Generally, when one sees a sign that says, “Help Wanted, No experience necessary”…we assume that its an entry level job requiring limited talent and lots of elbow grease. Not so in the major leagues! At the foundation of every team is it manager. In this blog let’s take a close look at some of the real fibre of baseball— the manager and the All-Star game.
Beginning with the managers…..for years teams looked for managers who could handle people and strategize during each game. i.e. Keep his players prepared, happy, performing to their optimum level while still regulating his pitching staff to as now to overwork some and maximize all the skills of each pitcher. The regular every-day lineups were used without a great deal of alteration. Oh…there were the platoon players to mix & match –rt vs Left late in the game. The use of pinch hitters at key moments was an essential ingredient to be used sparingly but effectively. Generally, it was experienced players who’d piled up years of experience and were able to play under many different managers who were hired as managers. Hence…it was assumed…. this manager could opt to use the best of each of his former managers. Each manager was judged solely on his win-lost record. While those qualities are still admired, more teams are now seeking younger managers. This new generation is favored due to a couple factors. Many major league teams (mostly non-contenders) have a roster loaded with younger players(primarily in an effort to keep cost down). The supposition is that these younger managers will be better equipped a) to relate to the growing number of young players on their rosters and their needs. It’s the “Mr Rogers” approach to handling current clubs vs the Tony LaRusso style. 2) Use and make judgments on the many, many aspect of baseball “analytics” that now weave their way into and through the fabric of baseball– Specialists galore in the bullpen, the idea of starting rotations staying in tact throughout the year….or…even a month….is about as common now as someone without a cell phone.3) Since they are young and inexperienced, these managers don’t demand the salaries of veteran, successful managers. As a result of this “youth” movement, MLB majors, without ANY major league managing experience, are being hired at a high clip to be a MLB manager. Currently, there are 16 (of 30) teams who have managers in the 1st major league managing position. 6 of those 16 managers are in the 1st year of managing at the MLB level! 4 other managers are in the 2nd year of their 1st MLB managerial experience. Some have lasted a long time in their 1st manager job—Craig Counsell (Mil)-5th year of 1st MLB job; Dave Robers (LA)-4 years; Brian Snitker (Atlanta)-5 years. Soooo…what does that all mean…..like all of us…doing any job for the first time…it’s a “learning” experience. Experience is probably the best teacher for all of us in ANY job. A 4th reason that teams may want these inexperienced managers– the teams may feel like they can “control” the “moves” and thoughts of the newbie easier than a grizzly ol’ veteran manager.
All-Star game….it needs some major revisions. Ideally, the real stars of the game play …and play the most..in the All-Star game. With that in mind as my goal….here are some suggestions… …reduce the roster to 25 players (13 field players, 10 pitchers, 2 others described below)
…remove the every team must be represented requirement. Do you really think that ANYONE cared about Paul DeJong (or the other 4 guys chosen because each team HAD to have a player) playing this year? I’m not even sure that the Cardinal fans cared! Choose the best 25 players… period.
…right now, all All-stars are paid the same for their performance while receiving handsome bonuses in their contract for getting the fan vote…let the managers from the previous WS choose the team.
…pay the winning team all-star team MORE than the loser….they’ll play harder(even though they are millionaires)
…have free substitution in the field throughout the game…and let pinch hitters bat…and at any time the starter may return to bat in his same original spot or the pinch hitter could bat again in the same spot later on in the game.
..let pitchers …especially starting pitchers…throw 2 or 3 innings…3 would be the max (not like it seemingly it is now with cameo appearances of a parade of pitchers who see a batter or two
…let each team choose a “designated runner” for their squad….this runner may enter 3 different times as a pinch runner throughout the game. Guys like Vince Coleman, Billy Hamilton won’t have the all- around skills to earn a spot…but…they should would be exciting as a pinch runner.(24th spot)
…pitchers may only be changed a) between innings b) after they’ve given up 2 or more runs in an inning
…insist that the city hosting the game has at least 1 player in the game
…the 2 HR Derby finalists are guaranteed spots on the roster(the 25th spot)
…always have each team with a DH(can bat in any spot—total 3x a game)…rather than all those pinch-hitters making their cameo appearances
….if game is tied after 9 innings, use the softball rules, put the leadoff batter on 2B to start the inning.
Fans aren’t the only one ones concerned about the unevenness of the league. The MLB players voiced some strong opinions at Cleveland’s all-Star game about possible work stoppage when the current CBA contract expires Dec 1, 2021. Josh Bell told USA TODAY Sports. “I know work stoppages in the past have worked to our benefit, for the longevity of the game, the longevity of the player, and for the compensation of the player. Just for equal rights.” The belief among the players was always that the owners would hold the power over them when they first entered the league, paying close to the minimum salary as long as possible. But once they became free agents, they’d open those checkbooks. Teams no longer view free agents the same, particularly those in their 30s. “Our free agency structure and our salary structure,” Clayton Kershaw said, “is that teams have a right not to pay guys when they’re getting older. The analytics say to pay guys in their prime, the younger guys. “So, IF that’s not going to happen anymore, we’ve got to find a way to get these guys paid during their peak years if they’re’ not going to be rewarded on the way out.’’ said JD Martinez. “Teams don’t want to pay players late, and they don’t want to pay them early, but you got to pick one. You got to pick your poison”. “So, underpaid on your way in and overpaid on your way out, relatively speaking,” Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. Myself…..its difficult for me to have much sympathy for these performers raking in millions of dollars. But…they do have a point. Owners are providing about a 2-4 window for players to “cash in”. Now….when they DO cash in……its enough money for themselves, their immediate descendants, as well as 2nd & 3rd generation descendants if the money is handled properly. I could see free agency either being reduced from 6 years in MLB, to a 4 or 5 years in MLB or.. total time in the organization being 6 years….or a chronological age …maybe 26 (6’s wild here ) The last strike was in the 1994-95 season. Players are particularly upset about owners keeping future stars in the minors past mid-May that adds another entire year of waiting for the players to reach free agency. It’s used all the time—Kris Bryant (Cubs) , Pete Alonso (NYM) Vlad Guerrero, JR (Toronto) are just a few of the players who’ve seen this happen to them. Btw….The average age of the National League’s starting lineup was 25.8, the youngest in baseball history. In addition to the salary issues, the players believe that the competitive balance of the league is way out of kilter. There are 7 teams, here at the All-Star break, who are 17.5+ games out of 1st place and are on a pace to lose 100 games. “I think the most overarching thing is competition,” Kershaw said. “You GOT to get 30 teams competing the best you can. The strategy now is if you’re not going to be in it, to just be out of it, and get rewarded for that. “A lot of those teams might end up becoming better with all of the draft picks that they’re getting, but some of them are not. The Cubs and Astros of the world, they (won World Series), but a lot of teams won’t be. How do you end up selling that to your fan base? “Competition and paying guys go hand-to-hand to some extent. We’ve got to find a way to get every team competing to some extent every year.” Some players cited 5-time All-Star Adam Jones plight. He was without a job until Mid-march, then signed a $3m contract accepting a $14m pay cut. Pulling against these thoughts are the contracts of the super stars. Look @ Michael Trout & Justin Verlander… It’s difficult for the players to gain traction for their cause from the fans when they see these salaries–Trout, whose 12-year, $426.5 million contract is the richest in major league history, Verlander, whose two-year, $63 million contract set a record for average annual value for a pitcher this spring. Well….I don’t need any more help…thanks for making to the bottom !