Saturday, June 26, 2010
A Rant On Jim Leyland
Bear with me, kids, but this has been building inside of me for a while. When I’m not doing my usual “Jo Jo the Idiot Circus Monkey” schlong joke jamboree here at the DNR, I usually try to give an opinion that is honest, but perhaps not the general consensus of other Tiger fans I read and/or I talk to.
For example, I was pro-Gary Sheffield when not many were due to his high OBP and will to win. I was very much in favor of signing Jose Valverde when most were not. I’m of the opinion that Brandon Inge may possibly be the bloody antichrist while the majority of Tigerland wants a statue of him built in left field at Comerica Park. I even wanted Josh Anderson to be a starter, thinking he was going to morph into some sort of 1980’s Vince Coleman-type player. I’m not always right. (Don’t tell anyone.) But the point is, I try not to be anything close to cliché over here.
But I’m kind of about to be in this piece. Again, stick with me on this, if you will.
It is very cliché for a baseball fan to rag on the manager of his team. “He’s an idiot.” “Fire the bum.” “Heck, I could do a better job running the team than this clown.”
You can read comments like that after every article dealing with the Tigers over at tigers.com, the Freep, or the Detroit News site. Baseball fans always think they are smarter than the manager, no matter which club they’re a fan of. Second guessing the skipper has become an art form in today’s sports viewing with ESPN’s talking heads, instant replay, and of course, the internet becoming more and more prominent. Being a manager is a thankless job that one would have to be a little bit crazy to want to do in the first place. Look at Joe Torre, for crissakes. All the guy did in New York was win and it still wasn’t enough for them.
But screw Torre. This is a Tigers blog. And I am frigging sick and tired of Jim Leyland and how he runs the Detroit Tigers baseball team. At times, I even hate him more than Don Kelly. (I know!)
The icing on the cake for me, for whatever reason, was in the series finale against the Mets on Thursday. I can’t quite remember how it came up, but Mario and Rod were talking about stats, computer printouts, and whatnot. Then they said that Leyland wasn’t into any of that. They commented that at most, he’ll have one piece of paper that he’s written things on. Mario even noted that Jim’s seems proud that he “doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer.”
It is 2010, kids. Our manager is proud of the fact that he doesn’t know how to take advantage of information that might make his team better. He brags about being stuck in his ways. He continues to hurt the team when a regular player is hurt by just subbing a Quad-A player in the starter’s normal spot in the batting order, whether it’s Don Kelly leading off or Ryan Raburn hitting third. Mother of God, the most inept hitting player on the team, Gerald Laird, was second in the lineup the other day. What the fudge, man? It is ridiculous to me.
How many games did Jim cost us by stubbornly batting .230 hitter extraordinaire, Clete Thomas, third in the batting order last year? How many ballgames this season have been lost by his decision to bring make Dontrelle Willis the #5 starter over Our Hero, Nate Robertson or maybe Eddie Bonine? Exactly how long was he planning on leaving a gassed Fernando Rodney in there during the infamous Game 163? Why was Figaro starting the most important game of the year (at the time) last year and Polanco getting a day off the final week of the season when we needed him most? When exactly is he going to have a talk with Carlos Guillen about throwing, whether it be to the wrong base twice in the same game from left field against KC earlier this year, or throwing sidearm at second base and pulling Miguel Cabrera off the bag multiple times this month? (Apologies for the run-on sentence…I get worked up.)
I could go on and on. I’m just frustrated and fed up with The Marlboro Man’s antics. I’d like to see the Tigers follow the modern trends that are being followed in running the teams in Oakland, Toronto, and Boston, for example. Maybe I just picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Big Al over at Bless You Boys wrote a good piece complaining about Jimbo’s lineups on Wednesday and brought up how great Jim is a managing the clubhouse. I agree 100% with him on that. Jim’s great at keeping players happy and his handling of the Jim Joyce/Armando Galarraga saga was perfect. Bravo, Mr. Leyland on that stuff.
But f-ck team chemistry. I give two slaps of a fat chick’s ass if the Tigers are a happy group and like each other. I want them to win baseball games. I want them to not continue to wilt under pressure late in the season. I want my manager to give the team their best chance at winning each and every time they trot onto the field. And batting Don F'n Kelly leadoff is not doing anything close to that.
I’ve always been one to think that a baseball manager does not win games for his team. But he sure as hell can do his part in losing them with his decisions. In 2,917 MLB games as manager, Leyland is 1,450-1,467…that’s a winning percentage of .497. With the exception of a piss poor Colorado Rockies team in 1999, Jim’s had pretty good baseball teams over the years in Pittsburgh, Florida, and Detroit and is still under the .500 mark. Yes, he won a World Series with Florida in 1997. But that Marlins team was so overloaded with superstars that even the Yankees would have blushed about it. A chimp could have taken them to the Series.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m actually Alan Trammell and am bitter about how the team screwed me over.
But I’m pretty sure that I’m not. I have zero confidence that Jim Leyland can lead the Tigers to the promised land. He got involved in a perfect storm in 2006 and I’ll be forever grateful to that team for the memories up until the World Series collapse against an inferior Cardinals team. But I don’t see it happening again. I just continue to see this team lose game after game where if we had a manager with even a minor interest in taking a look at the numbers that are readily available to him, to quit being so stubborn in his ways that have led him to a career losing record, to just use some f-cking common sense once in a while…
Sorry, Jim. I really, really hope that I’m wrong. You’re a nice guy. You’re a class act. You give some interesting as hell interviews when you’re in the mood. You don’t want to hear any weak sh-t from Jason Grilli. Amen!
But enough’s enough. It’s time for a change.
We are watching Detroit Tigers baseball at a very special time. Do you folks realize and appreciate that? Right now, we have arguably both the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and best starting pitcher (Justin Verlander) in Tiger history playing on the same team in the primes of their careers. (All due respect to Cobb, Kaline, Greenberg, Lolich, Morris, etc.) We have experienced supporting superstars in Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez that are more than capable of pulling their weight. We have two of the most promising young players in Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch that I’ve seen come up as rookies in recent memory. We have the youngest pitching staff in the majors and these kids can throw...and more are on the way! We have an owner that is willing to spend cash to the point that he was the only owner to lose money in MLB last season...and he was cool with that. He just wants to win.
And in 2011, all of the pieces will be available for the Tigers to make their most legitimate run at a World Series since I started watching baseball in 1985. Most of the bad contracts will finally be gone, the kids will have a year of experience under their belts, and if we’re lucky, Joe Mauer will have died of AIDS by then. (Pray with me.)
But I ask you, one more time, is Jim Leyland the man that you want to see running the show again?
I say no. Please, no. With a capital f-cking "N".