By Aris Sakellaridis
What a bad month it has been for Puerto Ricans. First, the devastating earthquake does major damage to the island, and then a double whammy as two Puerto Rican managers depart their teams over the cheating controversy. Now is the time to keep it real. In today’s game, do teams really need a manager anymore?
Let’s just say that ANALytics have put an end to a manager’s duties. Decisions like writing a lineup card, making pitching changes and benching a player have become a thing of the past. He can’t even choose his own coaching staff. A manager’s job today is to deliver the lineup card that was already created by the geeks from above, to the umpire, and deal with the media’s questions after the game.
Today’s skippers are more like messengers, and when the messages backfire, they are left to take the blame from the media and the fans, while the “expert geeks,” who are today’s decision makers, are sipping on their lattes.
There is a reason that established managers like Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter and Willie Randolph are not helming a team. They are their own men who do it their way, and that doesn’t jive in today’s game. Let’s just say the human element is gone.
The reality of it is that we could only fantasize how the likes of Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, Lou Piniella and Gill Hodges would handle a 32-year-old college graduate, with a degree in kinesiology or economics, when he tells them to remove the starting pitcher after his four-shutout innings, because the computer says so.
Martin would WHIP him, Weaver and Piniella would start a WAR and Hodges would escort him to left field so Cleon Jones can deal with him.