Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chapman A Closer? Only On These Terms

So it's painfully obvious that Sean Marshall is not the man the Reds should be trusting in the ninth inning.  It's also painfully obvious that if Aroldis Chapman is not going to be in the starting rotation then he is going to be the best relief pitcher in baseball.  But if Dusty Baker insists on making him a closer, he better make him a non-traditional closer.  By that I mean not saving him every game until the ninth inning.  Continue to use Chapman in the most critical junctures of the final three innings.  He is the fireman, he is the hammer, he is the man to snuff out rallies and put teams in a sleeper-hold.  If Chapman is only going to come into games when the Reds have a lead in the ninth inning, then it is a waste of talent.  I've never seen the complete value of having your best relief pitcher only come into a game when you have a lead in the ninth inning.  What if there is a situation in the eighth inning where you have two men on and one out, and you are nursing a one run lead?  Shouldn't your top dog be in the game to put out that fire?  That's how it used to be when they called the top relief pitchers firemen.  Now most, if not all, managers, Baker included, save that guy until the ninth inning and the team has a lead of three runs or less.  Occasionally they dip into the closer when it is a tie game in the ninth, but rarely if ever to put out fires in the eighth.  And in the seventh?  Are you out of your mind Sparky?  Why, a closer come in a snuff out a rally that early?  The book doesn't call for that anymore.  With a guy named Chapman in the bullpen the book should call for that.  Aroldis can finish some games, but if there is trouble in the seventh or eighth, call him to the mound to get past the trouble.  Dusty needs to buck the trend, step outside the safety net of current managerial protocol, and make the kind of call that will benefit the Reds the most.  Chapman can close, but only if there aren't other fires along the way.  And if he has to pitch the eighth and the ninth, so what?  Let the big man, the best relief pitcher in baseball,  have at it. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Can Big East Football Survive?

Perhaps.  More than likely.  Yes, but it may not be the conference a lot of the current and future members want it to be.  Here's what I know: Louisville is begging to go to the Big 12.  Some in the Big 12 are begging for Louisville.  I'm told one of the power schools in the Big 12 is firmly behind bringing the Cardinals in because they feel they have West Virginia hanging out on the vine all alone.  Duh!  The conference is just now figuring that out ?  So now they are looking for an island to hop so their non-revenue sports can make a stopover at Louisville on the way to Morgantown.  Amazing!  Amazing that the guys who make these kind of half-baked moves in the first place have anything above a grammar school education.  The move of West Virginia made little sense for the Big 12 and for the Mountaineers.  Except money, of course.  The Big 12 needed another school so it had enough games to fill it's television contract obligation.  West Virginia freaked out with the loss of Pitt and Syracuse and grabbed the first empty seat and that seat comes with some extra television contract cash.  But it also comes with very little natural recruiting base.  Some of the ill-informed like to point to the same issues with Boise State and San Diego State joining the Big East, but that is a football only move.  The Aztec women's volleyball team won't be making any cross-country trips to Storrs, Connecticut. Regardless of the insanity I have a strong feeling Louisville will be gone.  Heck, the Cardinals are saying it to other members of the Big East.  They're saying it to their football recruits.  They are saying it to anyone who has sobered up since Derby Day.  Just a hunch, but the only thing that can possibly keep the Cardinals in the fold is quick movement on a hefty Big East television contract.  With a new commissioner on the way I'm not sure that can happen.  The loss of Louisville would not be a kill shot, but it's another blow.  It leaves behind a conference that has U.C., Boise, and UConn as the only schools that have scored a spot in a BCS bowl game.  That is not good.  I still subscribe to the theory that ESPN is more than happy to see Big East football go the way of the dodo bird.  But here's where the Big East has a nice trump card: Basketball.  It's not nearly as lucrative as football, but ESPN has a lot of time to fill during basketball season and nothing gets the eyeballs that time of year like Big East basketball.  The best news for Big East fans are reports that the basketball schools want to keep it together.  Should ESPN lose that inventory, and say NBC Sports Network makes a big play, then things could break the way of the Big East.  But that is best-case scenario thinking.  Worst case?  ESPN already has the other 5 power conferences locked up and is more than content to see those as the only schools that will have a realistic chance of being included in the future BCS Bowls.