Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, better known by his Twitter handle @21stCenturyGeorgeSteinbrenner , did what he does best last week — he fired a manager. And then when he went out to hire a new manager, he faced a horrifying reality — there were none left; he had hired and fired all of them.
So he simply found someone who has never managed before.
But before we get to the quixotic, unlikely journey of Dan Jennings from coaching high school baseball in Alabama in 1985 to managing an MLB team in Florida in 2015, let’s consider Loria for a moment longer.
For Loria, this is his sixth manager in six seasons. Wow. Even Larry King has had only seven wives in 63 years.
Legend has it Loria once fired a masseuse mid-massage between his left shoulder blade and his right. Loria also reportedly fired the midwife helping his first wife deliver their daughter 25 minutes into labor.
He is an impetuous, impatient man, the type of fellow who stands in front of a microwave oven, aggravated it is not cooking faster.
So few were surprised when Loria called Mike Redmond into his office 38 games into this season and told him he would not be managing a 39th game; Redmond was 62-100 and 77-85 the previous two seasons and 16-22 this season.
But many were surprised when Loria then reached into his front office and converted Jennings — with no MLB-playing experience or professional managing experience — from general manager to field manager.
I have two theories — one somewhat plausible, one somewhat implausible — about this:
1. Loria now has two ex-managers under contract — Redmond and Ozzie Guillen — and with Jennings already on the payroll, he avoids the financial hardship and social ignominy of simultaneously remunerating a third future ex-manager.
2. There is Dan Jennings, Marlins general manager, and Dan Jennings, Marlins pitcher from 2012 to 2014. Loria might have thought he was hiring Dan Jennings the pitcher to become the team’s new manager.
(FYI: I made a similar mistake that led me to propose to the wrong woman resulting in my second marriage.)
Anyway, social media and baseball traditionalists erupted in outrage that Loria could disrespect the managing profession so much by hiring a manager with no experience.
Well, over the years, Couch Slouch has learned that when a mob gathers at the door in America, they’re usually wrong. Thus, I will stand by my favorite new manager, Dan Jennings.
So Jennings has never played in the majors and never managed.
Christopher Columbus had never crossed the Atlantic and never managed 88 sailors on three ships when he crossed the Atlantic with 88 sailors on three ships in 1492.
My goodness, how tough is managing?
You decide on the batting order, you decide when to pinch-hit and you decide when to make pitching changes.
Then you answer stupid questions from the media.
It’s not exactly rocket science.
(By the way, I’ve always wondered what rocket scientists say when they want to say that something is not hard. “It’s not exactly debugging memory corruption problems in an embedded environment.”)
My favorite manager of all time, the late Earl Weaver, said it best: “A manager’s job is simple. For 162 games, you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did in December.”
As it were, Jennings was the one doing “all that smart stuff” in the organization in December. Why would he screw up his own handiwork?
Besides, how complex a maneuver is the double-switch?
Q. So I just read that new West Virginia University President Gordon Gee is still getting paid most of the $5.8 million due from his stint at Ohio State and that former Yale president Richard Levin got a $8.5 million retirement payout. Who do these guys think they are — football coaches? (Marty Chase; Elkins, W.Va.)
A. Nick Saban just marched into the Alabama board of trustees office with a copy of your letter.
Q. At that postgame news conference, was Stephen Curry being a good parent or a bad interviewee? (Howard Bloom; Sacramento)
A. Only in Sports Nation can a charming, wondrous father-and-daughter moment turn into a preposterous, embrace-debate discourse.
Q. Ten years from now, when there is a nine-foot statue of The Great Tom Brady outside Gillette Stadium, will it have finger indentations on the football? (Warner Young; Indianapolis)
A. According to Ted Wells, more probably than not.
Q. I see where USC recently awarded Pete Carroll an honorary degree. Isn’t that like a bank sending John Dillinger one of its new calendars? (Jeff Dent; South Charleston, W.Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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