Thursday, November 4, 2010
On Jauss, Sparky and Bochy
By Mark Simon
Talk to those who know Mets bench coach Dave Jauss well and they'll tell you he's more ready than you'd think to be the next Mets manager, the position he interviewed for today.
We caught up with two coaches from Jauss's alma mater, Amherst College (he's class of 1980) and both were gushing in their praise of someone who probably will represent the biggest longshot among the candidates for this position.
Jauss is a rarity among managerial candidates in that he never played pro baseball at any level (a trait he shares with former big league skippers Dave Trembley and Carlos Tosca, among others).
He'd also be the first manager we can think of who once held a job as a sports information director (the Massachusetts Collegiate Athletic Conference, a position he held while coaching baseball at Westfield (Mass.) State).
If Jauss ends up being Sandy Alderson's choice, it will be based on the reputation of someone who is smart and very detail-oriented.
"A complete baseball guy," said Bill Thurston, who coached baseball for 44 years at that school, describing Jauss' best quality. Thurston's program produced 23 professional players and 17 students who went on to work in professional baseball administration (most notabley Pirates GM Neal Huntington and Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherrington). "He's the best baseball man I had in my time at Amherst. He has the intensity, enthusiasm and people skills to become a major league manager. The thing that struck me the most when I visited him (when Jauss managed in the minors in the mid-90s) was how well-respected he was by the players."
Jauss wasn't someone with great athleticism (Thurston ran through his baseball skill sets and labeled every one of them "average"), but he had a knack for finding his way into the right spot.
"I remember he came out for the basketball team, and he was someone with mediocre ability," said Amherst's longtime men's basketball coach David Hixon. "He was someone who was at the 60 percent level athletically. But he was so smart. He got more assists by faking shots than any player I've ever coached. He's someone who just always knew how to find a way to win."
Former major league manager Sparky Anderson, who died Thursday, never worked for the Mets, but did have a couple of peripheral connections to the team.
Anderson, during his time with the Reds from 1970 to 1978, went 72-36 managing against the Mets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his .667 winning percentage is the best of anyone who managed against the Mets.
Anderson was also the color commentator on CBS Radio's broadcast of the 1986 World Series, working alongside Jack Buck. After the Mets rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to win Game 6, Anderson correctly predicted a Mets victory in Game 7.
"They'll come out here looking like they're on stilts," he said.
In speaking with Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech prior to Monday's Game 5 win over the Rangers, Giants general manager Brian Sabean identified the team's turning point of the season as an 18-game stretch from July 5-25, in which the Mets played an integral part.
The Giants went 15-3 in those 18 games, taking three of four games from the Mets in the first series after the All-Star Break. The Mets actually entered that series with a better record than the Giants (48-40 to 47-41), but once the Giants opened that series with back-to-back shutouts (2-0 and 1-0), that was not to be. In fact, that series serves as apt foreshadowing for each team's fate the rest of the way.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy holds a fun distinction for those looking to stump their friends with a Mets-related trivia question related to his 17-game stint in 1982.
Of those whose primary position was catcher, who had at least 50 plate appearances for the Mets, Bochy rates as having the highest batting average -- .306 -- nine points better than Paul Lo Duca and 10 points better than Mike Piazza.