Dan Haren showed undeniable emotion after being taken out for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of Friday night's game against the San Francisco Giants. There are two sides to the argument here, and I'm curious to hear what people think. It might be said that it was perfectly understandable for him to be frustrated to be removed - not because he hadn't done his job, but because the offense hadn't done its. On the other hand, it could also be thought that this is a team sport, and everyone has to accept the manager's decision on what is best for the team - even if it's not what you personally want or think should happen.
After the jump, we'll hear from Dan Haren, and also see what Steve Gilbert wrote on his blog about Haren's show of feelings...
Courtesy of Nick Piecoro, first here is Dan Haren's more detailed explanation of his reaction to being taken out of the game: "I’m not upset at the decision to take me out. Thinking about it, I regret showing emotion like that because I don’t want to show up Bo-Mel by any means. I think it’s just a culmination of everything. The fact that I felt really good and coming out after 79 pitches, I wasn’t happy and I don’t think anyone would be happy. The culmination of that and we’ve struggled to score a bit when I’m on the mound. It all came together. I regained my composure within a minute or two. I didn’t try to show up Bob by any means." I think Haren just won Understatement of the Year, for the line, "We've struggled to score a bit when I'm on the mound." Three games. One run. No kidding...
On the other hand, Steve Gilbert sees things in a different light, and it's something probably also worth quoting in full:
it was something that never should have happened, because regardless of his intent he did show up Melvin as well as his teammates. While Haren has a right to be frustrated, he's not the only one that is feeling that right now in that clubhouse. Think the hitters are happy with the way things have gone. They have been awful, they know it, and they absolutely would like to be doing better. And how about Melvin? This is his team. Think he likes watching the way the first 10 games of the season has gone? Think he would have liked to have thrown a few helmets or slammed a few bats after watching the losses pile up? Like I said, this is not meant to be a rip at Haren. He's a hard worker, a good teammate and a good guy who just got caught up in the moment. I would be willing to bet it's something you will not see from him again.
Personally, I think we'd all forgive Haren if he trashed a water-cooler or two after these starts. He's pitched his heart out trying to get the team a win, and the hitters just haven't done what they're supposed to. Pretty much anyone in any employment knows how frustrating it is, when your colleagues fail to do their part and everyone looks incompetent as a result. Now, baseball is a game predicated on failure: but not all failure is equal, and we've seen far too many poor at-bats from the Arizona batters. Swinging at pitches they should leave well alone; ignoring fastballs 'right down Broadway' - a phrase already ground into cliché by Mark Grace this season; weak groundouts and infield pop-ups have been a hallmark of our hitters.
Haren's reaction was, to me, simply a public affirmation that the offensive performances we've seen are unacceptable - as such, and since they weren't targeted at any one individual, I don't have a problem with it. I don't want to encourage excessively demonstrative behavior [paging Milton Bradley...] and nor do we want to see a Tulowitzki-esque tantrum, resulting in something self-destructive and entirely counter-productive. But to fester is bad; I don't think we can expect players only to show happy emotions e.g. when a team-mate gets a crucial hit. They're only human, after all, and disappointment is as much a human trait as exhilaration. As fans, we experience both ends of the rainbow - and, heaven knows, don't exhibit much restrain when it comes to expressing it. Why should be expect anything else from the players?
That's especially the case, since it sometimes doesn't look like we'll ever see any real emotion from RoBoMel. Even when the umpire's decision is as rank as week-old fish, he saunters out there and discusses it with them as if inquiring politely about their health or the weather. That's hardly going to make them think twice about a future decision, which I assume is part of the point of going out there. Now, while I don't know what he may be like behind the scenes, I don't get the feeling his managerial style is an authoritative one, with his players in fear of him. Given the youth of our team, I'm not sure this is necessarily the best approach: the laissez-faire style might work with a team of veterans (see Bob Brenly, 2001), but I think he's like that teacher at school who wanted to be friends with "the kids". The results were usually closer to anarchy than education.
Oops. I've drifted off-topic. Again. This wasn't intended to be an investigation of our manager's style, so let's get back on track. Players. Emotion. And negative emotion in particular. What do you think?