Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Jack McKeon Worth The Risk?

In 2003 Jack McKeon stepped in as the interim manager for the Florida Marlins and led the team to an improbable World Series victory over the New York Yankees. It was considered somewhat of an anomaly that Jack was able to communicate with the younger players on the ball club and get everyone to buy into his philosophy. Last week Edwin Rodriguez resigned as the Florida manager after a 1-18 start to the month of June and once again the Marlins have turned to Jack McKeon as their interim manager. This time Jack is 80 years old. How can this possibly work?

I have a great deal of respect for Jack McKeon and I understand he's probably forgotten more about baseball than most people know, but 80 is old. Jack was old in 2003 and that was before facebook, twitter and i phones. The skipper might have great grandchildren older than some of his players.

Baseball purists will argue age is just a number and that the game always comes down to executing the fundamentals. No one know the nuances of baseball better than Jack and he'll be able to put his players in a position to succeed.

The realists will argue that an 80 year old manager is a liability. Not only will he have a difficult time communicating with the younger players, the rigors of traveling and day after night games (as well as doubleheaders) will take a toll on him physically. The body just doesn't bounce back at that age the way it used to.

The Marlins need to fill seats and ramp up enthusiasm for their new stadium and Jack McKeon is a familiar face. It's a feel good story and everyone is pulling for him to do well. In the end I think father time will catch up with him and he doesn't have far to go. 80 is too old to manage a professional baseball team.

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