Monday, November 4, 2013

Jews in the News: Ausmus Gets His Aliyah on the Major League Bima

It was announced over the weekend that the Detroit Tigers, former home of Hank Greenberg, decided to up their JQ and hire former bat-less wonder Brad Ausmus as their new manager.

And what were Ausmus qualifications to be the new Tiger top man?

Well....he, ummm, played baseball. And he managed the Israeli National Baseball team for a few months. And people tend to think of him as a good catcher (which, per Bill James, only proves that Ausmus could not hit).

And that's about it, actually.

Thus continues a long baseball tradition of hiring people based on a sole qualification (a professional playing career) that only reinforces the candidates lack of quantifiable qualities.

In the NFL, the currently most respected head coach is Bill Belichick. He never played professionally. The head coach of the (at this writing) undefeated NFL Chiefs is Andy Reid. He never played in the NFL, either.

In the NBA, the two managers from last year's finals were Erik Spoelstra and Greg Popovich. Number of professional basketball games between them? Zero.

And while there are certainly plenty of former pros managing teams (the Super Harbaugh Bros, recent Stanley Cup winning coach Joel Quenneville, zen master Phil Jackson) all of them spent time in the ranks as either assistants or college coaches (or both) before being brought up to manage the major league club.

In MLB? Nah. That guy's got grit.

So are we happy that a Jewish guy (and a proud one at that) got hired to manage the Tigers? Sure.

But as baseball fans, honestly, we'd rather they'd have picked another goy who actually might be able to do the job competently (unlike, say, Robin Ventura, Ron Washington, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker...)


  1. It might seem otherwise, but Ausmus is only Jewish on his mother's side and not raised Jewish. But as an adult he has quite embraced his Jewish heritage, even opting out of playing on Yom Kippur on a couple of occasions. Good luck to him!

  2. Not Jason Kidd.

    See what happens when we generalize?

  3. Also, catchers tend to jump the line as managers, probably because they're already sort of managing on the field already. Lots of ex-catchers out there who recently won pennants and/or championships -- Girardi, Mike Matheny, Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Bruce Bochy, Bob Brenly ... or if you want to go older, Yogi Berra, Connie Mack, Leo Durocher...

  4. And do you feel good about Jason Kidd as a coach? Cause I sure don't.

    As for the other point, won a championship does not equal "good manager." Matheny is strategically questionable as is Girardi. Brenly is generally considered one of the worst managers to win a title, ever. Torre took years to figure it all out and even then was never considered tactically sound. Berra was a TERRIBLE manager. Mack is an absolutely insane example of a former player made good manager, ignoring 90% of the facts of his career.

    However, you're also missing two important parts of my point: 1. It's perfectly fine to hire former players as managers, but the ones we consider the most successful spent years learning the craft at lower levels (or in Torre's case, the Mets).
    2. Yes, some of these men may turn out to be good managers, but that doesn't mean teams should hire exclusively from the former player pool.
    That's what bothers me about the Ausmus hiring, not that I'm convinced he'll be a bad manager. Maybe he'll be great. But you can't tell me there aren't others who have paid their dues, understand the game, and deserve a shot despite the fact they never wore the uniform.
    If Ausmus' one qualification is that he played the game, then the Tigers have made a poor choice. Period. good process first. Then good results