The complicated legacy of John Schneider

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August 29: Run Kirk Run

The other moment which probably first comes to mind when thinking about Schneider’s 2023 blunders, because, well, pretty much anything involving Alejandro Kirk running tends to stick out in the minds of fans …

Trailing 5-3 with one out in the eighth inning, the not-exactly-fleet-footed Kirk found himself on third base with pinch hitter Daulton Varsho at the plate. Surely this would be a moment to replace Kirk with a pinch runner.

Not for John Schneider.

Moments later, Varsho drove a medium depth fly ball to center, and Kirk, tagging up, was gunned out at the plate. Double play, inning over.

The decision became particularly glaring when the Jays loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but were only able to muster one run, losing 5-4.

September 22: Romano’s Fingernail

The freshest example of a Schneider meltdown in our memory …

With the Jays nursing a 6-5 lead entering the bottom of the ninth after an astonishing comeback from 5-0 down in Tampa Bay, Schneider turned to Jordan Romano, who had not blown a save since May 20, to close it out.

From the first couple of pitches, it was clear that something was wrong. Romano kept glancing down at his finger, fiddling with it. We would later learn that this was the result of a cracked fingernail acquired the day before.

Worse still, whether because of his finger or not, Romano simply didn’t have it. Three consecutive hits and the lead was lost.

Eventually, with two outs and runners on first and third, Josh Lowe stepped to the plate, a classic Rays hitter who is a star in specific situations – an .841 OPS against right-handed pitchers – and a black hole in others -- a .631 OPS against lefties.

With the light-hitting Manuel Margot on deck, it seemed that there were two clear options – intentionally walk Lowe and pitch to Margot, or pull an obviously-injured Romano in favor of the lefty Tim Mayza to face Lowe.

Schneider did neither, and Lowe promptly singled home the winning run.