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Preview: Fire Bill Plaschke

Fire Bill Plaschke

Updated: 2014-09-30T23:07:48.411-07:00


The Dumbass


There was an unemployed manager out there whose last night of work was Game 7 of the American League championship series. There was a former manager out there whose last season contained 95 wins.There was an ex-manager out there who was fired because he trusted instinct over statistic, people over paradigms, baseball over everything.And this same guy, the Dodgers just hired him?Ned Colletti can pump his right fist any time now.In resurrecting Grady Little as the new Dodger manager, he hit a late-inning, backdoor slider out of the park.The baseball folks in Boston may be wincing, but baseball folks everywhere else are smiling, waxing in the rebirth of a good man wronged."I love baseball, this is my life, this is what I do," said Little, a former cotton farmer with a voice like syrup and the expressiveness of grits. "To be able to get another chance like this, I'm very, very fortunate."Little's only other major league managerial experience consisted of two years with the Boston Red Sox, who fired him because of one bad decision he made when the still-cursed franchise was six outs from going to the 2003 World Series.Going with his gut, his gut failed him, as he left a tiring Pedro Martinez on the mound to face the New York Yankees in the eighth inning with a 5-2 lead. Martinez gave up three runs before the Yankees won it on Aaron Boone's home run in the 11th.Little was gone shortly after the ball, canned by weak-kneed Boston officials who bowed to a region of whiny, self-absorbed fans.Two things about then, as they relate to now.First, if Grady Little can guide the devastated Dodgers to within six outs of a World Series, the only decision that will be questioned will be the size of his statue.Second, leaving the Red Sox is generally a good and fortunate thing.It happened to Babe Ruth. It happened to Roger Clemens. Heck, it has made a saint out of that lucky kid Theo Epstein.The Red Sox fans who tell you Little was a terrible manager — and there are plenty of them — will also tell you that Bill Buckner was a terrible baseball player.Yeah, that same Buckner who had 2,715 hits.Before breaking the 86-year-old "Curse of the Bambino" — which was really the curse of being the last integrated team in baseball — the Red Sox did all sorts of silly things to their managers in the name of voodoo.Dick Williams won a pennant in his first year, and was gone in his third year. Don Zimmer averaged 96 wins for his first three seasons, and was gone in his fourth.Williams wound up winning two World Series titles in Oakland and Zimmer became a legendary bench coach with the Yankees, both men lucky to have left town."It's New England, it's Boston, all they want to do is win," said Little with a huge sigh and great restraint. Funny, but that's all Little, 55, did there. He won.After 16 years as a minor league manager, he won the Red Sox clubhouse after being appointed full-time boss in the spring of 2003. The ovation was so loud, it was heard by reporters outside the room.This was a guy who had been director Ron Shelton's inspiration as the real manager of the Durham Bulls, with one publication selecting him best minor league manager of the last 20 years.Players understood and loved that he was all about the grass-roots part of the game. That he would judge them not for only how they looked, but who they were."It's like [former player] Dante Bichette once said," Little explained Tuesday. "When you see a pretty girl wearing a bikini on the beach, she shows you a whole lot. But she doesn't show you everything."He added, "My philosophy is like that. Statistics can't show you everything. I'm a human kind of guy."This humanness pulled together a clubhouse with players as diverse as Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra.Ramirez averaged 34 homers and 106 runs batted in in two seasons with Little despite being benched for missing games. Lowe was 38-15 under Little and channeled his nervous energy into a force.Then there was Garciaparra, who had his last good season under Little, 28 homers and 105 RBIs.Little took a diverse group and tu[...]