What a pitiful sight. It was mid-September, and there was Bob Quinn, then general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the Major League Executive of the Year two seasons ago and perhaps again this year, sitting alone in the press dining room during a game at Riverfront Stadium. Terrible seat. Hermetically sealed, down the rightfield line, several miles from home plate. Behind him, uneaten food was being tossed in trash cans as pots and pans were being scoured in the kitchen. Nice digs for a general manager, huh? Quinn, you see, had been booted from the private box he sat in last season.
This was the same general manager who had to pay his own way to the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto. The same G.M. who was once charged with a vacation day when he accepted an invitation to play in a charity golf tournament run by one of his players, pitcher Tom Browning. The same G.M. who once had to scrape doo-doo deposited by a pooch the size of an Oldsmobile off the floor of his office.
But to say that Bob Quinn was treated like a dog in his three years with the Reds would be incorrect. Because if Red owner Marge Schott had treated Quinn and manager Lou Piniella and any number of her other front-office employees as well as she treats her beloved St. Bernard, Schottzie 02, her baseball team wouldn't be in the deep you-know-what that it's in now.
For major league teams, the upcoming off-season will be one of the most critical in years. First and foremost, the clubs will be raided by the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins in the expansion draft, on Nov. 17. This is a time for meetings, evaluations, roster adjustments and long-range planning, not for internal chaos. The Reds? They now have no manager or general manager. Piniella got fed up with Schott and resigned on Oct. 6. Two days later Quinn was informed—not by Schott, of course; someone else had to do the dirty work—that his contract would not be renewed. He would, however, have to report to the office until his contract expired, on Oct. 12. Then he could clean out his desk, perhaps clean up his floor, and leave.
Heavens to Schottzie, how things have changed in Cincinnati. Eight months ago, in spring training. Quinn was being hailed as a genius after acquiring frontline pitchers Tim Belcher from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Greg Swindell from the Cleveland Indians; centerfielder Dave Martinez from the Montreal Expos; and infielder-outfielder Bip Roberts, who would turn out to be the team's 1992 MVP, from the San Diego Padres. Piniella was perfectly giddy. "There's nothing I don't like about this team," he said in March. Many experts said Cincinnati was the best team in the National League.
Injuries, however, devoured the Reds this season. Shortstop Barry Larkin twisted his knee in the 10th game of the season and was hampered by a brace thereafter. Third baseman Chris Sabo was sidelined by a severely sprained right ankle. Browning went down in July with torn knee ligaments. Yet the Reds still won 90 games—one fewer than in their world-championship season of 1990. Only five teams in the majors won more games this season than Cincinnati, but now the Reds are in danger of being torn apart as Schott looks for ways to reduce her payroll.
Atlanta Brave manager Bobby Cox looks back admiringly on Quinn's off-season acquisitions and says, "They needed three or four things, and he was able to get them all. It was amazing how he did it. Everything he did pissed me off." Brave general manager John Schuerholz says, "Bob Quinn should be executive of the year, not a fired executive. He did the best job of any G.M. in baseball. They had a very good club that was decimated by injuries. It wasn't his fault. He should be praised, not fired."
Says Minnesota Twin general manger Andy MacPhail, "He was executive of the year, for crissakes. I'm glad [Schott] doesn't own the Twins. You can use that. I don't care what she thinks."
Quinn, 55, is a friendly, dedicated—some might say nerdy—man who took the abuse from Schott without complaint and offered no comment on his dismissal. He's the third general manager axed by Schott in the last eight years, joining Murray Cook and Bill Bergesch (to whom Schott referred in an interview in 1990 as "Oh, what's his name"). "It's just not fair," says Cox. "Most owners are a little more humane than Mrs. Schott."
But no owner is more humane than Schott when it comes to four-legged creatures. Before home games she allows Schottzie to ramble on the playing surface, bothering players and always leaving her mark somewhere on the field. Philadelphia Phillie first baseman Ricky Jordan was chased one night by Schottzie as he warmed up before a game. On another night Belcher's pregame workout was interrupted when the big hound nipped at him while he was throwing. When Cincinnati Post beat man Jerry Crasnick wrote a story in which Belcher was quoted criticizing the dog's on-field behavior, Crasnick was barred by Schott from the press dining room.