Monday, May 16, 2011

The Delmon Young "play"

Second inning Sunday. Twins are already behind 2-0, and Toronto has the lead-footed Jose Molina on first base with two outs. Yunel Escobar crushes a ball off the left field fence, and the carom eludes Delmon Young.

And as the ball rolls back into left field, Young merely points to it. See the video here. Molina scored.

The nonhustle was bad enough that the radio boys started ridiculing Young (although it was Ted Robinson, not John Gordon, involved).

I didn't see the play live, but when I saw the replay, I wondered if Ron Gardenhire considered pulling Young in mid-inning.  Managers have been known to do that — send a message: If you're going to embarrass me by not hustling, I'm going to embarrass you.

The wisdom of such a move depends on the individuals involved. Back in 1969, Mets manager Gil Hodges rather famously did that to Cleon Jones. Jones, in Hodges' eyes, loafed on a fly ball, and Hodges immediately replaced Jones.  Jones wasn't happy about it, but he went on to hit .340 that year and the Mets won the World Series.

On the other hand, last year Fredi Gonzalez pulled Hanley Ramirez after the Marlins star shortstop jogged after a ball he'd kicked into the left field corner. The resulting acrimony probably sealed Gonzalez' fate as Florida manager.

Young is not as important to the Twins as Ramirez is to the Marlins, or even as Jones was to the Mets. Gardenhire, right or wrong, chose not to make an immediate confrontational move Sunday.

Gardy's quote on the play: "You can't just stand there and watch it bounce back. You have to go get it. He knew he screwed up." In a season rapidly going sour, Gardenhire may not have the luxury of forgiving such faux pas in the future. Losing is bad enough. Losing without effort is worse.

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