Yankee Manager Joe Girardi’s decision to remove starting pitcher Andy Petite from the ALCS Game 3 – resulting in a Yankee drumming by the Rangers – raises the question: Can this manager make rational decisions, or is he led by a conditioned response consistent with Pavlov’s canine subjects?
In his historic studies, psychologist Ivan Pavlov demonstrated that an external stimulus – like the sound of a bell – caused his canine subjects to salivate in a peculiar conditioned response.
And it seems that a 110-pitch count served as Girardi’s bell. The conditioned response: his removal of effective starter Andy Petite, a colossal meltdown of Yankee pitching and an embarrassing 8-0 Yankee loss.
Despite Petite allowing just five hits – only three after the first inning – during his seven-inning mastery of the Rangers, Girardi made the regrettable conditioned response to pull his ace at the 110-pitch count. His response was not rewarded.
In the remaining two innings, the Rangers more than doubled their hit total, pounding the bullpen for six runs and humiliating the Yankees in their home park, the same stadium where the Yankees swept the Rangers in a regular season series.
And further doubts of Girardi’s rationale swirl about his decision to start ineffective A.J. Burnett in key Game 4 on Tuesday. Burnett’s woeful regular season 5.26 ERA and 10-15 record for his Yankee team that finished with 30 more wins than losses leaves Yankee fans questioning Girardi.
Granted, a manager cannot be blamed for all the ills of his bullpen. Nor can the lack of a team’s offense lie at his feet. But struggling back from two runs rather than eight – with the heart of the powerful Yankee lineup awaiting its last chance – is far less discouraging. And the Yankees may have had that chance if not for Girardi’s reflexive response.
With a pivotal Game 4 awaiting Tuesday, Yankee fans are left to wonder whether it was baseball wisdom or a simple conditioned Pavlovian response that buried the Yankees Monday. And whether Girardi can make better use of his baseball knowledge, rather than just salivating over a pitch count or some other “bell.”
Source: Yahoo Sports — MLB Box Scores