I'm sure Clint Hurdle is a perfectly nice guy with lots of friends and a happy, loving family. I'm sure he trims his neighbor's shrubs. I'm sure he rescues one kitten per day from his local SPCA. I'm sure he runs a soup kitchen out of his garage. I'm sure he is the quintessential mensch.
I hate him.
And if Brad Lidge and Charlie Manuel were even half as spiteful as I am, they would hate him twice as much as I do.
It was 2008 and Brad Lidge was in the middle of his Faustian campaign that saw him go a perfect 41 for 41 in save chances and post a 1.95 ERA in 69.1 innings. At the break, Lidge had posted a spectacular 1.12 ERA along with 55 strikeouts in 40 innings of work, which earned him the all-important "closer" designation on Clint Hurdle's NL All-Star team. As such, according to The Book, this meant that Lidge (as a member of the visiting team) would be the last man to pitch for the NL -- no matter what.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and the NL holding a slim 3-2 lead, former Phillies closer Billy "The Rat" Wagner entered the game and promptly allowed a Grady Sizemore single. Sizemore then stole second and Evan Longoria ripped a ground rule double to tie the score at three. That's how it stayed for a while. Six times between the ninth inning and the fifteenth inning Clint Hurdle had Brad Lidge warming in the pen. This after he had not warmed up more than once all season. Over that span he threw an estimated 120 pitches. Lidge finally entered the game in the bottom of the fifteenth looking spent. He loaded the bases with one out for Michael Young who hit a sac fly to end it.
Lidge was not quite as sharp in the second half of the season and dealt with some shoulder soreness that he attributed to Hurdle's (mis)usage of him in the All Star Game:
Lidge said his shoulder had not felt 100 percent since before the All-Star Game last month at Yankee Stadium. But he also acknowledged that the way he was used at the All-Star Game did not help matters.
"He's just now getting back to where he should be, really," said manager Charlie Manuel, who was not happy that Hurdle used his closer like that in an exhibition game. "That he's sore every now and then goes back to the fact that he threw 120 pitches and he's only used to throwing around 30."
When Charlie Freakin' Manuel is criticizing you for subjecting a pitcher to an unnecessary risk, you know you are a real poopyhead.
It is at this point that I should note that if we are taking a logically consistent approach in this hatefest, we'd pause to give Bud Selig his propers for his not inconsequential role in all of this. Clint Hurdle didn't make the rules which ended up requiring Lidge to throw 120 warm up pitches, he was just following them. You see, before 2003 I used to say to myself "If I could do one thing to make the MLB All-Star Game worse than it already is, I'd make home field advantage in the World Series dependent on its outcome." Nothing screams "cognitive dissonance" like taking a for-fun exhibition game that players have treated as meaningless from time immemorial and attaching meaningful stakes to it. But lo and behold, Selig -- as is his wont -- did exactly the wrong thing and made home field advantage in the World Series dependent on the outcome of the All-Star Game. Genius!
While things ultimately worked out fine for Lidge and the Phillies that season, it was nevertheless a maddening example of these shimmering binary stars of stupidity aligning to subject an important member of the Phillies to unnecessary abuse in a meaningfully meaningless game.
So Clint Hurdle's farts very well might smell like lavender, but I hate him and I hate his stupid face.
(And Bud Selig is just a terrible thing, but you already knew that.)