Saturday, October 21, 2006

Jim Leyland Appreciation Week

The World Series starts tonight, and so this morning, Dan delivers his customary "human interest" piece on a character associated with said World Series. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to learn about Tigers manager Jim Leyland!
There's no computer on his desk. Jim Leyland doesn't spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets and percentages. He is not a numbers cruncher and he probably wouldn't last long in a room with Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein.
If this article doesn't show up on Fire Joe Morgan sometime in the next day or two, I'll think those guys have fallen asleep at the switch. This is the kind of stuff they live for. "Jim Leyland doesn't like numbers! Computers are evil! He's nothing like those stathead dorks Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, who actually know how to turn on a computer and operate Microsoft Excel! What a waste of time!"

I have no problem with the fact that Leyland isn't a stats guy. He's a successful manager who's gotten more public compliments from his players in the last few days than I can remember any other manager getting. And, to use what seems to be a favorite expression of the Red Sox FO, "there's more than one way to skin a cat."

What I do have a problem with is Dan's derisive tone. He's probably been saving that snarky line since the A's were eliminated. I'm surprised he managed to restrain himself until today.
He'd be gone even quicker if they were gathered in a non-smoking room. Leyland's got to have his Marlboros.
Time for me to climb up on my soap box. There is nothing folksy and charming about chain smoking, Dan, so stop writing about it as if it's some kind of running joke. I keep seeing this line about Marlboros in pretty much every article about Leyland, and I don't know why the media is treating it as if it's something really cute and quirky. Chain smoking is a sad and disgusting addiction. Leyland's need to constantly smoke is not only terrible for his own health, but is polluting the air around him and putting others at risk. I'm sure that in this hypothetical meeting Dan speaks of, Theo and the two Bills would be quite grateful if Leyland takes his Marlboros elsewhere so they don't get cancer from the secondhand smoke.

End of sanctimonious nitpick. Back to the article.
He doesn't have a Francona bone in his body. He's a manager, not a baby sitter. If Manny Ramírez quit on him, he'd call him out. Or he'd quit himself.
I know exactly where this dislike of Francona came from: it's a nasty comment Tito made about Dan in Seth Mnookin's book in which he told Dan he'd lost all respect for him. You and me both, Tito, although I don't know if I ever had any respect to lose in the first place.

Also, once again, Dan makes insulting generalizations without all the facts. How does he have any idea what the dynamic between Francona and the players is? Does he really think Francona is a glorified baby-sitter? And what is this assumption that Manny quit on people? I keep seeing this thrown around (mostly in the Globe, it's important to note) and I haven't seen a single shred of substantive proof for any of it.
He's a little uncomfortable in the eye of the storm. Earlier in the week, when the Tigers were waiting for the Cardinals and Mets to finish their National League Championship Series, Leyland said, "I don't photograph very well. I'm tired of everybody saying I'm craggy, Marlboro man and all that [expletive]. My wife thinks I'm good-looking. When I look in the mirror, I think I look a lot younger than in my pictures [he's 61]. You guys are doing a horse-[expletive] job."
This is a great quote. Especially the last sentence.
He's had the golden touch throughout this postseason. Rookie pitchers in big games? No problem. Alexis Gomez as DH? The guy hit a homer and knocked in four runs. Pulling a starter in the middle of a count? Tough toenails. This isn't about tiptoeing around egos of big-league ballplayers.
Another indirect shot at Manny and Francona. I'm already dreading the end of the World Series, when the offseason really kicks into high gear and we're forced to read pages upon pages of pure speculation as to what teams are going to do because the media really has no clue. I can already see what the theme of the Globe coverage is going to be.
It was a high school moment on a big-league stage, rare in this cynical century.
The phrase "cynical century" as uttered by Dan Shaughnessy is so ironic it's making me nauseous.
His Tigers swept the Cardinals in three games in June, outscoring the Redbirds, 21-13. Naturally, he says that means nothing.
It doesn't. It's called a "small sample size." It means "this data set is not good to use in predicting future outcomes, because it could be the product of random chance." Perhaps that's too geeky, though.
Leyland's brother, Tom, is a Catholic priest. His wife, Katie, is well versed in Red Sox lore. His teenage daughter, Kellie, toured Boston College when the Tigers played at Fenway in August and Leyland might be at The Heights for parents weekend in a few years. But right now there's a World Series to be won for a town that deserves something good.
First of all, where's the mention of this son that was brought up a few paragraphs ago? You know, the one whose baseball team Leyland used to coach? And second, what in the world does the last sentence of the paragraph have to do with the first three?
At this hour, Jim Leyland and the 2006 Tigers are the best story in baseball.
Yeah, they are, and I'm rooting for them tonight. But I'm tired of hearing about what a great story they are. Last year, Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox were a great story. The year before that, the "cursed" Red Sox were everybody's favorite. The year before that. . .okay, you get my point.


fadedredsoxhat said...

CHB got me to think "Here we go again" with the very first sentence. What a one-track mind this sad loser has.

Anonymous said...

//He doesn't have a Francona bone in his body. He's a manager, not a baby sitter.//

If it's not Francona, it's Epstein. If it's not Epstein, it's Pedro. If it's not Pedro, it's Bob Kraft.

CHB simply cannot write a column without crapping on SOMEBODY, preferably one of his favorite targets. It's like some kind of weird addiction, or bizarre tic.

The Chief said...

This piece is just a warmed-over bio, not an column. Even so, Dan ignores at least three things:

1. That Leyland quit two managerial jobs: Florida and Colorado.
2. That Leyland, much like Billy Martin before him, abuses his pitchers, which is one way to get a good season or two but in the long run is hugely detrimental to the player and thus the management's investment.
3. That even if Leyland doesn't consult stat charts, the Tigers' GM, Dave Dombrowski, certainly does. And it's the GM, not the manager, who picks the players.

Nice try, Dan. We're not fooled.

Anonymous said...

"a town that deserves something good"...
Isn't this quote from the same guy who crapped all over Detroit last year when they were hosting the Super Bowl. Obviously CHB thinks that no one has any memory whatsoever so he can say whatever he likes when the moment is right.