Managing ain't what it used to be
With the angry mob of villagers steadily approaching with torches and pitchforks in hand, I often wonder why anyone would want to be a major league manager.
We've romanticized the position over the years. We love to see old film clips of Casey Stengel entertaining the writers with his Stengelese. Leo Durocher, man what a character. Never met a microphone he didn't like. And what could be better than an Earl Weaver tirade or a Sweet Lou rant?
We love those kind of characters. They get to tune up star athletes and put them in their place. Just like we would if we had a chance, eh?
Well, things are different. The old days are gone. What we have now are athletes who make more in two days than the manager makes all year. The threat of demotion isn't a shadow of what it was back when every team had hundreds of players in the minor leagues ready to take your job if you were out sick for a week. Now we've got asset management more than the merit system.
A modern manager either understands the new realities of dealing with multi-millionaires sitting on his bench, or he goes on to sell insurance or used cars and remembers the good old days.
The modern manager now has to teach fundamentals to major league players. Back when every team had many more minor league affiliates, you didn't make it to the show if you had glaring weaknesses in your fundamental game. Or if you did, it was because you were a stud player who filled an immediate need.
The modern manager has to deal with a new era of press relations. The press thinks they're the story very often now, and many times would love to be the guy who nails a big sports figure in a gaff.
The modern manager can't count on his veterans policing themselves. You're lucky if you have a clubhouse with guys like Frank Robinson (as a player) who hold kangaroo courts and dispense clubhouse justice over lack of hustle or mental errors. Instead, our manager gets to do this himself, in the absence of any authority figures in the Reds locker room.
And our modern manager gets to listen to our hero Franchester who smiles to his face and blasts him on the air. Mr."Tell it like it is"... Mr."I'll be here when you're gone" .... blaming Narron for the players lack of fundamental he inherited from guys he never coached in the minor leagues. So, if they can't perform what used to be considered basic skills, it's his fault. He should have been able to straighten all that out in spring training. What a load of crap.
Jerry Narron is still learning on the job. It's the Reds way in the last decade. We hire guys like Narron whom we don't have to pay much where we think we see the potential to become a good manager. We don't pay for the Sweet Lous of the world.
Then we assemble a team with a fraction of the payroll of teams like the Yankees and expect the manager to spin straw into gold.
We throw them down a well, don't throw them a rope, and get mad at them when they drown.
Still, you ask anyone who ever held the position, and they will gladly sign up for the next round of abuse. They ALL are hired with the absolute certainty that someday they'll be fired. That's their reality. That's what their families all know. That's the best they can hope for.
These guys must really love the game.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~ Mark Twain