Hargrove, Manuel Offer Similar Traits

Mike Hargrove and Charlie Manuel both spent time as the manager of the Cleveland Indians. Both have a good background and both are well respected in the game of baseball. Both will likely be interviewed by the Phillies for their vacant manager's job, too. In fact, Manuel will interview for the job next week. To get the scoop on both candidates, <i>PhillyBaseballNews.com</i> asked the publisher of <a href=http://indians.theinsiders.com>Indians Ink</a> for his thoughts on both Hargrove and Manuel.

Mike Hargrove and Charlie Manuel, despite completely different lifestyles, share one basic quality -- a very intense love for the game of baseball.

Both would have to be considered "players managers," as they will allow a certain free reign in the clubhouse and will generally stand up for their own guys.

Both have a distinct fire within, however, and are not afraid to "lay down the law."

Hargrove was considered soft by some media members who didn't understand how much strength it took not to explode on a nightly basis over the clubhouse antics of Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton and countless others throughout the mid-90s. Behind the scenes, Hargrove tried to diffuse those problems and managed to keep the Cleveland team on course to success -- full-well knowing that it was a talented group of players and that even though their lifestyles did not mesh with his family-oriented outlook, it was what they accomplished between the lines that mattered.

Hargrove was a key reason the Indians developed into a winner in the 1990s. Many other managers would have not been as patient in certain areas. His guidance allowed the club to develop from 100-game losers in 1992 to 100-game winners in 1995 -- and win five straight division titles under his leadership.

It probably was a good thing for both the Indians and Hargrove when he was dismissed after the 1999 playoffs, though the shock of it hit him hard. In many ways, he had become a bit of a beaten man and just wasn't the same skipper as in his earlier days.

But during the next four seasons as manager of a much-weaker Baltimore Orioles squad, he seemed to regain his passion for the game. He again tried to mold young players and though the Orioles never really became contenders, Hargrove seemed to become an even better "in-game" manager while retaining his good organizational skills.

While Hargrove's spring camps and daily practices are well-organized, Manuel seems to need a strong bench coach to attend to the day-to-day minutiae.

He is distinctly old school, which led to his dismissal in Cleveland when he got into a tiff with preppy general manager Mark Shapiro. He's not much for computer printouts and forecasts, but has an uncanny feel for the game -- likely from years of playing and managing in the minors all over America.

He's a sportswriter's delight, telling tales of minor-league ballgames from years ago, his great playing career in Japan (one of the first American superstar sluggers there in the 1970s), and providing numerous amusing moments as he completely fractures the English language. While some fans poked fun of him in Cleveland, the writers often said that if Manuel managed the Yankees to a pennant, he would be regarded as a lovable skipper in the manner of Casey Stengel.

When he took over in Cleveland, it was to light a fire under the talented squad that had become a bit complacent under Hargrove. Manuel was ejected from two of the first three games he managed -- ironically in Baltimore against Hargrove's Orioles.

One of his first edicts upon taking over in 2000, was to get rid of a ping-pong table in the Cleveland clubhouse -- an unpopular move among players who later agreed it was the right thing to do. He wanted players to be thinking nothing but baseball before, during and after games -- a philosophy that had been successful as a manager in the Indians' minor-league system before he became batting coach at the big-league level under Hargrove.

But a series of health issues seemed to take a lot of fire away from him. Soon, Manuel was just "a good ol' boy" laughing and joking with the players.

Both have a great deal of knowledge about hitting and are able to impart it to players. Hargrove had pitching coach Mark Wiley with him in both Cleveland and Baltimore to help in that area.

I like both of these guys very much. Grover's probably the safer choice, a calm and experienced manager whom I respect. Manuel's more fun to be around and expresses his thoughts -- both good and bad -- much more freely.

Chuck Murr is the publisher of Indians Ink and reports on the Cleveland Indians. Chuck was nice enough to offer his insights into both Mike Hargrove and Charlie Manuel. Indians Ink is part of TheInsiders.com network.

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