Managing in baseball is sometimes overrated. While a manager can certainly have an impact on the outcome of a game, the players on the field usually dictate the amount of wins and losses.
Throughout the years, some managers have gained a reputation of being fiery and hard-nosed and known to not tolerate any nonsense.
However, there have been some managers whose cowardly ways have defined their tenure.
Here is a ranking of the most cowardly managers in the game today, starting with the least and counting down to the most.
Note: Most of the back end of this ranking are not cowardly at all, but for argument’s sake, they have been ranked.
In a courageous move, Jack McKeon took over midseason after Edwin Rodriguez resigned as Florida Marlins manager.
McKeon is 81 years old, and his patience has been tested constantly.
The Marlins have struggled in multiple areas this season, especially defensively.
McKeon is a saint for not completely losing it yet.
Mike Scioscia is by no means a coward.
Back in 2009, the Angels were criticized for celebrating around Nick Adenhart’s jersey after winning the division crown.
Adenhart tragically died in a car accident the night after throwing six shutout innings in his first start of the season.
Scioscia defended his players for their show of emotion. They did the right thing, since they still considered Adenhart as part of the team.
How could someone who came off the bench with an injury to pinch-hit against the game’s premier closer in Dennis Eckersley in the first game of the World Series, only to hit a game-winning home run, be considered cowardly?
Though that was his playing career and not his managerial career, Kirk Gibson has been doing great things with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He has his men playing hard and on their way to a division title.
Terry Collins inherited a tough situation in managing the New York Mets.
Rife with off-the-field problems and a roster bludgeoned with injuries, Collins has done a good job with the Mets this year.
He cemented himself early on in his tenure with his handling of the Carlos Beltran position switch to right field. He let Beltran decide rather than telling him that Angel Pagan would be playing center field.
He was also vehement about not including Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez on the roster just because of their hefty salaries.
Though Fredi Gonzalez is now managing the Atlanta Braves, his defining moment came when he was managing the Marlins.
Last season, he was so steadfast in dealing with the volatile Hanley Ramirez that it led to his firing.
Ramirez got heat for his lackadaisical play, but since he was the star, he would be the one staying.
Rather than cowering to Ramirez’s ways, Gonzalez got out.
Ron Roenicke is in line to be NL Manager of the Year for his performance this year with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He’s no coward, and keep an eye on him to bring more success to Milwaukee.
Terry Francona doesn’t have a cowardly bone in his body.
He doesn’t tolerate any nonsense in the clubhouse, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
He is the definition of a hard-nosed manager.
Davey Johnson, like Jack McKeon, is back on the managing circuit.
He was a senior advisor for the Nationals before the unexpected resignation of Jim Riggleman.
He has lots of courage to be back in the dugout, especially after a 10-year hiatus. He last managed the Dodgers in 2000.
Clint Hurdle probably would beat down his own players if he had to.
Luckily, for the better part of this season, the Pirates have played surprisingly well.
Though they will have their 19th consecutive losing season, the future appears brighter, thanks to Hurdle.
If Jim Leyland were considered a coward, you’d have to redefine the term.
He’s known for publicly blasting his players that make comments about their teammates.
This sense of loyalty (and Justin Verlander’s right arm) has propelled the Detroit Tigers to first place in the AL Central.
Don Mattingly was thrown into the fire.
The Dodgers have so many problems, and gave Mattingly the test of overlooking everything and fielding a competitive team.
Well, it hasn’t been that easy for the first-year manager, but he certainly deserves a hat-tip for trying.
Following in Joe Torre’s footsteps can’t be easy.
From dugout to television and back to the dugout.
Such has been the path for Buck Showalter.
He found himself in a difficult bind last season when he took over the Orioles, but he turned the team around. In fact, the Orioles were arguably the best team down the stretch last season—too bad they were already out of contention when they started playing well.
Showalter and the Orioles are the victims of playing in a tough division.
Things have not been so peachy for Jim Tracy the last few seasons.
It’s tough to blame all 25 players for a team’s struggles, so the manager unfortunately takes the heat.
Tracy has handled everything in stride this season.
Joe Maddon has found a way to win with one of the smallest payrolls in the league.
He quietly goes about his business every game with no complaint.
He too is the victim of playing in a division with two of the best teams in baseball—the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
You never really hear of any cowardly issues surrounding Bud Black.
Maybe that’s because the Padres have really fallen off the map after a few competitive seasons.
Losing Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t helped, either.
Charlie Manuel is very vocal about voicing his opinion.
He’s no coward when it comes to arguing with umpires.
His team has followed in his footsteps nicely.
John Farrell lays low for the most in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout.
He’s been classified as a good baseball man whose experience in the game is endless.
The Jays seem to be a team on the verge, so we’ll see if Farrell’s courage/cowardice dominates his philosophy.
Lately, it’s been difficult to remember that the Houston Astros are even a professional team.
With the trades of Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, manager Brad Mills has been dealt an even tougher hand.
He’s making the most of a poor situation, but hasn’t really been tested with any situations that have allowed him to be a coward.
While Ned Yost has a bright future with some talented prospects for the Kansas City Royals, his cowardice came through while he managed the Brewers.
He was said to misuse young lefty Manny Parra by having him labor through a high pitch count, even without much experience.
Additionally, he constantly played Bill Hall due to his contract, despite his poor play.
He doesn’t strike you as someone who would be confrontational with his players.
While the Seattle Mariners have two young stud pitchers, the team is in pretty poor shape in most other areas.
This isn’t the fault of manager Eric Wedge.
However, fans in Cleveland used to accuse Wedge of being a coward when he managed the Indians. The fans claimed he never showed emotion and did nothing to ignite a fire under his players.
The Indians had talented players during his tenure, but never really amounted to anything. Maybe that was his own doing?
Ron Washington's courage/cowardice takes two extremes.
He’s a total coward for doing cocaine, especially after knowing what his star player—Josh Hamilton—had been through.
However, he’s very courageous for showing total remorse for his mistake.
The Rangers were so struck by his apology that Nolan Ryan gave him a vote of confidence.
This decision led to a World Series berth last season.
Manny Acta is still early in his managerial career, and has been a major factor in the Indians turnaround.
However, there is a major bone to pick with him.
Though it’s not totally his doing, his star pitcher Fausto Carmona has a nasty tendency of throwing at opposing players’ heads to protect his own players.
There’s nothing wrong with drilling a guy in the back or hindquarters to send the opposing team a message. But when the target is another player’s head, that’s aiming for a guy’s life, which simply isn’t acceptable.
Once again, this isn’t fully Acta’s doing, but the problem is that it’s happened on multiple occasions.
Ozzie Guillen isn’t exactly the gold standard for today’s manager.
He’s often harsh to the media and profane on the field and even on Twitter.
He’s known for stirring up trouble, even with his own general manager.
His days may be numbered in Chicago if he can’t right the ship.
In addition to a DUI a few years ago, Tony La Russa is back in the headlines for being a coward.
He recently called out fans for their attacks of the under-achieving Cardinals.
He’s been around the game long enough to know that the fans really shouldn’t be involved in any negative criticism.
Luckily for him, the St. Louis are crazy about the Cardinals, so his comments likely won’t affect attendance.
An Oakland Athletics manager pretty much has to be a coward under Billy Beane.
Bob Melvin is the next poor sap on the list, as he took over the A’s midseason.
Beane has a ton of control of the decisions made on the field. See Art Howe in Moneyball.
Dusty Baker’s cowardice runs two-fold.
First, dating back from his days in San Francisco, he’s been said to spoil his players.
They are grown men and should be treated as such.
Second, he notoriously brings his son along to post-game press conferences in order divert the attention off the game, especially a loss.
Sounds pretty cowardly to me.
Mike Quade’s first full season has been abysmal for the Chicago Cubs.
The worst part is that he has a bad tendency for throwing some of his younger players under the bus.
Guys like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are still learning the game and don’t deserve the negative criticism brought upon them by their own manager.
Quade has been called nothing more than a minor-league manager, and that’s where he may find himself pretty soon.
Bruce Bochy was recently called a coward, and it sparked some public backlash.
Radio host Tony Bruno wrote on Twitter that Bochy was a coward for letting an “illegal alien” start a brawl.
Bruno was referring to Giants relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez when he ignited a bench-clearing brawl by hitting Shane Victorino.
Meanwhile, Bochy responded by calling Bruno a racist.
All in all, it was a sticky situation.
Ron Gardenhire isn’t shy at all about letting an umpire know what the story is. In fact, he sometimes spends as much time on the field as some of his players.
But more cowardly about Gardenhire is his treatment of his younger players.
Danny Valencia comes to mind.
Valencia earned a starting role last season, but is still getting his feet wet in the big leagues.
However, Gardenhire often singles him out for the rest of the team’s problems.
For example, on Aug. 12, Gardenhire blatantly scapegoated Valencia for a tough loss. Valencia misplayed a bunt in the third inning, but the go-ahead runs scored in the seventh on errors by Matt Tolbert and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
Not exactly one of Gardenhire’s more positive defining qualities.
The cake of cowardly managers goes to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Now, this designation is not solely because I despise the Bronx Bombers.
Girardi is often very cowardly with some of his decision-making.
He constantly runs out A.J. Burnett to the hill despite his struggles. That’s the $82.5 million contract talking.
He also did the same thing early in the season with Rafael Soriano.
But the worst of all has been his handling of Jorge Posada.
Posada has been a class act from the time he first donned the Yankee pinstripes. However, this season has been anything but fun for the notable Yankee.
Granted, Posada is a shell of his former self. But it’s been rumored that Posada and Girardi’s head-butting has been result of Girardi’s contempt for serving as Posada’s back-up when they were teammates in the late 1990s.
If so, that is the ultimate show of cowardice, and Girardi needs some serious help.
He’s been the beneficiary of having a team rife with All-Stars and ownership that isn’t afraid to spend on the best available ballplayers.
Nice life, huh, Girardi?