It's the quote that will haunt the New York Mets and their fans all offseason: "I let my heart get in the way of my gut."
Terry Collins had a best-case scenario plan heading into Game 5: Matt Harvey for seven innings, Jeurys Familia for two. Harvey was so good, however, Collins got eight scoreless innings from him. With that gift of an additional inning in his pocket, Collins was going to his closer; he would stick to the plan. We all know what happened: Harvey talked himself into remaining in the game, Collins went with his heart, the whole thing fell apart and the Kansas City Royals are World Series champions.
Ian O'Connor writes that Collins made the right choice. The results will always say otherwise. Here are some other situations where managers had to choose between their hearts and their brains. Some of the choices worked out, some of them didn't:
Tom Kelly and Jack Morris, Game 7, 1991 World Series
The Twins and Braves were tied 0-0 after nine innings. Morris had thrown 118 pitches in the game, 282 innings on the season. Like Collins, Kelly was ready to go to the bullpen. Like Harvey, Morris talked himself into remaining in the game. From a 2003 story by Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated:
Kelly turned. He looked Morris in the eye.
"I can pitch," Morris said.
Kelly paused, then said, "Oh, hell. It's only a game."
"He was giving me the chance to take myself out," says Morris. "But I think he wanted me to look him in the eye and say, 'I'm not going nowhere. This is my game.'"
Morris breezed through an eight-pitch top of the 10th. The Twins won it in the bottom of the inning, and Morris' outing became legendary.
Tom Kelly and Frank Viola, Game 7, 1987 World Series
Four years earlier, Kelly made a different decision: Leading 4-2 through eight innings, he pulled Viola for closer Jeff Reardon. Considering Reardon had been shaky that season with a 4.48 ERA and 14 home runs allowed in 80 1/3 innings, it would have been easy to stick with his ace who had just pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but he'd been trusting his bullpen all postseason. He did again, and Reardon retired the side in order.
Bucky Harris and Walter Johnson, Game 7, 1925 World Series
The Senators were going for a second straight title behind the aging future Hall of Famer, who had won Games 1 and 4. The final game in Pittsburgh was played in a downpour. By the end of the game, the field was a mud pit. The Senators scored four runs in the top of the first, but the Pirates chipped away. Johnson was pitching on a sore leg, and the Pirates began bunting on him. They tied it 6-6 in the seventh, the Senators later took a one-run lead and then the Pirates scored three in the bottom of the eighth. Johnson remained in, going the distance but giving up 15 hits in a 9-7 loss.
Pundits ripped into Harris as soon as the game was over. American League president Ban Johnson said the game had been lost for reasons of sentimentality. The New York Times wrote, "Water, mud, fog, mist, sawdust, fumbles, wild throws, wild pitches, one near fistfight, impossible rallies -- these were mixed up to make the best and the worst game of baseball ever played in this century. Players wallowing ankle-deep in mud, pitchers slipping as they delivered the ball to the plate, athletes skidding and sloshing, falling full length, dropping soaked baseballs -- there you have part of the picture that was unveiled on Forbes Field this dripping afternoon. It was a great day for water polo."
The Washington Post was more succinct: "Pittsburgh skies wept in sympathy for the lost hopes of Walter Johnson and Washington."
Johnny Keane and Bob Gibson, Game 7, 1964 World Series
Gibson wasn't yet BOB GIBSON, but Keane was going to stick with his right-hander. The Cardinals had a comfortable 7-3 lead heading into the ninth. With one out, Clete Boyer homered off a tiring Gibson. With two outs, light-hitting Phil Linz homered. Gibson remained in and got Bobby Richardson to pop out to end it. Keane after the game: "I made a commitment to his heart." Lucky for him, he had a nice cushion for that heart.
John McNamara and Bill Buckner, Game 6, 1986 World Series
The famous one. All postseason, McNamara and been replacing the hobbled Buckner at first base with Dave Stapleton for defensive purposes late in games. After the Red Sox took the lead in the top of the 10th, Buckner remained in the game; McNamara would say he wanted him on the field for the final out.
Note what Royals manager Ned Yost said after Game 5. He felt bad that he had to pinch run for catcher Salvador Perez in the top of the 12th and that he would have wanted Perez in there to leap into Wade Davis' arms. But winning comes before sentiment.
Bobby Cox and Tom Glavine, Game 6, 1995 World Series
Glavine had been brilliant for the Braves, with a one-hitter and eight strikeouts through eight innings against the Indians, who had one of the most powerful lineups ever seen. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth, Cox hit for Glavine, even though he was only at 109 pitches, which wasn't considered as extreme in 1995 as it is now. Mark Wohlers threw a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Braves won their one World Series title of the era. In this case: Brains over heart.
Buck Showalter and David Cone, Game 5, 1995 Division Series
The Yankees were leading 4-2 entering the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Ken Griffey Jr. homered. With two outs, Tino Martinez walked and Jay Buhner singled. Showalter had lost confidence in his bullpen after Game 4. He left a tiring Cone in the game. Pinch-hitter Alex Diaz walked to load the bases. Cone was gassed. Pinch-hitter Doug Strange walked to force in a run. Finally, after 147 pitches from Cone, Showalter went to the bullpen, but it was too late; the Mariners would win in extra innings.
Walter Alston and Sandy Koufax, Game 7, 1965 World Series
Alston famously started Koufax on two days' rest instead of Don Drysdale on three days' rest. Koufax, with 351 innings on his left arm, was "pitching on fumes," as Jane Leavy wrote in her biography of Koufax. He walked two batters in the first inning. Drysdale got up in the bullpen. Koufax kept shaking catcher Johnny Roseboro off whenever Roseboro called for his curveball. "Rosie, my arm's not right. My arm's sore." He basically threw only his fastball after the first couple of innings. At one point, Vin Scully wondered how long he could go with just one pitch. (You can watch the entire game here.)
Koufax held a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Drysdale had again warmed up in the bullpen. Harmon Killebrew reached on an infield single with one out, bringing up right-handed power hitters Earl Battey and Bob Allison. Battey struck out looking. Allison struck out swinging. It was Koufax's 29th complete game of the season. He could barely pump his fist in celebration; he simply walked toward Roseboro and shook his hand.
Grady Little and Pedro Martinez, Game 7, 2003 ALCS
Leading 4-2 after seven innings, Pedro walked off the mound and shook hands in the dugout. But after David Ortiz homered in the top of the eighth, Pedro went back out there. With one out, Derek Jeter doubled. Bernie Williams singled on Martinez's 115th pitch of the game. With Hideki Matsui up, Little visited the mound.
"Pedro wanted to stay in there," Little said after the game. "He wanted to get the job done, just as he has many times for us all season long, and he's the man we all wanted on the mound."
Matsui hit a ground-rule double, sending Williams to third. Martinez remained in the game. Jorge Posada blooped a hit to center field to tie it up. Finally, after 118 pitches, Little removed Pedro from the game.
"Pedro Martinez has been our man all year long," Little said.
After the Yankees won the game and series on Aaron Boone's homer in the 11th inning, Little was fired.
Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner, Game 7, 2014 World Series
Sure, the decision looks like an easy one now, but it wasn't so cut and dried at the time. Bumgarner was relieving on two days' rest. He had thrown more innings in one postseason than any pitcher in history. Giants closer Santiago Casilla had had a great year: 1.70 ERA, no runs in the postseason, and he'd pitched just two-thirds of an inning the entire postseason. Bumgarner stayed in. The Giants won.
Is there any difference between Bochy's decision to stick with Bumgarner and Collins' decision to stick with Harvey?
"You couldn't have pried the ball out of his hands," teammate Tim Hudson said of Bumgarner after the game.
"We just got on this horse and rode it," Bochy explained.