After a 3-15 beginning to the 2018 season, Reds manager Bryan Price was fired.
Larry Dierker managed the Astros from 1997-2001, so he knows what it’s like to be fired from a big-league job.
In this never-published essay, he reflected on the careers of several managers who were “hired to be fired.”
It’s an interesting retrospective, and a bit of a cautionary tale. Enjoy!
I lost my job managing the Astros after winning the National League Central four times in five years. I guess I can understand why; we lost in the first round of the playoffs every time.
Opening Day may well have been the beginning of the playoffs for Reds manager Bryan Price. Price took over for Dusty Baker after the 2013 season, when the Reds lost their last five games of the season and a one-game Wild Card tilt with the Pirates.
Dusty skippered the Reds to the Central Division title in 2010, then fell back in 2011. He won again in 2012, but lost again in the first round. So after 2013, he got to see how it feels when you consistently make the playoffs, and it isn’t enough to keep your job.
I already knew.
Still, nothing can match the Yankees’ firing of Yogi Berra when the Cardinals beat him in the seventh game of the 1964 Fall Classic.
Winning the Big One Winning most of them is great for a while, but failing to win the big one will get you in the end. It got John Farrell when the Astros beat the Red Sox in the first round. Then, when the Astros dispatched the Yankees, the Bombers fired Joe Girardi.
In 2003, the Red Sox fired Grady Little for leaving Pedro Martinez in the game too long. Johnny Keane left Bob Gibson in Game Seven of the 1964 World Series too long, but Gibby went the distance and won 7-5.
Damned if you do – or don’t.
Or the golden rule: the owner has the gold, and ultimately decides when the manager has been left in the game too long.
On the hot seat Considering the Reds’ fortunes under Bryan Price, he was likely on the hot seat on opening day. Many experts were picking the Reds to advance in 2018. I understand that Price wanted GM Dick
Williams to bring up a hot prospect at third base, but service time was an issue. Williams denied it, but if it is true, I really feel for Price. It’s hard to manage when you think you could have a better team, but for the money. The Reds still may bring Nick Senzel up; he may live up to his billing; and the Reds might get back in the race.
But not with Price at the helm.
Oddly enough, he was fired on the 666th day of his watch: an apocalyptic day, a devilish day, a day whose number is rife with meaning in mathematics and in the Bible – just check Wikipedia if you really want to know.
Knowing the Score What the Reds really wanted to know was whether Price could survive and thrive after his epic meltdown on April 20, 2015. That’s when his profanity-laced post-game interview went viral — and will remain, at least for now, as the thing he is most remembered for. Rage.
Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner weren’t remembered for what they were, but where they were at cutting time. Yogi was beyond disgrace; he was oblivious to it.
I suppose Price knew the score. But still, it must be hard to accept that your team showed confidence in you in October and lost it so quickly.
Great Expectations It’s all about expectations. The Astros felt like they should have advanced, and I became the goat. I made an unexpected pitching change in Game One of the 2001 playoff with the Braves, and lost my temper (without cussing) in the press conference after the game. The Red Sox blamed Grady Little for one pitching decision after two great seasons in Boston. Farrell was expected to beat the upstart Astros. And after winning three straight in New York, Girardi was expected to at least win one game in Houston. Watching 2017’s postseason, I would have been less surprised if Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ skipper, had followed in Yogi’s footsteps.
Hired to be Fired We all know when we are hired that we will be fired. Dusty won after two years of rebuilding the Reds. Price didn’t. Personally, I’d rather wear the goat’s horns in October than wear the Mark of the Beast in April.