It's tough to bet against Alex Cora these days. After winning a team record 108 games in the regular season followed by his Midas touch throughout the impressive dismissal of the Yankees in the ALDS, who can doubt the Red Sox manager's decision-making? Well, I can.
I didn't think I would until mid-afternoon Wednesday when I heard of Cora's decision to roll out David Price in Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night. This makes no sense on a lot of levels and in the words of Tommy Boy Callahan, "It's gonna leave a mark."
We all know the record, stats and story of David Price's prolonged and seemingly incurable postseason record of disaster. Please understand, this will not change on Sunday night. Alex Cora is using logic to solve the illogical. A human being's response to pressure and tension, particularly in the case of someone with a career catalogue of postseason misery like David Price, spans far beyond the realm of logic.
His emotional state and natural reactions cannot be addressed logically. How many times did Captain Kirk rightfully try to break through to Spock on the Starship Enterprise with conversations about human emotion overriding the seemingly illogical? Whatever it is that Cora sees in terms of Price's newly discovered flawed mechanics, trust me, it is not the problem. Those flawed mechanics are merely the result of the problem. The problem is in Price's head and in his emotional makeup and this will not be cured by Sunday night. No way.
Beyond Price's atrocious stat line on Saturday, what I found more disturbing were his words in the aftermath. The man is completely lost. If you know anything about psychology, all of the answers Cora needs are right there in Price's own words. Price's problems will not be saved in three days and there's proof. Here are some quotes from Price addressing his postseason failures following Saturday night's latest train wreck:
"I just don't have an answer for you guys. . . . I've been asked that quite a while now. . . . I can't really put my finger on it." I have bolded, underlined and colored in red the parts of these comments that matter and scare me the most. (I, I've, quite a while and I again).
Follow me here? If you have a big mental or emotional problem spanning 10 years and YOU are the one still trying to figure it out, then you have already lost. Wow. I'm truly taken aback by those comments. How many hours has this man stewed and stewed and stewed over these questions? Brother, let me tell you, there's help out there and it sounds to me like you need all the help you can get. To quote one of my favorite shows as a kid, Bugs Bunny – "Is there a doctor in the house? Is there a doctor in the house?"
For the Red Sox for Price himself and for the legion of fans eagerly awaiting the ALCS, you'd better hope so. Problem is, it's still won't be enough time to solve this by Sunday night.
Cora has done an absolutely brilliant job managing this team, his intuition has been nearly flawless since day one. However, this decision with Price just won't work on Sunday night. The die is already cast. Human nature and human emotion is a factor, in fact, it's the biggest factor. It is what separates someone like Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning for example. That cool and calm demeanor when everything is at stake matters so much. Price doesn't have that. In fact, he's way on the other side of the spectrum.
I've got to say, watching Alex Cora make all the right moves this season, I'm shocked he hasn't connected these dots with David Price. Maybe he'll continue his streak of ace decisions and I'll be proven wrong. I hope so, I just wouldn't bet on it.