A brief read down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ list of potential managers shows each offer various qualities that anyone would want in the dugout leader. Profiles have been written about anyone named thus far. Interviews have been held and sources have commented on how they’ve gone. This is all par for the course.
Unfortunately, so are the narratives each candidate stirs up. While we’d all like to tab the guy from the start who the Dodgers finally hire, it serves everyone to pump the breaks.
We have no idea what’s actually going on in these meetings and interviews. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi aren’t giving us anything on the process, either. It’s in our nature given how sports are covered to name the guy eventually hired first. We get personally invested for all kinds of reasons, but this doesn’t actually serve any kind of purpose.
Take Dave Roberts, for example.
Bill Plaschke’s lede on his column deeming Roberts the favorite –while catchy — is somewhat troublesome.
“The biggest problem for the Dodgers is not analytics, but attitude. They have enough brilliant baseball minds; they need a tough baseball soul.”
Uh… What does that even mean?
It isn’t like the Dodgers are hiring an accountant if they opt for a manager more interested in the sabermetrics movement. Whoever they hire should be up to date with the latest trends in statistical analysis. There’s also the fact that every single one of the candidates thus far (Roberts, Gabe Kapler and Darin Erstad, and on down the line) played in the major leagues at some point.
So, I repeat: what does a “baseball soul” even mean?
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote an incredibly smart article about Roberts from a historical standpoint. This is obviously an incredibly important conversation to have on the state of hiring managers. Dodgers fans should be much more interested in their team hiring the right person for the job above making history, though. This should go without saying.
It also says something about the way we watch and cover sports that we can’t even wait for history to occur before we declare its transcendence.
Another all-too-prevalent narrative has been that somehow Kapler or Martinez would be a puppet if hired. I’ve said this before, but isn’t there something between “my way or the highway” and Friedman’s being a ventriloquist for whoever he selects as his next manager? Again, we’d all like to be the first to make such an incredibly creative metaphor (it really isn’t creative), but shouldn’t we wait to let the list of interviews to fill out completely before striking that judgement?
I’m not claiming these stories are not interesting nor poorly written. Neither article framed it as if the narrative is the lone reason Roberts should be hired. Both Plaschke and Rosenthal could report and write circles around me. It’s just way too early in this process for these kinds of articles to be written.
Look. I get it. We’re in November and the World Series has just ended. There’s little else to write at the moment beyond the ever-turning rumor mill and even less that gets people talking. That still isn’t an excuse to simply churn out narratives on the most shallow aspects of each candidate.
Whoever is hired as Dodgers manager will offer plenty of subject matter and talking points. More importantly, however, they’ll offer legitimacy to the position they eventually hold.