16 September 2009

Caught Being Juan Pierre

I chose to bring it out because that's me, no matter what it is. If I had that choice, probably 100 times, I'd do it again.

--- Leodis McKelvin, after fumbling away a kickoff with two minutes left in last Monday's Bills-Pats game. The fumble led to the Patriots scoring the winning touchdown.

Right after Juan Pierre was caught stealing third base in the third inning of today's series finale against Pittsburgh, I thought of Leodis McKelvin, and the burning desire to some players to be themselves even when it costs their team. I can imagine Juan Pierre saying something very similar to the McKelvin quote if asked about his caught stealing of third base. I can also imagine him admitting that he made a mistake. I really don't know what he'll say, if asked about it.

Pierre's decision to steal third with no outs and several good hitters due up was so bad that even Vinny was having none of it, and Vinny is usually quite forgiving of stolen base attempts that go awry. I'm not really sure I can get behind even his decision to steal second, even though that one was successful. One one hand you can reasonably worry about the double play with Belliard up and Ethier on deck. You might also look at the count ( Pierre stole second on a 2-1 count ) and conclude that Belliard might walk and get you to second anyway ( Belliard did eventually walk ). But I can't help but thinking that none of this calculus of the situation ever entered Juan Pierre's mind. I believe he tried to steal those bases because that's his game. That's who he is. Fair enough. I just wish he'd be someone other than Juan Pierre on company time.

The supposed mistake Leodis McKelvin committed was taking the kickoff out of the endzone when he could have just knelt for a touchback and not risked a fumble on the return. But I think I agree with Gregg Easterbrook ( who wrote about this in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN ) that the return out of the endzone was okay, it was the extra effort for another meaningless yard at the end when the ball was stripped that was the real mistake. Just go down as soon as they're on you. Instead, wasted, counter-productive effort. That's what doomed McKelvin and the Bills. It's also what doomed Pierre when he tried to steal third. He's a hard worker, an all-out player. We know that. But going all-out just results in all outs. I've written about this before --- sometimes Pierre doesn't know when to hold back. At the plate, and on the basepaths. He was caught again.

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