The Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins play on into the tenth inning as I write this, and looking at the most critical play of the game to this point, I have to shake my head.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, pitcher Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins was at the plate with catcher John Buck at third base. Florida trailed 2-1. In what rookie manager Edwin Rodriguez must have hoped would be a surprise move, Buck broke for home plate on a suicide squeeze. Nolasco missed the sign; Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez coolly started the run-down that retired Buck.
Pitchers should know the signs from the third-base coach as well as anyone. That said, hardly any of them do, and even fewer of them handle the bat well anyway. Nolasco is an above-average hitter for a pitcher. Rodriguez should have let his guy swing away. Failing that, a safety squeeze might hve been wiser, but then, Buck is not nearly fast enough to score on such a play. And there again, Buck really is too slow to be a viable part of any kind of squeeze play, unless it be a surprise drag bunt with the infield back. The trend thus far this year seems to be for rookie managers (Mike Quade of Chicago, Ron Roenicke of Milwaukee, Rodriguez, Terry Collins of the Mets and John Farrell of Toronto) to try to get too creative and really mismanage games strategically. Let’s hope the men in the dugout learn quickly so that we appreciators of the game can better enjoy it.