11 October 2002

One-Man Show(alter)

Buck Showalter, apparently in high demand in an off-season that saw managers drop like files after the last pitch in September, has been hired by the Texas Rangers, on a four-year contract. Buck was rumoured to be headed for The Freindly Confines, Flatbush, Cow Country and even Siberia.

I would have liked to see what Buck could have done with the Cubbies, as I think that their recipe (a few good, seasoned veterans and some fresh, young talent, on a bed of crisp, green money with loyal fans on the side) would have suited his tastes very well. If I had ever written the column I promised on the managerial guillotines administered since the end of September, I would have said that I think that Jerry Narron was one of the least deserving of the axed-ones. The team really wasn't that bad, being 5th in the majors in runs scored, and closer to second than they were to sixth. But they used 27 pitchers, and, as they say in France: when you've got 27 pitchers, you've got no pitchers. That's not Narron's fault.

What I don't get is that the Mets didn't seem to have any interest in him. He was easily the most experienced manager out there who seems willing to get back into it (Davey Johnson seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth), and the Mets didn't even extend him an interview. Their criticism of him apparently, is that he's too much of a control freak, too big on "rules" (Like the rule about how you're not allowed to go back out onto the field after being ejected from a game?)....but the knock on Bobby Valentine was that he lost the control and therefore the respect of his club.

This seems to happen in lots of places, especially sports, business and politics:

1)Team/Group fails to have the success it wants/expects;
1-a) leadership is scapegoated and sent packing;
1-b) leader with opposite personal style/charachet from previous leader is brought in to "right ship";

Now, one of two things happens:
2) Team/Group continues to stink
2-a) new leader's personality traits are blamed for lack of success, or

3) Team improves temporarily,
3-a) new leader's traits credited, and then
3-b) team goes back to stinking and new leader's "act has worn thin" [go back to 1)]

This happened in Philadelphia last year when Terry Francona's lackadaisical approach was blamed for the Phillies' suckiness, so they brought in Larry Bowa, who promptly began to wear grooves in the floor of the Vet's home dugout. When the Phil's won a few games in 2001, Bowa's high-energy, take-charge attitude was said to rub off on his players, making them all want to play harder. When the Phillies returned to their established levels of play in 2002, Bowa's high-energy, take-charge attitude was said to rub his players the wrong way, and there are some who don't think that he'll last next year if the Phils don't win.

I'm not sure texas will be the best place for a guy like Showalter, though. They have no pitching, lots of overblown contracts on teh pitchers they do have, and a few primadonna-type players, who always seem to get on Showalter's bad side. If Carl Everett pulls the kinda crap on Buck's watch that he did under Jimy Williams with the Sawx, he'll find his ass on the first bus to Kansas City. Tom Hicks can afford to eat the rest of his contract. Good luck to Buck in his new digs, he's gonna need it.

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