This Year’s Awards have Tribe Feel — Even in National League

It’s easy to forget just how well-run the Indians organization is.

I mean, I think everyone in Cleveland knows they’re the best run sports organization in the city, if only by default. When the Browns’ executive vice president has to call a news conference to announce that he didn’t sabotage a potential trade, you have problems, particularly since the alternative to malice in this instance is incompetence. And the Cavs suddenly look inept as well, although you can never count out any team with LeBron James on it.

But the Indians’ tentacles reach far and wide, as evidenced by where former Indians players and coaches end up. Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway is the new Mets manager. Charlie Nagy is the pitching coach in Anaheim, and although Omar Vizquel interviewed for the vacant Tigers managerial job after four years as a coach, he didn’t get it, and wasn’t retained by new skipper Ron Gardenhire. But I have no doubt he’ll end up somewhere.

The finalists for the MLB awards were announced Monday. As expected, Terry Francona is finalist for manager of the year again. As expected, Corey Kluber is a finalist for the Cy Young Award again (this is your obligatory reminder that the awards are voted on before the postseason). And Jose Ramirez is a finalist for American League MVP – unsurprising to any Indians fans who saw him play, but maybe a little surprising to anyone who carries the inferiority complex that goes with being a Cleveland fan that enough people outside of Cleveland hold him in such high esteem.

But the National League managers of the year finalists – Dave Roberts, Torey Lovullo and Bud Black – all have Cleveland connections, too.

Black, who was named National League Manager of the Year in 2010 with San Diego and is a finalist this year with the Rockies, pitched for the Indians from 1988 to 1990, and again in 1995 before calling it a career. The 1988 Indians team could boast five future major league managers at the same time: Black, Francona, Ron Washington, John Farrell and then-hitting coach Charlie Manuel.

Lovullo, whose brief playing career included six games with the Indians in 1998, began his coaching career in the Tribe farm system. He managed at the A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels. When Farrell, who had served as the Indians’ director of player development in the early aughts, became the Blue Jays manager in 2011, he took Lovullo with him as a coach. When Farrell moved on to Boston, he took Lovullo with him, and when Farrell had to take a leave of absence in 2015 to be treated for lymphoma, Lovullo served as interim manager. Lovullo was named manager of the Diamondbacks after the 2016 season.

Roberts is now manager of the Dodgers, and he’s probably most associated in his playing career with the Red Sox – particularly their memorable 2004 World Series title – but he broke in with the Indians. Originally drafted by the Tigers, he was traded to the Indians as a minor leaguer and made his debut in Cleveland in 1999. He spent part of three seasons with the Indians before they dealt him to the Dodgers, the team he managed to the World Series this year. He was named National League Manager of the Year last year.

So when the awards finally get passed out, even if no Indians win (not bloody likely, in my opinion), at least one former Indian will be named National League Manager of the Year.

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