WHAT IF?

By:  Holly Horning

Oh, to be that fly on the wall when Dave Dombrowski interviewed Brad Ausmus for the managerial job back in late 2013. I, for one, was so excited to see what I thought was the changing of the guard. From older and crusty to youth and hopefully someone with a collection of contemporary baseball theory.

I was also thrilled to see a Dartmouth guy, my husband’s alma mater, get the job. It could very well mean that my husband would now be joining me to watch the games – something he hasn’t done since I made him memorize the starting lineup before we got married. There was a lot I wanted to like about Brad.

When Ausmus was hired, Dave said he “blew him away” during the managerial process. And then, last year happened. I simply could not understand what it was that got Dave so excited. I thought it was a case of overselling and under delivering. I was desperately trying to grab onto anything that hinted of baseball genius.

And then this year happened. Stories about how fans wanted to run Tony LaRussa out of town during his first year as manager. The stories sounded eerily similar to what we experienced last year. But then those who played the game and are now analysts started talking, telling stories about their conversations with Brad. They mentioned that Brad has brought in a number of new strategies the team is now using.

And that’s when the lightbulb went on. Granted, it is way too early in the season to make any kind of forecasts, but we all must admit that we like what we see so far. This is a different team, even with the familiar faces included. They are playing differently. And dare I say it, the team has more balance and tools to use.

Unfortunately, we will never know what transpired in that interview between Dave and Brad. Trust me, I interrogated all of the flies in the greater Metro Detroit area and none of them know anything. But it can get us thinking about what was discussed.

Who knows how Brad will evolve as a manager? But now, we see a glimmer of potential, which gives us hope. We may not have answers but we certainly can ask questions to get us thinking. And I certainly have a lot of questions.

What if we incorrectly envisioned this as a traditional interview?

What if, instead of emphasizing the Tigers’ way of doing business, Dave turned the tables and asked Brad what he’d do?

What if Mr. I and Dave decided that the old model of premier pitching and big bats had to be replaced?

What if Mr. I and Dave determined that they needed a manager with new ideas about how to win?

What if Dave signed onto Ausmus’ strategy instead of the other way around?

What if Mr. I and Dave were prepared to take a chance on retooling in 2014 before making a better and stronger push in 2015?

What if Dave and Brad sat down and worked as a team planning out the vision, including the desired needs and trades needed to make it happen?

What if they knew it would be difficult to get all the required pieces last year?

What if the plan was really for full implementation this year?

What if Brad turns out to be the new brains behind the throne?

Sometimes, old theories and methods need to be discarded in order to achieve greater results. Have the Tigers finally discovered that they need to work outside the box? Time will tell……