The talk in this off-day is all about managers. Managers quitting, getting fired, getting invited to leave (and no, those three are not all the same thing). Managers accusing each other of lacking integrity, however obliquely. Managers preparing for the playoffs.
First, the one that has a local angle. It seems the Yankees weren't too happy at the way that Buck Showalter played Sunday's game against the Angels. The Angels' come-from-behind victory--combined with the Yanks' loss at Boston--gave the Halos home field advantage over the Yankees in the ALDS.
Now, Showalter is the type who likes to talk about "tradition" and go to the press with his opinions of whether other managers are meeting his lofty standards for the profession, so maybe pulling his star players early in the final game--the Rangers were up 4-1 when Showalter gave Mark Teixeira, Hank Blaloch, and Michael Young the day off in the 3rd inning--is a bit of hypocrisy. The fact of the matter still is, the Yanks had their destiny in their own hands, and spit the bit. It isn't Buck Showalter's job to get the Yanks home field advantage in the playoffs, it's Joe Torre's. No whining allowed. That means you, A-Rod.
In other news managers started biting the dust as soon as the season was over. In Los Angeles, Paul DePodesta refused to grant manager Jim Tracy a contract extension, meaning that Tracy and the Dodgers will "mutually part ways" without anyone firing or quitting. In Detroit, Alan Trammel is gone--definitely a firing. The Motowners supposedly have the hots for Jim Leyland.
In Florida, Jack McKeon quit the Marlins, although some think it was a "quit or be fired" type deal. Last week I wrote a Notebook piece on the Marlins, in which I outlined the reasons I felt jettisoning McKeon wouldn't be too bad for the Fish. Mainly, it looks like he's a Billy Martin-type who quickly burns out the players under him with his negativity.
Back to the manager the Yankees have, rather than the three that just hit the market, Joe Torre has selected Mike Mussina as his Game 1 starter, and Chien Ming Wang to start game 2. When the action moves back to Yankee Stadium, Randy Johnson will answer the call, at home.
What about Shawn Chacon, the guy who allowed only one earned run in his last three starts? He pitches Game 4, if the Yanks get that far. Why?
Seniority. Mussina may not have been effective terribly often in the last two months, but he's a proven Yankee(tm). Johnson and even Wang all have more Yankees tenure than Chacon.
Please tell me this isn't really how we're running things. Please let this be a smokescreen for some real reason that Mussina is starting game one of a playoff series...like he's been faking injury and ineffectiveness for months just to set up Mike Scioscia.
I have much fear.