Ex-Braves pitcher John Smoltz thinks the Dodgers and Rays should choose to be dumber on purpose in Game 6.
Rays-Dodgers has been a fascinating World Series battle for so many reasons, but in large part, the fascination has come from the battle of Big Market vs. Small Market analytics.
These two teams operate in largely the same fashion, but on vastly different playing fields. When Andrew Friedman departed Tampa Bay to run the Dodgers, in fact, he basically brought his player development ethos to a bigger checkbook.
Neither team would be where they are, though, without a heavy reliance on know-how, analytics and advanced metrics. For example, heavy shifting is part of their defensive pedigrees. But according to John Smoltz, both teams should abandon everything that brought them to the World Series. After all, Game 1? Do whatever you want! Game 6? Too important! Abandon all strategy.
A week after he invented Twitter, which already exists, Smoltz hit us with this gem. Why, though?
Smoltz has always been “old school” in the booth to a fault, but this is dumb to a higher power. Using his bully pulpit to lecture two of the smartest teams in baseball to actively make themselves worse now that they’ve reached the games that really matter makes us yearn for the days of Tim McCarver.
Of course, there’s also the mitigating factor that Smoltz’s Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in the last round, blowing a 3-1 lead, so he’s understandably salty and grasping for straws.
Smoltz’s Hall of Fame career was largely benefitted by the human breaks of the game, too, relying on umpires to greatly aid Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and himself with their own interpretations of the strike zone.
Also, uh, Smoltz’s Braves never won anything in the World Series! At all! One title, despite myriad playoff appearances and NL East domination.
Perhaps a little analytics and creativity would’ve pushed them over the edge.