We knew this day would come, fair NotGraphs readers. We knew that some day, Jim Leyland would no longer be the manager of the Detroit Tigers. The Gods of Baseball have spoken, and they have taken away the last of an already-dying breed. Baseball fans and pundits will remember Leyland for being a stalwart of the game, a manager with a good record of performance on the field. We readers and writers of NotGraphs will remember him for more whimsical reasons — the smoking, the cursing, the dancing, etc. If I’m being completely honest, there are no more fun managers left. Clint Hurdle is kind of fun, mostly for the way his face changes hues, but that’s about it.
There have been and will be more opinions flung through hyperspace about who should replace Leyland. Who will fill his sweat- and bunion-residue-filled shoes? Many will make cases for former managers, current bench coaches, and the like. But who will fill the cultural void left by Leyland? Who will lift our spirits and crack our smiles and give us conversational points when speaking with our dads? Who will manage the Tigers of our souls? The following are some possibilities. (warning: some of these have language that may require headphones if you are viewing in a space with coworkers or children)
This fulfills the Crazy Old Dude category. Former beloved actor and current talking head/nut bar Ed Asner has everything a player wants in a manager — a caring tone, a passion for what he thinks is right, and a penchant for falling asleep, allowing players to do whatever they want. Ed Asner hates losing almost as much as he hates fluoride, and will use the functional half of his face to tell anyone who will listen.
Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross:
Despite the fact that he would only allow one player to have coffee, this choice makes sense. His style makes for perfect motivation: cursing, yelling, cursing, degradation, and cursing. Also, switching up the game ball for a Cadillac El Dorado makes for some quality incentives. And don’t think for one minute that he will tolerate pitchers not getting the win. The leads are weak? YOU’RE weak. Mr. You’s watch/car comparison would have to be tweaked a little, but all-in-all his managerial style has potential.
Sick of the same old “we really got after it”/”at the end of the day”/”he’s a great run producer” talk from current managers? Let’s install a guy who speaks only in veiled psychobabble and an air of superiority. “The team lost because they chose to lose. Or, more specifically, they chose not to win. Because choosing to win leads to the inevitable fact that even if they keep winning, if they win every game they play, they will eventually lose the ultimate contest. They, like all of you, will die.” Try making a game story out of that, beat writers.
“Kelly! Get your ass in here!”
“Hey, Skip. Look, I’m sorry I missed the cutoff man in the 7th.”
“My name’s Pit. And you’re ass ain’t talking your way out of this shit.”
(Peralta)”Coach, it was my fault. I forgot to signal…”
“I DON’T REMEMBER ASKING YOU A GOD-DAMN THING.”
Look, guys. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer won’t have a job much longer. He has passion, he sweats a lot, he’s kinda old and kinda bald. Last I checked, that’s all you need to be a big league manager. Such a passionate guy needs a hobby of some kind, so why not make it managing a team of millionaires that need to win it all soon before all their stars get too old/expensive? I see no inherent flaws in this.
Bubb Rubb and Lil Sis:
It certainly would be out of the box, and most likely against the rules, but a two-manager team might be just what the Tigers need to get over that final hump and into the World Series. Mr. Rubb proves the age-old adage that, no matter what you say, as long as you say it with enough conviction, it seems totally reasonable. You know what? You ARE supposed to be up cooking breakfast for somebody. This man has a point! Plus, if he ever fails to get his message across, Lil Sis will be there to back them up. All aboard the train to a World Series Title! Wooo Wooooo!
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