An Explanation for the Phillies’ Recent Bullpen Silliness

Perhaps no publication has had an editorial stance of being more distraught and mystified by Charlie Manuel’s bullpen usage than this one. However, a source inside the Phillies’ front office has told us that the Phillies’ manager, a keen student of history, is in fact adapting a tactical doctrine from the late 12th Century to baseball.

It’s not unusual for coaches to adapt tenets of military strategy to sports as motivational or organizational guideposts–Patriots coach Bill Belichick is fond of Sun Tzu, though Clausewitz is also said to be popular–but Manuel, the source says, is fond of a doctrine first conceived of in the Third Crusade.

The story centers on a man named Louis Phillippe, a barber from Anjou, France. When Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade to retake Jerusalem–which had been lost in a siege in 1187, the events of which were stylized and loosely retold in Ridley Scott’s 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven–Louis Phillippe, a deeply religious man, responded to the call and volunteered to serve as a man-at-arms in the army of King Richard I of England. Barbers of the time often doubled as makeshift doctors and surgeons, so when Louis Phillippe’s unit was separated from the army and ambushed by a Byzantine battalion six months into the campaign. Louis Phillippe tended expertly to the wounded, and when the survivors retreated to safety, he fought bravely at the rearguard, allowing dozens of his fellow soldiers to escape.

When Louis Phillippe and his companions were reunited with the Crusader army, news of his heroism reached King Richard himself, and he was granted an audience before the Holy See himself. Pope Celestine III, who succeeded Gregory and Clement III, both of whom had died in the intervening years, took a liking to the young man and insisted that he be released from the Crusader army and serve as the Pope’s personal valet and barber.

Louis Phillippe served happily in Rome until 1196, when the pontiff had a dream that he took to be a vision from God Himself. Celestine called for Louis Phillippe and asked him to crop his hair short and remove his trademark beard. Louis Phillippe did so, and the newly-shorn pope commanded his barber to return to his home in Anjou with a lock of the pope’s hair, seek an audience with the count, and declare that it was God’s will for all of Europe to be united under a single flag to conquer not only Jerusalem–which Richard the Lionheart would ultimately fail to do–but the Moorish caliphate in Iberia as well. It is said that Celestine sent out dozens of such messengers around this time.

Louis Phillippe, the pope’s friend and servant, took a letter of introduction from Pope Celestine and a bag of his hair, and set off for Anjou. When he arrived at the castle, he was stopped at the gate and denied entry, arrested, and brought before the count in chains. Louis Phillippe’s letter had been confiscated in the meantime, and when he preached the Pope’s vision of the united Christian Europe, he was laughed out of the room, arrested and sentenced to be burned at the stake as a heretic.

Louis Phillippe protested, citing his bond of friendship with the pope, but the count was unimpressed. He had no reason to believe Louis Phillippe was who he said he was–an emissary from the pontiff–and demanded the sentence be carried out immediately.

Louis Phillippe of Anjou was executed on December 1, 1195. His ashes were scattered in a field somewhere in northwestern France.

If you’re wondering what possible application this story has to baseball, here’s what Charlie Manuel got out of it:

A papal bond is worthless if you’re in a situation where you can’t get credit for the shave.

 

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20 comments

  1. Joey

    May 11, 2012 08:53 AM

    Hahaha haha ha haha nice.

  2. Ryan

    May 11, 2012 08:59 AM

    The problem is the stat “save” is just too flashy a name to not shoot yourself in the foot, go against your own interests and try to rack up as many “saves” as possible. If it was called “Guy did his fucking job” or GDHFJ. No one would hold off their best reliever for a situation where you actually have less to loose since you have a margin for error.

  3. haydus

    May 11, 2012 09:03 AM

    Holy crap.

  4. Bxe1234

    May 11, 2012 09:36 AM

    You got one of those laughs where you kinda smile and sorta snicker through your nose, accompanied by a slight shaking of he head and a long sigh. Hope that’s what you were going for.

  5. Scott G

    May 11, 2012 11:01 AM

    Every time I think about how the best reliever in the Phillies bullpen is misused, it makes me extremely angry. I continue to come up with more and more logical reasons to not save your best pitcher exclusively for the 9th inning/save situation, especially when you don’t have many (if any) other talented pitchers that you can get away with just throwing in for a dedicated inning like in years past. I believe the Phillies dodged soo many bullets in years past because Madson (“The Bridge to Lidge”/8th inning guy) was as good as if not better than Brad Lidge (Closer). They also had pitchers like Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero (when used properly), and Chan Ho Park who were very serviceable.

    When the bullpen consists of underachieving/untalented players, it’s even more crucial to utilize matchups, and make sure the leads are preserved (a.k.a using Pap before the 9th).

    How are managers not picking up on the fairly simple logic that COMPLETELY justifies using the best pitcher prior to the clean slate in the last inning?!

  6. Jon

    May 11, 2012 11:34 AM

    Charlie Manuel eats rice with chopsticks because that’s how it’s been done for centuries. Meanwhile, his spoons gather several layers of dust sitting in his drawer.

  7. hk

    May 11, 2012 12:07 PM

    Further to Scott G’s point, Charlie’s defenders love to reply to comments like Scott’s that no MLB managers do what Scott G is suggesting. However, the other night in a big game against a division rival, Joe Maddon used his closer Fernando Rodney to face the top of the Yankees order in the bottom of the 8th in a game that the Rays trailed 1-0. Maddon used his best reliever against the Yankees best hitters in an effort to try to keep the deficit at 1 run. What happened? Rodney retired the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th, the Rays rallied for 4 in the 9th and Maddon kept Rodney in to close out the win. Now, obviously this is just a small sample size of one game, but it was nice to see a manager who gets it, get rewarded for employing something other than a by-the-book, sub-optimal strategy.

  8. Jon

    May 11, 2012 12:10 PM

    Joe Maddon is also, in my opinion, the best manager in MLB.

  9. Heather

    May 11, 2012 12:44 PM

    oh em gee. hahahahaha

  10. JM

    May 11, 2012 01:30 PM

    you are all missing the point. Even if Cholly uses Papel Bond in the 6th, 7th, 8th, or the Holy 9th, those other guys are gonna have to pitch when he doesn’t. If you can’t make outs in the 7th, why would you put em in when there are only 3 (outs) more chances to score. I am not a Manual supporter in this per se, but he really doesn’t have that many options….

  11. Gaël

    May 11, 2012 01:36 PM

    JM,

    Can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic, but just in case you’re not: no one’s saying “put Papelbon in to begin the 8th” (or 7th, or whatever). What people are saying is that Manuel should use his best reliever (i.e., Papelbon) when he would be the most useful (or at all, really). Yes, if Papelbon pitches the 9th in a tie game on the road, he might not be available to protect an hypothetical lead in the 10th; on the other hand, there’s no lead to protect if you put in an inferior reliever who proceeds to give up a walk-off hit in the 9th.

  12. jauer

    May 11, 2012 01:47 PM

    Why save Papelbon for the bottom of the 10th (and use Schwimer or Sanches or Quantrill in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game) when you might score 4 in the top of the 10th?

  13. Phillie697

    May 11, 2012 01:48 PM

    @JM,

    Saving your best pitcher for a hypothetical situation that may or may not happen later is a lot like taking our $50M and go out and by 50 million lottery tickets; i.e. dumb.

    Say you put Papelbon in for the 7th in a tie game, and later we scored 4 runs, and we have to rely on god forbid KK to close out the game…. Are you telling me you rather have KK pitch the 7th, give up 5 runs, and we end up losing by one with Papelbon sitting in the bullpen picking his nose?

    The BEST way to use a bullpen is not worst pitcher to best pitcher. It’s to use your BEST pitcher when you need him the most. For example, if your starter lasts 6 innings and you have a one-run lead, the BEST use of the bullpen is actually to use your BEST reliever first, then second best, etc. Not use a bunch of scrubs first hoping that there is a lead to protect in the 9th. Of course, don’t tell MLB managers that.

    @Scott G,

    But I thought signing Papelbon to $50M was a GREAT move, no?

  14. Phillie697

    May 11, 2012 01:49 PM

    Oh and MB, that was… Epic.

  15. Phillie697

    May 11, 2012 03:01 PM

    Is there a website that compiles the cumulative WPA stat for pitchers over the course of a season?

  16. Phillie697

    May 11, 2012 03:20 PM

    Ah yes, I had forgotten about that. Thanks hk.

  17. hk

    May 11, 2012 03:37 PM

    I heard on the radio – for what that’s worth – that the Blue Jays have called the Phillies to inquire about Shane’s and/or Coal’s availability. Roy Halladay must be thinking that he is living in a bizzaro world where the Phillies are the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays are the Phillies. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Phillies end up dumping to the Jays (Hamels for d’Arnaud, Drabek and Gose)?

  18. hk

    May 11, 2012 03:38 PM

    Cole, not Coal. Unless it’s Shanf, not Shane.

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