Thursday, February 03, 2005

Streaking to RFK?

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci says maybe, inquires why more former stars aren't in MLB management positions

This was an interesting little piece, I must admit.

First, I'll address the latter of the two points raised in the subhead above. Verducci asserts:

Baseball owners have done a poor job over the years of welcoming former players, especially the great ones, to the ownership side of the fence. Unlike the NBA, in which Larry Bird, Jerry West, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and other stars have run teams and even gained ownership in franchises, baseball has not encouraged its greatest resources -- the players -- to continue into influential management positions.

1. "Not encouraged" sounds either vague or bald; take your pick. Last I heard, you couldn't intimidate a man into an MLB management position at gunpoint. What of substance does Verducci provide later in the article to support his lead? Well, nothing---except the mere lack of former stars in those positions.
2. You want the baseball equivalent of Isiah Thomas running your team? I say, "Good day to you, sir."

Then, Verducci concludes:

Look around baseball and ask, Where are the great former players? Only one Hall of Famer will be in a major league uniform this year: Nationals manager Frank Robinson. A few others serve in front offices, but mostly in advisory roles, such as Hank Aaron (Braves), Reggie Jackson (Yankees),
Dave Winfield (Padres) and Billy Williams (Cubs). Why not have a former player, a Hall of Fame player, as an important member and contributor at owners' meetings? Why not Ripken?

I'll get to Ripken in a sec. What about the question before it?

I've got no clue, but I do not believe this is a recent development. True, transcendent superstars just do not seem to involve themselves tremendously much in the operations of a baseball team. I suspect that this truism dates back to the end of the unified owner/manager/administrator era, the demise of which evolved into the specialized GM/disposable manager era in which we follow baseball today.

Why even limit the question to baseball? Isn't footbal generally the same way? Is Joe Montana coaching anywhere? What's John Elway doing fiddling around with the Arena League? Is Lawrence Taylor talkin' trades in between snortin' lines? Didn't think so.

The NBA looks like the outlier to me.

Okay, now we get to Ripken specifically. Several Nats bloggers have already touched the subject, and with excellent analysis (as usual). As for my opinion? I'd first want to know Ripken's role. Verducci throws around the words "excecutive," "ambassador," and "point person." I wouldn't mind a little more definition of what Ripken intends. A day-to-day operator? Or a figurehead/investor?

Ripken's name popped up briefly when Mike Hargrove got pushed out of Baltimore after the 2003 season. The rumors were as ill-defined then as they are now. How is Ripken qualified to own, operate or manage a team. Does Verducci suggest that star-power and/or superstardom is enough? I'm not sure I'd go that far. Magic Johnson, for instance, was a horrible coach. Several players have been bad GMs and executives.

I'm intrigued, but I want to know more.

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