CLEVELAND: It was another tough loss for the Indians Tuesday night, when a mental blunder by Matt LaPorta in the 12th inning gave the Minnesota Twins the lead for good.
Managers don’t have much control over what goes on in a game aside from filling out the lineup card, directing where his players should position themselves defensively and whether a sacrifice bunt or hit-and-run is in order. The players are the ones who must execute on the field, so in that regard a manager can only feel frustration and a little helplessness after things don’t work.
Northeastern Ohio fans often wonder why manager Manny Acta doesn’t show more emotion — that is, negative emotion — when the Tribe gives away a game in extra innings. The most important reason is that the modern manager maintains a poker face throughout the game, always looking impassively toward the field, showing an inscrutable face to the television cameras and his players.
But when nobody is looking, Acta can kick a trash can or take a bat to the Gatorade jug with the best of them.
“I’ve been through it before,” Acta said. “So whatever I do when I blow off steam, I don’t do it in front of you guys. That doesn’t mean I don’t throw things around.”
Many fans think that mental mistakes like the one LaPorta made are a result of the team quitting on a season that totally collapsed in August.
“We made it clear to these guys after what went on throughout August that it’s now September and they are being evaluated,” Acta said, not only referring to their play on the field but their attitude. “We want to see if anybody is going to point fingers or move forward.”
Acta doesn’t think the team has quit.
“If they stopped giving effort, that would be one thing,” he said. “But when you make two of the top teams in the American League [Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers] bring in their closers in the last game of two straight series, I don’t think you can say that. It’s just somebody’s opinion.
“Sometimes effort is not going to win a game. Sometimes the other team is just better.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.