Calcaterra: Walter Alston, modern manager

From Craig Calcaterra at The National Pastime Museum on September 29, 2016:

In the past few years, baseball’s managerial class has been transformed. Gone, for the most part, are the crusty old managers who have been around the block a time or two and whose decades in the game served as an argument-ender whenever strategy was questioned. Tony La Russa, who would answer the media’s questions with alternating contempt and appeals to his own authority, is in the Diamondbacks’ front office. Joe Torre works for the league. Lou Piniella is retired. So is Bobby Cox. Dusty Baker made all kinds of headlines when he was hired by the Nationals this past offseason simply because he was the now rare example of a manager with lots of miles on his odometer getting a job. After Baker you have to go to Terry Collins, Joe Maddon, Mike Scioscia, and Fredi Gonzalez to find some old-style baseball men. And given that Gonzalez is barely older than 50, that’s something of a stretch.

Taking the place of the old school baseball men in recent years are a bevy of no- or low-experience guys. Clubs no longer tend to hire managerial lifers or guys with a ton of experience on their resume. Now the road to a manager’s job is by being close with the front office, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever made an actual pitching change in your life. The prototypical hire these days is a man not too far removed from his playing days who is seen as having two signature traits apart from his relative youth: (1) the ability to keep the high-priced players in the clubhouse happy and loose; and (2) the ability to carry out the mission of the front office, which is likely stocked with several Ivy League MBAs, business gurus, systems analysts, and number crunchers. We’ll tell you what to do, Skip. Just carry out the well-thought-out plan of the organization, OK? 

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Originally published: September 19, 2016. Last Updated: September 19, 2016.