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Ranking MLB managers by . . . handsomeness

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The thing about the Winter Meetings is that, if you have some silly idea, there are a lot of people around you drinking cocktails, convincing you that the idea is not silly. That, to the contrary, it’s important and vital and if you don’t follow through with that idea, you’re making a huge mistake. And, since you are drinking cocktails as well, you are easily persuaded.

This is the product of that dynamic.

All week I’ve half-jokingly noted that Brad Ausmus is a handsome, handsome man. As a result of that, people have asked me which manager is next handsome. And next handsome. And next handsome after that. And who’s the least handsome manager too. So, inevitably, it has come to this: a list ranking the managerial beefcake.

First, a couple of notes:

  • This is only one open-minded man’s opinion of managerial handsomeness. If you’re not into the Ausmus/Matheny types, I totally appreciate that. Maybe you’re more of a Ron Gardenhire or Fredi Gonzalez admirer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Understand that I and others will privately judge you for thinking Gardenhire and Gonzalez are handsome, but that reflects poorly on us, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
  • I, in no way, shape or form believe that any baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure. And even if you don’t buy that, realize that we are in a golden age of manager handsomeness. There are no Don Zimmers or Joe Torres around anymore. The bottom of this list would represent dashing managerial beauty a mere 15 years ago. So, let no one say that even my 30th-ranked manager is not handsome. In his own way. If you squint just right.
  • Finally, because some of you will inevitably offer a neanderthal comment about all of this, let me head it off by assuring you that this is merely a list of aesthetic handsomeness, not one of love or longing. I hate that even in 2013 I feel as though I have to say it, but I will say that I am a totally straight man making these judgments. If you find something wrong or amiss with that, I feel sorry for you. There is far too much beauty among people in the world for us to fail to acknowledge 50% of it merely because we’re worried about appearing less than traditionally masculine or feminine. Free your mind, the rest will follow.

And now, on to the rankings, with some comments:

source:  1. Brad Ausmus: When my girlfriend was here in Orlando over the weekend we were sitting in the lobby and Brad Ausmus came in the front door of the hotel. She sprung up, followed him and said “I’ll text you later.” And I wasn’t even mad, man. I get it. He’s movie star handsome. And this isn’t new. There are factions of female baseball fans who have been beating the Ausmus drum for years in various places on the Internet. He is probably the best looking manager in the history of baseball.

2. Mike Matheny: Of course it isn’t a blowout. The 1-2 in manager handsomeness is a close race, with Matheny right on Ausmus’ heels. I just think he is missing a moodiness and depth to his gaze the way Ausmus has it going on. That said: when I tweeted about Ausmus over the weekend what I assume to be the entire female population of Cardinal Nation responded to me to tell me I’m wrong. Easily The Best Fans of Handsome Cardinals Managers in Baseball. They ogle managers The Right Way.

3. Robin Ventura: Just a couple of years ago he’d be number one. Now he inevitably slides to three. Just an unbelievably tough market. Bonus: he’s got a sensitive side, I’ve heard. A lover, not a fighter. Definitely not a fighter.

4. Ned Yost: I know. I’m as shocked as you! But he was here in Orlando yesterday gliding through the hallways with a confidence and swagger befitting a 1980s nighttime soap anti-hero. Ned Yost: he’ll marry you, have affairs with your sister and simultaneously destroy your father’s (rival) business while enriching himself and building his legend.

5. John Farrell: Reasonable people could swap out Yost and Farrell. Maybe he’s the more urbane version of Yost’s nighttime soap star. The “Dynasty” to Yost’s “Dallas.”

6. Bud BlackAging so well. No Just for Men here. Gray is the new Black.

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7: Bo Porter: Best mustache/goatee combination in all of baseball. Not just among managers. All baseball people. It’s usually an unfortunate look, but Porter makes it work, mostly because he understands that less is more. And he has fantastic eyes. Go on, tell me he doesn’t have fantastic eyes. Pfft, you’re just wrong, dude.

8. Ryne Sandberg: He’s always been good looking. I feel like Philly is going to age him, though.

9. Mike Redmond: Piercing eyes. Owned Tom Glavine during his career. What’s not to love?

10. Bob Melvin: His boss was played by Brad Pitt in a movie, yet Melvin is better looking than his boss. That’s just truth.

11. Don Mattingly: It’s like he was on a makeover reality show. He went from mullet and mustache, seemingly yesterday, to this formidable specimen. Nice glasses. Chin dimple. L.A. is treating him well.

12. Ron Roenicke: Another controversial choice. And I know he’s about the farthest thing from beefcake there could possibly be. But he looks like the guy who will marry you after you recover from that bad divorce and be a great role model to your kids. Just a super step-dad type, and that has abundant appeal.

13. Terry Francona: A textbook case of embracing baldness rather than fighting it. Does so much to take advantage of a bad set of genetic cards.

14: Joe Maddon: Maybe a niche taste. Certainly a silver fox — you can’t take that away from him — but he’s not in Bud Black’s league as far as that goes. And he doesn’t have the same apparent inner appeal that Roenicke has. He’s just as likely to be seen wearing socks with sandals in an RV as he is to be seen drinking wine and doing something suave. Plus: he’s the type who would probably tell you how smart he is, whereas true Adonises like Ausmus and Matheny are confident enough to let you talk more. That matters, I think.

source:  15. Joe Girardi: Definitely in better shape than any other manager. Maybe in better shape than any manager in the history of the game. But he’s got a bit too much drill instructor in him for me. He could use a bit of a softening around the edges. If you’re into the ruggedness he’s obviously way, way higher up your personal list.

16. Bryan Price: One of the best looking pitching coaches-turned-managers in baseball history, I figure. Bud Black probably is the top of that list. Farrell is up there too. But Price is likely third. Which, given that the competition beyond those three is Roger Craig and Jimy Williams, it’s not hard. But a fine looking man. I may have underrated him.

17. Matt Williams: Williams has maintained his playing days shape quite admirably, and like Tito he understands the realities of his hairline. I’d recommend powder for TV appearances. I know from experience.

18. John Gibbons: Sorta has a “Fall Guy”-era Lee Majors thing going on. I feel like he looks better in his second stint with the Jays than he did the first time around. Can’t put a finger on it, though.

19. Kirk Gibson: An unfortunate case. I feel like Gibson goes out of his way to look worse than he should given what he has to work with, which is not terrible. He scowls a lot. Seems to have a perpetual four-day growth. A tall, well-built guy who could use some time with a grooming expert. Smile, Gibby. It’ll improve everything.

20. Walt Weiss: Same as Gibson, really. Maybe there are personal reasons why they feel the need to hide behind stubble. But now we’re more in psychological territory than physical, and I’d like to keep this light.

source:  21: Fredi Gonzalez: He needs to have a long sit-down with Bo Porter about the in and outs of facial hair. It would also help if he didn’t look confused every single time the camera finds him, but that’s a baseball point, not a function of inherit handsomeness.

22. Lloyd McClendon: He has a winning smile, I’ll give him that. And if he flashes some of the fire he showed in his Pittsburgh days he could shoot up this list quickly. Maybe this should be a power ranking now that I think about it. We revisit it a few times a year with an added boost or deduction for in-season deportment. Hmm.

23. Buck Showalter: Rumor was that Showalter smiled once in 1992. No one was around with a camera, sadly, but we’re told it happened.

24. Terry Collins: He is a lot more relaxed as a Met than he was back in his Angels and Astros days, that’s for sure. And that goes a long way. There’s always something a bit unsettling behind those brown eyes, though. Maybe that appeals to the types who like the troubled ones, but I feel like life with Terry would be turbulent. Ron Roenicke would never be unpredictable like that. And maybe that’s boring, but he’s home for dinner every night and will always give you a reassuring hug. Terry has demons, I bet.

25. Rick Renteria: If jowls come into fashion he’s much higher than 25.

26. Mike Scioscia: If you met him for the first time today, sure, he’d not be bad. But we knew him back when. It’s like meeting the high school quarterback at the reunion and thinking only of what he was.

source:  27. Bruce Bochy: The opposite of Scioscia in that regard. Look at THAT unfortunate class picture. But even though he’s come a long way, let us not pretend he didn’t have a long way to go. But you know what they call a less-than-handsome man with two World Series rings? That’s right: a champion. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently, Bruce.

28. Ron Gardenhire: The jowls of Rick Renteria, the facial hair issues of Fredi Gonzalez and the troubling inner rumblings of Terry Collins. Just a bad combination.

29. Ron Washington: He’s a very funny man. He’s had much success as a manager. His players love him. Let us leave it at that.

30. Clint Hurdle: None of us are ever as bad as our worst days make us out to be. But some people’s worst days are worse than others.

I’d like to thank you all for your time and patience in this exercise. I feel like baseball history is better served by us having engaged in it.

Darvish wins 1st start since 2014 as Rangers top Pirates 5-2

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yu Darvish struck out seven in five strong innings in his first start in the majors in almost 22 months, and the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Japanese right-hander allowed three singles with a walk in his return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first inning off Juan Nicasio (3-3) to become the fourth third baseman with at least 1,500 RBIs, finishing with 1,501.

Mitch Moreland snapped a 1-for-27 skid with a solo home run in the fourth.

Four Texas relievers allowed four hits and a run with four strikeouts in four innings.

The “Yuuu” calls from a sellout crowd started early for Darvish, who last pitched in the big leagues on Aug. 9, 2014. He missed the rest of that season with right elbow inflammation, and ended up needing ligament reconstruction surgery after his only spring training appearance last year.

Darvish (1-0) had a 0.90 ERA in five rehab starts this month, culminating with an 87-pitch outing. He threw 81 against the Pirates, hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the first inning and displaying his usual array of breaking pitches, some as slow as 70 mph.

John Jaso had a leadoff single on Darvish’s second pitch before Andrew McCutchen struck out. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Francisco Cervelli‘s sinking liner in front of rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fifth.

No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa ended Darvish’s shutout bid by pulling a hanging slider into right-center field for a single that scored Cervelli from second. Darvish then struck out Jaso for the second time to finish his outing.

Beltre’s homer just cleared the wall in center field after Prince Fielder‘s RBI groundout to score leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar, who had two hits filling in for suspended second baseman Rougned Odor. It was the second game of Odor’s seven-game ban.

SHORT HOPS

Joey Gallo, who had just one at-bat in his five-day stint, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for Darvish. … Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson came off the paternity list and pitched a perfect eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle planned to give 2B Josh Harrison the night off after he came out of the series opener early. He’s been battling an illness that kept him out of the lineup Thursday as well.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos is expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Frisco. He’s been out since April 10 with a broken right forearm and could be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 9.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.30) has won his last four starts against the Rangers and is 5-1 with a save and a 2.89 ERA in nine career games against them, most of those with Minnesota. His last appearance against Texas was Sept. 10, 2013.

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 3.13) makes his team-high 11th start and has gone 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his past six starts. He threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Angels in his last start

Utley answers with slam, solo HR as Dodgers rout Mets 9-1

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NEW YORK (AP) After the New York Mets missed, Chase Utley connected twice.

Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing New York 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch – which certainly appeared to be his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers’ bench to keep teammates calm – and later responded by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” said Utley, who has 19 RBIs this season, nine in the first two games of this series. “It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit, makes you kind of dig down deeper.”

Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings. The right-hander yielded two hits, both singles in the first, and stopped his three-game losing streak.

“Pretty impressive. You wouldn’t see too many other pitches staying in the game at that point,” Utley said.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets – and their fans – were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the teams split a series in Los Angeles.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.

“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”

Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning.

“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said. “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

Collins acknowledged he’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

“We came together as a group,” Utley said. “We battled, and it was a good win.”

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May – including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Mets’ Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

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NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.