RRR’s Chewbacca Defense*

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron did something really really stupid the other day. Ned Yost thinks it was stupid. You see, Ron forgot to warm up a left-handed pitcher, and then attempted to bring one in. But it’s not quite as simple as that. His explanation as to exactly what happened makes no sense whatsoever. None.

Sometimes you’ll watch an old movie (by which I mean “from the 90s”) and the entire plot will revolve around a miscommunication that could have easily been solved in the age of ubiquitous cell phones. That’s pretty much what happened here, except it DID take place in the age of ubiquitous cell phones, constant video surveillance, and, in a pinch, loud yelling. Despite the existence of all of these technologies, one of the Brewers’ most valuable assets was put in harm’s way for no reason. That’s enough from me, let’s get to Tom Haudricourt’s account of Ron’s mind-destroying explanation. He’s in bold. I am not.

*The Chewbacca Defense was made famous by South Park during the OJ trial. IT conveys the idea that if you can convey something mind-bogglingly nonsensical to your audience that they will give up on believing the rules of logic. It’s basically the only explanation for what follows, because THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. 

“But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke took full responsibility

Oh good, I can hardly wait to see how Ron goes about taking full responsibility. I certainly hope he doesn’t take that full responsibility, cram it in a bag, and throw it under some kind of bus.

for the debacle that resulted in reliever Will Smith taking the mound without warming up.”

It is actually pretty strange that baseball has a rule that essentially forces a player to perform without proper warm-ups under certain circumstances, however it’s even weirder that a major league baseball manager doesn’t know how to use a phone.

“It’s my fault; miscommunication,” said Roenicke. “There’s a certain way we do things and when Kranitz isn’t here, I didn’t go back and tell Rick Tomlin who to get up and bring in. So, it’s my fault.

There is a certain way that Ron tells Rick Kranitz, the pitching coach, who he would like to have up in the bullpen. And that way is not to say “I would like Will Smith up in the bullpen.”

“You do things the same way every day and when it changes, it just changes what goes on. I had to make the change.

Remember, we’re literally talking about telling a person who he would like to have warming up in the bullpen. Ron is not operating complex machinery or doing a pairs figure skating routine. He is telling another person to tell a certain bullpen pitcher to start warming up. It’s already weird, but are you ready for the weird part? This is the weird part. Keep in mind we live in a world with telephones and video monitors showing you the bullpen at all times.

I sent Maldy (backup catcher Martin Maldonado) to run down to the bullpen because we needed two guys up.

How to interpret this sentence…I am literally sitting here attempting to write this, clenching fists and gritting my teeth because this sentence….

First of all, WHY? Does he mean that the phone would have worked for one pitcher but because he needed two guys up he personally sent his backup catcher (one of his active bench players) down to the bullpen to personally relay the message? Does he mean that the importance of the message warranted a personal visit? Does Martin Maldonado do this a lot?

Maldy went down there and said, ‘I think it’s (Zach) Duke,’ but he never got the call on who it was. So, we didn’t call.”

And the most baffling thing of all, that Maldonado went to the bullpen charged with telling them that two relievers needed to be warming up, a righty and a lefty. According to this account, he only told them the wrong lefty. Brandon Kintzler, the righty, DID warm up so someone somewhere managed to tell the pen that the righty should warm up WITHOUT disclosing the lefty. How did this possibly happen again?

Roenicke wanted right-hander Brandon Kintzler and lefty Smith warming up, but only Kintzler got ready.

Ron: Maldy, tell them to get up Will.

Maldy: Get up Duke I think purple monkey dishwasher.

“We knew what was going to happen with who they were going to probably pinch hit,” said Roenicke. “We needed both guys up. That’s why I sent down our backup catcher.

“I needed to make sure Jean Segura was shifting properly against this guy, that’s why I sent out our set-up man.”

Maldy told Duke to get loose because that’s who Maldy thought it was going to be, but really I wanted Smith.”

WHY did he think that? Why? I’ll tell you what I think. I think Ron told him to run down to the pen and get “the lefty” up and Maldonado just thought Duke before he thought Smith. This doesn’t answer the question of why he sent his backup catcher in the first place, why he didn’t notice on the monitor that only Kintzler was warming, and why Duke wasn’t warming up, but it answers one thing at least. I mean, if you assume everyone involved is basically a moron.

With the Brewers leading, 4-2, Roenicke removed starter Matt Garza with two on and one out and summoned Kintzler. Gerald Laird hit a bouncer that caromed off the glove of diving third baseman Mark Reynolds and into shallow left for what became an RBI double, leaving runners at second and third.

Roenicke then went to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to make a double-switch and pointed to the bullpen for a lefty. There was no lefty warming up so Duke volunteered to come out, but Roenicke told Culbreth he wanted Smith.

The rules state that a new pitcher can throw no more than eight pitches after taking the mound. Because Culbreth was informed Smith had not been up in the bullpen, he asked Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez if he would agree to more pitches and Gonzalez said no.

He then proceeded to laugh his ass off and text all of his friends about it.

Culbreth then put on the video replay head set and called an umpiring supervisor to see if there was any way to allow Smith more pitches, and was told no.

After further review, the rules of baseball are still the rules of baseball.

In the meantime, Smith had to stand on the mound during that lengthy conversation back to New York, which didn’t help matters.

“The good thing is I usually only throw eight pitches in the bullpen before I come in anyway,” he said. “They told me it was only eight (when he got to the mound). I felt ready. I felt good to go.

See, now that’s how you take responsibility. I’m sure Will Smith hated having his routine destroyed, but when push came to shove he just said he should have gotten the job done anyway.

“Ron told me, ‘Don’t do anything stupid here, Will.’

“Like all that stuff I just did? You should do the opposite.”

The home plate umpire told me the same thing. He said, ‘Listen kid, be careful. Take care of yourself.’ But the adrenaline took over.”

I wonder how frequently a baseball manager has put his player in a position where the umpire actively fears for his safety? There is a time and a place for that kind of thing and it’s called football.

The Brewers moved the infield in to try to cut off the tying run,

Let’s fix that. “The Brewers moved the infield in to try and make it easier for Ryan Doumit to get a hit because they’re managed by an idiot.”

but

“and”

pinch hitter Ryan Doumit punched a grounder past shortstop Jean Segura

“which would have been fielded easily by a player playing at normal depth, and was hit hard enough to still possibly allow for a play at home, especially for someone with an arm like Segura’s

to drive in the runs that decided the outcome.

“Because dumb.”

It was an awful way to lose a game in which Garza was in command most of the way, leaving the Brewers with three losses in the four games here and a 2-5 record on the trip.

“I feel bad about everything,” said Roenicke. “You can’t do that to a player.

Sources originally believed that the “player” in question was Zach Duke, but subsequent interviews showed the Ron actually meant Will Smith.

“I should be able to adjust to different things.

Like, you should be able to give clear instructions in your native language to someone besides Rick Kranitz.

We had Lee in there yesterday and that was a little bit different. Rick (Kranitz) is always involved when we talk, and I know he’s taking care of calling somebody.

So that’s Maldy and Lee and Kranitz under the bus so far.

“When you have somebody else in there that doesn’t know what we usually do, it’s not his fault. I didn’t turn around and tell (Tomlin) to make the call. I just assumed it, which I shouldn’t do.”

Instead of instructing someone else to make a call after I realized that no one had, I sent my backup catcher in person, but didn’t tell him any instructions.

As for shaking off the loss, Roenicke said, “It’s going to be hard on me. They’ll be fine; they’ll move on. But it’s going to be hard on me.”

I’m sure it was hard on Ron. Perhaps not as hard as it was on Will Smith’s elbow, but hard nonetheless.

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3 thoughts on “RRR’s Chewbacca Defense*

  1. Basically…Hanel = one catcher and its probably hard for him to warm up two pitchers at the same time. Ergo, Maldonado was sent down to catch the second reliever. God forbid the man sent down to catch the second reliever can’t handle delivering the message to get up the other.

    And I’m not sure what you’re whining about with Doumit’s hit. Most managers play the infield in to cut down the run when playing on the road – hardly a knock on Roenicke. And hit hard enough to make the play at home…only with a perfect throw (ergo why they played up…). A ball hit to a fielder would have meant no runs and two outs. Hindsight managing is fun.

    You know what else is fun…straw man arguments!!!

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