The ultimate sign of respect for any hitter is generally thought to be the intentional walk. But what about the bases loaded intentional walk? What about a bases loaded intentional walk when the act brings the go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth inning during a pennant race? Actually, that doesn't sound respectful, that sounds kind of stupid. And that's exactly what Joe Maddon did yesterday afternoon when Josh Hamilton came to the plate in the eighth inning yesterday while the Rays held on to a 7-3 lead.
"I didn't want to see Hamilton there,'' Maddon said. "I mean, listen, it's his year, and why not have him hit a grand slam right there and really screw up ours.''
Said Byrd: "It was the right move in the right spot. When the guy's AL manager of the year like he's going to be, things go your way.''
In the end, it worked. Marlon Byrd made an out to end the eighth and the Rays went on to win 7-4 and increase their AL East lead to 4.5 games over the Red Sox. Still, can you imagine the backlash of Byrd hits a grand slam there? I suppose that sort of "if" isn't applicable here since it didn't happen, the Rays are in first place, and Maddon is a virtual lock for AL Manager of the Year.