The last time Dan Jennings managed a baseball team, George Michael’s “One More Try” ruled the pop charts. More than a quarter-century later, the Miami Marlins general manager wants to give the dugout one more try.
It’s not just that it’s been ages since players called Jennings skipper. It’s the ages of the players who then did. Jennings last coached the Davidson High School Warriors, in Mobile, Alabama, in 1988. Giancarlo Stanton’s birth remained more than a year away. The baseball players Jennings did lead were practically babies.
But when you’re the general manager, you hire the coach. And Jennings hired himself after firing Mike Redmond. The departed coach came to the job sans much experience, too. The former big-league catcher managed in the minors for two seasons before the Marlins hired him.
Even Jennings’ mother inquired about the state of his mental health.
“It is out of the box,” the respected scout if untested manager said in a Monday press conference. “I will not deny that. It’s definitely a different avenue to arrive in this chair.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Atlanta Braves put the exclamation point on their weekend sweep of the Marlins by nearly no-hitting the team at home. At 16-22, the Marlins, fresh off awarding Stanton the largest contract in baseball history, probably needed a change. But this change?
Jeff Loria, who spent a lot of money in the offseason, saves a lot of money by hiring a guy already on his payroll. And the last time Loria fired a manager after starting 16-22, the Marlins won the World Series. And since Jennings obviously places confidence in the players he assembled for the Marlins, they should place their confidence, albeit for a few games, in the guy who signed them.
Craig Calcaterra writes that “it doesn’t make sense. Yes, there have been some low-or-no experience managers hired in recent years — Mike Redmond was one of them — but they had all at least played baseball at a high level, which Jennings has not. Given that a manager’s primary job these days, or at least so the conventional wisdom goes, is to maintain harmony and order in the dugout and in the clubhouse, not having worked in a professional dugout or clubhouse, ever, puts Jennings at a serious disadvantage.”
Another common complaint surrounds the team violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Selig Rule that requires teams to consider minority candidates (at least when making an external hire). Ken Rosenthal asks: “Why even have the Selig rule if teams are not going to follow it?”
Surely Dan Jennings ranks as the ultimate minority among current managers. Major League Baseball already boasts an African American, a Cuban immigrant, various ESPN talking-head rejects, a guy who let a 46-year-old Nolan Ryan beat him up after beaning him, and a nerd who looks like the seven-time champion of your rotisserie baseball league as managers. There’s no one in the dugout quite like Dan Jennings.