Baseball in October is a time for exits.
Good-bye to the Oakland A’s and their 97 victories, terminated by the one-and-done wild card format. Don’t forget to take that clever bullpen pitching game with you.
Farewell to the Chicago Cubs, whose curse-ending World Championship two years ago is fading fast. The cute little Cubbies were another casualty of the clever wild card, where a season’s worth of work can disappear in a hurry.
Then there are the managers, who spend a summer whistling past the graveyard, knowing that failures from April through September lead to an October exit.
The early casualty count this season relieved Buck Showalter from his 115-loss misery in Baltimore. Also gone is Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who was the American League Manager of the Year last season, sent packing from Minnesota. Jeff Bannister is done with Texas, Mike Scioscia decided that 19 seasons managing the Los Angeles Angels was enough and fired himself.
Thanks for your service, gentlemen , and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
There will be more. There always are. Managers know when they get a job that eventually they will lose that job. And by the way, winning and taking your team to the postseason is no guarantee that you will stick around. Joe Girardi with the New York Yankees, Dusty Baker with the Washington Nationals and John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox all managed their teams into the playoffs a year ago and were invited to seek work elsewhere after the season ended. The Yankees and Red Sox returned to the playoffs but Baker must have been laughing up his sleeve when Washington struggled through an also-ran season.
Gabe Kapler made some first-year mistakes in Philadelphia but then had the Phillies in contention before a September swoon let the Nationals slip past them. He is probably safe – for now.
Ownership sharpened the managerial axe during the season by dismissing Bryan Price in Cincinnati after the Reds signaled this would not be a great season by losing 18 of their first 21 games. Mike Matheny in St. Louis got the same treatment.
Other managers are on thin ice. Rick Renteria’s Chicago White Sox lost 100 games, not a great line on your resume. In New York, first-year Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, took this woebegone franchise to the worst month in its sad-sack history when the team went 5-21 in June. The Mets are shopping for a new general manager, who might want his own man in the dugout.
Kansas City, world champions just three years ago, joined the Orioles and White Sox in the 100-loss club but the team told Ned Yost not to worry about it. Hit 100 again next year and it might be a different story.
Clearly, managing a baseball team is not the most secure job in the world. The exception was, however, Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics for half a century. He did have one major advantage, though. He owned the team.