September 22, 2019

The Loneliness of the Game:the Manager

June 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1989, shortly before being suspended from duties as manager, Pete Rose stated: “managing is much harder than playing, sitting there, observing everything, responsible for everything and alone, helpless…”

It is true, because in baseball, when a club wins it is the players, but when they lose, 98 % of the time it is the manager who is faulted. Changing this perception may start with “surprising Baltimore,” where Buck Showalter will have something to say about it.

But there are managers that nobody knows what should be done with them, like Joe Maddon of the Tampa Rays. The Dominican Carlos Peña produces as a leadoff batter, but maybe the best thing is batting him third and fourth. The prolonged slump for the left-hander maybe will not last as long this time.

Since baseball began to take seriously as a sport, line-ups began to  conform to a well-defined set of rules, fixed, unless an injury or poor poor performance  suggested benching the player to give them less responsibility until the unproductive asphyxia passes.

The modern game of baseball, that nobody knows what year began, has everything from no so good managers and strategists to those considered great motivators, as Tom Lasorda. Then there are those considered almost clowns, such as Bobby Valentine, while other very good managers do not give the note to motivating, as with Jim Leyland.

However, the times have changed everything: a regular manager can win with the best market or club, as Joe Torre, while there are franchises that do not help other excellent leaders, who will collapse amid criticisms and frustrations, the majority those difficulties unearned.

Today the game is called money. From 40 years owners has been thinking the manager is not so important, they see his responsibility in the field as something that anyone can do.

For the “modern” historians, Tony Larussa is God relative to others, almost a standard for the game, but he imposed harsh conditions often on his starting pitchers for complete games, even no hits no runs.

For those who truly know baseball, there is no one like John McGraw, the pilot who was more than 30 years managing in major league baseball. He was able to change the defensive play when was the livelier ball was put into use from 1920, concluding the period known as the “dead-ball era,” that also included the end of spit ball, but gradfathered some few pitchers to continue using it for a few years

McGraw, who almost brought into play the “hit and run,” so frequent did he use it that, as Ruth with the bat, it became a symbol of baseball field strategy.

Today a manager may not seem worth his salt in the front Office’s estimation, because clubs are made with so much money paid to players that too often do not deserve it by the numbers that they put up, but still get the salary.

In past eras, managers like John McGraw, Mack, Griffith, Herzog… were the soul of baseball, they started as good players or even stars during their time, but they were willing to manage for a salary that today would fetch maybe a box of cigars or a bottle of good whiskey, which would have been okay for most of them.

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