Detroit — Now comes the wait.
What’s good about interviewing first for the vacant managing job of the team you’ve been with for eight years, as Lloyd McClendon did with the Tigers on Thursday, is that it didn’t take long for the call to come.
McClendon was the first candidate to interview for the job Jim Leyland vacated Monday.
It was convenient for the Tigers to interview McClendon. He hadn’t left town yet after the Tigers’ season ended with their exit from the American League Championship Series.
But it also means he wasn’t on the backburner of their thoughts.
What’s bad about interviewing first, however, is that after you’ve done it, the wait begins. The process has to play out. Days of waiting can turn into weeks.
So as McClendon drove away, he was feeling good about how it went, also feeling confident about the credentials of his candidacy, but preparing for the process to take its own sweet time as well.
“I can only wait now to see if the dream will come true,” McClendon said
And that’s what managing again has been for this 54-year-old Gary, Ind., native who burst upon the baseball scene more than 40 years ago as a Little League World Series star.
In 1971, McClendon hit a home run in five consecutive Little League World Series at-bats, thus earning the nickname “Legendary Lloyd.”
When he owned thoroughbreds, Leyland even named one of his colts “Legendary Lloyd” for his friend, but the horse never raced.
One could say the race to the job-winning wire is on for McClendon, except it’s not a race. It’s a slow process.
McClendon, however, is the first to break from the gate, which means he’s also in the lead. But the days ahead, in which other candidates could catch up, won’t be easy.
He’s been through it before, though. No managerial candidate gets turned down on the spot — like a hopeful entrepreneur on “Shark Tank.”
Instead, they go home and wait for the phone to ring.
For McClendon, when it’s rung after past interviews, the calls have been from the Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins, saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
He hasn’t managed since the Pittsburgh Pirates dismissed him in 2005, when he was one loss away from a fifth consecutive losing season becoming a reality.
At the time, those in Pittsburgh thought there was a chance Leyland might return and be McClendon’s successor. Now it could be the other way around in Detroit.
However, the Pirates had nowhere near the talent the Tigers do, and in the time since he’s managed, there are those who say McClendon not only has mellowed, but had to.
He was, after all, known for his run-ins with umpires
And he’s been booted a few times as a Tigers’ coach for yapping from the dugout. But a competitive fire will probably be a common theme among all the candidates who interview for the Tigers’ job.
That said, there’s still nothing McClendon can do now but wait to see if the interview he feels went well went well enough for him to become a finalist — or to flat-out just get the job.
“I feel good about what who I am, what I know and what I’ve done,” McClendon said, stopping short of specifics about the interview.
If those sentiments are shared by the decision makers, his patience will pay off.
But patience, starting now, will indeed be required.