Hey, Dayton: Here’s why I should manage the Kansas City Royals
When you hear my background, you'll know I'm the perfect guy for the job...
|Lee Judge||Oct 4, 2019|| 4||4|
Recently, my friend and co-author Jason Kendall gave an interview and announced he wouldn’t mind managing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jason is imminently qualified for that job.
He was a big league catcher for 15 years and everybody knows catchers make the best managers. Nine of those years were in Pittsburgh, he knows a shit ton of baseball and also has so much intensity that I’m pretty sure he can do that Darth Vader thing where he just glares at you until your windpipe collapses.
Imagine this dude going out to argue with an umpire and making that choking gesture D.V. uses and watching the umpire fall to his knees fighting for air. You don’t think that would sell some tickets?
But enough about Jason (I mean I wrote an entire book about him), what about me?
Well, I’m glad to pretend you asked.
As long as we’re throwing hats in rings, I’m going to come right and say I wouldn’t mind managing the Kansas City Royals. Assuming someone brings this to GM Dayton Moore’s attention; let me state my case.
What are my qualifications?
I’ve got so damn many I don’t know where to start, but how about this?
I managed a team for 20 years in the Kansas City Men’s Senior Baseball League and I must be an extremely good judge of talent because I almost immediately realized I didn’t have any.
Bottom line – and I’m not kidding about this part – managers are only as good as the players in their lineup and I put together a team too good for me.
Think of that: I wasn’t good enough to play for me.
I was once playing second base for a team that only had eight players and was doing without a right fielder. I let a grounder go under my glove, chased it into right field, picked the ball up and made a bad throw back to the infield. I had just recorded an E4 and E9 on the same play and that kind of versatility will get your ass benched, even when you’re managing the team.
If I wanted to win, I had to get me off the field.
I’m convinced this proves I’ve got an eye for talent and if the Royals don’t give me the managing job I might accept one as a scout as long as watching a kid play doesn’t require me driving any farther than Blue Springs.
But let’s keep our eyes on my prize and talk about my managing skills.
Managing in the big leagues is easy
Let’s face it; compared to a beer league, big league managers have it easy.
They’ve got the best players their system can provide, assistant coaches, trainers, strength coaches, equipment managers, dieticians – you name it – and when the players show up for a game there’s an excellent chance they won’t be inebriated.
Amateur ball is a completely different story.
I once had an outfielder show up for a Sunday morning game and the first time he had to look up at a fly ball, got dizzy and projectile vomited. When I asked that eternal manager’s question – what the fuck? – he admitted he’d been up all night drinking and didn’t stop until 6 AM.
When I asked why he would do that knowing he had a Sunday morning game, he said: “Why do you think I stopped drinking at 6 AM?”
That kind of problem that has to be nipped in the bud, so before the next game I had the umpire make him walk the foul line and blow up a balloon before I let him play.
I also dealt with a PED scandal.
My catcher was using some liniment for a sore arm, said it worked great and pretty soon all my pitchers were using it as well. I finally got a look at the bottle the liniment came in and there was a picture of a horse on it.
Sure enough, it wasn’t meant for humans, but it seemed to be working, so I told my catcher he could keep using it as long as he didn’t signal for pitches by pawing his hoof on the ground or expect me to feed him sugar cubes.
Before another game I looked up and saw the same catcher warming up my pitcher while smoking a cigarette and just to complete the picture, my pitcher he was smoking one, too. At least they didn’t take their beers out on the field.
You don’t have to deal with problems like that in the big leagues.
Another time one of my players reached first base late in a game we were winning by a lot and I gave him a “don’t steal” sign. He stole second on the next pitch, third on the pitch after that and scored on a wild pitch.
After he crossed home plate he just kept running, grabbed his stuff out of the dugout and sprinted for the parking lot. Turned out he had a DUI problem, was supposed to spend the weekend in the county jail and was running late.
How about anger issues?
I had a player get so mad he threw his helmet, bounced it off a sidewalk, over a fence and into a creek. It was a night game so he had to come back the next day and look for it. I solved that problem by giving him a bungee cord he could connect to his belt and helmet so it wouldn’t happen again.
That’s some top-notch managing right there.
I had a shortstop so spacey that he spent a summer playing baseball with us and missed the end of the year party because he didn’t know any of our names.
The helmet thrower’s wife had an identical twin that came to games with her sister and for years the spacey shortstop didn’t realize there were two of them. He thought there’s one woman who seemed to change outfits a lot.
The identical-twin situation led to a team discussion; if you had sex with your wife’s identical twin, was it still adultery? And if it was, shouldn’t your wife still be flattered on some level?
See, these are the type of closed-door meetings that bring a team together and I’m pretty sure big league players would have some interesting views on the identical-twin issue.
Put me in charge of the Royals and we’ll find out.
Also, I’m a goddamn people person
Big league managers have to deal with all sorts of people and I’ve got plenty of experience in that area.
I managed guys who couldn’t make their high school team and one guy with two World Series rings; pitcher Danny Jackson. Danny had so much respect for me that any time I came to the mound he would greet me like this:
“What the fuck are you doing out here?”
Explaining what useful advice a political cartoonist might give to a guy who spent 15 years in the big leagues, made the All-Star Game twice and pitched in nine postseason games took some people skills, for sure.
Mainly I handed Danny a new baseball and made him promise to give it back when he decided he was done using it. That’s the kind of insightful managing we don’t see enough of these days.
I’ve shared the field with ex-big leaguers, ex-minor leaguers and ex-convicts. I’ve played with, against or managed: school teachers, a city councilman, a medical student, a strip club owner, a suburban mayor, a medical supply salesman, an engineer, firemen, U.S. Marines, a homicide detective, a sky marshal, a professional photographer, a municipal court judge, a water quality expert for the EPA and a county prosecutor.
And the county prosecutor got caught corking his bat.
After all that experience dealing with people from different walks of life and cell blocks, dealing with players from Japan or Latin America would be a piece of cake.
A match made slightly south of Heaven
As you can see I look good in a uniform even though these days my hair is a different color. I also know how to put one foot on the top step of the dugout, lean one arm on the railing and look like I’m considering the merits of a suicide squeeze when I’m actually wondering what kind of food the post-game spread will include that night.
Dayton, I’ll make you a deal.
You go out and price the available managing candidates, pick the cheapest one and I’ll do the job for half of whatever you were going to pay that guy. For that amount of money I’ll be wildly entertaining in press conferences and will conduct them with the use of hand puppets if you think that adds something to the show.
And when you have to fire me – and let’s face it, you will have to fire me – not one fan is going to complain. I’ve got all your bases covered. I know you’re a man of faith and with the exception of my tendency to use profanity (an unusual quality in baseball) this is a match made in heaven.
So have your people call my people.
Just as soon as I get some people.