Reggie Jackson spoke with Bob Costas for a documentary that will air on the MLB Network on Monday and during that conversation he spoke of his former manager Billy Martin. He didn’t speak well of him:
“I did not accept the way he managed me. I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there. … I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample.”
Then in the Bergan Record he expanded on those thoughts:
“The most disturbing part of it all is that the writers that covered the team never made mention of it and were completely aware of it.”
Martin’s son defended his father, saying that Billy’s baseball decisions were made solely on baseball merit. Which, it probably should be noted, isn’t a defense to the charge that Martin issued epithets at people even if it does speak somewhat to the way Martin “managed” them in tactical baseball terms, to use Jackson’s phrase.
Martin has been dead for nearly 22 years, so he can neither defend himself nor could he have undergone the sort of change of heart about such matters many men of his era and temperament experienced in their calmer, more mature years that Martin didn’t get to experience. Add in Jackson’s historic hyperbole and rather egocentric view of the world and you get half of the story at best here.
That said, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Jackson were spot on here because, well, Martin was Martin and he grew up in the 30s and 40s and that explains a lot about a person. It’s just something, though, that we really can’t and probably shouldn’t do much with at this point other than to fill out the rich, sordid biography of Billy Martin.
The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.
It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.
Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).”
Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.
Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.