ve hired. They trust graphs and charts to decide who should start, come in relief, and close. Hopefully the unfortunate case of Kevin Cash and Blake Snell will be a warning to MLB organizations everywhere: a strong reliance on analytics just makes a mess.

World Series MVP

Corey Seager earned the MVP honor, and now he gets the last laugh. The Dodgers almost traded him in the off-season. They tried to send him to Cleveland for Francisco Lindor, but the deal fell through. It’s a good thing it did. Both Seager and the Dodgers won in the end.

Justin Turner COVID

Rob Manfred gonna Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball apparently waited until the eighth inning of Game 6 to alert the Dodgers that Justin Turner tested positive for COVID, and he was immediately pulled off the field. How did LA allow a player on the field that hadn’t yet passed his test? Turner hugged and high-fived his teammates for three hours before any action was taken. He also hugged and high-fived them after they won. But that’s another story.

These athletes will be just fine, but Manfred looks out of his league. We would reach out for comment, but Manfred looked like he was having a stroke during the post-game ceremony. MLB will probably pander to the outraged and insist that everyone “did everything they could” to enforce COVID protocol, while the rest of us are just glad it didn’t change the outcome.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the 2020 World Series. We hope someday to share that feeling of euphoria when we’re allowed back in the stadium.

20 Comments

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  1. Cash’s bad decision to pull Snell seems to be the story emerging from this game. Not to take anything away from the Dodgers’ win, but how in the hell can Cash possibly rationalize that decision? Yet another example of how analytics can cloud the obvious which, in this case, is to allow a pitcher who is dominating to work out of a situation (which, in this case, wasn’t bad).

  2. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…Nerds ruin sports.

    Analytics are fine for a draft, but you still have to be able to see the intangibles in a player. Computers see statistics, they don’t see heartbeat, breathing, and the cold blooded killer in a Madison Bumgarner or a David Wells.

    It’s up to a manager to “feel” the game. An excel spreadsheet can’t feel. It’s not old school, it’s a fact. Nerds ruin sports.

    • You’re exactly right. I’ve said the exact same thing myself over the last few years. They are letting “sim” baseball dictate what’s actually going on in the moment. Watch the game. Experienced managers/players on the field know what’s going in the moment of the game more than these analytics nerds. It’s aggravating to see a guy who’s dealing get pulled for a guy who may or may not have his best stuff that day. I’m sure Smoltz wanted to pull Joe Buck’s hair out watching that happen.

  3. Billy beane said it works for 162 games but anything can happen in 7 games. After seeing the pen get tagged in 4 of 5 games you’d think they would ride snell longer. But since they did OK game 5 I guess they needed to get crushes all 5 games to maybe change minds. Analytics is like a politician. They were hired so they feel like they have to do something or they’re worthless. But often times their voice and doing nothing Is what is best. Ride the hot hand!

  4. Your criticism of the manager and the Rays seems a bit harsh. Snell never pitched 6 innings in a start all season. The Rays with the third lowest payroll bested the Yankees and Red Sox organizations and reached game 6 of the World Series where they allowed three runs to the Dodgers. They seemed to know what they were doing. Sometimes you just get beat. Congratulations to the Dodgers and I do agree that Betts was the difference for them.

  5. Congrats to the Dodgers. Sheff Jr is right – Mookie was the missing piece, came up huge tonight. Happy for Kershaw, the down to earth pitcher you just can’t help but love.

    The Rays decision to pull Snell was a joke. You can’t win a WS without trusting and riding your 2-3 aces. Analytics have become so advanced they can dig you a perfectly-shaped grave. Yippee.

  6. Cash’s Decision reminded me of Joe Maddon pulling Kyle Hendricks in game seven of the Cubs Indians series in 2016. I almost had a stroke then. Kyle Hendricks was yankee in the 5th after giving up one run on 63 pitches, and he was cruising against the Indians lineup. On top of that, the Cubs pin was completely gassed.
    Madden went to a tired John Lester, who battled, but gave up a couple of runs over three innings to let the Indians back in the game. After that he brought in a tired Chapman way too early. It was baffling. I don’t know why Madden did it, I don’t think he even knows why he did it, I think managers panic in big situations just like players, and you see crazy decisions sometimes. I think that’s what happened with Cash last night. He went against his gut, he went against what he saw with his own two eyes on the field, and in sports that doesn’t always work out well.

  7. Why do these idiot managers go by strict pitch counts. Leave the damn pitcher in the game if he is effective. Absolutely asinine! Shit like this is why my interest in baseball is fading. Endless pitching changes because the Ipad tells you to. The complete game by a pitcher is pretty much extinct.

  8. That moment when Cash came out of the dugout to grab Snell transported me back to a girlfriend’s living room in 2003. She was a Red Sox fan, and we were watching Yankees-Red Sox, the game where Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in the game well beyond when he should’ve taken him out. I wasn’t a Red Sox fan, but I was trying to ‘impress’ my girlfriend, so I was rooting for them hard. I was screaming at the TV futilely, “Take him out! Take him out!”. That era seemed to be all about the guys making the most money got the most time, regardless of performance. It wasn’t a particularly good way to manage. Fast forward to today, and you’ve got spreadsheet outputs dictating every managerial decision. Well, over a lot of samples, it seems to work pretty well, but moment to moment, it can literally cost you a game. I assume Snell starts to lose it by the 7th or 8th, or maybe the next time through the lineup, the Dodger hitters adjust, and the overall game outcome stays the same and the Dodgers still win the World Series. But I don’t think there was even 5% of the population watching that game last night that thought that taking Snell out at that moment made any sense at all.

  9. Yeah if managers are going to go off nerds and spreadsheets rather than gut feelings and their eyeballs…just replace them with a computer.

    And pulling a guy in the middle of the game because of emasculation virus is the most 2020 thing ever.

  10. If Kevin Cash was that dead set on removing Snell when faced against the lineup for a 3rd time, then he should’ve just started the inning with a reliever (not Anderson…dude is on a major regression). Give the reliever a clean slate. Let him get his feet set with the bottom of the order guys before facing Betts.

    Personally, there’s no way I’m taking Snell out before Seager.

  11. I do agree that data analytics should be used as a tool to help a manager make decisions, not actually make the decisions. If that were the case these MLB teams could save a lot of money by just putting a robot in the dugout to announce managerial decisions. I will say describing data analytics as a spreadsheet is a bit of an over simplification.

  12. One other thought, would the Dodgers have won the World Series in 1988 if all decisions were based on data analytics? Didn’t Orel Hershiser pitch 2 complete games in that World Series? I am guessing analytics would have suggested he be pulled from both of those games? Who knows if they win those games if he was pulled in the 5th or 6th inning.

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