What I Want In a Manager
By Christian Petrila
To the surprise of few and the displeasure of many, Manny Acta is gone.
That’s old news.
The lingering question now is, “Who will replace Acta?”
I’m not here to speculate whether it’ll be Terry Francona, Sandy Alomar Jr., or anyone else for that matter (yes, Albert Belle, that includes you). I’m just here to say what I would prefer to see the next manager of the Indians do.
First and foremost, I want a manager who demands 100 percent from his players. Not just expects it, but one who truly demands it. Two of my biggest pet peeves in the game are players who watch their home runs and players who enjoy a leisurely walk up the first base line on routine ground outs. I know there isn’t much that can be done about the bat flips and slow trots around the bases on home runs, but for Pete’s sake, run the play out at first.
It really isn’t a hard concept. Whether it’s a weak pop up or a little dribbler directly at the second baseman, run the ball out. Why? It adds pressure on the defender to make a clean play. Anything can happen in the field. Say the shortstop bobbles the ball. A player who hustled down the line the whole way will beat it out, while a player merely jogging out of frustration will still be thrown out by a mile despite the defensive gaffe.
We saw shades of it from Acta in the weeks leading up to his dismissal. On August 29 againstOakland, Acta benched Carlos Santana during the game for not hustling. When I read that, my eyes lit up because I’m sure it was something that was bothering Acta for a while. And it’s not just Santana either. Even Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo tend to limit their hustle to about 65 percent from time to time. I hate to say it, but even Michael Brantley isn’t innocent. They’re all prime offenders. I’d love to see a manager who wouldn’t stand up for that kind of lackadaisical effort.
Another thing I’d love to see is a manager that’s easy-going so long as the team is accomplishing what needs to be done. By that, I don’t necessarily mean chicken and beers in the clubhouse postgame (yes,Boston, that was a cheap shot). I mean that I want a manager who isn’t going to terrify his team with an overly intimidating presence. However, if need be, he could become that intimidating presence. A guy who has the mentality of, “I trust you guys to do as you please, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the general benefit of the team. But be warned, if you start to mess around and it hurts the team as a whole, heads will roll.”
Finally, I’d love for the next Indians manager to have a certain fire surrounding him. Do I expect him to be the livid type of guy like Lou Pinella or Bobby Cox? Absolutely not. However, I want a guy who’s willing to kick some dirt at the umpire’s feet and get tossed a few times. As much as I respect Manny Acta, his one massive flaw was that he was too subdued. Argue a few calls. It won’t kill you. In fact, it makes you more likeable among your players if you’re willing to stand up for them.
Maybe I’m delusional. Maybe I’m living in a dream world where this perfect manager exists. I really don’t know. All I do know is that if the Indians were to get someone even remotely close, I’d be ecstatic.