Irony'ing Out Jim Leyland
Welcome to the world of Jim Leyland.
Reports have started to clog the Internet, shouting, blaming and demanding the firing of Detroit Tigers skipper, Jim Leyland. And, while they're at it, Lloyd McClendon is going also, apparently. The recent slide by the Tigers, while being overtaken by the White Sox, is too much head-scratching for Detroit fans, and with a 130 million-plus payroll, the recent failure is unacceptable - Someone has to go, someone has to be fired. The move will ultimately bring the city of Detroit back to the winning ways they expect - it's alright to laugh after reading that sentence. I did.
Regardless if they like it or not, Jim Leyland is a big reason why the Tigers have gotten to a point where Detroit faithful can have debates about not winning enough. Years prior to Leyland, the argument was about losing too much. It's a credit that needs to be recognized. Yes, coaches do get more credit than they deserve, and it usually comes down to the talent on the field, not in the manager's seat, but that's not say there isn't a difference in coaching levels. Let's face it, Alan Trammell is Alan Trammell, and Jim Leyland is Jim Leyland. The two don't even belong in the same sentence with each other, unless it's to make note they both coached the Tigers. Trammell lost a MLB record 119 games in 2003, Leyland took them to the World Series two years later in 2006. If you need proof-in-numbers why firing Leyland is a bad idea, there it is.
The hopeful replacement candidate circling around the rumored-voices is ESPN's Terry Francona. It's a fitting choice - he is a great coach and also has the record to back it, much like Leyland, however, the mistake on this move is in the irony.
Yes, Francona is a great baseball-minded man, but his last departure came at the expense of one of the worst September collapses in baseball history. The Red Sox fired Francona and hired ESPN'r Bobby Valentine to run the ship. So, how is that working out? The Red Sox overlooked Francona's brilliance,opting to believe that another coach can do a better job - much to the dislike of the Red Sox players. The move was based on one month, a few games of the season, and not entire body of work.
It's a mistake the Tigers should definitely take into account, and act accordingly.
Firing Leyland may feel like the right thing to do, at the time, but stepping back to see the big picture is a smarter move. Allowing a new voice into a clubhouse, after seven years, does not always provide the best answer - much like the last episode that intertwined Francona. Perhaps the discipline Leyland teaches is what the Tigers need, but the keep-it-in-the-clubhouse ethic keeps that from reaching the fans.
Truth be told, it's a scary thought to think what can happen if Terry is running the clubhouse. Beer and chicken may turn Miguel Cabrera from a Triple-crown candidate, to a triple-bypass candidate. Undoubtedly, Kate Upton would not want to be seen with a chunky version of Justin Verlander, and Prince Fielder would eventually have to wear a king-sized bed sheet - with the number 28 painted on it - as his uniform. All these crazy scenarios, mixed with team success unknown, could be brought to Detroit via Francona. Crazier things have happened.
If learning comes at the recognition of the past, then the Tigers need to open their eyes and look back. Solid coaches do not grow on trees - see Alan Trammell - and it's paramount that if a team has one, they hold on to him. Spending more time surrounding the coach with talent, perhaps arms other than Verlander and Max Scherzer, would be a better use of time. Rebuilding for the future makes little sense when the future is now.
Until then, keep the ESPN swap meet on hold.