Tuesday, July 02, 2002
DAUGHERTY: Bob Boone
So stupid, Reds are . . . in 1st
Apparently, we missed something on the way to first place. Baseball is a lot deeper than we thought.
After a good weekend in St. Louis, the Reds again were leading the NL Central. According to lots of you, Bob Boone was still an idiot.
By now, we've lost track of the criticisms of the first-place manager. He took somebody out. He put somebody in. He should have pinch-hit. He's wearing out the bullpen. How could he play Reggie Taylor? (We haven't heard that much lately.) Take your pick. Baseball really is brain surgery. Who knew?
If the voting were today, Boone would finish third in the NL Manager of the Year race, behind Montreal's Frank Robinson and Los Angeles' Jim Tracy. Except in Cincinnati, where Boone would finish last, behind Vern Rapp.
What was really fun was all the nepotism questions, Boone is saying.
He is behind his desk, three hours before the Reds play Houston. He has a letter opener and a stack of mail.
It's mostly autograph requests, Boone says. The other ones just tell me how stupid I am. I already knew that. As for the nepotism questions surrounding Boone continuing to play his struggling son, Aaron, Boone says, If it was nepotism, I'd have sent him down (to Triple-A).
For the record, struggling Aaron Boone led the Reds with 15 RBI in June.
Baseball fans are supposed to be smart here. When it comes to the first-place manager, they aren't. The best a manager can do is create an atmosphere in which his players want to come to work, and that has nothing to do with double switches. Davey Johnson used to call it allowing players to express their talents. Boone has done that.
Don't take my word for it. The tone he sets is very positive, says Sean Casey. Sometimes almost overly positive. Barry Larkin, who has lived through eight managers here, says Boone has done well managing personalities.
Boone does overmanage. He went to the mound Sunday, with two outs and nobody on in the ninth, in a game the Reds led by four. Ah, c'mon. Boone has little difficulty telling you how smart he is. Boone could be the only manager in history to walk through the postgame clubhouse drinking a glass of red wine. These aren't faults; they're annoyances, and so what?
Boone has this team playing beyond its talent, and all the anonymous talk-show freaks can do (with the help of a moron or two behind the microphone) is nag about alleged silly moves. These are people who need to bang their heads upside the nearest wall.
Boone says he has learned to tune out the bad radio. There's only one fan I care about and that's Mr. (Carl) Lindner (the Reds' CEO). And I don't know what he thinks.
I've had a lot of training being stupid. The stupider you get, the thicker your skin is.
Reds' fans will now mistake Bob Boone for an elephant. Hang in there, second-guessers. If you're lucky, Boone will be an idiot all the way to October.
He opens another letter. She told me what a good job I did, he says.
Will you answer that one, someone wonders.
Immediately, Boone says.
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