Baltimore Orioles: Respect the chain of command


The Baltimore Orioles return to the mid-Atlantic region for a three-game series tonight, however they find themselves down in our nation’s capital playing the second leg of the “Battle of the Beltways.” While they’re in this region of the country, I don’t have the opportunity to follow Washington’s team too often, as the day-to-day grind with the O’s doesn’t afford me the opportunity. But I did see the incident in Friday night’s game, which from an employee/boss standpoint rubbed me the wrong way.

Chris Johnson of MASNsports wrote about it in this article. It was also covered across various sports media over the weekend. In short, manager Matt Williams emerged from the Washington dugout in the seventh inning to lift starter Max Scherzer. Before I go on, let me preface this by saying that I think Scherzer is one of the best starters in baseball. Any team would be lucky to have him. Furthermore, in what little I see of Washington, I do feel that Williams has a knack for lifting his starters too early and burning out his ‘pen. 

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  • But as a manager, it’s your right to make poor decisions. If they come back to haunt you, at some point you’ll be held accountable. But it’s still your decision how you operate your team between the lines. However on this night, Scherzer appeared to throw a “hissy-fit” on the mound. Both he and Williams admitted after the game that profanity was in play on Scherzer’s part. Eventually, Williams appeared to appease his starting pitcher and left him in the game.

    The final result shows that this was the right decision. Because at the end of the day unfortunately that’s how everything seems to be judged nowadays – by wins and losses. Not so much by what the moment called for.  So I do agree with Scherzer that Williams shouldn’t have thought about pulling him in that situation. But that’s really beside the point.

    Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    A relationship between a coach and a player in sports is akin to the one between you and your boss. How many people reading this would have the guts to literally undress their boss in the manner that Scherzer did with Williams? Because Washington ended up winning the game, it’s seen as standing up for what’s right on Scherzer’s part. But it’s also unprofessional – win or lose.

    And here’s the thing; I partially blame Williams for this. While that might come off as blaming the victim, work with me here for a moment. He obviously decided that he was pulling his starter at that point. As a manager and thus a leader, he has to be decisive in that moment, and thus confident in his decision. Now I’ll grant you that his decisions in games have come under constant scrutiny, and perhaps that was in his head. However to be a good coach you have to be a good leader, right?

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    A good leader is going to be confident in the decision he made, and more importantly (in that instance) isn’t going to allow himself to be shown up. By turning around and retreating to the dugout, he allowed Max Scherzer to show him up. Again, I suspect that most Washington fans are going to look at it as not being a problem, and perhaps even from the perspective that Williams should have been “shown up” – because he was wrong to have tried to pull Scherzer.

    But look past the game result, and I think you’ll see that I’m right. If you manage people in an office, are you really going to allow someone on your team to read you the riot act like that publicly? Please understand; this is not to say that leaders should never listen to their underlings – because those voices should certainly be heard. Scherzer would have done better to take ten minutes behind closed doors after the game and spoke to Williams in private.

    But part of being a leader is literally leading. When you allow yourself to be beaten around by someone you’re supposedly managing like that, you aren’t a leader. Take the name of any great coach in sports, and odds are he never let an athlete get out of control like that. Vince Lombardi, Bobby Knight, Phil Jackson, and others come to mind. Heck, think of any boss you’ve had that’s recognized as a great manager. Would that person allow themselves to be publicly humiliated like that? Probably not.

    Next: Should the Baltimore Orioles be worried about J.J. Hardy?

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