Miley seems to have put Reds debacle safely behind
Friday, January 27, 2006
There is something a little unfair about all this.
Last year at this time, Dave Miley was managing the Cincinnati Reds. The organization had just given him a couple of high-profile starting pitchers, and as he made the winter tour it finally appeared that the bad team he had been managing for two seasons might actually have a chance to win.
It was a cruel joke. The pitchers, to be blunt, smelled like garbage in the Florida sun, and it wouldn’t have mattered if Joe Torre, Bobby Cox or Tony LaRussa had been managing the Reds.
So yesterday, Miley was in the Arena Grand Theatre, meeting and greeting old friends as the manager of the Columbus Clippers.
See how this works?
"I’m happy to be with the Yankees," Miley said.
Miley was smiling as he said that. He really meant it, as unjust as his situation seems. He is happy to be with the Yankees. He is happy to have a job, a good job, as a manager again. This is a tough, tough business.
"When I got the call from the Yankees organization, it was basically a no-brainer," he said. "I’m excited to be sitting here with you."
Perhaps he exaggerated a little, but he truly means what he says about being delighted with the opportunity to manage in Columbus. He spent almost eight years managing Louisville and Indianapolis in the International League before he got his chance to manage the Reds in 2003. If you look at his record, you can see why this is such comfortable territory for him. In eight seasons, he had only one third-place finish. The rest were firsts and seconds.
These are familiar faces and this is familiar terrain. When he spied International League president Randy Mobley, he grinned so hard he almost winced. Mobley said he was glad to have Miley back in the league. Miley said he was glad to be back, then told Mobley that he got along with all of his umpires except one.
There was a hushed explanation, a few chuckles and then Miley excused himself for a moment and said hello to another familiar face from his IL days.
"He’s a good guy," Mobley said. "It’s good to have him back."
Mobley meant that, but you can tell that he also feels for the guy. It was an unmistakable undercurrent of at least the news-media portion of the Clippers’ Winterfest, that it’s great to have a good manager and all-around nice guy like Miley in charge, but. There is always that but.
"You could talk about a lot different things, anywhere that you manage," he said. "Quite honestly, wherever you are, it boils down to winning more games than you lose. Baseball teams go through a lot of different things, regardless of where you are."
This is as close as he comes to analyzing his situation in Cincinnati, and frankly, it’s not close. When he says "that’s all done," he means it. He was soon talking about all the years he spent coming into Cooper Stadium as an opposing manager, how he hated how the Clippers were always scoring runs and ringing those cowbells and how he hopes they will be ringing for his teams now.
Still, he lives in Covington, Ky., across the river from Great American Ball Park, which used to be his office, and it has to be hard for him not to notice that the guy who replaced him is probably going to be given a better chance to win than he had.
There is aggressive new ownership in Cincinnati. You get the feeling, and it’s only a feeling at this point, that the Reds might finally be on the move. Miley was with the organization for 26 years — think about that — and now he’s not, when things might be finally changing for the better. "Again, that’s in the past, and I’m glad to be in this organization," he said. He smiled. "You know me, I’m not gonna change." It’s one reason it’s so good to have him in the Columbus dugout. But.
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch