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Some after-thoughts on USA v. Japan

Ken Krause

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May 7, 2008
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Mundelein, IL
Unfortunately, I ac.cidentally found out without seeing the game. Then again, it doesn't look like NBC is going to show it again the way they did all the other games, so I'm probably out of luck . Guess I can watch it online. But it's not the same as watching it in HD.

Anyway, if you're reading this you know that Team Japan upset Team USA in the gold medal game. I don't plan to analyze the game -- there are plenty of people already doing that. Instead, I want to analyze the analysis because I'm somewhat amused by the whole thing.

Many of us who coach talk about how tough it is to have parents (or administrators in the case of school coaches) second guessing every decision. Whether it's player selection or game strategies or something else, most coaches do the best they can with the information available at the time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes parents and others understand. Sometimes they get angry or show other negative reactions.

You sort of expect it at the youth level. Every parent thinks their kid is the best. So I'm amused as I look around at some of the online forums discussing what happened to Team USA.

For one thing, there is suddenly a lot of negative commentary about Head Coach Mike Candrea. Up until this game most of what I saw about him bordered on reverence. Now, though, there is a whole undercurrent that says he should never have been brought back, he doesn't know what he's doing, he did a poor job of player selection, his strategies were poor, etc.

Excuse me? Didn't this team blow through all their opponents in the prelims, and find a way to win against Japan and Ueno the first time? If he was as bad at his job as these naysayers are implying they would've lost more games instead of run ruling everybody.

A big part of that is player selection. There was talk in the messages I read that seemed to think they had the wrong players on the team. I don't get that either. You had an entire team of hitters who could hit for average and power. Their first two hitters have blazing speed, and most of the rest aren't too shabby in that area either. The pitching staff is the best in the world -- so good that it had to be a tough decision which one to start in this game. Who among us wouldn't love to have pitching choices the caliber of Osterman, Finch and Abbott?

I can't comment on the game strategy since I didn't see the game. I saw something about having Mendoza bunt instead of swing away. My guess is in that situation, assuming it didn't work out, there were going to be a lot of unhappy people no matter what he did.

All of this sounds so familiar, though. Coaches all over the world go through the same thing. Only the difference is most of us only have about 12-15 sets of parents to worry about. Coach Candrea has a couple of million of them sniping at him.

One last thing. I actually saw a person say they didn't win because they weren't hungry enough. You have got to be kidding. This group of women barnstormed all over the country, riding bus to play game after game, practicing, playing, working out, and busting their butts. Why would they do it if they weren't hungry for the win?

The truth is, on this particular day, Team Japan outplayed Team USA. They worked hard, took advantage of their opportunities and made it happen. Just like the USA hockey team did in 1980 when they beat the Soviet hockey machine. These things happen, people. On another day maybe Team USA wins. But not this day.

So I guess that's one more thing I (and a lot of others) get to share with Coach Candrea. Just remember it's a whole lot easier to make the decisions when you know the outcome of the one that's made. I'm sure Team USA was only a couple of bounces or a few inches away from a win. You know what happens. Get over it.

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May 12, 2008
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For one thing, there is suddenly a lot of negative commentary about Head Coach Mike Candrea. Up until this game most of what I saw about him bordered on reverence. Now, though, there is a whole undercurrent that says he should never have been brought back, he doesn't know what he's doing, he did a poor job of player selection, his strategies were poor, etc.
I take your point to an extent but I do remember MC getting pretty well hammered over the Nuveman bunting into a double play thing awhile back so I'd say it hasn't been all reverence up to this point.



A big part of that is player selection. There was talk in the messages I read that seemed to think they had the wrong players on the team. I don't get that either. You had an entire team of hitters who could hit for average and power. Their first two hitters have blazing speed, and most of the rest aren't too shabby in that area either. The pitching staff is the best in the world -- so good that it had to be a tough decision which one to start in this game. Who among us wouldn't love to have pitching choices the caliber of Osterman, Finch and Abbott? ]
I read some pointing out Tincher's achievements as well as Cochran and Gomez. I myself would have liked to see what Cochran could have done at team trials if she hadn't kept getting plunked. Lots of speculation on that I won't repeat. I don't know that a Gomez from a conference such as the Sunbelt ever really has a shot. After all, at one time they stuck Bustos on the B team till she embarrassed them. I don't pretend to know but I'd like to hear the thoughts of those closer to the system.

I can't comment on the game strategy since I didn't see the game. I saw something about having Mendoza bunt instead of swing away. My guess is in that situation, assuming it didn't work out, there were going to be a lot of unhappy people no matter what he did.
What do you suppose the thinking was there? Did he think they would go right at Bustos again? Or maybe at 2-0 Mendoza thought she could bunt for a base hit? Haven't seen the game so I'm asking.

All of this sounds so familiar, though. Coaches all over the world go through the same thing. Only the difference is most of us only have about 12-15 sets of parents to worry about. Coach Candrea has a couple of million of them sniping at him.
Goes with the territory. Weekly got viciously hammered awhile back over the WCWS but hey, he got there.


The truth is, on this particular day, Team Japan outplayed Team USA. They worked hard, took advantage of their opportunities and made it happen. Just like the USA hockey team did in 1980 when they beat the Soviet hockey machine. These things happen, people. On another day maybe Team USA wins. But not this day. ]
Yeah, one swing of the bat at the right time and it's a different story. Perhaps, in the long run, it's best for the sport internationally anyway.

So I guess that's one more thing I (and a lot of others) get to share with Coach Candrea. Just remember it's a whole lot easier to make the decisions when you know the outcome of the one that's made. I'm sure Team USA was only a couple of bounces or a few inches away from a win. You know what happens. Get over it.
Hindsight is 20-20 but the discussion is a good thing for coaches still trying to learn.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,421
38
Mundelein, IL
I take your point to an extent but I do remember MC getting pretty well hammered over the Nuveman bunting into a double play thing awhile back so I'd say it hasn't been all reverence up to this point.
Well, it's been mostly reverence. I do remember that play though. It was in the first World Cup Series. He calls for a bunt with runners on first and second and Nuveman at the plate, nursing a sore knee. She misses the first one, tries again and the Japanese third baseman was in her kitchen. Throws out the runner at third, and Nuveman gets doubled at first by a country mile. Probably not the best call of his career, even if you don't know the outcome ahead of time.


I read some pointing out Tincher's achievements as well as Cochran and Gomez. I myself would have liked to see what Cochran could have done at team trials if she hadn't kept getting plunked. Lots of speculation on that I won't repeat. I don't know that a Gomez from a conference such as the Sunbelt ever really has a shot. After all, at one time they stuck Bustos on the B team till she embarrassed them. I don't pretend to know but I'd like to hear the thoughts of those closer to the system.
It's not a perfect system to be sure. No doubt there are a lot of deserving players, some who never get a shot. But I still think the players they had were awfully darned good. I wouldn't say any were undeserving of the opportunity, particularly the starters.

What do you suppose the thinking was there? Did he think they would go right at Bustos again? Or maybe at 2-0 Mendoza thought she could bunt for a base hit? Haven't seen the game so I'm asking.
Me either so I don't know. Maybe he was looking at how they were struggling and figured he had to try something to get things going. Who hasn't been desperate to make something happen?

Goes with the territory. Weekly got viciously hammered awhile back over .the WCWS but hey, he got there.
Yeah, it would've seemed like he should win the WCWS, but that's why they play the game. But Candrea has really enjoyed an esteemed place in the pantheon for the most part, more than Weekly. But as with anything else the people can turn quickly


Hindsight is 20-20 but the discussion is a good thing for coaches still trying to learn.
No doubt. In the end, though, I think it's also good for coaches to see that nobody's perfect, and even the top level coaches can get skewered if their teams don't win.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,421
38
Mundelein, IL
You and me both, brother.

Funny story on that. In our last practice game of the season we have a tradition that the girls can play anywhere they want, and coach themselves. We coaches sit in the stands and cheer.

Top of the seventh and we're at bat, down by three. My daughter had decided to coach third. We are mounting a comeback, I think had narrowed the gap to two with a runner on second and two outs. Hitter nails a ball, runner on second starts for third. My daughter waves her home. This is not a particularly fast kid, and she slows some after 60 feet. Needless to say she's thrown out by several steps at home. I turn to the rest of the parents in the stands and say, "It runs in the family."
 

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