Buck Showalter of the Texas Rangers and Frank Robinson of the Washington Nationals are the two worst managers in major league baseball, according to a poll of 450 players conducted by Sports Illustrated during spring training.
That would be the same Buck Showalter who was named American League manager of the year in 2004 — he also won the award in 1994 with the Yankees — and who has the Rangers in contention in the American League West. And that’s the same Frank Robinson who has Washington atop the National League East in defiance of all those last-place predictions.
“A popularity contest,” Robinson said.
True, neither man could be called beloved. Showalter is regarded by many as a micromanager who once criticized Ken Griffey Jr. for wearing his cap backward. Robinson, during his Hall of Fame playing career, was abrasive and a fierce competitor. Now, approaching 70, he can come across as a curmudgeon.
“I rub players the wrong way,” Robinson conceded. “I get under their skin. That doesn’t bother me. I know for a fact Buck Showalter and I are not the two worst managers in baseball.”
But isn’t a manager supposed to do everything it takes to win and stand up for his players? And what about results? Robinson and Showalter are getting results. Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, among others, questioned the validity of polling athletes who carry their own agendas.
“If you’re gonna buy a car, do you talk to players?” he asked. “They’re gonna tell you to buy a car that you can’t afford.”
If only Larry Bowa were still managing, we’d see where he ended up on the list.