Tag:John McLaren
Posted on: June 23, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 1:53 pm

McLaren "short-term" skipper, Johnson on deck?

Caught off-balance by manager Jim Riggleman's sudden resignation, the Nationals made a rare early exit from the Manager Search Freeway even before "interim."

While searching for an "interim manager", they've named a "short-term manager": Bench coach John McLaren.

Presumably, that means that McLaren's tenure will last anywhere from ... a day, to, a weekend?

General manager Mike Rizzo said earlier Thursday that he promised the team a manager would be in place Friday, when the Nats open a series in Chicago against the White Sox, and in naming McLaren, he keeps that promise.

As for a more permanent interim following Jim Riggleman's startling resignation, sources say, the Nationals will not name that man before Friday.

The Nationals have two men in the front office working as assistants to Rizzo with extensive managerial experience: Davey Johnson, the former New York Mets and Baltimore skipper, and Bob Boone, who has managed in Kansas City and Cincinnati.

Johnson in particular could lend immediate stability and respectability to a team that has won 11 of its past 12 games, including a three-game sweep of Seattle this week.

Named a  senior advisor to Rizzo in November, 2009, Johnson managed the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title and was the American League manager of the year in Baltimore in 1997. He is one of only six living men to have won a World Series ring as both a player and a manager, along with Alvin Dark, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, Mike Scioscia and Red Schoendienst.

More relevant in recent years, Johnson managed Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, has managed or coached five different Team USA clubs since 2005, including the 2008 U.S. Olympic team that won the Bronze medal in Beijing.

In recent years, he has expressed interest in managing in the majors again.

And at 68, he's 12 years younger than "new" Florida manager Jack McKeon. So he's got that going for him.

Posted on: June 22, 2008 9:21 pm

Campaign's over for three managers

Guys get hired and guys get fired all the time.

You work with them, enjoy some more than others and roll with it.

When Toronto fired John Gibbons, I couldn't help but smile while recalling a small moment from two springs ago.

Somehow, a few years back, I acquired a button that read: "George W. Bush: The Best Reason Yet for Canadian Citizenship."

Figuring I had the perfect person to whom it would make a funny gift, I brought it with me to Florida a couple of years ago and gave it to my buddy Jeff Blair, who covers baseball for the Toronto Globe and Mail. You know -- he's smart, pays attention to what's going on in the world, has a sense of humor, lives in Canada.

He laughed when I gave it to him that morning at Blue Jays camp, then got a devilish twinkle in his eyes.

When the workout was finished and maybe 15 of us reporters met with Gibbons, Blair waited until the session was about to start when he made a big elaborate presentation of the button to Gibbons.

Told him, "Scott Miller wanted me to give you this present. ..."

Gibbons is a Texas native.

He's a hard-core Republican.

And there Blair was, selling me out, telling the skipper that I brought the button for him.

Gibbons took the button from Blair, read it and started laughing. I, of course, immediately accused Blair of being an ungracious recipient of a gift, telling Gibbons that it was not meant for him at all.

The way the entire thing played out was pretty funny all around, and Gibbons and I joked about it a handful of times over these two years since -- me asking if he's been wearing his button, and him saying an unprintable word or two through a big smile. He's a good man, and a good baseball man, and I'm sure we'll see him somewhere around the game after he's finished de-compressing.

Which I'm sure he needs right about now. But sorry, John ... I don't have any parting gifts for you.


Speaking of Blair, this is one terrific quote from Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios that appeared in his story the day Gibbons was fired: "I don't want to talk about what happened today. We can talk about other stuff. How about boats?"


As San Diego manager Bud Black was saying the other day after Gibbons (Blue Jays), John McLaren (Mariners) and Willie Randolph (Mets) all were fired last week, "As baseball people, you're hardened to that sort of thing. It doesn't make it any easier, but you realize these things happen.

"It goes back to your days as a player. You have friends who get traded or released, and you know these guys are doing everything they can to help the team win, exhausting everything in their power."


My job is to stay as plugged in as possible, and I work very hard at it, but I've gotta say: I had NO idea that Willie Randolph was fired by Mr. Met.

This clip from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the television equivalent of crushing a fastball down the middle.


I've always gravitated more toward the personalities in baseball than the numbers, but still, this is absolutely mind-boggling:

When the Lakers blew that 24 point lead in Game 4 of the NBA Finals earlier this month, it was officially only the biggest collapse in 37 years ... because no records of Finals games before 1971 are available.

Say what?

That is absolutely stunning.

That same week, when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 600th homer, I wondered how many at-bats it took him to move from 500 to 600 compared with Barry Bonds. I e-mailed David Vincent, home run expert for the Society for American Baseball Research, and within 15 minutes -- literally -- I had an answer.

It took Griffey 1,012 more at-bats than Bonds.

But don't ask the NBA about anything pre-1971.

Likes: Summer heat. ... C.C. Sabathia with the bat. ... Detroit's Marcus Thames: Eight consecutive hits were home runs, then he doubled on Friday and then walloped another homer on Saturday. Making it nine homers in a 10-hit stretch. ... The Drive-By Truckers at the Belly-Up Tavern in Solana Beach, Calif., on Friday night. Rockin' good time.

Dislikes: Man, these are ugly days for Houston. I'm not talking about the Astros losing nine of their past 11 games. I'm talking about those mid-1970s rainbow uniforms they wore Saturday night in Tampa Bay.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well we got no choice
"All the girls and boys
"Makin' all that noise
"'Cause they found new toys
"Well we can't salute ya
"Can't find a flag
"If that don't suit ya
"That's a drag"

-- Alice Cooper, School's Out

Posted on: June 16, 2008 4:31 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2008 4:32 pm

Lost at sea while Sexson cashes in

They sacrificed hitting coach Jeff Pentland last week and then fired general manager Bill Bavasi on Monday.

Now, if the Seattle Mariners really want to show their players and fans they mean business, they'll pull the plug on the miserable Richie Sexson at first base, play someone who at least has a chance and swallow whole what's left of Sexson's $14 million this season.

The club's play this season has been humiliating from all angles. The 22-45 record is the majors' worst, they were swept by Washington (who had the majors' worst record only a few days ago) over the weekend, they've lost seven consecutive home games and trail the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West by 17 1/2 games.

Bavasi, Mariners' GM since November, 2003, has been a short leash ever since that bizarre day two Septembers ago when Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln extended the contracts of both Bavasi and then-manager Mike Hargrove's contract while publicly affirming that each was on Lincoln's "hot seat."

What kind of message was that?

If you didn't have complete faith in them, why extend them?

Make no mistake, that's part of the reason the Mariners are in the shape they're in. It took the hands of many to muck things up this badly, not just Bavasi. The hiring of Hargrove back in October, 2004, was uninspired as well.

In retrospect, the fact that that Mariners were surprisingly competitive last season may have been the worst thing that could have happened to them. All it did was delay the inevitable: That this is a roster that needs to be blown to smithereens.

Sexson (.212, nine homers, 23 RBI, 64 strikeouts in 193 at-bats) continues to gum up the works. Jose Vidro as a designated hitter is an argument to simply let the pitchers bat. Adrian Beltre (.227) is a miserable situational hitter. Hell, most of these guys are: Somehow, Seattle won two of three in Toronto last week while scoring all of six runs. Against the Nationals over the weekend, they got 10 in three games.

So Lee Elia, Pentland's replacement, didn't come with a magic wand. Big surprise. That meltdown day earlier this month on which president Chuck Armstrong delivered a pre-game blistering to manager John McLaren and his coaching staff while McLaren issued a post-game tirade and Bavasi took away post-game food and towels and forced the players to stand by their lockers and face the media didn't work, either. Really?

Bavasi's assistant, Lee Pelekoudas, will take over as GM on an interim basis, mainly because somebody must fill the spot. The moves with Pentland and Bavasi are only the beginning.

This is a club in dire need of a complete overhaul, from the executive offices to the clubhouse.

Posted on: June 5, 2008 1:52 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2008 2:04 pm

Good ship Mariner sinking quickly

I can't tell you how disgusted I am by the incident in Seattle.

The two lesbians making out in the Safeco Field stands the other night who were told by an usher to knock it off, thus provoking outrage all over the city?

Heck, no.

The appalling, revolting and utterly reprehensible play of the Mariners, baseball's most underachieving team.

The Mariners are one loose bolt from the wheels completely coming off. I don't think I've ever heard of a day quite like the one they had on Wednesday:

-- Club president Chuck Armstrong aired out manager John McLaren and his coaches behind closed doors before that afternoon's game with the Angels, and media reports from Safeco were that Armstrong's displeasure could be heard by others, through the door, loud and clear.

-- McLaren delivered a brutally frank, expletive-filled tirade minutes after the Angels finished sweeping the Mariners.

-- In the immediate aftermath of the loss, general manager Bill Bavasi ordered the Mariners players to be stationed at their lockers and face up to their embarrassing play.

-- Losing pitcher Carlos Silva, who's only been a Mariner for two months, said afterward that certain players were more concerned with getting their hits than how the team fares.

I don't know what you think of public displays of affection by a couple  of women.

I do know that the way some of these Mariners are stealing money from the club -- hello, Richie Sexson -- is completely immoral.

It's evident that wholesale housecleaning is coming soon. It has to. By the time this sewage spill of a season is finished, the Mariners probably are going to have to wind up replacing Bavasi and McLaren at a minimum.

And starting with Sexson -- who is owed $16 million in this, the final season of his contract -- they're going to have to blow up this roster and start anew.

I don't particularly enjoy being subjected to any public displays of affection -- be it heterosexual or otherwise.

But I'll tell you this: If you're sitting in the Safeco Field stands, even watching two baboons grope each other would be better viewing than the Mariners.

Posted on: April 19, 2008 12:00 am

Marathon nights and long memories

Lots of baseball people have long stories.

Few can tell the tales of a 22-inning marathon such as the one Colorado and San Diego played Thursday night/Friday morning in Petco Park.

After 659 pitches, 15 different pitchers and 6 hours and 16 minutes, the Colorado Rockies finally beat the San Diego Padres 2-1.

Then the Rockies flew to Houston for this weekend's series, landed a little after 8 a.m. ... and promptly got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to check into their hotel.

Funny. Because as word boomeranged throughout baseball of the riveting/ridiculous/incredible goings-on in San Diego, the Seattle Mariners were spending some time in traffic, too.

"We were on the bus (Thursday night) leaving Oakland when we saw the score," Mariners manager John McLaren said, referring to the aftermath of his club's 8-1 victory at Whatever They're Calling the Oakland Coliseum Now. "We picked it back up when we landed here (in Southern California).

"I think it was in the 14th when we left Oakland and in the 20th when we landed."

Fortunately, Colorado manager Clint Hurdle and San Diego skipper Bud Black each were able to avoid being charged with inflicting cruel and unusual punishment Friday when they gave the men who caught the marathon game a night off.

Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba and San Diego's Josh Bard each caught the entire 22-inning affair, something Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't even have to do back when he was playing in 1989 in either of the Dodgers' 22-inning games.

Yep, the Padres and Rockies think they had it rough? How about the Dodgers in '89? They lost in Houston 5-4 in a 22-inning game on June 3, '89 ... then beat Montreal 1-0 in 22 innings on Aug. 23, '89.

"We couldn't score," Scioscia said Friday, cringing at the memory. "We could pitch, we just couldn't score."

Rick Dempsey started behind the plate for the Dodgers in the June 3 game, and Scioscia entered in a sixth-inning double-switch. He played the rest of the way, going 0-for-5 with two walks.

And wanna know something funny? That was on Saturday night. The next day, the Dodgers and Astros played 13 innings -- Scioscia started as the Dodgers catcher, hit a grand slam in the first and played nearly the entire game before being removed in the bottom of the 13th.

In the Aug. 23 game, Scoscia started but left in the eighth inning when Billy Bean pinch-ran for him.

His memories are vague -- he thought the Montreal game went 16 or 17 innings, not 22 -- but Scioscia distinctly remembers that after one of those games, several players remained at the stadium and slept in the clubhouse because they had a day game the next day and had to be back in the park in six or seven hours.

"A game that long, some guys start with sore hamstrings and end up healthy," Scioscia cracked.

Nevertheless, just in case, Torrealba wasn't the only Colorado player who was given the night off in Houston on Friday. First baseman Todd Helton, second baseman Jayson Nix and outfielders Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe also were awarded a night of rest. In Arizona, the Padres gave second baseman Tadahito Iguchi the night off.

Hurdle, who used eight pitchers -- Kip Wells got the win -- said he was close to using infielder Clint Barmes as his emergency pitcher. Padres manager Bud Black rode Bard behind the plate partly because his other catcher, Colt Morton, had pinch-hit in the 14th. Outfielder Paul McAnulty was Black's emergency catcher -- though the Padres skipper admitted Friday that McAnulty was blissfully unaware of that during Thursday's proceedings.

They staged a seventh-inning stretch at Petco Park in the seventh, 14th and 21st innings. And though they stopped selling beer in the seventh -- as is usually the case -- coffee and ice cream were big sellers late, Padres vice-president Richard Anderson said.

"I think that's the beauty of this game, it's unpredictability," McLaren, the Seattle skipper, said.

While talking about the Padres-Rockies game, McLaren, who grew up near Houston, recalled attending the Astros-New York Mets' 24-inning game on Monday night, April 15, 1968. He was in high school at the time, and you bet he stayed until the bitter end.

"My mom was waiting up for me, and when I got home she said, 'Don't think you're staying home -- you're going to school tomorrow,'" McLaren recalled, chuckling. "She thought we had gone someplace else after the game.

"When I got home from school the next day, she said, 'I should have known you'd stay until the final out.'"

Thursday's game was a record-setter for length, by innings, for both the Colorado and San Diego franchises. Black called it "incredible", adding that "everybody who was here will never forget it."

You would think that would be true.

Yet, Scioscia's memory on those two 22-inning games in 1989 is awfully fuzzy.

And, perhaps, there are those who were so exhausted they might even try to forget it. Detroit shortstop Edgar Renteria played in baseball's last 20-inning game, five years ago, and he even scored the winning run for St. Louis.

Yet, on Friday, as Detroit Tigers beat man Danny Knobler of the Booth (Mich.) Newspaper Group was putting together a note in the aftermath of the Padres-Rockies marathon, Renteria couldn't even recall it.

"I don't remember," Renteria said. "Not at all."

Thirty minutes later, Renteria still couldn't remember it.

"I'm serious, man," he told Knobler apologetically. "I don't remember."

Likes: Late-night baseball. I listened to the Padres' radio broadcast Thursday night, picking it up in about the 11th or 12th inning in my car when the Angels-Royals finished. Listened on radio until about the 15th inning, when I reached my house. Then I watched until the 20th inning on my family room television. Then I took the dog out for a quick walk between innings and caught the final two innings on my bedroom television. Padres broadcasters Ted Leitner and Andy Masur were very entertaining on the car radio and Matt Vasgersian -- one of the game's most underrated television play-by-play men -- and former pitcher Mark Grant were enjoyable as always on the tube. ... Springsteen's Hungry Heart, Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Kitty's Back and You're Missing. Specifically, the organ parts.

Dislikes: Sad, sad day. Danny Federici, the E St. Band organist, passed away Thursday after battling melanoma for three years. Here's how you can help the cause, if you wish.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now the hardness of this world
"Slowly grinds your dreams away
"Makin' a fool's joke
"Out of the promises we make
"And what once seemed black and white
"Turns to so many shades of gray
"We lose ourselves in work to do
"Work to do, and bills to pay
"And it's a ride, ride, ride
"And there ain't much cover
"With no one runnin' by your side
"My blood brother"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Blood Brothers

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