Lately, the Houston Astros have been hosting a game show. Haven't you heard?
It's called, "Who Wants to Be the Houston Astros Manager?"
Apparently, Bob Melvin and Manny Acta really do . And, of course, so does a motley cast comprised of the likes of Phil Garner, Dave Clark and several others.
The plan is to go in and interview with owner Drayton McLane, telling him what Midas Touch you have to take the Astros and miraculously turn the franchise around. Of course, you have to do this while doing everything you can to make McLane feel happy, involved, and like he's making lots of right decisions.
The winner will receive a million dollars, most of which will probably be spent on Pepto Bismol for the ulcers that are bound to follow.
I wonder if leaving an interview confident is really all it's cracked up to be. After all, how many times has one of us left an interview thinking we knocked every question out of the park and made a stellar case for why we should be hired with a nice generous salary and great benefits, only to turn around and learn the company instead hired someone else who has no clue of what they're doing?
I'm a journalist and former broadcaster, with an in-law who works in the auto industry. In my experience—and from talking to this relative—it seems the three industries have one thing in common: There's an extreme reluctance to hire anyone smarter than you are.
I wonder if McLane will pass on a really, really savvy baseball man, a leader, as his manager only because McLane doesn't want to be told that much of what he's done the past few years has been wrong. I'm still trying to understand the whole ordeal of Kaz Matsui and the no-trade clause, for instance.
So, anyway, back to this game show, I'm sure Regis Philbin will ask each candidate this million-dollar question:
If your opinion differs from that of McLane's, will you: a) Smile and say nothing; b) Speak your mind and get overruled; c) Resign and give the obligatory "I wish the club well;" or d) Do what McLane wants and be prepared to take the blame when it goes wrong.
The bottom line, of course, is this: Unless the Houston Astros plan to overhaul the front office and change the way they do things as far as whom they'll sign, trade, draft, and how they'll assess talent, then I honestly don't think any of the great managers of past or present (Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Whitey Herzog, etc.) could successfully manage this team.
Herzog turned down chances to manage the Oakland A's in the late 1970s, and the Chicago Cubs a few decades ago. He declined the first because he reportedly felt it was too hopeless a task, and the second because he jokingly thought it would turn him into an alcoholic.
If I could pick, I'd hope Houston choose Phil Garner as its manager and then brings on Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio as coaches. We'll see.
Besides, Garner looks like he'd be amusing going the whole dance of "NAUSEA! HEARTBURN! INDIGESTION! UPSET STOMACH! DIARRHEA!"