Tuesday, October 25th, 2005
6:43 pm - The Go Go Sox, and the Hunt for a Sabermetrically Correct Manager...  
So, the massive meeting of three storms in the Atlantic is in full swing. Wilma, Alpha, and the nor'easter to be named later are blowing like crazy, and dumping barrels of rain on us. So far none of it seems to be in my basement, which is still a tad damp from the last rain. We'll see.

The World Series has been interesting so far. First off there's the novelty factor. Neither of these teams has been in the Series in 44 years I've followed baseball. It's fun having new teams for a change, although apparently I'm the only one outside of Chicago and Houston who thinks so. The ratings are reported to be awful. Second, it's looking good for the team all the rabid sabermetricians love to hate, the White Sox. The sabermetric proponents hate "smart ball," they hate Ozzie Guillen, they hate Joe Crede, and they especially hate Scott Podsednik, Sunday night's hero, because he doesn't fit their idea of a proper player. Heh.

The thing is, I consider myself one of them, and believe in the most of the same principles that they do. It's just that there's a similar vibe for me to what's been going on in Serenity fandom, where some of the most rabid browncoats have been alienating some of the less rabid fans. It's the whole "Ya know, I may agree with you, but I really don't want to be considered part of any club that would have crazy folks like you as members," thing.

The argument is kind of unavoidable right now for Dodger fans. The GM, Paul DePodesta believes wholeheartedly in sabermetrics, and manager Jim Tracy is gone is because he didn't. Now every potential candidate for the job is being assessed by the fans at large for their commitment to the sabermetric way, much like Harriet Miers is being assessed by conservatives for her beliefs. And much like the situation with Miers and her detractors, most of folks discussing the Dodger managerial search have nothing more than vague impressions to go on in making these judgements, but why should that stop anyone from having an opinion. Here's a run down on the candidates:

Terry Collins: Currently the director of the Dodgers' minor league system, which is fast regaining its reputation as one of the best in the business after years of neglect by the Fox regime. He reportedly gets along well with DePo. He's managed in the majors before (Astros and Angels), but was run out of town by his players in both instances, which sort of makes him the anti-Tracy. Considered the front runner, at least before Orel Hershiser was added to the list.

Jerry Royster: Former Dodger player who briefly managed the Brewers. He's currently the manager of AAA Las Vegas in the Dodger system. I suspect he's getting his interview mostly out of courtesy to the highest ranking manager left in the system.

Alan Trammell: Was let go as manager of the Tigers at the end of the season, although he seemed to have done okay with what little management provided him there. Certainly he was by far the best player of any of the guys being considered, but I'm not sure how that translates to managing. The main reason the fans seem to like him is that he would probably bring along his bench coach from Detroit, Kirk Gibson, he man who hit the biggest home run in Dodger history, as part of the deal.

Ron Wotus: The bench coach for the Giants for the last few years. As far as most fans are concerned, neither the Giants GM nor manager are sabermetrically sound, so why should this guy be. Besides, he was with the frelling Giants, for chrissake...

Torey Lovullo: Managed the Indians AA team this year, which is apparently proof for some that he's the perfect choice, since the Indians seem to take their sabermetrics seriously. He seems to be the primary dark horse candidate.

Orel Hershiser: Currently the Rangers' pitching coach, Orel is the fan favorite, a great former player who was the author of the team's last championship. A lot of fans want him regardless of philosphy just for that. He's certainly the best candidate from a PR standpoint. Plus, the sabermetrics guys say, he uses computers, and he looks like a nerd, so he must be a sabermetrics guy. Okay. I suppose. Has never managed at any level, and former pitchers rarely get hired, but the Dodgers have done pretty well for themselves with at least one ex-pitcher at the helm, Tommy Lasorda.

For myself, I'd like to see Hershiser get the call. One of the things that I've always liked about the Dodgers, at least until Fox got hold of them, was the sense of continuity that existed, especially as far as management went. For most of the time I've followed the team, there were only two managers, Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda. This is now an organization that let a lot of their traditional strengths, especially their farm system, erode away under Fox. Bringing in Orel, regardless of his philosophy, would hearken back to those traditions. I don't think that would be a bad thing.

I have one other thought about the Series so far. Craig Biggio, you waited 18 years to play in a World Series, and then you drop a pop up? What the frell were you thinking about while you were camped out under there.

Okay, so that wasn't my last comment. It's been a Kinkstastik post season. First, their "Superman" has been the primary opening theme for the Series broadcasts, complete with little rotoscoped capes. Plus, one of the ESPN games during the divisional series opened with "Do It Again." How cool is that?

Finally, speaking of someone getting a little overly carried away, if Ugueth Urbina offers you a job, best to just walk away quickly.
Current Mood: wet
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Veejaneveejane on October 26th, 2005 - 02:17 pm
Now see, I feel I legitimately hate the White Sox because they bug me unreasonably. Knowing it's unreasonable makes it legitimate; although the bad calls and the irritatingness of fulminating love on ESPN help reinforce my basic dislike.

Also, finding out that Bobby Jenks once set his own hand on fire, on purpose? Not really surprised the Angels got rid of him. Guillen has some bizarre ability to handle players with personality problems, but I bet Mike Scioscia would consider it a waste of his time.

I enjoy Orel Hershiser's fussiness, seeing him tinker with his pitchers' motions this year, but I'm not convinced he is really a nerd. For one thing, I think he has a particular idea of what pitches are effective, without taking into account whether his pitchers are any good at throwing them.
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Hecubothecubot on October 26th, 2005 - 09:29 pm
I'd like to see Hershisher get it too. He was on the A's short list when things briefly fell apart with Macha and I was surprised at how excited I was at the prospect.

There's oddly no tradition of pitchers managing, though. Not like catchers and utility infielders have done.
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DXMachinadxmachina on October 27th, 2005 - 01:32 am
OTOH, not many catchers besides Charley Lau become hitting coaches.

<gross generalization>I guess it's that most pitchers tend to be a bit apart from the game unless they're actually in it. They're off in the bullpen comparing grips checking out chicks rather than worrying about game strategy. Catchers have to worry about pitching and hitting</gross generalization>

Mathewson managed for a little while. As previously mentioned, Lasorda did for a very long time. Bob Lemon was pretty successful, too. The only other guy I can think of in recent years was Ray Miller.

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