Ron Gardenhire is the new manager of the Detroit Tigers, replacing Brad Ausmus after 4 seasons. This is a hard curve in terms of team direction. Ausmus was a very veteran former player, but a brand new kitten of a manager. He was an Ivy League guy who looked like the hottest dad at the elementary school afternoon pick-up. Gardenhire is a very veteran manager– he led the Minnesota Twins from 2002-2014– who is known for prospect development and a general old-school disdain or distrust for Them Newfangled Statisticals. He looks like what Santa Claus would look like if Santa Claus played baseball (which means that instead of a full white beard, he has a short white goatee).
Most of us, I think, agree that it was time for a change. And with this new hire, things most certainly are going to change. But is this the right new hire? Experience, yes, we want that. But don’t we want to use all those numbers every team spends so much time, effort, and funds to gather nowadays? Don’t we want a manager who will lead the team with a strong personality in the locker room, but also a strong understanding of statistical analysis and how to apply it to Random Baseball Scenario X? Or at least someone who trusts and respects numerical truth-nuggets enough to let someone else tell them how they apply to the cats on the field?
We do want this. Of course we do. And I have the answer here for you.
all photographs by Samara Pearlstein
Meet my cat, Batya Pearlstein, the new NEW manager of the Detroit Tigers!
Batya will be the perfect manager. No player can resist her gaze, her soft fur, her fabulous little ear tufts, her beautiful long tail. There will be no arguments in the locker room, because the moment any player raises his voice against another, she will meow her adorable high-pitched meow, and all anger and resentment will drift away like loose cat fur in the wind. Press conferences will be easy for her, because all she has to do is look at the gathered reporters and photographers with her cute little cat face, and nobody will be able to have any objection to any gametime decisions she may have made.
Batya believes strongly in the importance of stretching, cleanliness, getting enough vitamin D, and getting a good night’s sleep. She believes in eating a lot of protein and not touching junk food. She believes that practice makes perfect, and the more you ask someone to throw you a toy mouse, the better you will get at catching a toy mouse. She has the perfect values for someone who needs to keep a teamful of sometimes spoiled manboys in top shape. She models good habits in her own exemplary behavior. Sure, sometimes she might scratch the clubhouse furniture, or poop in the infield dirt, but there’s nothing wrong with using team resources to aid in your physical fitness, and so long as you bury your poop you’ve done nothing impolite.
Batya does not know much about sabermetrics, or basic baseball statistics, or numbers in general. She knows that some cat food is not as good as a lot of cat food but is still better than zero cat food. This intuitive sense will serve her well in many game situations, but she also knows that experts should be consulted to fully capitalize on something that is not her area of expertise. She has no problem bringing in assistant coaches with different skill sets from her own. She knows that she is not going to use a can opener to open that cat food, but she will let the can opening expert go out there and open that can. She will do her best at the things she knows how to do, and she is willing and able to smartly delegate the rest.
Batya will have an extra special relationship with Paws, since they are both cats. I think this stands to reason.
I think we can all look forward to this new season of Tigers baseball with my cat as manager.