If there's one commandment that all Major League managers should follow I think it's probably this: put your players in position to win baseball games and then let them win it. The worst managers are the ones that try to insert their own strategic visions on teams where simple performance from the players would suffice. Mike Scioscia, a man who is generally lauded as a "great" manager in the press for "doing things right" failed to follow this credo in Game 4 of the ALDS agains tthe Red Sox and as a result, he lost to them again.
A squeeze bunt. With a left-handed hitter. On a 2-0 count. With one out. With K-Rod in the bullpen. With Game 5 in Angel Stadium and a five-inning start from Dice-K waiting for you if you win. With the top of the order on deck. If you could define "taking the game out of the hands of the players," it would be a video of Erick Aybar's ill-fated bunt attempt in the ninth inning of last night's game with Mike Scioscia staring blankly on to the field as his season went up in flames.
You can tell me Aybar had eight sac bunts this year. I don't care. You can tell me it was a buntable pitch. I don't care. You can tell me the ump got the call wrong when Varitek dropped the ball. I don't care. There are a million ways for the Angels to score Reggie Willits from third base with two chances. There are a million things that can go wrong on a squeeze play. Try to imagine Terry Francona making the same call. You can't do it. Now remember that Francona's teams are 9-1 against Scioscia's in the playoffs. There is an old baseball adage that applies here; bad managers lose far more games than good managers win. Mike Scioscia lost Game 4 for the Angels last night.