Tag:Mike Ilitch
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:44 am

After 35 years, Astros fire Smith by phone

Nobody uses fax machines anymore, so the Astros fired Tal Smith by phone.

I suppose they could have sent him a text, or tried to direct-message him on Twitter.

Look, it's hard to blame new owner Jim Crane for wanting a fresh start. As one long-time Astros person said to me Sunday night, Crane needs to look forward rather than back, and needs to start building something new.

Hiring George Postolos to replace Smith as club president and hiring a new general manager to replace the fired Ed Wade (Rangers assistant Thad Levine was a hot name Sunday night) are defensible moves, even inevitable moves.

But why do these firings have to be so messy?

When I heard from a source that Smith had been fired by phone, it brought back memories of August 1992, when Mike Ilitch officially took over the Tigers from Tom Monaghan.

Monaghan's last act, reportedly ordered by Ilitch as part of the same, was to fire club president Bo Schembechler and longtime club executive Jim Campbell.

Campbell, if I remember it right, was fired by phone. Schembechler (I'm sure of this) was fired by fax.

Campbell was 68 years old, and he had been with the Tigers for 43 of those years. Schembechler had been with the Tigers just 2 1/2 years, but he was a legend in the state.

Smith is 78. He just finished his 35th year with the Astros. He doesn't need to be club president anymore. But you'd think a new owner and new president might want to sit down and talk to him about the challenges ahead (who knows more about baseball in Houston?).

You'd even think that they wouldn't mind having him around in some capacity as the Astros celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012.

Smith was there at the start, when they were the expansion Colt .45s. He was there when the Astrodome opened, and when the Astroturf went in, and he was there when Minute Maid Park opened.

He was there in 2005, when the Astros won the National League title for the only time in their history.

Now he's gone, and that's fine. Nobody deserves a job forever.

But anybody who did all that Tal Smith did deserves more than to be fired on a phone call.

Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:00 pm

Tigers give Ilitch 'one of greatest days'

Mike Ilitch has won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. His Tigers made it to the World Series in 2006, before losing to the Cardinals.

And yet, when the Tigers won Game 5 Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, Ilitch told general manager Dave Dombrowski: "This is one of the greatest days of my life."

That says something about what it means to win an elimination game against the Yankees -- on the road.

But it also says a lot about the 82-year-old Ilitch, and what motivates him. For all his hockey success, he badly wants to win in baseball. He wants to win a World Series before he dies.

I've had my differences with Ilitch over the year. I've criticized him at least as much as I've praised him (probably a lot more).

But he sure does care about winning.
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