The shoe that hasn’t dropped

We are now pretty deep into the 2012 baseball season, and while there’s been plenty of action on and off the field, there is one fairly common event that we have not yet seen. To date, not one major-league manager has been fired. Judging subjectively by the flow of reportage and rumor, there aren’t even any managers on the “hot seat” right now, wondering if they’ll make their team’s next road trip.

How often does the full complement of managers last this deep into a season? Not too often. We’re currently at just about 100 games for the season. This table shows how many managers were fired (or resigned) in the first 100 games of each season of the new millennium. (Note: I’m one of those math geeks who still insists the 21st century began in 2001, not 2000.)

Year                '11    '10    '09    '08    '07    '06    '05    '04    '03    '02    '01
Firings by 100        3      4      3      3      3      0      2      2      1      7      4

(Three of the seven 2002 departures came within 22 games. Impatience was at a premium that year.)

Not only did 2006 have no firings by the 100-game mark, it had no midseason firings at all. For the years that did, here are the earliest firings each season. Numbers in parentheses are how many games the team played before the firing.

2011: Bob Geren, A’s (63)
2010: Trey Hillman, Royals (35)
2009: Bob Melvin, D-Backs (29)
2008: Willie Randolph, Mets (69)
2007: Sam Perlozzo, Orioles (69)
2005: Dave Miley, Reds (70) [Royals manager Tony Pena resigned after only 33 games.]
2004: Bob Brenly, D-Backs (79)
2003: Jeff Torborg, Marlins, (38)
2002: Phil Garner, Tigers (6) [Ouch.]
2001: Larry Rothschild, Devil Rays (14)

In case you’re wondering, both 2000 and 1999 had no firings by this point in the season. 2000 matched 2006 in having no midseason house-cleanings at all, while 1999 saw three in the final two months.

Will 2012 be one of those periodic seasons where all the managers get a full 162 games? With the added wild cards in the mix, we currently have very few teams that both are seriously under-performing expectations and are out of the playoff race. Obvious scapegoats are not too common, and there aren’t any notable groundswells for axing a particular manager. If you made me bet one way or the other, I’d say we’re going to make it to October with the 30 we had in March.

And now that I’m committed, I just know Ozzie Guillen is going to say something outrageous in the next week …

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  1. Paul G. said...

    Perhaps apt, I hadn’t even considered the idea of a manager getting fired this year.  And I grew up a fan of the George Steinbrenner Yankees when the revolving door was so absurd Woody Allen referenced it straight in Don’t Drink the Water.  (Or at least in the version I saw.  It was hilarious.)

    Looking at the AL, the only teams out of the race at this point were expected to be horrible, so no point on canning the manager for babysitting the rebuilding process.  Among the contenders the biggest disappointments are Detroit (playing much better recently), Toronto (pitching staff in triage), and Boston.  I suppose Valentine is the best candidate to get the ax, but the Bosox brought him in to fix the mess from last year and summarily dumping him now would look terrible.  I mean it would be only slightly worse in if the next manager search had brochures featured the assurance “interviewer is unlikely to eat you.”

    In the NL, again the worst teams were expected to be among the worst teams.  Here the biggest disappointments are Arizona, Miami, Philly, and perhaps Milwaukee.  Arizona is still in it, Kirk led the team to a surprise division title last year, and firing Kirk Gibson while still in his general vicinity has the same vibe as taunting Chuck Norris.  Charlie Manuel is so beloved and the Phillies so injured that it would probably take multiple felonies to dump him mid-season and they might let him manage from his jail cell if work-release will allow it.  Milwaukee more or less expected this to be a struggle after losing Prince Fielder and his super mojo power of “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet,” plus they have K-Rod on the roster which was more or less an opening day white flag.  Now Ozzie is a prime candidate to be shown the door, and frankly I would say that he half deserves it for multiple reasons, but then again this is what the Marlins do.  They disappoint their fans.  Which is why they don’t have that many of them.  The only difference this time is they unloaded all their talent before they won anything.  Well, they did “win” a new stadium.  Maybe next year if they win the home opener they can trade the entire starting roster by the end of the series while the iron is hot!  Anyway, at this point Ozzie might welcome the opportunity to finger through the want ads, but I doubt the Marlins management will be so kind.  Ozzie, it’s going to be a looooong contract.

    So my bet is everyone survives the season.

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