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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Never let the big man beat you.

E-mail message from a friend:

Sat, May 16, 2015 at 10:08 AM

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2015/05/john_farrell_owns_terrible_decision_in_red_sox_loss
 
How did this clown win a World Series?  He forgot one of Ken's fundamental rules: never let the big man beat you. 

My reply:

That was me quoting Rizzuto quoting McCarthy.  Besides, this big man was a PED guy, so why would Red Sox fear him?  They boo cheaters like A-Rod, ...  Actually, just A-Rod.  Certainly not Manny Ramirez or Ortiz.

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From the Boston Herald article:

SEATTLE — John Farrell didn’t even wait for reporters to finish walking into his office last night when the Red Sox manager took the blame for his team’s latest loss.

“Before you even ask the question,” he said, “that was a terrible decision on my part. I own that one.”


Nobody in baseball has hit better than Nelson Cruz this season, which is what made Farrell’s decision to have Junichi Tazawa pitch to the Mariners slugger with two outs and a runner on second base in the ninth inning so confusing. First base was open, begging for Cruz to take it freely. He had entered yesterday leading the American League with a .361 average and a 1.158 OPS.


On deck was Kyle Seager, hitting .246.


Tazawa threw an 87-mph splitter that caught just a bit of the plate and Cruz crushed it to the left-center field gap as the Mariners walked off on the Red Sox, 2-1.
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Joe McCarthy and Phil Rizzuto are in the Hall of Fame, McCarthy as a manager and Rizzuto as a shortstop.  Rizzuto played his entire major league career for the Yankees: 1941-1942, military service 1943-1945, 1946-1956; AL MVP 1950.  Rizzuto then became a Yankee announcer starting in September 1956 following his release through 1996, Derek Jeter's first season.  McCarthy managed the Yankees 1931-1945, plus the first 35 (22-13) games of 1946.  So, Rizzuto really overlapped with McCarthy in Rizzuto's first two seasons when he would have been most impressionable.

Many times Rizzuto would quote or paraphrase McCarthy for whom Rizzuto obviously had both affection and respect, something that Rizzuto did not have for Casey Stengel who managed the Yankees 1949-1960.  One of the things that apparently had impressed Rizzuto was McCarthy supposedly having said: "Never let the big man beat you."  Or words to that effect.
Photo of Ted Williams
In 1941 and 1942 in the American League the big man was obviously Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.  This was especially true if you considered only non-Yankees, which would fit McCarthy's situation.  Williams could have been AL MVP in both seasons except:
- the Yankees won the AL pennant both years
- to borrow the phrase from the musical comedy "1776" about John Adams: he was obnoxious and disliked.

Williams is the most recent qualifying player with a .400 batting average (BA): .406 in 1941.  That season Joe DiMaggio had at least one hit in 56 consecutive games during which the Yankees broke open the pennant race.

In 1942 Williams had his first of two triple crowns, leading the league in BA, RBI and home runs.  Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon was voted AL MVP by the baseball writers.

I just asked another friend if he remembered Rizzuto say "Never let the big man beat you."  He did not recall the exact phrase but that it referred to Williams.  I do recall the phrase but not a specific reference to Williams.

However, the thought is the important thing and with all the current emphasis on not walking batters it's interesting that Red Sox manager John Farrell's decision was immediately challenged on the old Joe McCarthy idea.  McCarthy later managed the Red Sox and Williams, winning 96 games in 1948 and 96 again in 1949, second both seasons.  In 1950 the team was 31-28 when McCarthy left.

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