Sometime over the next several days, new Arizona general manager Kevin Towers is expected to remove the "interim" tag on manager Kirk Gibson's title. The Diamondbacks, according to sources, are on the verge of negotiating a two-year contract with Gibson and will name him as the full-time skipper.
For this, Gibson can thank ... former Detroit teammate Alan Trammell?
In a small way, yes.
Gibson was working as a television broadcaster when the Tigers named Trammell manager before the 2003 season. It was Trammell who recruited Gibson into coaching.
Aside from a longtime close friendship, what did Trammell see that he thought would make Gibson a successful coach?
"I've known him since I first got into pro ball," said Trammell, now the Cubs' bench coach. "Intensity. I've never met anybody quite like him. He has a football mentality that he's able to channel into baseball."
Gibson, who was an All-American flanker at Michigan State, was drafted 12th overall by the Tigers in 1978. Trammell was drafted by the Tigers two years earlier, and the two first were teammates in Detroit in 1979.
"Bo Jackson was quite good," Trammell says, recalling other notable football players on the baseball diamond. "And Deion Sanders. Kirk made the decision to go away from football completely, but he kept that mentality. Everything was a challenge to him.
"Coming into our situation [in Detroit in '03], we all were somewhat new. I knew we needed to have some energy. The team needed a lot of work. And I wanted coaches who would work."
The Cubs were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks just before the All-Star break, right after Gibson was named as the interim manager to replace the fired A.J. Hinch, and Trammell has spoken with his buddy only a couple of times since. Each has his hands full with his own team.
Gibson spent three seasons as Trammell's bench coach in Detroit. The staff was let go following the 2005 season.
Trammell joined the Cubs as Lou Piniella's bench coach in 2007. The same year, Gibson signed on with Arizona as Bob Melvin's bench coach.
What kind of manager does Trammell think Gibson will be if he sticks around longer than as just the interim guy?
"I think he'd be more than fine," Trammell says. "If he gets an opportunity to implement what he wants, and if people are willing to listen to him and pay the price. And by pay the price, I mean doing things for the team.
"That's the beauty of Gibby. You talk to him about his success as a player, he doesn't want any part of it. It's the team. That goes back to how we were all brought up by Sparky Anderson.
"I'm pulling for him. I hope he gets the opportunity."
If he does, there is lots of speculation that Trammell will wind up on his staff in Arizona after being bypassed for Mike Quade to manage the Cubs after Piniella's sudden departure this summer. Trammell says he has seen the speculation but is not thinking about 2011 right now, other than knowing that whatever he does, he wants to keep wearing the big-league uniform.
Likes: Good for Cito Gaston as the Blue Jays honored him Wednesday night in Toronto. What a class act. Very nice touch that so many of his former players -- Joe Carter, Pat Hentgen, George Bell and others -- returned for the festivities.
Dislikes: Goodbye Gene Orza, and good riddance. As Don Fehr's right-hand man and attack dog for the players' union, the arrogant Orza, who is stepping down as chief operating officer, mostly just muddied the waters wherever he went. His behavior during the Steroid Era was reprehensible, claiming in 2004 that steroids "are no worse than cigarettes."
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I was pourin’ out my troubles
"To a stranger in the bar
"About the problems and the pressures
"On a country music star
"Half braggin’, half complainin’
"About the money and the fame
"And just how lonely life can be
"When you’ve made yourself a name
"I said, Would you like a drink?
"He said, Thanks, I’ll have a double
"I’ve worked up a powerful thirst
"Just listening to all your troubles
"And while he makes that drink
"I’ll smoke one if you got ‘em
"It might be lonely at the top,
"But it's a bitch at the bottom"
-- Jamey Johnson, Lonely at the Top