Jim Leyland is out as Tigers manager and the Tigers will likely try to replace him with a good manager. As well they should. They want to win baseball games next season. But what if they wanted to test the very nature of what a manager brings to a team? What if they wanted to do that by making the worst hire they possibly could and then seeing what happened? Who would they hire then? One of these guys.
Valentine is, by now, the anti-manager. He looks at what a good manager would do, carefully considers it, then puts it in a raft, sets the raft on fire, and shoves it out to sea. Then he holds a press conference to say he invented the burrito.
There is no better stand in for a manager than a live goat. The manager’s credo should be that of a doctor: First, do no harm. So a goat would be perfect because, really, outside of chewing up the lineup card, how much damage could a goat do? A goat won’t call for a hit-and-run when the team’s best hitter is up. A goat won’t give the steal sign, or call for a bunt in the second inning, or intentionally walk the bases loaded with a wild pitcher on the mound. A goat won’t change relief pitchers incessantly, destroying his bullpen for minimal gain at best. A goat won’t do any of those things because a goat has no idea what those things are. A goat would just let the Tigers play baseball. And eat the lineup card.
George F. Will
Say what you will (get it??) about the man’s politics, but he knows baseball. He’s written extensively on the topic and was a subject of Ken Burns’ biopic Baseball. In other words, expect a stirring speech about the high-mindedness of the game’s very essence and it’s place in world history before each game. “Men, I know you are gathered here because it’s late August and you’re contractually obligated to face the Astros tonight, but I’d like to direct your attention to a higher purpose: Baseball.”
LOOK DUDE. YOU DON’T THINK THE COOKSTER COULD HANDLE A MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM? THINK AGAIN! [insert childhood story about baseball that isn’t funny unless it’s shouted and even then, only marginally assuming you don’t think too hard about it]
Sure, Fozzie Bear isn’t a real bear. But if you’re hiring a puppet anyway, why not hire a real one? The great part about this is that the puppet would do all the talking while the puppeteer hid behind furniture for an entire baseball season. For example, a grown man with a puppet on his hand would crouch behind the table when addressing the team on the first day. He’d hide behind the dais for press conferences. He’d lie under the bench during games. He’d hide behind the seat on the team’s charter. This would go on all year long. All. Year. Long.
If the Tigers hired any of the above, within a year we’d all know for sure how valuable a manager really is. I have no idea what the answer would be, but I know it’d be a fun ride.