Random thoughts on October baseball

Suicidal squeeze: The Los Angeles Angels are out of the playoffs because Mike Scioscia did exactly what we all expected him to do. Everyone—the broadcasters, the Fenway faithful, the casual fan—knew he was going to try the bunt squeeze last night. He does it all the time. That’s just his aggressive style, and when a manager leads his club to a runaway division title (the Angels finished 21 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West), it’s hard to second-guess his decisions.

But that bunt was a bonehead call.

Squeeze plays work best at the most unexpected times. When the whole world (not to mention the manager in the other dugout) has a pretty good hunch it’s coming, you might want to let the batter swing away.

Consider the scene: One out. Top of the 9th. Speedy runner on third. 2-0 count. Why force the issue? So many scenarios—a ground ball to second, a fly-out to right, a wild pitch—would have scored that go-ahead run. Instead, Scioscia went all in, and the season collapsed.

The rally monkeys in LA will debate his decision for years to come. For now, Scioscia’s players are sticking with the skip. Said Torii Hunter, who drove in the tying runs with a two-out single in the 8th: “I’m not going to second-guess my manager. He made the decision, I’m going to stick by it. If he gets the bunt down and we score the run, everyone would love him.”

Maybe so, Torii. But I’m sure Erick Aybar would have loved the chance to fly out to center field. Or ground out to first. Or better yet, pull a Jed Lowrie.

Ozzie out: Previous remarks aside, at least Mike Scioscia is focused on the game. Did you see Ozzie Guillen yesterday? The overrated, over-the-top manager of the Chicago White Sox was facing elimination against the Tampa Bay Rays, and what was he doing in the dugout? Throwing sunflower seeds at his pitching coach. That stuff is funny in May, but in the playoffs?

Poor Chicago fans. One team is jinxed; the other is a joke.

Mannywood: Speaking of funny, how about Manny Ramirez standing in front of a microphone? The guy spent eight years in Boston playing two games: baseball, and shunning the press. Now a Dodger—and fresh off a three-game sweep of the cursed Cubs—he’s a quote machine.

And, of course, a home run machine. Manny now has 26 post-season dingers, the most October round-trippers by any player in the history of the game (including this one, a shoe-top drive that ripped the heart out of Wrigley).

No doubt Major League Baseball is drooling over the possibility of a Dodgers/Red Sox World Series. I know I am. Just picture Ramirez knocking one over the Green Monster, jogging around the bases—and accidentally turning toward the home dugout.

Beware, Red Sux Nation. A fresh curse is brewing, and his name is Manny.

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