I was doing my regular appearance on the Lex and Terry Morning show today when new Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle called in. Hurdle is a former Major League player who was once called the “Next Phenom” by Sports Illustrated magazine on their cover. He was a solid player who now talks mostly about his own limitations during his career.
When the Rockies fired Buddy Bell, they hired Hurdle who was on their staff as the hitting coach. Lex and Terry and I have gotten to know Hurdle over the last 5 years as the Commissioner of the Fantasy Camp we attend each February. Clint has been the “perfect manager in waiting” and now has gotten his shot.
If you look around the league, the successful managers these days are the ones who aren’t seeking the spotlight, but rather creating an atmosphere for success. Outside of Joe Torre, none were great players but all had careers where they saw the ups and downs of many seasons, and came to understand the rhythms of the game. That’s why Hurdle is the perfect manager, and an example of a guy many fans have never heard of who becomes successful leading a Major League baseball team.
Anybody can make pitching changes, and put pinch hitters in the game. A good manager has to accept failure nearly as often as success. If he wins six out of every ten games, they’ll hail him as a hero. A baseball manager doesn’t have to dress in flashy clothes, he wears a uniform every night. He doesn’t have to suffer for a week between losses, because they’ll play again tomorrow. And he doesn’t have to baby-sit much. By the time players make it to the majors, they’re grown men. Or at least they’re supposed to be.
Not many great players have made good managers. The theory is that they don’t understand how less-talented players can’t perform at a higher level. I don’t know if Clint Hurdle will be a great manager. I do know he’s the right pedigree. Part thoroughbred, part quarter horse, part workhorse.