Bob Brenly was a former catcher and third baseman in Major League Baseball, and after retiring, he managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title.

Brenly was a decent player; not a star, but certainly no slouch. He played with the San Francisco Giants for almost his whole career, which spanned from 1981 to 1989, and his best season came in 1984, when he hit .291 with 20 home runs and was an All-Star.

His most interesting moment as a player came in a game against the Atlanta Braves in 1986, when he set all sorts of baseball records. First, he committed four errors in just the fourth inning; then he made up for his mistakes by homering in the fifth inning, hitting a two-RBI single in the seventh and then homering again in the ninth to win the game.

After retiring, Brenly became a color commentator for the Fox network, but was interested in managing a team. The opportunity came when the Diamondbacks fired Buck Showalter, a disciplinarian whose team had a disappointing 2000 season. Brenly's style, in contrast, was easygoing, and the Diamondbacks responded by winning the 2001 NL West title and making the World Series.

That World Series, against a New York Yankees team that had won three straight titles, was one of the most exciting — and strangest — ever. Brenly contributed to the oddity by making two managerial decisions that most critics felt were eye-poppingly stupid. To wit:

  • In Game 4, with the Diamondbacks up two games to one in the seven-game series, Brenly brought in closer Byung-Hyun Kim to pitch the eighth and the ninth innings. No problem there; Kim usually only pitched one inning, but he hadn't thrown in a week and was well rested. Kim sailed through the eighth, but gave up a stunning home run to Tino Martinez with two outs in the ninth to lose the game.

    No problem with Brenly so far. However, in Game 5, he brought Kim in again in the ninth, even though he threw about 50 pitches the night before and even though his confidence was as low as could be. As the fates would have it, Kim gave up another homer with two outs in the ninth, this time to Scott Brosius, who isn't really a good hitter. The Yankees won it in extra innings, Kim never pitched again in the series, and one wonders if he will ever be an effective pitcher again.

  • Heading back to Arizona, the Diamondbacks were down three games to two, but they had star pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling scheduled to pitch. Schilling, however, had pitched Games 1 and 4, so it was unknown how long he could last in Game 7. So, the thinking was, the Diamondbacks needed to blow out the Yankees in Game 6, so then Brenly could remove Johnson early and use him in relief in Game 7. You with me?

    As it turned out, the Diamondbacks did blow out the Yankees in Game 6, scoring eight runs in the third inning. (Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was tipping his pitches, so the D-Backs knew if a fastball or a curve was coming.) But Brenly left Johnson in the game to pitch! It wasn't until after the seventh inning that Johnson came out, with the Diamondbacks leading 15-2. He had thrown 104 pitches.

    Did this mistake haunt the Diamondbacks? Nope. Schilling threw seven gutsy innings in Game 7 and left with the Yankees ahead by a run. After Miguel Batista came in to face a hitter, Brenly brought in Johnson to pitch, even though his arm was about to fall off. Johnson held the Yankees scoreless, and the Diamondbacks ended up winning the game, and the series, thanks to an amazing rally against Yankees star reliever Mariano Rivera.

So, the lesson here is ... sometimes you get lucky.

Brenly's career stats: http://www.baseball-reference.com/b/brenlbo01.shtml
More info: http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/B/Brenly_Bob.stm
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/ml/boxscores/2001/11/03/diamondbacks_yankees/

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