Although a confluence of many things led to the Cubs’ 9th inning loss to the Brewers yesterday, folks are really only focusing on but a couple things.
One of which is the walk that closer (for now) Kevin Gregg issued to Chris Duffy in the 9th inning following a 3-2 slider that missed the zone, which ultimately led to the Brewers tying the game up. Manager Lou Piniella must be pretty upset at recently anointed closer Gregg, right?
No. It’s all catcher Koyie Hill’s fault.
”You can’t walk as many people as we did from the seventh inning on. You just can’t do it. You’re going to lose,” said Piniella, who was most upset about the Duffy walk — for the pitch selection as much as the result. ”Get the ball over the plate. Make the other team beat you. Period.”
Piniella called Hill into his office after the game to make the point clear enough to be heard out in the clubhouse: Don’t fool around with secondary pitches there; make Duffy hit a fastball. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
I guess it’s easier to blame the backup catcher than it is to blame the guy you named closer in a relatively controversial decision.
For his part, Hill was happy to play the role of scapegoat.
”That was stupid,” said Hill, who also apologized publicly for his outburst on the field and said Reynolds’ call was right. ”I take full responsibility for that [slider]. It was the wrong pitch. No way to argue it. Just flat-out the wrong pitch.
”You’ve got a lead, going into the ninth inning. You get one out and you got nobody on base, you’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to go right at the guy 3-2 and force him to beat you. And I didn’t allow him to do that.”
Look, I get that it was a profoundly stupid pitch selection, and Hill must bear some responsibility for being the one who puts the fingers down. (This is, of course, to say nothing of the fact that Hill smacked a home run in the game.)
But what about Gregg? Not only is he the one who has to throw the pitch for a strike in that situation, but is he incapable of thinking for himself? Is he incapable of thinking, “Gee, I’ve been a closer for several years now, and my experience here at the big league level tells me I need to throw a fastball right now. I’m going to shake off this rookie, backup catcher, career minor leaguer, and I’m going to throw a fastball.”
Blaming Hill is like blaming the guy who tells his friend to just pee in the parking garage instead of blaming the guy who peed.
Sometimes you have to take responsibility for your own urination.