Sunday, July 29

More wildness

Apparently, Tribe manager Manny Acta does not like talking about the Wild Card.

What is the Wild Card? I don't know about the Wild Card. I'm trying to win the division.
Deep breath.

OK, Manny Acta. I like Manny Acta. He seems to have some real insight into the game and has thus far kept a club near .500 whose Pythagorean has them 13 games underwater and whose starting staff is sitting on a collective 4.86 ERA. He also seems passionate and likeable and tweets in two languages.

But this is a profoundly wrong thing for a manager to say.

Look, I understand that you want your club to win its division. No question there. But it's not as if one has to declare which postseason entry route one is aiming for. The approach the Indians would take to winning the division, namely: win as many games as possible, is exactly the same approach they would take to claiming one of the Wild Card spots. The two goals are mutually inclusive, and are means to the same end: reaching the postseason.

I don't want to hear about the Wild Card, please guys. Don't talk to me about the Wild Card until I've been eliminated from winning my division. The Wild Card should be a fallback for teams that don't win their division. You can quote me on that. Are you kidding me? Five games out and people want you to change your goals already to the Wild Card.
There it is again, this peculiar notion of changing goals. There is no goal-changing here. The goal is the playoffs and the way in is winning baseball games, although the Tribe's goal in Minny this weekend appeared to be much like an NBA team tanking for draft position. Why adopt this hard-line stance?

And yes, the Wild Card is most definitely a fall-back - no one would argue otherwise. But pretending like it doesn't exist is not a logical approach. Let's say you're Acta, and you've secured a Wild Card spot with one game remaining, that one game being against the team you trail in the AL Central chase. Let's say Justin Masterson is scheduled to start. You're not eliminated from the division, but shouldn't you at least be aware of the WC in case you wanted to save Masterson for the playoff opener? I'm just saying, keep your options open.

I'm dead serious, too. I don't want to hear another Wild Card question until we're eliminated from our division. I'm not even keeping track of that. Wouldn't it be nice if at the end of the season, you're like, 'God, I didn't win my division.' And then somebody wakes you up and says, 'Hey! Guess what? You won the Wild Card!' What? We're going to the playoffs? Champagne all over! That's the way I approach it. I'm not looking at the Wild Card. No way, Jose.
I sincerely hope that he isn't "dead serious" but rather encouraging his players to keep giving their all, not to give the appearance of giving in even the slightest. I suspect that this is indeed his goal.

But if he's really not even aware of the Wild Card standings and where the Tribe stands...well then he's just not doing his job.

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