In Game 4 of the 2018 World Series last night, the LA Dodgers held a 4-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox going into the 7th inning. Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill was almost unhittable. No Red Sox player had advanced beyond first base to that point. However, in the 7th inning, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Hill from the game for a relief pitcher. The Red Sox go on to score 3 in the 7th inning, 1 in the 8th inning, and 5 in the 9th inning to win the game 9-6.
President Trump sent out the following tweet during the game:
Watching the Dodgers/Red Sox final innings. It is amazing how a manager takes out a pitcher who is loose & dominating through almost 7 innings, Rich Hill of Dodgers, and brings in nervous reliever(s) who get shellacked. 4 run lead gone. Managers do it all the time, big mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2018
Prima facie, Trump looks like he’s got a point. Why would Roberts pull a lights-out pitcher from the game? Especially in retrospect, it seems like a terrible move that cost the Dodgers the game. But Dave Roberts is no fool. Let’s ask the man himself:
“I didn’t hear about it [the tweet]. … The president said that?” Roberts responded. “I’m happy he was tuning in and watching the game. I don’t know how many Dodger games he’s watched. I don’t think he is privy to the conversation [had with Rich Hill]. That’s one man’s opinion.”
The conversation Roberts was referencing was the one he had with Hill in the dugout prior to the start of the seventh inning, during which Hill told the manager to “keep an eye” on him, as the lefty was starting to fatigue.
Roberts had local knowledge the President (and the millions of people watching the game) did not: Hill was getting tired. If Hill stayed in the game, the Red Sox may have scored even more runs.
Roberts’ decision only looks bad in retrospect and without the local knowledge he had. When incorporating in that local knowledge, the decision makes a lot more sense and it is doubtful the outcome would have changed.
To bring this to economics, we see how important local knowledge is to make decisions. When governments try to direct activity, they necessarily do not know this local knowledge. Donald Trump makes the same mistake with his cries of “tariffs” and “losing at trade” as he does with his baseball analysis.