After yet another heart-breaking loss, this time to the Giants, Ned Yost was ready to cry at his post game interview yesterday.
I'm not speaking metaphorically. And I'm not trying to be cute or cruel. But it's true; if Ned had fielded one more question from the reporters, he would have broken down and cried right there in the house that Bonds' steroids built. Now, I'm not sure it was a Dick Vermeil, make me feel really uncomfortable type of wail, but I believe there were tears at the doorstep. And that's why he cut that interview session short.
But I can't really blame the man. Truth is--I'd cry too if I was merely weeks from being fired from a job that I loved so dearly. And Ned really does love the Brewers. And Ned really does desperately want the Brewers to succeed.
The problem, of course, is that Ned has not been succeeding, and so we come to that all important series--the Wrestle at Wrigley, the Showdown in Chi-town--which can in one full swoop turn this whole mess around...or it can end up being a true Yost-Buster.
If you've read my blog in the past, you certainly know that I am a fan of Ned Yost. I don't always agree with his in-game decisions (okay, honestly--they sometimes cause me to curse like a hell-demon with a bad case of Tourette's) and I don't always gel with his post-game assessments, but Ned Yost has been one of my all-time favorite Brewers managers. I suppose that one could argue that naming Yost my favorite manager from a batch that includes the likes of Jerry Royster, Davey Lopes and Jim Lefebvre is about as bold as declaring Gwen Stefani the hottest member of No Doubt...But what can I say? Ned had me at hello...
I'll never forget that first speech he made in spring training about how great baseball could be in Milwaukee and how much people would love the Brewers and treat them like kings if they ever became winners. He lived through the frenzy of 1982, and he believed a winning attitude could be reality. He knew it could. Now, I realize this is going to sound completely egotistical, but in some ways--he reminded me of me. His passion for the Brewers was genuine. Earlier this year, my friend Chad and I attended the preview of the Harvey Wallbangers DVD at the Pabst Theatre. Ned had just suffered a tough loss--coincidentally enough, to the Cubs--and you could tell it was still eating at him hours later. It was only the 5th game of the season, but a super-charged Ned told the audience that he was determined to bring baseball magic back to Milwaukee. And again, he was so impassioned and so genuine, that I wanted it for him almost as much as I wanted it for myself.
And I must say, no other first place manager ever fell under the same kind of scrutiny that Ned Yost suffered through. Every night I've listened to WSSP's post game show on my way home from the ballpark, and if the Brewers lost, you could guarantee that Steve "Sparky" Fifer was going to find a way to pin it on Ned. I'm not even exaggerating about this. Every single time they lost. It was always, always, ALWAYS Ned's fault. Now, I've already said that I question many a Ned Yost move, but at some point some blame belongs to the players. And some of the second-guessing became flat out comical. Well...probably not for Ned.
But on Sunday I finally had to accept that Ned was grasping at straws. His decision to hit Bush in the 7th and send him back out after his struggles in the 6th was dumbfounding. And if I were Catholic, I'd need to go to about 6 years worth of confessions for the things I yelled at my television when Damian Miller lead off the 9th. (This is by far my biggest pet peeve of Ned--his unwillingness to hit for a catcher because he fears that if the back-up gets in and gets hurt, they'll have no more catchers. One problem--if you lose the game, who the hell cares that you still have a healthy back-up catcher!?!?!?). And I was even more angry when Dillon served that 0-2 pitch to center field for the 2 out single. You know, because he should have lead off that inning in the first place...
And I know what the Ned supporters will say (because I am one): Ned can't be blamed for the horrible starting pitching, the lack of clutch hitting, or the mental errors in the field. And you'll remember that I told you the Brewers would be in big trouble if the only trade they made was the acquisition of an arm for the bullpen. But you only have to go back a couple years to remember another Brewers team--the team that was above .500 at the break, only to set the all-time worst record for the second half of a season--that had a collapse as pathetic as the current one. You'll notice that the majority of the players from that team have moved on. The manager, however, has remained the same. And having another collapse after this year's start is simply unacceptable.
After all, when you think about teams having a special season, how many of you think about the Toronto Blue Jays? No one? Well that's who we are now. We're the National League version of the Toronto Blue Jays. A .500 team, with a realistic chance of finishing below .500 if things don't change real, real soon.
And unfortunately, Ned's the fall guy for that turn of events. With just one year left on his contract, there's no way the Brewers can renew it if he manages through two historic collapses. You simply can't bring back a lame duck manager next year to a team with so much talent and promise.
And so, perhaps it's ironic that the last winning Brewers manager got fired the day before Ned's Crew marches into a potential Yost-buster for a series. If they get swept in Wrigley, perhaps Ned won't be able to hold back the tears.
And you know something?
I might not be able to either...