Carleton: The 10th man in the lineup

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on February 24, 2015:

“There are two things in the world that every man thinks he can do better than anyone else: cook a steak and manage a baseball team.” –former Cleveland Indians owner Dick Jacobs

When I was growing up, Bud Black had a couple of good years for some bad Indians teams. I’m sure that I saw a start or two of his back at Old Municipal Stadium. He arrived by trade in late 1988 and left by trade in 1990, and is now noteworthy for being part of the second longest active trade lineage in MLB. Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber can trace his ancestry back through a series of trades that in which Bud Black is one link on the chain back to Jerry Dybzynski.

Now Bud Black is the manager of the San Diego Padres, and now is one of the 30 most criticized people in all of baseball. Every single fan in baseball who has access to a keyboard could do Black’s job (and all of the other 29 managers’ jobs) better than he can. Just ask them. Because, after all, what does Bud Black even do? He writes down the names on the lineup card. He walks to the mound, waves his arm to the bullpen, and smacks the starter on his backside when the starter has had enough. He stands there and looks forlorn as the camera focuses on him in a moment of intense concentration. I can write. I can walk and wave my arms. I can smack a grown man on the backside. I can look like I’m concentrating. I could totally rock this manager thing! Not that hard, right?

As fans, we have a far-too-narrow understanding of what a manager actually does on a day-to-day basis. A couple of months ago, I wrote about “The Grind.” Not the MTV dance show, but the fact that baseball is a game of intense concentration that happens every single day, punctuated by alternating moments of heartbreak and elation. After a while, the human body and mind are crying out for a break that won’t come. It’s the manager’s job, whether he wants to or not, to make sure that The Grind doesn’t overtake his 25 charges. What I found was that there appear to be certain managers who seem to have magical powers in combating The Grind and some guys who are bad at it. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look and put some value to that ability.

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Originally published: February 24, 2015. Last Updated: February 24, 2015.