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Pulling Blake Snell in Game 6 of the World Series was not the finest hour for MLB’s analytics crowd

Blake Snell pitched 5 1/3 innings in Game 6 and allowed two hits.
Blake Snell pitched 5 1/3 innings in Game 6 and allowed two hits.Maxx Wolfson/Getty

Kevin Cash, say hello to Grady Little and Pete Carroll.

Grady was fired for leaving Pedro in the game too long in 2003. Carroll made the single dumbest decision in managing/coaching history when he failed to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the 1-yard line in Super Bowl XLIX.

And now this. Poor Cash, a former Red Sox catcher, gave the 2020 World Series to the Dodgers by listening to his analytics department instead of his baseball heart.

The 2020 World Series could not have gone worse for your Boston Red Sox. Sitting at home, basking in the glow of payroll flexibility, Sox fans got to watch Mookie Betts dominate Games 1 and 6, winning his second Fall Classic in three years. They were also treated to a vivid demonstration of the Tampa Bay Way, the Chaim Bloom blueprint that is killing baseball and threatens to make the Fenway Park experience a summer slumber party for years to come.

Tampa Bay’s ace lefty Blake Snell, a former Cy Young Award winner, was dominating the Dodgers into the sixth inning of Game 6 Tuesday when Cash took Snell out. The Dodgers had one on and one out as the Rays clung to a 1-0 lead. Betts, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner were due up. Snell had faced each of them twice, recording six swinging strikeouts. Snell was working on a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, zero walks, and only 73 pitches. He was dealing.


But the stat heads had decided before the game that Snell would not face any batter a third time. So Snell was lifted, without any discussion; without any consideration for what we were all seeing.

Blake Snell leaves the mound in the sixth inning of Tuesday's Game 6.
Blake Snell leaves the mound in the sixth inning of Tuesday's Game 6.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Bill Russell once said the object of defense is to make your opponent do something he doesn’t want to do. Cash did the opposite. The one thing the Dodgers did not want to do was face Snell any longer. So the manager of the Rays — following his stat heads' pregame plan, took Snell out of the game and the Dodgers quietly celebrated in their dugout.


Tampa’s Nick Anderson, a righty reliever who had given up runs in six consecutive postseason games, was summoned to pitch. Betts, who hits righties better than lefties, crushed a 2-0 pitch down the left-field line for a double, moving Austin Barnes to third. Barnes scored the tying run on Anderson’s wild pitch, and Betts scored the eventual winning run on Seager’s grounder to first. Betts added a solo home run in the eighth.

Betts could barely hide his glee over the removal of Snell.

When Fox Sports TV asked Betts about Tampa’s decision, a smiling Mookie said, "I’m not sure why, I’m not going to ask any questions. He was pitching a great game . . . It seems like that’s all we needed.''

In other words, "Thank You Tampa Analytics Department!''

Hall of Famers across the country were quick to weigh in. Jack Morris, who pitched 10 shutout innings to win a 1-0 World Series Game 7 in 1991, said his phone rang five times before the end of the inning. Morris told Minneapolis columnist Patrick Reusse, "Blake Snell was throwing better tonight than anyone I’ve ever seen in the World Series. These analytics guys we have now think numbers are more important than having an ace at his best on the hill.''


Frank Thomas tweeted, "Another Analytical Meltdown!! Total Disaster for Tampa Bay. Blake Snell was your only chance of winning a tight game tonight. 73 pitches are you kidding me!''

Cash will probably be named American League Manager of the Year soon. He is in no danger of being fired, nor does he deserve the beating he’s taking. He is, after all, just following orders. After the maneuver blew up on the Rays, Cash calmly said, "I regret it because it didn’t work out. I thought the thought process was right.''

That’s shorthand for . . . "they’d make me do it again.''

Faced with the same situation as Kevin Cash, what would Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox do?
Faced with the same situation as Kevin Cash, what would Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox do?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Red Sox fans need to pay attention.

The Rays, and their philosophy, were partly created by Bloom. The Rays have a manager who does not make decisions as much as he carries out the orders of the sun-starved, skull-imploding analytics guys from blue-chip universities.

The Red Sox are run by Bloom. They do not have a manager and their next move in this area will tell you a lot. As of this minute, the Sox are allowed to hire cheatin' Alex Cora, who has served his suspension. Ethics aside, hiring Cora would be an indication that the Red Sox want a manager who will be allowed to manage. Cora is not Bloom’s guy and has the gravitas to make his own decisions.

If the Sox don’t hire Cora and bring on one of the unknown and unproven candidates they’ve interviewed, it will be a clear indication the Tampa Bay Way is here to stay in Boston. Boston’s big league coaching staff is largely already in place. If a puppet manager is hired, get ready for a parade of openers, constant roster turnover, four-hour games, and curious maneuvers straight from the spreadsheets.


No more baseball for 2020. The Dodgers are world champs with a big assist from the Red Sox. The Alex Cora Watch is officially on and the announcement of the next Red Sox manager is going to tell you a lot about the direction of your baseball team.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.