A Great Manager Makes All The Difference

While I lick my wounds from another bittersweet Mets season, a season in which I saw no progress, I take solace in the fact there’s still some great baseball being played in October.

I’m watching all these games and I can’t help getting caught up in all this drama… It’s so exciting and yet bittersweet at the same time because I end up getting a soft spot for players and teams that I have no loyalty to.

Just watching some of these amazing comebacks I’ve witnessed in the last week alone sends chills down my spine. Basically I just love baseball, especially postseason baseball. Unfortunately for me my favorite team is the New York Mets and our leadership hasn’t shown any inclination that they love the postseason as much as I do. We try to look at some of the highlights from the Mets 2012 season and cling to them just so we have something to hold on to, but lets face it, there’s no better highlight than making it to the post season. Nothing beats that. Nothing. You know I’m right.

I’m looking at some of these teams, especially the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles and I find it hard to believe that those teams are any better than what the Mets have. Two teams made up mostly of non-distinct players, one or two actual stars, but mostly players whom you never heard of before the post season began. And yet here they are. What a job by Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin. For them to lead these rag-tag teams to the postseason in the manner that they did is nothing short of remarkable. What a story, especially for the Orioles who had to do it in baseball’s most powerful division – the AL East.

Jim Leyland will be in the Hall of Fame as soon as he decides to hang ’em up. But why should he even consider retirement when he is still among the games elite managers? Leyland is one of the all time great managers his teams contend from game 1 to game 162 without any letup. There’s no quit in Leyland, and the same can be said of any of his teams. I love Leyland…

Then there’s the New York Yankees… That one game where Joe Girardi pinch hit Raul Ibanez for Alex Rodriguez and he proceeds to hit a ninth inning game tying homer, followed by a game winning walk-off home run two innings later… it was epic. Would Terry Collins or any Mets manager have the balls to make a move like that? I hate the Yankees, but even I got caught up in the majesty of that decision by Girardi, and then he follows that up by benching A-Rod altogether in the elimination game which of course the Yankees won. Girardi can manage my team anytime. Anytime.

Mike Matheney… I can’t say enough about the Cardinals’ rookie manager. He steps into the shoes of a legend, loses the teams’ most tremendous player, and wow, he’s going to the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants. It’s unbelievable. The skeptics laughed when the Cards gave Beltran a two-year, $26 million deal to replace the iconic Albert Pujols. Nobody is laughing now, they’re all on their feet roaring with applause. “He’s our leader, he keeps all of us going”, said third baseman David Freese.

Is it a coincidence that Bruce Bochy is back in the hunt? Hell no, Bochy is one heck of a manager. His team is always lacking the offense to go with his elite pitching, but somehow his team is always there. he never makes excuses. Never.

All these great teams… all this amazing and exciting drama…. Such heart and determination by all of them…

There are baseball fans – even Mets fans – who think managers have very little impact on a team’s performance. That teams win only because they have the best players or that it’s all random luck. I think fans who subscribe to that are just naive. Either that or they haven’t been watching the game long enough.

We are seeing some great managers in this postseason, and it makes we wonder if I can ever say that about our own Terry Collins.

These managers like Showalter, Girardi, Matheney, Johnson, etc. are cut from a different fabric. They are natural born field generals – they use their gut instinct – they keep coming at you and they never quit. They hate to lose. They hate it.

It’s too bad that in the end only one of them will win the ultimate prize… But that’s the beauty of baseball, and that’s what makes our National Pastime so captivating. But I’ll say this… none of the teams that have fallen or will fall on the road to the World Series have anything to be ashamed of. They have all fought with the heart of a lion and their managers were much more than just a figurehead – they were the miracle workers – and in this particular post season the magic they have woven has been inspiring and incredible to watch.

About Joe D 7944 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.