The 2018 New York Mets season will likely be under the direction of a new manager. And while names such as Ron Gardenhire, Joe McEwing, and Alex Cora bandied about by fans, I think the Mets can set their sights even higher.
An experienced veteran who can win now? The next upstart coach from a minor league system? No. The Mets need to think outside the box. They must look towards the silver screen.
Hollywood has produced some classic baseball movies over the years. Those films have yielded some of the most memorable managers. It's natural to wonder: What if we could hire one of those managers? And which one would be the best pick? Let’s take a look:
Lou Brown - Major League
A classic choice, Lou Brown proved over multiple seasons in managing the Indians that he can get the best out of his guys, even when most doubted them. He has multiple playoff runs under his belt, isn’t afraid to defy ownership, and will stray from the traditional methods of coaching when the situation calls for it.
Pros: Playoff experience, can deal with veteran talent, controls the locker room, has dealt with difficult ownership, great motivator
Cons: One of the older candidates, been removed from the game for a bit, health issues are a major concern, short-term fix
Mets outlook: Hiring Lou Brown indicates the Mets are still in win-now mode. While he’ll breathe some new life into clubhouse, his window for making a run to the World Series is one-to-two years, and handing him the reins will ultimately prove to be short-sighted. No fan would object to his hiring, but the Mets front office would be spinning their wheels in the sand until a more long-term candidate manifests.
Jimmy Dugan - A League of their own
At the very least, we know there’ll be no more crying at Citi Field. In what started out as a joke to Jimmy, guiding the Rockford Peaches to the AAGPBL World Series became the defining moment in his baseball career. While he may have an archaic way in dealing with players, Jimmy tells it as it is, and will instantly light a fire in the clubhouse. We learned in the epilogue of A League of Their Own that his character had passed away, but remember, this is hypothetical.
Pros: Brings tough-love attitude, will light a fire under the team
Cons: Can be impatient, may fall out of favor with younger players, never managed in the Majors
Mets outlook: Jimmy Dugan is another win-now candidate who won’t look to serve more than three years as the head honcho. If the plan to win now fails, there’s risk that Jimmy may alienate or look to part ways with the younger talent rather than try to develop them. He’s another stopgap candidate that will have the Mets roster contending for another year or two, but the front office may be looking for something more.
Benny The Jet Rodriguez - The Sandlot
Here’s a nice sleeper pick for the Mets front office. Benny was never a manager, but he showcased true leadership among the sandlot crew, which later aided his rise to the Majors. The Jet was a five-tool player for the Dodgers, but really found his niche in wreaking havoc on the bases with this speed. His playing career will instantly garner respect in the clubhouse.
Pros: Great MLB career, natural leader, instant fan favorite
Cons: No managerial experience, may have trouble with veterans
Mets outlook: The riskiest pick out of the bunch, Benny offers a ton of upside if fans and ownership are patient. While his leadership will always stand unquestioned, he’ll need time to learn the game from the manager’s seat, which could annoy some veterans. He’ll also look to implement a new style of offense that favors speed on the bases versus a reliance on power. Installing Benny is as intriguing as it gets, but that may mean abandoning the win-now mentality and investing in the youth movement.
Conor O’Neill - Hardball
O’Neill successfully managed himself through one the toughest seasons any manager can experience. Leading his Chicago little league team to the championship in his first year, he taught himself how to manage on the fly, while bonding with his team along the way. He may not be management’s first choice, but he is someone worth considering.
Pros: Patient, can fix dysfunction, has coached through tragedy
Cons: History of gambling debts, more of a fit with younger players
Mets outlook: If hired, O’Neill will have the luxury of attempting to win now with the current roster as well as overseeing a potential rebuild later in his tenure. His toughest challenge will be managing the veteran talent in his first years, something he has little experience with. If O’Neill wins over the veterans while developing the younger generation, he could be a long stay in the Big Apple.
George Knox - Angels in the Outfield
Knox literally needed miracles to bring championship baseball to the California Angels, so it only seems logical to call on his services for the Mets. The supernatural’s involvement in his season’s outcome will surely overshadow his managerial skills, but there’s no question he can succeed.
Pros: Gets along with players, has faith in the supernatural, motivates his guys
Cons: Needed angels to win
If you're hitting the final home game on Thursday at Citi Field, swing by the Marina Lot to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down your sorrows before heading inside.