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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Job Opening... 

... Manager. Must be willing to deal with ravenous media and fans angry over team losing despite having one of the biggest payrolls in baseball. Must be tough, but not too tough. Must be disciplinarian, but loose enough to cut some guys some slack. Above all, must win 90 games or more.

Phil Sheridan has a nice article about the Phils search for a manager in yesterday's Inquirer. Sheridan seems to support the idea of hiring Baylor as the Phils first minority skipper. Read on:

Managerial quest is really pretty basic
By Phil Sheridan,
Inquirer Columnist
The common wisdom says the Phillies will replace Larry
Bowa, who was tough on players, with a manager who is soft on players. The common wisdom is, as usual, more common than wisdom. But then, what do you expect? Witness a presidential election in which the two candidates have no choice but to stick simple-minded labels on each other.

Flip-flopper. Misleader. We have to live with that in
politics, but when it comes to something as important to the national
interest as sports, the line really must be drawn somewhere. It may be
inconvenient to talk-radio hosts and the folks who shout at each other on ESPN,
but baseball
managers are much like real people in that they are
three-dimensional.

That's one of about 20 flaws in that common wisdom about the Phillies' search for a new manager. Some others? Well, Bowa wasn't tough on players in the sense that he was some kind of disciplinarian. The problem was that Bowa failed to create the kind of atmosphere that winning managers create. Period.
Fear and loathing are good words for Hunter S. Thompson titles, not for success over a long, intense season. Put another way, if you manage people in any kind of business, whether it's two people or 2,000, and you don't think your demeanor and attitude affect employee morale, guess what? You're a lousy boss.


The common wisdom is based on the perception there is a pendulum effect, that Bowa was hired to compensate for the "soft" Terry Francona. But Francona wasn't nearly the pushover that media caricaturists made him out to be, either. He was a decent guy trying to manage a lousy team. Francona has a pretty good team in Boston. How soft is he looking now? "I know it's been written that we went from Terry/soft to Bowa/hard and now we're going to go back the other way," general manager Ed Wade said yesterday. "I can tell you when we went through this interview process four years ago, we were not trying to find the
anti-Terry. I know it's been portrayed that way." Wade's words may not mean that much to disillusioned Phillies fans. What matters are Wade's actions, and they support the words, at least so far. The candidates the Phillies are bringing in are not anti-Bowas, at least as label-makers would define that. Don Baylor played for managers such as Gene Mauch and Earl Weaver. His
reputation during stops in Colorado and with the Chicago Cubs was as a steady-handed, no-nonsense skipper. He didn't coddle players, and has no intention of coddling them here, if he's hired.


Charlie Manuel and Grady Little, who interview this week, are seasoned big-league managers. Jim Fregosi, who is on Wade's list, was a lot of things during his previous tenure in Philadelphia. Soft on the players was not one of them. Some of the other names being tossed around - Bobby Valentine, anyone? - are consistent with the known candidates.


Baylor walked into a post-interview news conference carrying a
briefcase. He came prepared to discuss his approach, his style on the field and in the clubhouse, and his analysis of the Phillies' current roster. He is the only known African American candidate, but Baylor didn't feel he was here for political correctness. He's been through those interviews, and this one passed the smell test.
"I can't give you my clues," Baylor said, "but they're there. There are different signs of being sincere, the people they have present
[for the interview], the baseball people. Sometimes, it's just the general manager. Here, they had five guys present who are decision makers in this organization."


Wade said the same five - he, Dallas Green, Mike Arbuckle,
Ruben Amaro and Gordon Lakey - will conduct the other interviews. Baylor is a legitimate candidate because he's an accomplished baseball man who has managed in some tough situations before, not because he happens to be a minority. That's as it should be. The Phillies have never had a black manager before, and that will remain an embarrassment until the organization makes it no longer true. It is imperative that Wade and his crew hire the right manager for this team
at this time. That means someone with a hand steady enough to take the reins and find out once and for all whether this team is thoroughbred or nag. Baylor meets the criteria, and so do some of the other candidates.


The Phillies may get the right guy, and they might get the wrong guy. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that the former manager's personality will dictate which is which.



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