Further building the case that managers are relatively unimportant

>> Monday

I apologize that this post is a day late, but I'm in the process of a move (from my mom's basement to someone else's mom's basement, where I'll write for this blog, play RPG games, and eat salty snacks all day), so I didn't have time to touch on it last night.

If you missed it, Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove quit baseball, purportedly for good, because his "passion [had] begun to fade."

The Mariners--at the time of the announcement--had won seven in a row and nine of ten. They were 44-33 after starting 19-21 and were just four back of first in the division. So, as best interpretation of Hargrove's words would imply, the Mariners were playing progressively better as their manager was growing less and less capable to manage--something we must assume if we consider motivation a primary role of a manager.

By no means am I insinuting that the Mariners couldn't have played slightly better had Hargrove been at full capacity. But the coincidence of the two events does reinforce the idea that managers are nowhere near as important as mainstream media outlets and casual fans tend to believe. If they were, how could a manager who, by his own admission, was going through the motions lead a team to a .670ish mark over the course of six weeks?

Sure, Hargrove was but one small factor in the streak, and that's the whole point. I wouldn't even be jumping this soapbox again were it not for this line in this blog post on the Yankees:

It's time for a new Joe. Sorry Mr. Torre, all good things come to an end. This team's lackluster play unfortunately will be the end for Joe Torre. The Yankees better not be stupid and make Don Mattingly their next manager, everyone knows that the next star manager is Joe Girardi. Lock him up, let him do whatever he wants with the coaching staff, this guy can manage. (emphasis added)

Based on what??? I'm not picking on this one random blogger because he's only sharing an opinion that seemingly every baseball fan holds true--that Joe Girardi is a great manager because his only season as an MLB manager happened to be with a wildly talented team that outperformed popular expectations. That's ludicrous.

It's a tired argument, and I'm really sick of making it. I understand that natural impulse to assign results to a sole source--especially one dictated by rational human thought and not frightening out-of-our-control things like innate ability--but I expect better out of baseball fans.


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