September 11, 2016
An excruciating short-term decision to protect a long-term goal.
LA Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, made the decision to take starting pitcher Rich Hill out of last night’s game against the Marlins after 7 perfect innings. It was 7 non-stressful innings, and Hill’s pitch count was only 89. But he’s had blister issues (one small annoyance for mankind, one giant problem for pitchers) that had him on the DL this season, and Roberts was concerned about pushing it while the Dodgers are contending for the play-offs and World Series.
No one, including Roberts, wanted Hill to come out. Players, managers, fans, we all want to see and celebrate a perfect game (though not necessarily from the losing side, sigh). But Roberts, with the input of training and coaching staff, is the one who had to make the call, one that made him as he said in the post-game conference, “sick to my stomach.”
Yasiel Puig’s impossible catch in the 7th inning had to add to the difficulty of the decision. It was the kind of catch almost required in a perfect game, simply electric.
We have to make hard decisions in light of long term goals all the time. Do we rule with our hearts or our heads? Dave Roberts had to do it last night on a very big stage. Whether I, or anyone else, agree with his decision, you have to respect the courage he showed making it, “I’m very sensitive to personal achievement, but nothing should compromise or get in the way of the team goal,” and the thoughtfulness with which he addressed it in the post-game interview. “I will lose sleep tonight, and I probably should…This is the worst I’ve ever felt after a win.”
Rich Hill, while rightfully pissed when he was lifted, was completely professional (to the point of sounding robotic, actually) during his post-game interview, repeatedly speaking to his respect for Dave Roberts, team goals being more important than individual accomplishments or accolades, and accepting what is and moving forward. No matter what he said, everyone knows this will sting for a long time.
I’m no Dodgers fan (!), but those are two strong, class-act men in blue right there.
I love this game.