I was listening to Prime Time Sports the other day, and guest host Mike Toth (who made the list of my least favourite sportscasters a while ago, and has since dropped even further down the list) mentioned a column he had written suggesting that not only should John Gibbons be fired, but that Gary Carter should be the next Jays manager. Now, I don’t think Gibbons should be fired (though I’d understand it if it happened at the end of the season, as long as Ricciardi was fired too) and I know nothing about Carter, so I listened (and later read the article) to find out Toth’s reasoning behind why Carter would be good for the Jays. I have still yet to figure that out.
Jeff Blair, who covers the Jays for the Globe and Mail, was also on the show and basically said that he thought that Toth must have been joking in his article (I believe his actual words were “you’re on crack”), since hiring Carter would be an immensely stupid idea. Blair has met and covered Gary Carter in the past, and says that Carter isn’t very smart and doesn’t have very good people skills. He’s currently managing in a semi-pro league, which means that not one of the thirty major league teams wants him to manage any of their major or minor league teams. Blair also said that the Jays problems driving in runs are not Gibbons’ fault, and asked Toth to tell him why Gibbons should be fired. Toth’s only response was that sometimes you need to do something like fire the manager to shake up the team. That’s it? Let’s fire someone who is not responsible for the problems because it might fire up the hitters, who are responsible? Toth has been saying for several months now that he thinks Gibby should be fired, and the best reason that this professional sports broadcaster can come up with “I dunno, ya gotta do something…”?
When asked about Carter’s qualifications for being the next Jays manager, Toth said that Carter has two things that John Gibbons does not: a World Series ring and a plaque in Cooperstown. When asked about Carter’s people skills, Toth said that a bunch of years ago, he was the MC at Gary Carter’s induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and Carter was so emotional about the induction that he gave Toth a hug. He also mentioned that Carter was Toth’s idol growing up. That’s it. He was a great baseball player, I idolized him as a kid, and he once gave me a hug, and that makes him qualified to be a major league manager. Get serious.
Sometimes great players make great managers (Ozzie Guillen, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella), but not always (in looking around, I couldn’t find any good examples because the players that this applies to were never hired as managers). It’s also true that sometimes players who weren’t that great end up making great managers (Tony LaRussa had a lifetime .199 average, Tommy Lasorda and Bobby Cox only played in the majors for a couple of seasons), but obviously being a lousy player doesn’t mean you’ll be a good manager either. In general, I think it’s safe to say that playing skills are no predictor of managing skills. Does anyone think Barry Bonds would be a good manager? Hey, he won Gold Gloves, several MVP awards, and hit more home runs than anyone! And I saw him hug his son on TV once! What about Roger Clemens? He won seven Cy Young awards, so he’s prime manager material, right?
Clarification: I’m not saying that hiring Gary Carter would be a bad idea, because I don’t know enough about him to have an opinion either way. But if you want to hire a manager at the big-league level who’s never even managed a single-A team, you better have a damn good reason. Toth’s reasons weren’t even remotely intelligent. His reasons were based on his idolization of Carter as a kid and the fact that he was a great player. Not the kind of intelligent reasoning I’d expect from a professional sports broadcaster.
Rogers Communications owns both the Blue Jays and the FAN 590, and perhaps they would be stupid enough to hire Carter. After all, they were stupid enough to hire Mike Toth to guest host when the incomparable Bob McCown (“Best in the business — just ask him” as the ads say) is on vacation.