Sunday, October 30, 2005

Back-seat driver

The Texas Aggies have a yell that they use at basketball games when an opposing coach is arguing a call. Briefly, they say "Sit DOWN, bus driver!" It's a reference to the days when coaches drove the bus as well as coached.

The head coach of a Major League Baseball team is called "manager" for similar reasons, because it harkens back to a time when their duties were more encompassing. Accordingly, also, when a manager is publicly harsh with his players, it's called "throwing them under the bus."

There has been a lot of media attention given to Phil Garner's reaction after Game 3 of the World Series, in which he made such comments as "Absolute rotten hitting. . . . we might have played 40 innings and it didn't look like we were going to get a runner across the bag . . . .it's embarrassing to play like this in front of our hometown. . . . I'm really ticked off.''

So, did he throw the team under the bus? Opinions vary in the media. Tom Verducci certainly thinks so, and makes a strong argument that Garner's apparent lack of a sense of responsibility for the loss speaks volumes. The local sportswriters are divided, with one saying that Garner did throw them under the bus, and another disagreeing.

My personal opinion? Yes, he did. Granted, he didn't say anything that wasn't technically correct, but the Astros got where they were by unified, solid play, in which each player contributed what he could when he could. (The bullpen referred to themselves as "One Heartbeat," for crying out loud.) They all had a part in the successes of the season, and also in the failures both during the year and in the World Series, Garner included. And while Garner made similar comments back in May, before they turned their season around, somehow I don't think he was just trying to motivate them this time. I think he just lost it, especially since he also got into a shouting match during the game with Carl Everett and Joe Crede, and threw a fit after Brad Ausmus flied out in the tenth (Ausmus is the one whose improbable homer in the ninth inning in Game 4 of the division series kept the Astros in it for the eventual win. Does Ausmus do that every time he gets up to bat? Hell no. But who does?), and threw a chair in the dugout too.

So, he acted like an ass.

Not that I've ever done that, or any one else I know has ever done that.

And what do you do when you screw up like that? Well, most grown-ups I know apologize. With sincerity. So that's what I think Phil Garner should do, apologize to the team.

But then, that's just me. I'm not even a bus driver, just a back-seat driver.


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