Has Kirk Gibson Gone
From Grit To A Twit?
The Fact That The Arizona Diamondbacks Are Wracked With Injuries Has Laid Bare A Vital Perspective On Manager Kirk Gibson: He’s Not Just Tenacious, But A Bit Over His Head As Manager
Kirk Gibson, Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
August 5, 2014 —Like Rush Limbaugh caricatured as a cartoon Paul Revere on the front of his book, the Arizona Diamondbacks are becoming a parody of themselves.
It’s almost as if we’re in some sort of bizarro MLB Season where the Diamondbacks continue to make the wrong decision time and time again. The latest occurrence happened Saturday night when Arizona pitcher Randall Delgado intentionally beaned Pittsburg centerfielder Andrew McCutchen in the upper half of his back with a 95 mph fastball.
Why’d he do it? Wait for it. It’s the common punch line waiting after all Diamondbacks’ gaffes the past few seasons: it was a retaliation pitch.
Notoriously wild reliever Ernesto Frieri accidently struck Diamondbacks All-Star Paul Goldschmidt with an inside fastball the night before that resulted in a season-ending broken hand. Arizona, as it always does, needed to prove the size of its baseballs by exacting revenge.
Because, in the Kirk Gibson era, the team is obsessed with not appearing soft and “protecting its own.” That’s all well and good, but shouldn’t the team be focused on winning games. Gibson has seemed to lose a grasp on how to do that.
That being said, I still kind of understand the revenge angle, just not how it was carried out last weekend.
There’s the unwritten rules of baseball that everyone is always talking about: Most teams, the Pirates included, will throw a retaliation bean ball every now and again.
So, the Diamondbacks beaned the Pirates best player (McCutchen) in the first inning of the next game and call it even, right?
The Diamondbacks waited until the end of a blowout loss to go after McCutchen. Now, if the unwritten rules and not being soft and all that garbage are so important, then why wait until the end of the game?
Furthermore, a revenge pitch (especially against a player who had nothing to do with the initial aggression like McCutchen) should send a message, not cause an injury. You hit him in the butt with an 85 mph meatball and move on. But, once again, that’s not the Diamondbacks way.
Instead, Delgado missed on his first attempt to hit McCutchen (where are the unwritten rules that dictate you get one chance at revenge? If you miss, you move on.). He then inexplicably threw an outside slider as if the whole bean ball thing never happened. Then he comes back and strikes McCutchen on his spine in his upper back with a 95 mph heater.
That’s dangerous. It’s not tough, it’s stupid. They could have seriously injured McCutchen with that pitch, and for what? To prove a point by ending the career of a guy who didn’t do anything?
So, why do it like that? Why do it at all?
It’s because Kirk Gibson is full of more crap than manure salesman’s truck. He claims to care about sticking up for his guys when, in reality, he uses these little shows of false machismo to cover up the fact that he is a terrible manager.
If Gibson was confident in his ability to coach the team to a win, he would have instructed starter Chase Anderson to bean McCutchen in the first inning, accept Anderson’s abrupt exit by way of ejection and moved on to win the game.
But, that’s not how Kirk rolls. He wanted to win the game. The retaliation only came to pass when, as we are all too familiar with this season, the game was far from the Diamondbacks’ grasp. Kirk Gibson once again failed to lead his team to win, so he decided to play bean ball to distract from that.
When Gibson came to the Diamondbacks, the team was seen as soft. He was supposed to change that. Many think he did with his bewildering focus on “grittiness” and hitting other players with pitches in lieu of actually winning games.
But, that’s not toughness. The team is now simply known as the dirtiest team in the league and I, for one, can’t stand watching their games anymore.
What Gibson is teaching is cowardice. He’s creating a culture within the locker room that emphasizes appearing tough over actually being tough. Beaning a player at the end of the blowout and blaming it on payback is the baseball equivalent of sucker punching a guy in bar fight.
The bruise you caused might look gratifying, but everyone watching thinks you’re a chump.
If the Diamondbacks wanted to show me they were tough, they would have fought through adversity this season to play good ball rather than try punk every team that looks sideways at them.
But that’s what Kirk Gibson does. He’s gone from one of the legitimately toughest players in baseball to the biggest punk to ever manage a team.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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