Jim Leyland announced today that he is stepping down from his position as manager of the Tigers.
Obviously we have all had our moments of doubt, exasperation, annoyance, and so on with decisions Leyland has made. His use of pitchers was often what might be charitably termed curious. His lineup decisions were sometimes hard to figure out. He was loyal to coaches and players, sometimes, some might say, to a fault. If there is any one among us who has not at some point over the past 8 years shaken a fist at the field or TV or radio dash of a car while screaming, “LEEEYYYYYLAAAAND!”, I would argue that that person is lying or apathetic about baseball or both.
But there is also no denying the good that Leyland did here. As that previously linked article points out, 6 of the 8 years Leyland was here, the Tigers had winning records; they went to the postseason 4 times; and they made at least the ALCS the past 3 years in a row. That’s not an insignificant record, and even all the talent the Tigers have socked away on their roster is hardly a guarantee of that kind of consistent success.
And, of course, there has been much to love. There’s his penchant for smoking in the dugout and clubhouse, and his secret amazing singing voice, and his baseball socks, and his dislike of things that are horsesh!t, and his intense war with all MLB umpires, and the fact that he was never really even mad at Gene Lamont for running over his foot with a golf cart, and his affection for Don Kelly, and the time he said that Phil Coke was rowing with one oar.
All these things and more made us love him, and we had many reasons to enjoy his tenure as manager. He is not entirely retiring– he says he will be remaining with the team in some as-yet unspecified capacity– but I, for one, will miss him.