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The Managerial Mobius Strip

On managers, fire, and having to do all this s*** all over and over again

Arizona Diamondbacks v Miami Marlins

The 2010 Diamondbacks were a team I watched a lot of. In hindsight, this was not the greatest decision I could have made, but when you're in college and bored over Summer break, your options are limited. I was still scrolling around the Snakepit then, this was before SB Nation united, and all the posts were just in chronological order and you had to worry about something called "the jump" when you wrote something. Dark times, and I didn't even get a T-Shirt for my trouble learning the system then.

Anyway, as you might recall, the 2010 Diamondbacks were bad. A.J. Hinch, a seemingly nice man who was thrown to the wolves as a manager because Josh Byrnes had decided to play his last card, but it was a Red 4 Uno card and everyone else was playing Pinochle. Hinch, who had worked as the director of player development prior to his hiring as manager, seemed out of his element. Honestly, why wouldn't he? Take the most competent person in one field and make them do something else and they'd look pretty silly too. Also, again, the roster assembled was pretty terrible, so that didn't bode well for Hinch.

Hinch is also, relatively speaking, a reserved and quiet guy. Or, at least that's what we saw when he would just sit sort of stoned faced in the dugout, staring into the abyss. There was a lot of chatter on the boards (the comments section of this website) that Hinch needed to be replaced with some sort of firebrand. A guy who would inspire enthusiasm through yelling. A guy who would instruct pitchers to throw at guys when the other team threw in the inside third of the strike zone. A guy who would pull out his Saturday Night Special and aim for an ump's kneecap when there was a bang-bang play at first with a call that didn't favor the Diamondbacks.

Everyone assumed that Kirk Gibson, Hinch's bench coach at the time, was the right guy. After all, his playing career was highlighted by showing fire, in whatever vague way that meant, in their play. As you probably remember, Hinch was eventually fired and replaced with Gibson. The fire brigade was happy. Finally, someone to whip these gaggers-of-lolly into shape! The team will probably still be bad, but there's gonna be some yelling, that's healthy psychology!

Gibson's tenure was, shall we say, mixed, and it's recent enough history that I probably don't have to go over it on a website specifically catered to Diamondback fans. However, one thing he really wasn't was fiery. He just seemed kinda tired. It was a rare occasion that he would get thrown out arguing a call, or punch a baby to motivate Jason Kubel to be better at fielding. He was replaced with the current manager of the Diamondbacks, Chip Hale.

I have to say, for a Front Office as, shall we say, odd as this one can be, Hale was a surprisingly sensible hire. He served as a coach for the Diamondbacks and other teams, and was the manager of the Tucson Sidewinders during their 2006 season where they won the Triple-A Championship. He was a bucking of the recent managerial trend of "Hiring Catchers from the 90s/2000s you kinda remember with very little coaching experience." (Brad Ausmus, Mike Matheny, Mike Redmond, etc.)

This brings us to now. The Diamondbacks are not very good, despite a flurry of offseason moves specifically designed for the opposite effect. The quickest and easiest fix in some people's minds? The manager of course. As the losses pile up, there are more and more rumblings about Hale needing to go for whatever reason. In fact, one commenter said that the team needed someone more fiery (I also banned this commenter about 10 minutes later for saying some really racist things about Native Americans, so adjust accordingly.) and it lead me to think about this time in the past.

Another way nicer commenter, series preview writer emeratus Zavada's Moustache, summed up the reason why firing Hale in the middle of the season isn't such a good idea:

I don't see the utility of firing Chip Hale before the end of the season.

Not because he’s done a good job this year. He objectively hasn’t. But realistically, Matt Williams is the most likely choice to get promoted, and there was nothing about his stint managing the Nats that made me think he’d be an improvement over Hale. And if he has some modest success because of the new coach bounce, there’s also a chance they’ll just remove the interim tag at the end of the season rather than looking at other, better candidates. Suns fans know this as "Earl Watson Syndrome."'

I don't really know what traits really make a good manager outside of in-game strategy, as most of the wheeling and dealing goes on with managing the personalities behind the scenes. I would think that "Preventing your players from attempting to murder each other, especially on camera." is pretty high up there of basic duties. And we know that Matt Williams has failed spectacularly at that.

Chip Hale has his flaws as a manager (Jake Lamb isn't a platoon player, for example), but there are a lot of things that aren't in his control about this team. He didn't personally take a sledgehammer to A.J. Pollock's elbow. He didn't hire a hypnotist to tell Shelby Miller to mess with his mechanics before each of his starts. He didn't sacrifice outfield and minor league depth in the name of the aforementioned Miller.

And yet, if any axe were to fall, his head would be the first to encounter it. Matt Williams might get the nod, and maybe a bump will get him another year, but oh no Brad Ziegler challenges the recently called up Braden Shipley to a knife fight in 2017 and we have to do this all over again. Maybe we should do the Catcher thing, what's Paul Bako doing nowadays?

I'm kidding of course with this future scenario, because by then Shipley will have been traded to Baltimore for Ubaldo Jiminez, which sort of gets to my overriding point. Until the higher ups (and I do also mean ownership as well) strike gold with a good roster, the coaching staff is always going to be an eternal revolving door, because that's just a thing that is done. Chip Hale is just a pawn, no matter how well or badly he does tactically manage or deal with personalities. It's just a rotating cycle. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.Same as it ever was.