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.

Something needs to change to avoid future incidents like Machado-vs.-Welke

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Padres third baseman Manny Machado was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for “aggressively arguing” and making contact with home plate umpire Bill Welke after a controversial strike three call in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado. The clip of the incident is below, showing that Welke’s call was poor. Machado’s behavior was also poor, as he indeed made contact — inadvertently or not — with Welke and repeatedly swore at him. Machado also threw his bat, though it was not in anyone’s direction and no one was put in harm’s way.

Machado chose to appeal his suspension, as is his right. While that matter is in the process of being resolved, the Major League Umpires Association put out a lengthy statement on Facebook and a shorter but hashtag-laden post on Twitter. The statements were problematic for a number of reasons, chiefest being that the union is publicly commenting on an ongoing matter. MLB can keep Machado’s suspension at one game, which seems likely, or it can reduce his suspension to zero games. The league can also choose to reduce or remove the fine as well. Once the matter is resolved, the MLBUA should feel free to comment publicly on the matter.

MLBUA’s statement was also poorly proofread, hyperbolic, and creates a very legitimate argument for bias against Machado and/or the Padres going forward. The MLBUA described Machado as “violently” throwing his bat “with no regard to anyone’s safety.” It continued, “It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree.”

MLBUA then moralized, asking, “What does this teach the MLB’s immense and ongoing influential youth movement trying to attract young fans to the game? Major League Baseball has to always lead by example in all cases of violent behavior, on and off the field.” It closed out, saying that the union was “extraordinarily disappointed” in MLB’s “inaction.”

Among the hashtags MLBUA used on Twitter were “#TemperTantrum,” “#RepeatOffender,” and “#Nonsense.”

Major League Baseball then released a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “…we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association.” The league added, “We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”

Whoever put out the message on behalf of the MLBUA should have asked themselves, “What is my purpose here and for whom am I posting this?” The entire purpose of a trade union is to create a cohesive unit, establishing bargaining power on behalf of labor versus capital. So, MLBUA is not writing this for fans, for players, or for MLB executives; it is publicly commenting for umpires. An ancillary benefit might be to engender public support for umpires vis-a-vis Welke.

It must then ask itself if the statement creates solidarity among umpires. And I think that’s a solid no. Machado is not the first player and will not be the last to make contact with an umpire and to throw a “temper tantrum” of that magnitude. So why single Machado out and die on this hill today? I would be shocked if more than a handful of umpires outside of Welke and his closest confidantes appreciated the MLBUA reacting the way it did. It doesn’t help them achieve any union-specific goals and might actually hurt them. Repeatedly referring to Machado’s actions as a “temper tantrum” and “nonsense,” and calling him a “repeat offender” is unprofessional. It’s something an Internet commenter would write in the heat of the moment, not the representative of a trade union in one of the most profitable industries in the country. Furthermore, in singling out Machado, Machado himself as well as his teammates have a legitimate reason to believe Welke and his crew might be biased against them not just for the remainder of the season but for the foreseeable future.

On a more pedantic note, the MLBUA wrote that it is not okay for players to act the way Machado did against “someone of authority.” It’s not the power that should shield umpires from workplace violence; it’s their humanity. Machado should no more or less scream and yell at an umpire than he should anyone else in any walk of life. However you rank umpires, coaches, front office executives, teammates, opponents, fans, etc. — they should all be treated equally.

All of this being said, there was one part of MLBUA’s statement that rang true. As mentioned, Welke did suffer violence in the workplace. I disagree with MLB that the comparison was inappropriate. There is nuance to what constitutes “workplace violence.” Is it a mass shooting? Of course not. But in no other employment setting would it be appropriate for one person to scream, curse, and throw items across the room during a disagreement. The union correctly wrote, “Physical contact simply cannot be tolerated.” The crux of all of this is that Major League Baseball doesn’t discourage altercations between umpires and players/coaches. Things have gotten better since the implementation of instant replay, but some instances — especially ball/strike judgment — can turn into very heated altercations.

MLB needs a flat rule instructing players and coaches not to argue with umpires. The team of the offending person(s) would incur an in-game penalty as well as a potential fine and suspension. In exchange for this loss of power on the part of players and coaches, the umpires should be subject to actual oversight. As it stands, umpires are almost never punished in any way for any kind of behavior towards players and coaches, nor are they often punished for poor results in terms of correct calls made. The umpires already have the advantage with their authority; their lack of oversight puts that advantage on steroids, which is why there’s often so much frustration. Umpires instigate confrontations a non-negligible amount of the time. If they felt like they would actually be held accountable for it, they might be much more reluctant to act, for example, the way Ron Kulpa did towards the Astros in early April.

MLBUA helped gain that power imbalance for its members, so it isn’t likely to give it up very easily. I don’t see my utopian dream coming to fruition anytime soon. But that’s the crux of every umpire-involved confrontation: authority. Umpires and players/coaches need to be on a level playing field in that regard, and the rules need to be crystal clear on what kind of behavior is allowed from both sides. Until that happens, we’ll be seeing a Machado-vs.-Welke incident once or twice every year ad infinitum.