Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - A Tale of Three Managers

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago (he has recently resurfaced on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles), I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Over the last month the New York and national baseball press has been enamored with the stories of three former and/or current managers - Jim Riggelman, Jack McKeon and Joe Torre. A brief introduction is probably in order.

Last month, the news broke that Jim Riggleman had quit as manager of the Washington Nationals. The story had significance because at the time that the manager left the team, the Nationals had been on a hot streak and had won eleven of their previous twelve games under Riggleman. Still, Riggleman felt that he had not been shown the proper respect by management as he was not offered a contract extension and was looking at the possibility of being unemployed at the end of the season.

The second story had to do with Joe Torre, the former Mets, Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Yankees manager. When Torre left the NY Yankees it was under less than friendly terms. This left a bad taste in the mouths of many Yankees fans who viewed Torre as an integral part of multiple World Series teams. Years later, the Yankees held an Old Timers game and invited Torre to return. However with years to reflect, some in the press began to wonder about how important Torre truly was to the success of the New York Yankees.

The third story involved Jack McKeon who at the ripe old age returned to baseball to manage the Florida Marlins after six years away from the game. The selection of McKeon to replace manager Edwin Rodriguez was certainly curious, but McKeon appeared ready for the task, stating, "I don't need this job but I love it."

The three stories made me sit back and question as to how truly important a manager is. The manager does not play the field, throw the pitches or stand in and hit at the plate. In most games, the manager is not called on to make decisions more difficult than what is the right time to pull a pitcher or whether to pinch hit lefty/righty. Still there is something to the concept that a manager must earn his players' respect if he wants to succeed as their manager. A young manager will not do well with an older team where the players are close in age to the manager. Occasionally, an older manager will have problems connecting with a younger team. Sometimes the manager's friction with ownership will impact on the team's performance. And finally, there is a danger that a manager who never made it in the major leagues will not be able to earn his players' respect.

I can only toss the above possibilities out to the general audience as there is not a single true answer to any scenario. But the last scenario does link to today's daf yomi. On Chullin 9a, the gemara talks about certain areas of knowledge that a Rav should be competent in. One of the topics was shechita - the Jewish ritual slaughter process. Rashi makes a point that the Rav should have more than an understanding of the laws - he must know how to physically do the acts of shechita with his hands. Contrary to the old adage - "those who can't teach", the gemara is instructing that those who teach must know how to do.

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