NASHVILLE — The Baseball Writers Association of America hands out a so-called Manager of the Year Award each November. It’s a comically flawed honor. There’s no basis for truly judging the candidates aside from reference to the voters’ own assumptions and expectations prior to the season and, as such, the award is more about the voters than it is about the managers.
We at HardballTalk scoff at such presumptuousness. We feel that managers should be judged on their merits rather than on some loosey-goosey scale of prognostication-driven jujutsu. Unfortunately, baseball is insanely difficult and much of a manager’s work is carried out behind the scenes so we are thus in no position to actually figure out what makes a manager good.
We do, however, see them every day and we know which ones are hunky. So for the third straight year, HardballTalk ranks the managers by handsomeness.
- No baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure.
- This is a subjective list, obviously. Not as subjective as the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award, but subjective all the same. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We at HBT will privately judge you for thinking unattractive managers are handsome, but that reflects poorly on us, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
- Finally, because some of you will inevitably offer a neanderthal comment about all of this, let me head it off by assuring you that this is merely a list of aesthetic handsomeness, not one of love or longing. I hate that even in 2015 I feel as though I have to say it, but I will say that I am a totally straight man making these judgments. If you find something wrong or amiss with that, I feel sorry for you. There is far too much beauty among people in the world for us to fail to acknowledge 50% of it merely because we’re worried about appearing less than traditionally masculine or feminine. Free your mind, the rest will follow.
1. Mike Matheny: I suppose it was only a matter of time. For two years he’s been knocking on the door. Now he and his strong jaw and soulful eyes and great hair can saunter on through it. As the next item on this list makes clear, his ascension is premised on the previous top dog faltering. But only in part. Matheny is a worthy Most Handsome Manager, not a mere default choice. For example, in July he toyed with some facial hair:
And he made it work even though facial hair is generally awful. Matheny can give you a lot of different looks. All of them handsome. That matters.
2. Brad Ausmus: 2015 was not a good year for the Tigers and the strain of it wore heavy on Ausmus’ handsome, handsome head. I can’t remember when I last saw his sparking smile. Memories of his devil-may-care grin are fading. You don’t need to manage a winning team to be the most handsome manager in baseball, but you need a certain swagger. Some mojo. Ausmus has lost his mojo. His life force. His essence. The right stuff. What the French call a certain . . . I don’t know what.
But c’mon, it’s not like it’s going to drop him far down the list. Just look at him for cryin’ out loud. He’s still gorgeous, even when he’s sad:
Heck, maybe the suggestion of inner turmoil actually enhances him somewhat. One more year of bad Tigers baseball and he may turn into that deep, quiet artsy boy you knew in high school who was clearly battling demons, the likes of which you had no idea, but you just wanted to tell him it’d be alright.
That is, if he doesn’t get fired and replaced by Lloyd McClendon or someone, which is totally possible.
3. Ned Yost: Putting Yost at third last year was highly controversial. You all thought I was crazy, but I stand by it. At the risk of sounding like some old school newspaper sportswriter arguing from authority, all I can tell you is that I’ve been in his presence for two straight Octobers and two straight Decembers and the man has swagger to spare. I know he looks like your uncle. I know he still parts and ever-so-subtly feathers his hair like it’s 1982 and he owns stock in the Goody Comb Company. I just can’t explain it with reference to actual objective handsomeness metrics. Winning pennants for Yost is like mainlining liquid machismo. It transformed him from the Professor Kelp of his Milwaukee and early Kansas City days to the Buddy Love we’re witnessing now. I mean it: if Ned Yost comes to your house, tell your dad to get the shotgun and lock up the womenfolk.
4. A.J. Hinch: Winning + dimples = top-5.
5. John Farrell: This is the face of a man who kicked cancer’s butt:
He’s got more gray now than he used to have, but I don’t care if he had a third eye in the middle of his forehead and a vestigial twin growing out of his side. Kick cancer’s butt and you are one beautiful S.O.B. This helps the cases for Dave Roberts and Jeff Banister too.
6. Robin Ventura: I feel like I’ve had him too high for a couple of years now but I still hear from people saying I have him too low. Somewhere, probably in Chicago, is an enclave of Ventura lovers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
7. Paul Molitor: Holding more or less steady, but he offered a surprising amount of back-in-my-dayism in various quotes this past year. He could look like Dreamboat Paul Molitor circa-1980 and that kind of eye-rolling nonsense would knock him down a few pegs. Wake up each day slightly altered, Paul. Don’t be afraid of death.
8. Dave Roberts: The Dodgers, it is said, chose Roberts over fellow-finalist Gabe Kapler. That may turn out to be the right choice from a managing perspective. We have no idea now. But they really missed an opportunity to make a statement in terms of managerial handsomeness. I mean, really:
Don’t get me wrong: Roberts is himself a pretty good lookin’ guy. Kapler, however, would’ve taken things to the next level. For now he’ll have to content himself with topping the Most Handsome First Base Coaches list, which I’m going to ask Gleeman to compile sometime soon. It may be really, really difficult to do, though. When Davey Lopes is top-half handsome at the position, there are no winners.
9. Andy Green: Here’s Andy Green at his introductory press conference in late October, prior to being given his Padres jersey for the obligatory dude-in-new-jersey photo op:
That’s a guy you’d let you buy a drink. That’s a guy you’d give a promotion. That guy has something.
Now here he is, moments later, after being given the Padres jersey:
I dunno, man. I could see him rocketing up this list or down it depending on how he carries himself now that he’s in the spotlight. We’ll call this a provisional ranking due to some troublesome Jekyll/Hyde considerations. Or maybe we can just convince him to wear a suit and tie in the dugout like Connie Mack did. That would really work for Green, I think.
10: Joe Maddon: Still lookin’ pretty good, but I just saw him walking around the Winter Meetings and I’m worried that we’re approaching peak Maddon. He had some Vans on and a cool pair of jeans and a nice, fashionable military-esque jacket and was pretty much put together like a somewhat aged Millennial. Not that that’s a bad thing. If you feel young you are young to some degree. But, seriously speaking, the dude turns 62 before spring training and I worry that he’s going to keep this Cool Dad Thing up past the point where he can really pull it off. It’s still working for him, but there’s a fine line between trying and trying too hard. It’s going to take quite an effort for him to maintain it.
11. Jeff Banister: Knocking him down a few pegs from last year. Why?
Hard to say, but he’s just giving me a “stepdad in a Lifetime movie” vibe here. Not the REALLY bad stepdads from those movies. Nothing evil. But one who, like, totally changed the rules on you after he married your mom and just really doesn’t make an effort to understand you. Now we all have to have an organized family dinner each night and why are we going to church all of a sudden? GOD, I can’t wait until I graduate. *SLAMS DOOR*
12. Pete Mackanin: Some serious Silver Fox action going on here:
Nice stylish frames, too. Sort of a Joe Maddon lite, right? Or am I just imagining that?
13. Terry Francona: Highest-ranking bald manager on the list. Maybe that’s not important to you, but it’s important to people who need a certain kind of role model.
14. Craig Counsell: Managers used to — stereotypically speaking, anyway — be kinda fat guys. Some were, some weren’t, but if you were making some all-purpose managerial archetype character for a movie or a cartoon or something, he’d be kinda beefy. That started to change a few years back as managers got younger and younger and less-removed from their playing days. Now your stereotypical manager is probably in his early 40s and spends just as much time in the gym as some of his players. Really: the couple of times I’ve talked to Brad Ausmus he had just gotten back from riding an exercise bike or something and had a towel draped over his neck.
Craig Counsell defies both of those stereoptypes in simply being, well, small:
As a player he was listed at 6’0″ 180 lbs. Figure that was an exaggeration, as players, clubs and scouts never want a guy to sound too small. Now, as a manager, he is somewhat smaller than he was in his playing days. He’s not Billy Martin-small or anything, and he probably weighs a good bit more than Connie Mack did, but he has to be in the bottom 20th percentile in terms of manager size, historically. None of which is to judge. Just to state facts. Where that puts him on your personal list is none of my concern, but I am sure there are people for whom this information would affect their opinion.
15. Bob Melvin: Glasses or no glasses?
I can’t really decide.
16. Joe Girardi: We know what he looks like and we can probably stipulate that he is in the best physical shape of any manager on this list. But let’s not talk about him. Let’s talk about his predecessor, Joe Torre. First, in 1972 (photo courtesy of Mark Armor’s baseball card/poster collection):
Then in 2015:
What percentage of people look not just better but SUBSTANTIALLY better at age 75 than they did at age 32? It has to be single digits, right? Lookin’ fantastic, Joe. Even when you have that “oh, crap, I’m in the middle of an umpire/reply controversy” lip bite thing going on. Maybe especially then.
17. Don Mattingly: He’s falling down the list by simple virtue of trading one of the best uniforms in baseball in for this:
Then add in the fact that (a) eye-rolling never makes anyone look good; and (b) Barry Bonds is gonna be smugly second-guessing him on camera a bunch of times this season and things could get even worse.
18. Kevin Cash: I moved him up a few places as many, many people told me that I was far too hard on him last year. He’s still in my bottom half though because he does rando stuff like grow ugly soul patches from time to time:
It was gone when I saw him here yesterday, but for cryin’ out loud, Kevin, you’re almost 40-years-old. It’s time to put away childish things.
19. Bryan Price: Some people would say that profanity is an ugly habit. Others argue that people who curse often are “hotter, more confident and less stressed.” They even go so far as to say that swearing “conveys the highest form of passion.” Given Price’s predilections in this regard, where he falls on your handsomeness scale depends on what you think of his passionate form of eloquence.
20. Scott Servais: I’m not sure what I think of Servais, handsomeness-wise. I’m getting to the point where all of these white, 40-something former catchers infesting the managerial ranks are starting to all look alike to me. I am worried about him, though:
This photo unsettles me. Every possible Jerry Dipoto inner monologue here skews sinister. The caption of this could be “And that was the last time anyone saw Scott Servais alive.”
21. Dusty Baker: Welcome back, Dusty:
I know that was a few years ago, but that’s a pretty damn fine figure for a manager to be cutting at his age. Really, on that Nationals it goes — (1) Bryce Harper; (2) Dusty Baker; (3) Field — in terms of bein’ good looking.
22. Buck Showalter: There aren’t many managers whose looks yo-yo based on smiles and frowns as much as Showalter’s do. The O’s won in 2014 and he had a certain something about him. They didn’t win in 2015 and we got a lot of this:
23. John Gibbons: Same thing which went for Showalter goes for Gibbons:
24: Fredi Gonzalez: A drop for Fredi from last year. Not his fault, though. The Braves front office traded whatever residual magnetism he had for a B-pitching prospect and cash considerations. GM John Coppolella said “we are confident that we will be competitive, handsomeness-wise, by 2017.” Gotta respect his plan, I suppose.
25. Chip Hale: They say the clothes make the man. Unfortunately for Hale, he’s gotta wear these clothes in 2015:
26. Walt Weiss:
Pete: Well I’ll be a sonofabitch. Delmar’s been saved!
Delmar O’Donnell: Well that’s it, boys. I’ve been redeemed. The preacher’s done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It’s the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting’s my reward.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Delmar, what are you talking about? We’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Delmar O’Donnell: The preacher says all my sins is warshed away, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo.
Ulysses Everett McGill: I thought you said you was innocent of those charges?
Delmar O’Donnell: Well I was lyin’. And the preacher says that that sin’s been warshed away too. Neither God nor man’s got nothin’ on me now. C’mon in boys, the water is fine.
27. Terry Collins: This pic from Collins during the World Series struck me:
The NYPD cap sort of crystalized this vague notion I’ve long had about Collins as a cop from a 1970s movie. Nothing super heavy like “Serpico” or “French Connection,” but maybe “The Seven Ups,” “The Anderson Tapes” or “The Taking of Pelham 123” or something. The cop with a megaphone outside of the building when the bad guys are surrounded. He has a gruff exterior but he’s not mean. Maybe, in the end, he’s even willing to maybe look the other way as our antihero heisters make a getaway. It was a weird time. It felt like society was crumbling a bit and we didn’t know who the bad guys and the good guys really were. Anyway, if Collins managed a few decades ago he’d be played by Robert Loggia in the movie. RIP Robert Loggia.
28-TIE. Bruce Bochy and Clint Hurdle: This is the third year of my Handsome Managers list. In the past two years it got a good bit of traction as an amusing down-time topic for managerial interviews at the Winter Meetings or in spring training. I was told that Hurdle, who was dead last on the list the first two years, got a big chuckle out of learning that he was baseball’s least-handsome manager. Even wore it as a badge of honor as a proper baseball man probably should. Bochy — 27 and 29 on past lists — was likewise amused.
Unfortunately, the very same evening Giants beat writers were teasing Bochy about it last February, this happened:
I appreciate their sense of humor about it and, while it doesn’t make them any more objectively handsome than they already are, it sure as hell keeps them out of the bottom slot, for now and forever, most likely.
30. Mike Scioscia: Someone has to be last. Nothing personal against Scioscia. And in some ways he’s a victim of circumstance here. He’s had his job a long, long time. And, as time has gone on, the standards of managerial beauty have changed. He was probably top-half handsome when he got hired by the Angels. Since then, however, the ranks have gotten younger and younger and some of our old physical beauty standard bearers have left their jobs, causing some downward moves by default.
And, of course, time has worked on Mike a bit too:
Maybe Mike will have a healthy and happy year, helping himself move back up the ratings a bit for 2016. And, failing that, maybe we’ll see some Dusty Baker-like comebacks from some old, old friends who can skew the list back the way it used to be?
We can only hope.
(all photos are from The Associated Press)