Did you know that Jim Leyland was the manager of the Colorado Rockies? In 1999, he took the helm for one year, sat in the dugout, slept in his office and did everything except help a franchise looking for its identity. This has been forgotten because of his success with his Detroit Tigers, but Leyland quit on the Rockies after a little over a month on the job. He collected his check, but did little else.
There are a lot of reasons the Rockies have struggled as a franchise, but you have to think that bringing in a manager from outside the organization who gives you nothing in return has to be one of the reasons for their foolish decision-making. If the baseball establishment refuses to help you, why should you listen?
In Leyland’s defense, he was coming off a World Series Florida Marlins team that was dismantled before his eyes. I don’t think that’s a legitimate excuse, but it was a reality that he did not come to grips with. This led to him abandoning baseball for seven years before landing back with the Tigers. He was also right about the inadequacies of the Rockies.
He is now seen as an elder statesman in baseball, but finds his Tigers, with the best pitcher and hitter in baseball, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, down 2-0. The Tigers seem too relaxed; they lost their focus after sweeping the New York Yankees and now they have three home games to find their footing in the World Series. The same thing happened to the Colorado Rockies, who were swept by the Boston Red Sox in 2007 after winning 20 out of 21 games. If Leyland and Colorado were on speaking terms, perhaps they could have talked about this problem. Of course, the Rockies solution would have been an unconventional pitch count or something.
Leyland would go down in baseball history with a World Series win with his second team. Rockies fans find it hard to root for the NL West rival San Francisco Giants with their attitude, but the Tigers don’t present a better alternative. Leyland gave up on Colorado and perhaps will now be kept from winning baseball’s ultimate prize for a second time.