Jim Leyland Accepts Fan Second-Guessing About Removing Porcello from Shutout
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is an outspoken character who is unafraid to voice his opinion. Last week he said interleague play was flawed, he’s argued against instant replay, and he steadfastly believed that Miguel Cabrera’s alcohol problems wouldn’t affect his play. Now he’s ranting against the fans who call into sports talk radio shows to hear their own voice.
Leyland was asked by WXYT host Jeff Riger about the criticism he’s received for removing Rick Porcello from Sunday’s game after eight innings. Porcello had a one-hit shutout going and had only thrown 84 pitches, but Leyland decided to put in closer Jose Valverde to pitch the ninth. Pitching complete game shutouts are special accomplishments for pitchers, and that’s why some fans were upset. Leyland made it clear he doesn’t care about the criticism. Here’s what he said in response:
And I don’t blame any fan, ever, who second-guesses taking out Rick Porcello. I don’t blame somebody like that. But I don’t listen to talk shows, guys who don’t know (expletive) about baseball. No. If you’re asking if I listen to those guys, no. If I listen to somebody that has a legitimate second-guess, like the one yesterday, I respect that opinion. It’s not going to change mine. I’ve said a million times, I manage for the fans, not with the fans. I don’t manage with every Tom, Dick and Harry who calls a talk show, I can promise you that. But that one yesterday was a legitimate second-guess. But, you know what, everybody forgets that the Tigers won the game. And if Jose Valverde is not better in the ninth inning than Rick Porcello after eight innings, and Jose Valverde’s a top closer, then we might as well not have a closer. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t get sentimental in all that (expletive) about, oh, he’s got a chance to have a one-hitter. I don’t get into all that (expletive). I’m here to win games and I felt that gave us the best chance to win the game. And we won the game. It could have backfired and I still would have stuck by my decision. So it doesn’t bother me.
Leyland continued with more of a rant, and I’ll direct you to MLive.com to read the whole thing. The whole exchange was just really funny. Normally I stick up for pitchers finishing games like that, but when we’re talking about a young, fragile pitcher like Rick Porcello, I can’t argue with pulling him. Wouldn’t you rather have him leave with a really positive experience which is what his eight innings was? Or would you want to see him possibly blow it? This was his longest start of the season, let him leave with a good feeling so he can feel like he accomplished something.
I also think Leyland reasoned through the whole debate well — he broke down the whole fan/talk radio analysis really well. Fans love to share their opinions, and only some of them have enlightened ones, like Leyland said. But his job is to do what he thinks is best for the club, not what the media or fans think he should do. That was always my complaint with former Mets GM Omar Minaya — he ran the team based on what the media thought he should do, not based on what he thought was best. Leyland should keep doing what he’s doing. After all, he’s the reasonable one, fans are media members for the most part, are not.