Monday, October 26, 2009

Buster Olney's Point of View

Don't think playoff baseball is different? You're not a player, Are You? was the Olney article in ESPN mag and it uses Randy Winn.

With the end prize at long last in sight, the ghosts of playoffs past-better known as guys who have made it through a series or two- share their tales. And when they do, Randy Winn can only listen.

The Giants outfielder has played 12 seasons, about 1600 games, more than any other active player who has never reached the playoffs. But with the NL wildcard up for grabs that could finally change. (We know it did not.) "When you are a kid, you dream about playing in the big leagues," Winn says. "But once you get drafted, you dream about the postseason."

And when you do, you wonder if it will feel any different from every other time you've stepped on the diamond. The ghosts of October have the answer.

The ghosts would tell Winn preparation means everything. Before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, Dave Roberts stood in rightfield, pretending he was taking a lead off first. Red Sox coach Lynn Jones played the role of a Yankees reliever, with his back to Roberts. The game began without Roberts in the lineup, and he retreated to the clubhouse to loosen up, just in case he'd be needed as a late-game pinch runner. There is no space to sprint in Boston's tiny clubhouse, so he got loose by leaping to touch items mounted on the walls-the TV near Jason Varitek's locker, the steel bars by Manny Ramirez's digs. "I was like a little kid," says Roberts. "It's kind of comical, thinking back."

The ghosts would tell Winn he will store memories, but maybe not the kind he expects.

Stop, right there!

This is where the Giants organization has to know what it is that will help them score runs.
What is it that will help the team win games? They have to get players into the fold that make scoring runs something not so difficult. Give the pitchers a reason to believe they have a chance to win every time they toe the slab not so much as believing in their ability to throw and their teammates ability to field but also believing in their ability to manufacture runs. By having teammates who can lose the ball into the outfield stands or rocket balls off the wall moreso than dinking and dunking balls where opposing fielders are nowhere to be found.

(thanks to Buster Olney for the inspiration of this rant.)

Kevin Marquez