Monday, November 17, 2003

What Wouldn't McKeon Do:
Addendum from Chris Hand  

In Saturday's entry on McKeon (below, on this page), I mentioned McKeon's first major league managing stint and his immolation of the franchise's best pitcher, saying: James claims he had Busby throw over 200 pitches in a game, but I think it may be hyperbole

I had spent some time trying to find the game James had been talking about, but failed. Thanks to Chris Hand, who kindly sent me the info, I can share what McKeon did in his demented and dissolute Manager-youth. His note, snipped only at the end, reads as follows:

Thanks to the kind folk at Retrosheet:
Kansas City Royals    IP     H  HR   R  ER  BB   K  BFP
Busby                 11    13   0   2   2   1   8   47
Using a conservative 3 pitches per batter, it comes out at 141, going up to 4/batter, 188. Not a stretch to think that it could've been 200+ pitches.

Kansas City Royals    IP     H  HR   R  ER  BB   K  BFP
Busby W(14-9)          9     8   0   2   1   7   8   43
While Busby faced 4 less batters that in the game of 5/25, those 7 walks would raise a red flag for me, the minimum amount of pitches needed to get through this game is, 28+24+28=80. If Busby averaged 4 pitches for each hit or out (112), adding the minimum of 52 pitches needed to walk or K everybody else comes to 164. Again, not a stretch to think it could've gone over 200.

Kansas City Royals    IP     H  HR   R  ER  BB   K  BFP
Busby W(15-15)         9    10   0   2   1   3   6   40

I like your blog, keep up the good work, but when the research is readily

Play ball!!
Chris Hand,
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Chris added his leger-de-hand calculating possible pitch counts and I'm thinking his thinking was solid, except while I'm convinced that Busby might have thrown 200 pitches in any of those games, I'm not confident he actually did. I saw Busby pitch when his arm was sound and post-McKeon effects when it was a floppy tube of steak tartare. While he was not a Rick Reuschel kind of pitcher (here's a first pitch low in the strike zone for a strike...hit it and my infield will take care of it), he threw that way to some hitters all the time, and that lowers average pitch counts per batter. When Hand says about the first game "not a stretch to think it could have been 200+ pitches," he's right, but it's not a stretch to think it wasn't, either. (and regardless, an inexcusable application of a pitcher, even one you hated and might never need again). His one walk in 11 innings suggests his control was good that day (or the ump liked what he was throwing and calling strikes), and that would tend to reduce his pitch count because walks tend to be longer at-bats and once batters realize the pitches you're throwing are called mostly strikes, they don't wait deep in counts lightly and are more likely to swing early. And eight strikeouts in 11 innings is not extremely high (strikeouts are also more pitch-intensive than other plate appearances).

I think there's a stronger case for that second game having a shot at 200 pitches. As Hand notes, seven walks (again, it's not just the walks but the signal to the hitters they don't have to swing on marginal pitches as much in some situations).

Thanks, Chris Hand. And, of course, this let's me point out again what a wonderful resource Retrosheet and its amazing, generous honcho, Dave Smith, are. Anyway, McKeon did, apparently, learn something from his abuse of Busby (now nicely documented).

I normally don't go off-topic, but Chris Hand's address reminded me of one of my favorite movies about management. I recommend it if you haven't seen it: David Mamet's Heist w/Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, and the usual supporting cast of any Mamet movie. It was shot in Montréal (at least some crucial early scenes). It's the finest thesis on contingency planning ever made and an entertaining two hours, too. The Hackman character would be an awesome baseball manager or project director. And because there was another film being made in Montréal at around the same time, The Score, Mamet inserted two visual puns in Heist that pointed back at The Score (an unremarkable movie, btw, except for the three male lead performances and Angela Bassett looking great as always, but not given much to work with).

If you're in a job where you always need a Plan B to go with your Plan A, check out Heist.

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