June 17, 2007

Nobody Impugns My Dirt-Kicking Skills

Lou Piniella, in this week's NYTimes Magazine:

On the other hand, it might be nice if baseball moved into the future by including more women in its ranks. Do you think a woman could be a good manager? If she had a good bench coach, why not? I would think she would need a good hardened professional baseball guy that would help her with the x’s and o’s during the ballgame. Someone who knew the intricacies in and out of the game.

Plenty of women already know the intricacies of the game. I’m not sure of that. I think some of the sportswriter women probably think they do.

Yes... unlike Lou Piniellla, I can only dream of one day managing a $100 million team to a 31-36 record without help from a grizzled bench coach.

I generally get a kick out of Sweet Lou -- baseball tends to get too stuffy and self-serious without loons like him and Ozzie Guillen to break up the monotony, though I wouldn't want either of them managing my team. And he's not an idiot, so I can only assume he knows this will touch off a bit of a firestorm, and is looking for controversy. Okay then. I'm game.

See, here's the thing: it would be incredibly difficult for a woman to manage successfully in the major leagues right now. Just not at all for Piniella's reasons. The intricacies of baseball? If there are female neurosurgeons, I'm pretty sure a few chicks out there can figure out how to misuse a bullpen as ably as the average male skipper. The real problems are all on the social side: baseball's such a massive boys' club that getting the coaches and players to properly respect you, as Piniella just demonstrated, would be very much an uphill battle.

There's actually a semi-legitimate argument to be made that the best managers are likely to be the ones who've been there themselves, played the game, and know exactly what their players are going through; though I don't know that that's vital, you can certainly see how it would help. In any case, these days it's still nearly impossible for men who never played professional ball to get their foot in the managerial door. Bench coaches or no bench coaches, it'll be a long, long time before a woman gets the job.

But just out of curiosity, is repeatedly shifting blame to your players after one of your team's many losses an "x" or an "o"?

I'll have to ask a good hardened professional baseball guy about that one. Incidentally, I'm not suggesting here that I would make a good manager; I would make a terrible manager. I'd probably chose my relief pitchers based on how much I liked their entrance music. But that doesn't mean Lou Piniella's not an ass.


MD said...

Plus, Alex Rodriguez may be the smartest player, but smart is awful stupid in a ballplayer. So, dear, Lou: fail.

Julian said...

Punk rock.