Recently, managers and players have come under the microscope as controversy swirls around their respective teams.
The primary job of a manager these days is to squeeze the last drop of talent and production out of their clubs. That means keeping everyone in line, happy and focused on the end goal of winning games. But for the managers of the Cubs, Mariners, Marlins and Red Sox, that is sometimes a difficult task to do — and each are going about it in different ways.
Lou Piniella, in his final contract year with the Cubs, is dealing with an underachieving (18-22) squad. Amid questions about Piniella's role, the manager lashed out on Sunday, saying that those people being paid to produce must start doing just that.
"Don't let names fool you," he told The Associated Press. "Production wins."
Piniella was responding to whether youngster Tyler Colvin (who had three hits and a pair of runs scored on Tuesday) should be demoted to Triple-A so he can play full time instead of coming off the bench.
"We keep talking about at-bats for people. We talk about people needing to play," Piniella said. "We talk about everything but winning baseball games. That's what the hell I want to talk about … period."
Piniella then talked about how he thought his stars weren't caving under the pressure of their big salaries, but also weren't performing up to snuff. Was it the right idea for Piniella to call them out through the media? The team might take these comments to heart, but it could also backfire on Sweet Lou.
If Don Wakamatsu had his way, the Mariners would keep their lips zipped to the media. Wakamatsu has recently struggled to make sure the top doesn't blow off the Mariners, already making headlines for all the wrong reasons with the antics of Milton Bradley, who recently took time away from the team to get his personal demons in order.
Ken Griffey Jr. allegedly was caught taking a nap during a game, costing him an opportunity to pinch hit an inning later. The report in the media, citing two unnamed Mariner players, made national headlines after Mike Sweeney lashed out, calling a team meeting and challenging these sources to a fight. The players then boycotted reporter Larry LaRue for a couple of days before putting the incident behind them.
Wakamatsu was put in the unenviable position of having to calm down everyone involved as well as struggle to keep matters internal, despite the best efforts of the media to get the full story.
Unfortunately for the Marlins' head honcho, Fredi Gonzalez, his brouhaha is only beginning. Gonzalez yanked shortstop Hanley Ramirez from a game Monday after his lack of hustle allowed two runs to score. Ramirez was extremely unhappy, claiming on Tuesday that not only was he not going to apologize for his actions, but he showed disrespect toward his manager, saying he doesn't even know Gonzalez's name.
Ramirez then went a step further, saying that Gonzalez — a minor league veteran of six seasons — could do whatever he wants as manager, but did not know what he was doing thanks to never playing in the bigs.
Gonzalez wouldn't back down, fighting fire with fire by saying, "He's right, but I know how to play the game."
Ramirez claimed he was injured and going after the ball as hard as he could. He also said that many other players on the Marlins dog it after ground balls and they don't apologize, so why should he?
Unlike Piniella, who is hoping his comments to the media spark an uprising by the Cubs, and unlike Wakamatsu, who is trying to keep everything in-house, Gonzalez is choosing to meet his petulant shortstop head on.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, and the organization as a whole, agree more with Wakamatsu's way of doing things as the club places emphasis on keeping things in-house.
It's probably been difficult for Francona not to let his disappointment seep through to the media as the Red Sox struggle to stay over .500. Earlier this season, managing the DH situation probably wasn't the easiest task to tackle as he tried to get David Ortiz turned around while trying to make the slugger happy.
Now, Francona has to deal with the comments Mike Lowell made to the media on Tuesday. The third baseman said he might have to consider requesting his release from the squad, saying the Red Sox are wasting a roster spot by keeping him around.
Francona will continue to keep these matters internal, and on Tuesday told reporters Lowell has yet to speak to him, so he has nothing to say.
Which of these managers has it right in how to approach controversy? Does it depend on the situation? Should managers talk about clubhouse matters in the media, using it to fuel the fire of players, or should everything be kept internal?
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