Ned's Wednesday Meltdown!
This about says it all about Ned Yost's meltdown on Wednesday night against the Cardinals...
Ned Yost: Punk’d!
By Bernie Miklasz
09/27/2007 1:55 am
Watching Wednesday’s Cardinals-Brewers game, I half expected Ashton Kutcher and the crew from MTV to hop over the railing at the Milwaukee dugout to tell Ned Yost that it was all a setup by Tony La Russa, and that he should laugh at the joke, calm down and keep his focus on managing the Brew Crew to a victory.
Instead, Yost went vigilante, and what ensued was a baseball version of the MTV show, Punk’d. Stunned, we watched Yost lose his marbles, lose the game, and probably lose a chance to win the NL Central division title.
It came down to this: with the Brewers trailing only 3-2 in the 8th, Yost brought a nondescript, disposable reliever into the game to pop STL’s Albert Pujols with a pitch in obvious retaliation for the Cardinals’ earlier plunking of Cecil Fielder.
Fielder getting hit was most likely a carryover from prior hostilities in the first two games of the series - including Milwaukee pitcher Jeff Suppan buzzing Pujols’ jawline with a possibly errant fastball.
When Brad Thompson responded 24 hours later by targeting Prince, Yost went looney tunes.
That Yost could lapse into such horrible judgement with so much at stake for his franchise is beyond belief. The first-place Cubs had already lost at Florida, and with a win, the Brewers would have moved within one game of the lead with four games remaining.
At that point, 100 percent of Yost’s focus should have been on defeating the battered Cardinals and shaving a game off the Cubs’ lead.
Instead, Yost called for the hit on Pujols. Laughably, Yost denied it later. OK, Ned, if you didn’t order the HBP on Albert, then why did you have another RHP warming up, well in advance, ready to enter the game the second your designated hit man got tossed? Answer: Yost had to have a reliever ready, because the ump had issued a warning to both dugouts earlier, meaning that any drilling would result in immediate ejection of the offending pitcher and manager.
As soon as the pitch struck Pujols on the back, the home-plate umpire ejected Yost and the no-name pitcher. And Pujols trotted to first base to start a four-run padding that put Milwaukee away. (Final score 7-3).
Yost blew a gasket and Milwaukee blew a critical opportunity to leap closer to the Cubs. Instead, the Brewers remained two behind, with time running out.
As John Rooney said on the Cardinals’ KTRS broadcast: “This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen a manager do.”
Remarkably, this was Yost’s third ejection by an umpire in the last four games. His team is scrapping to stay alive, and Yost’s way of demonstrating leadership is to keep getting expelled from games? Is this guy cracking under pressure, or what?
I can’t believe Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, who has dramatically increased payroll over the last three years, will keep Yost as manager if the Brewers go down. At one stage Yost had an 8.5-game lead in the division, but the stress has consumed him.
In early August, Yost snapped at one of the Brewers’ young players, then was confronted and shown up by two veteran Brewers, including career malcontent Johnny Estrada, in the dugout. Yost’s credibility has continued to deteriorate.
La Russa, no angel, is an expert at gamesmanship and he took Yost to school by raising the ante in this little game of manager vs. manager macho posturing.
It began Monday, the day after Yost embarrassed himself by getting bounced in a 7-4 loss to Atlanta. The Brewers fumbled a 4-1 lead in that one and Yost blamed the umpires for the loss. Said crew chief Ed Montague: “He should look in the mirror.”
Instead of being content to beat up on the Cardinals Monday night, the inexplicably confrontational Yost continually yapped at umpires throughout Monday’s 13-5 Brewers’ win until getting the heave-ho by an ump. The Brewers were up 12-2 at the time of Yost’s ejection.
In managerial circles it’s considered poor protocol to take on the umpires for gratuitous reasons when your team has a huge lead. Yost went there anyway, and that pushed La Russa into his famous “Don Tony” mode.
And no one messes with Don Tony. The Brewers got a sample when right fielder Corey Hart was nailed by a pitch in the back Tuesday. That led to Suppan’s near shave of The Mang. Next, Fielder had the bullseye as Don Tony clearly baited his hot-headed rival. (Didn’t these guys used to be pals?)
Instead of worrying about his team’s fate, Yost stroked his own ego and insisted on throwing the last rock at La Russa. And in doing so, Yost undermined his team’s chances of winning a must-have game. It’s incomprehensible, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella must appreciate how La Russa, his old boyhood chum, did such a psychological number on Yost.
When it comes to mind games, Don Tony usually prevails. Not always - Dusty Baker got the best of La Russa in September, 2003 - but most of the time.
When the mind games resumed Wednesday night, Yost lost his. Mind, that is.
Ashton Kutcher and MTV weren’t there, but Yost was Punk’d by La Russa.