Jim Leyland was always grateful to the fans for supporting his Tigers. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Itís too early to know who the next manager of the Tigers will be, but itís not too early to state this: A good number of you will dislike the man, possibly from the start but definitely no later than the third game of the season.
A stats guy? He needs to get his nose out of the box score and look at the game.
A gut guy? Whatís the gut know anyway? Anyone could see that calling for a hit-and-run there is stupid.
Regardless of what the stats say.
Youíd be hard-pressed to find a fan base that does not have a love-hate relationship with its manager, and often that is expressed more in terms of hate than love.
Fire the bum. Anyone can see that his lineups are awful. And whyíd he stick with that closer for so long?
Detroitís last guy, Jim Leyland, was no different.
He didnít play the right nine in his lineup. He carried the wrong 25th men on his rosters. His bullpen decisions were awful. He bunted too much, except when he didnít bunt enough. He didnít call for enough stolen bases, but anyone can see that you donít ask a guy to steal in that spot! What were you thinking, Leyland?
Being a manager is a bit of a thankless task. If you make the right call in the right spot, the players get all the credit. If you make the right call and it just doesnít turn out right, youíre a bum. And if you make the wrong choice, donít you dare show your face in public.
Managers know that, and Leyland knew it, too.
So if you turned on the radio, checked a blog, read the comments section on Facebook or just ran into another fan wearing the Old English D on their cap, there was good chance the discussion was going to turn to what Leyland was doing wrong.
And he didnít seem to mind at all.
Think back to that time he tearfully thanked the fans.
Which time? Exactly. No matter how many called for his head, he got emotional as he said how much they meant to him.
Another person might have wanted to spite them; Leyland wanted to thank them.
Being the public lightning rod for many during his eight years managing the Tigers didnít seem to faze him.
The next manager, whoever that might be, is going to have to be equally immune to criticism, because youíre definitely not going to like him for long.
Everyoneís got these preconceived notions of what a manager is supposed to be, what heís supposed to do and what moves heís supposed to make.
Yet if you watch enough baseball or talk to fans of other teams, you usually find others donít like their guy any more than you like yours.
The Minnesota Twins won division title after division title. Sounds like a good thing. Turns out they won despite Ron Gardenhire, not because of him.
Look it up: It wonít take long for people to give you plenty of reasons why he should be fired.
Of course he looked a lot better at managing when he had good players on his roster, didnít he?
Maybe the real lesson here is that most managers go by the same book, managing the way that they learned as they grew up in the game. For every Joe Maddon, a Trey Hillman sits broken down on the side of the road. At one point, he was the next managing wunderkind, though youíll be forgiven for not remembering that now.
Donít be surprised when you find yourself disagreeing with the new guyís moves, too, whether they come from an old school book or a new one.
Complaining about your teamís manager is just part of the game.
Kurt Mensching is the editor of Bless You Boys, a Tigers blog (blessyouboys.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.