Let's set the scene: First and third, 2 out, Cincinnati leading by a run. Arthur Rhodes on the mound, David Eckstein stepping in. Rhodes was an All-Star this season, has an ERA+ of 200, and sits third in the NL in holds (a meaningless statistic yes, but anyway).
Eckstein career against Rhodes - 3 for 9, HR, HBP
Tejada career against Rhodes - 4 for 20, 2 BB, no extra base hits.
Dusty Baker pops out of the dugout. He signals the bullpen for Nick Masset. Masset has had a good year too, but not as good as Rhodes (not an All-Star, ERA+ 114, better K/9 but worse WHIP, 16th in holds)
Eckstein career vs Masset: Never faced.
Tejada career vs Masset: 2 for 5, no extra base hits.
Baseball is fun because baseball is replete with small sample sizes, and many many MANY decisions are made based on small snippets of information. I suspect Dusty Baker had these snippets at his disposal. Small sample sizes are fraught with danger, but even so one COULD say Tejada had better numbers against Masset than Rhodes. With the game on the line one would think the best matchup is what the manager seeks to set up, and in that vein Rhodes vs Tejada seems to be the best matchup.
Given that, why in the world would he have Masset pitch to Tejada instead of Rhodes, if he was going to walk Eckstein?
On another slightly less controversial subject, WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD DUSTY BAKER INTENTIONALLY WALK ANYBODY TO PUT THE GO AHEAD RUN IN SCORING POSITION?
Wait - why am I complaining? Thanks Dusty, for the gift tonight, and the NL Wild Card lead. Please, continue doing what it is you do.
I hope Joe Posnanski tears this decision apart in about 5000 words. I look forward to that read.