Ron Gardenhire, a curse, and the fate of the Twins
Ron Gardenhire is facing, or should be facing, some serious heat with his Twins in the AL Central basement. After all, the local nine were picked to walk away with the division, or at the very least get into some serious fisticuffs with Chicago or Detroit.
Things are far from OK for the reigning manager of the year.
But are the Twins' myriad failings the results of early season slumps? Multiple injuries (including a bizarre, rampaging flu bug)? Or are the Twins the victim of a curse --the Curse of the Manager of the Year Award?
The man from Okmulgee is overseeing a squad that can't hit (they rank last in both leagues in this department), can barely pitch, and make awful teams like Baltimore and Kansas City looking like playoff contenders.
It would be easy to chalk their current streak of futility to offense and defense, crunching numbers that prove one theory or another. But I'd rather crunch numbers to come up with some mystically bizarre ailment that may have nothing to do with anything. Thus, the Curse of the Manager of the Year Award.
Since 1996, teams whose manager has won this prestigious award have dropped an average of 13.4 games the following season. Using even more advanced mathematical equations, I've concluded that this would result in roughly 80 wins this season for the Twins.
No one takes their division with an '80' in the left column, which would result in a losing record of 80-82.
Only once in the last fifteen seasons has a manager followed up a Manager of the Year campaign with a better record the next year. That was Joe Torre's 1997 Yankees, who won four more contests than the 1996 squad (the year he won the prize.)
Now, it's true that in some cases there's simply no way to top incredible success. It would be patently unfair to assume that Joe Torre could follow up leading the Yanks to 114 wins in '98 with more the following year (he won it in 1996 and 1998.)
Would that Gardy had Joe Torre's success.
In fact, the next season, 1999, the Yanks took sixteen fewer games, but tore through the league anyway, en route to another World Series title.
But then again, if you look over the list, there's a lot of clubs whose managers take home that august prize, only to totally collapse the next year. Mike Scioscia's Angels won 99 games in 2002, but would only take 77 the following year.
In 2003, Kansas City's Tony Pena won 83 games and gave the city its first winning record in years. Next year, they lost 104 games. He was fired in early 2005.
What all this means to me is that a lot of times, most times in fact, these managers are pulling a hell of a lot out of their clubs for one season, but heck if they're going to do it again. At least not right away.
Gardy, of course, has done this a number of seasons, and has narrowly missed wining the Manager of the Year Award. As many of us know, he ranked second five times.
As two-time MotY Sparky Anderson once said, "if you have good players, and if you keep them in the right frame of mind, then the manager is a success. The players make the manager; it's never the other way."
Sparky Anderson & Yogi understood a manager's place; GWB probably did not.
Unless, of course, the baseball gods curse a manager whenever he wins one of these damned awards. Players win MVPs and Cy Youngs in back-to-back seasons; managers never have.
And another thing: no Central Division team whose manager has won the Manager of the Year Award went to the playoffs the following season. Just sayin'.