It should be clear by now that I have been thinking a lot about coaching and how it relates to many changes we’ve seen in the sports world over the last few years including younger coaches and managers such as David Ross getting the job at the highest level with no experience at the lower levels in their respective sports. At the end of the day the job of coaching a professional team at the highest level is about relatability to the players playing at that level.
In April of last year the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Frank Vogel in part because he could not get his message across to Russell Westbrook. This is just one example of a coach who has been fired in recent years for not being able to coach at the level his bosses wanted him to. Sadly, this situation was the opposite of most of the ones in baseball though because Westbrook played his first game in the NBA in 2008 with guys who have long since retired including Kobe Bryant who, as well all know, passed away in a sudden accident on January 26, 2020.
In baseball the problem in recent years has been two fisted. The first problem has been that guys are getting jobs as managers in the majors managing younger players who are not willing to listen to them for different reasons. The second problem has been guys like Pedro Grifol getting jobs as managers at the major league level then not living up to the job of a manager.
What is the job of a manager you ask? First and foremost they need to know how to put their foot down consistently and set the rules on the field. In other words, they need to “lay down the law”, as my fellow writer Gaurav Garg would say. If Grifol knew how to do this the fight in Cleveland back on August 5th would not have happened and even more importantly the White Sox would be not be making as many mistakes on the field as they have been making this season.
Now, let’s talk about the first problem while taking a look at two situations where managers are having success talking to younger players who are just starting their careers at the major league level.
After taking a two year break from managing in 2018 and 2019 Dusty Baker was brought in as manager of the Astros in 2020 following the news of the sign-stealing scandal. He he publicly said in 2017 after leaving Washington that he didn’t want to manage again. When I heard that in the news I laughed because while he had success during his managerial career he had never won the World Series before last year.
Moving on to a more solid example though. Let’s look at the Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker. He is managing a number of youngsters who came up to the majors shortly before and after he was named manager. Steve Leblang, my fellow writer, pointed out that most of these kids were managed by him as we was working his way up the ranks in the managers seat. As a result of this they are all listening to him. Here is the thing folks much like with the Yankees… the Braves organization is one where the rules known by the players before they are on the major league squad. That is the only reason Snitker is having such success in Atlanta.
With that… fans need to stop being presidents and enjoy their teams no matter how good or bad they are.
If you cannot play with them, root for them!