From Jerry Manuel's press conference, he has impressive. First of all, he's relaxed in a real way not stiff as hell like Willie. He's funny. He mentioned that the team jokes around about "Gangsters get on the field, ladies get on the bus." Manuel also has shown a lot more fire this year than Willie, in particular, when he got thrown out of that game against Philadelphia in May. Also who could forget that he's the guy when he was managing the Chisox in 2000 that told Frank Thomas to grow the fuck up?
The Times had an article the other day about him. Two of my favorite parts:
In spring 2007, Manuel had a Zen-like response when the former Met Cliff Floyd criticized Randolph’s handling the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series, when Floyd struck out as a pinch-hitter during a failed Mets rally. Asked about Floyd’s criticism, Manuel called it a “cloud with no rain,” an inkling he may think a bit differently than other coaches and managers.
I'll also give him the benefit of the doubt for being excited to read the new George Will book if for no other reason, this paragraph about Aaron Heilman the tech whiz makes me laugh.
Before games on the road, Manuel often sat in the stands near the visiting dugout reading whichever book he had brought with him. He has a wide-ranging collection: Cornel West, Reinhold Niebuhr and Gandhi are just three men whose thoughts and philosophies he says have influenced him. But his favorite, his inspiration, is King, so much so that he asked Aaron Heilman, the team’s resident technological wizard, to create a ring tone for his cellphone that played part of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Manuel was immediately tested in the very first few minutes of his first game on Tuesday night. The impetuous Jose Reyes slightly hurt himself running to first. Manuel decided to play it safe and take Reyes out of the game. Reyes stomped off in a big pout. How would Manuel handle it? A few innings later, Reyes was back and he was smiling. He apologized to his teammates and everything was good. Randolph would have never had this outcome and he would have had a pouty Reyes on his hands for weeks. So what did Manuel say to Reyes?
"I told him next time he does that I'm going to get my blade out and cut him. I'm a gangster. You go gangster on me, I'm going to have to get you. You do that again, I'm going to cut you right on the field."
Hell yes! I love this guy. To borrow Hot Tub Eric's phrase, not only does Jerry Manuel look cool, he talks cool!
In two games I've already seen more from him than Willie. He confers with players in the dugout after they've made mistakes and immediately teaches them. I assume that Willie did that after games but who knows? The Wednesday night victory was great - perhaps the best of the year. I'm not going to get carried away like Gary Cohen who called it perhaps a season changing game but it could be a temporary springboard to something good.
So enough of this Willie Randolph saga, the Jerry Manuel era has begun.
I wasn't sure how I felt about whether or not Willie should get fired. I thought he deserved a whole season. But Manuel has proved more entertaining in two games than Randolph did in 3 and a half seasons. I love Omar. I love the Wilpons. F Willie. He's a Yankee anyway.
Metstradamus's take on the gangster quote.
And more from Saturday's paper:
DENVER - Jerry Manuel wants to set the record straight.
“It’s not gangster, it’s gangsta,” he said, laughing. “Get it right.”
In the world of Manuel, the Mets' interim manager, gangsta is considered the ultimate compliment, a term of respect and admiration. Just as easily, he said, he could have used the word gladiator to get his message across. But aside from gangsta sounding cooler — “no doubt,” he said — the 54-year-old Manuel said he could communicate better with players, who in some cases are nearly 30 years younger, by occasionally mixing street slang into his daily interactions.
“I think it’s great how Jerry relates to us,” said Brian Schneider, who has known Manuel for more than a decade, since they were in what was then the Montreal Expos’ organization. “That’s his way, that’s his style. That’s why I call him Homey.”
Marlon Anderson added: “That’s just a Jerry thing. When he says it to you, you smile. Everyone wants to be gangsta.”
The ascent of Manuel from bench coach has thrust him into a spotlight where, particularly in New York, his choice of language is going to be analyzed, and some of his more colorful phrases will be questioned. He provides a relief from his predecessor, Willie Randolph, who often acted restrained and defensive in interview sessions with reporters, but also creates this juxtaposition:
How is it that a man whose intellectual curiosity rivals that of any manager in baseball, whose reading list leans toward peaceful men like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. , could playfully talk about taking a blade to Jose Reyes the next time he acts up, as he did during the series in Anaheim?
“What I’m trying to say is that you’re epitomizing the best player that you can be,” said Manuel, whose quotes about Reyes were initially taken literally by the Drudge Report. “When you do things that are in that vein and in that sense, that helps the game, to win the game, and you’re giving everything you can that’s within your limitations — that’s gangsta. That’s how I use it. I know that’s the lingo of this generation.”
He said he could not remember the origin of the term, but he was quoted in 1999 as rooting for the Knicks in the N.B.A. finals because “they’ve got gangster in them, and I like gangster.” For motivational ideas, he looks toward his four children — two sons, two daughters — whose ages range from the early 20s to the early 30s. Although Manuel said he enjoyed older rhythm and blues and jazz, he likes adding a little hip-hop flavor to the clubhouse — and to his home, as well. Manuel said he had called his children, or something that they had done, gangsta, too.
“A good report card,” Manuel said. “Now, that’s gangsta.”
He sprinkles his speech with other phrases too, like “play wit it,” referring to when his players are liberated and relaxed, not thinking about what to do with the baseball, and “holla.” As in, he expects to have disagreements with his players during the season, but he will treat them in a respectful manner so they can “as men, still come holla at each other and do our thing.”