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By the book

The classic manager is one of the game's treasures

Posted: Tuesday October 16, 2007 3:32PM; Updated: Tuesday October 16, 2007 5:18PM
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Anyone who has ever been ordered to run laps by a coach whose main form of exercise is yelling, bench-pressing sandwiches and doing curls with 12-ounce cans of suds can appreciate the irony that the field generals in the world of athletics have often failed to resemble the foot soldiers. One of the more classic sights is an inner tube smuggler like Bill Parcells or Charlie Weis standing on the sideline, arms folded above a belt that transverses his belly, and face lined by a thundercloud scowl.

Baseball has traditionally cornered the market on well-rounded, if not downright peculiar, individuals who call the shots from the bench, although they seem to be more of an anomaly in these health-conscious and deathly-serious times. Their colorful personalities and behavior are among the more enjoyable aspects of the game. Herewith, a quick and dirty primer on managerial traits.

Managerial Molds
THE NEW BREED
Willie Randolph Terry Francona Bob Melvin
Lean, articulate, and almost maddeningly calm, they follow in the cool cleatsteps of elder statesmen Tony LaRussa, who owns a law degree and is known for the brainy, analytical style he has brought to the job since 1979, and the preternaturally placid Joe Torre, who was Randolph's mentor in the Bronx, which is always burning.
THE CLASSICS
Casey Stengel Don Zimmer Earl Weaver
A heartwarming mix of grizzled, bulbous, verbose/profane, hard-drinking/smoking and volatile -- in other words, a whole lot of fun whenever they waddled onto the field. (The chainsmoking Weaver, who nicknamed his high-wire closer Don Stanhouse "Full Pack", once threw himself out of a game while arguing with umps.) A folksy penchant for mangling the language could make press conferences a hoot. Some Stengelese: "You fellers should do real good here now that I've added my fellers to your fellers. And the one who should help you most is a feller I shouldn't have given you. He's old but he still glues his meat together after he gets hurt." They had The Book to manage by, although it was largely written by their experience and accumulated wisdown. Honorable mentions: John McGraw, Leo Durocher, Sparky Anderson, Danny "It's beyond my apprehension" Ozark, Billy Martin, Tom Lasorda, Whitey Herzog.
THE THROWBACKS
Bobby Cox Lou Piniella Jim Leyland
Cox, 66, is the elder heavyweight, a sage institution in Atlanta and the relatively low-key owner of the career ejections record once held by Hall of Famer McGraw. Piniella, 64, is what you might call a big believer in verbal motivation and is always good for a fireworks display as he once played for the ultimate pepperpot, Billy Martin. Leyland, 62, the flinty skipper of the Tigers, is known for enjoying his gaspers, a product once openly endorsed by players.
CLASSICS IN PROGRESS
Clint Hurdle Eric Wedge Ron Gardenhire
Hurdle, 50, of the newly-minted NL champion Rockies has become a master of listening to his gut before making a move. Wedge is only 39, but he's got the grizzled thing going big time as his Tribe marches on through the postseason. The more fiery Gardenhire, 49, has steadily grown into his job, especially when you consider that he was once a 6-foot, 175-pound utility infielder.
HONORABLE MENTION
Joe Maddon Charle Manuel Ozzie Guillen
Maddon's glasses speak of his economics degree while his growing paunch shouts that there's a classic manager in there trying to bust out. Manuel, who has managed for only six seasons, is a laid-back, good ol' boy cut from the same scratchy wool as Joe "Throw him some low smoke and let's go pound some Budweiser" Schultz of the late Seattle Pilots (now the Brewers), who was immortalized in Jim Bouton's 1970 classic Ball Four. Guillen is the modern torchbearer of the off-colorful quote.

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Sidelines


As a reader of Allan Muir's recent NHL column noted, the commissioner of the NHL appears to have a breakfast cereal endorsement.

One and the same?
Gary Bettman
Count Chocula

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