THE AUSMUS LITMUS TEST

By:  Kurt Snyder

I don’t read many books. You would think a guy that loves to write would have more interest in reading. But, that’s just not me. I am certainly a far cry from my blog partner who has probably read more books than I have seen. But that’s another matter.

Anyway, I have come across a book that I just might read. Really, I might! And it’s a book I wish Brad Ausmus had written, not the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The book is called The Matheny Manifesto, and it is based on a letter that Mike Matheny wrote to the parents of a Little League team he used to coach prior to becoming the Cardinals manager.

After I read the letter, Brad Ausmus came to mind. But not in the way you would think or maybe would like. It made me wonder, if put in the same position, what Brad would write to the parents of his Little League players.

Sadly, I think Brad would only let the parents know what days of the week they would practice, when the games are and maybe include a phone number where he can be reached if they have any questions.

But Matheny wanted to impact the future of these kids. He wanted to instill a foundation. He wanted parents to know how he was going to coach, how he intended to teach their kids about the game, what he expected from the parents themselves and maybe most importantly, to communicate to them the kind of man who was going to be influencing their children.

He professed 8 keys to success: Leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness and humility.

If you wondered how on earth a 41-year-old former major league catcher with no professional managerial experience could replace a Hall of Fame manager, well, it’s certainly a fair question. But more than likely, Mike provided all 8 reasons why he was the guy. He’s been preparing to lead all his life.

So what do you think sold the Tigers on Brad Ausmus?

Dombrowski more than likely asked him what style of play he preferred. Does he have a philosophy for winning? How will he differ from Jim Leyland and what does he bring to the table that will better prepare his team to win? Certainly, these were the types of things discussed. And the answers must have impressed Dombrowski enough to “blow him away.”

I watched Mike Matheny while the Tigers were in St. Louis last weekend. Without saying a word, you could see the intensity in his eyes and his body language projected a calm confidence. There was no questioning who was in charge in that dugout. He did nothing special. But leaders have those unspoken qualities.

Real leaders, successful ones, project intensity and desire and enthusiasm; even sometimes without saying a word. And a World Championship is certainly on his door step waiting for him to seize it, because success finds people like him.

So, how does Brad Ausmus stack up? Well, both Matheny and Ausmus were catchers. And … sorry I’ve got nothing after that.

In a little over a year, we have a manager that still seems to be searching. He doesn’t appear to exude confidence. He appears quiet and composed, but there is no real outward evidence of any fire burning inside him.

He just doesn’t seem sure of himself. And that uncertainly speaks volumes for how his team performs; sometimes inspired, sometimes not. Hot starts followed by stretches of mediocrity. No real consistency of any kind. You’re excited about their prospects one day, then question where they are headed the next.

But there are a lot of guys out there that can really kill it during the interview process, and that may be what happened here. The problem is, if you don’t rubber stamp it on the field, then it means nothing.

Dave Dombrowski probably couldn’t wait to see what Ausmus would do with this baseball team. But in St. Louis, I get the feeling the Cardinals knew exactly what they were getting in Mike Matheny and would only need to wait for the team to flourish.

The Cardinals had hired a leader. A confident leader; someone the team would respect; a consistent source for inspiration.

Not unlike Ausmus in Detroit, the Cardinals knew a lot about Mike Matheny long before they had to find a replacement for Tony LaRussa. After all, he played for the Cardinals. And I am sure he demonstrated all the same traits while playing that he passed along to his little league players and parents.

Following the 2013 season, Ausmus came to Lakeland with one task. Finish what Leyland had started. This was a team coming off a demoralizing loss in the ALCS. A legitimate chance to win a title had slipped from their grasp. They needed to see hope. Did Brad inspire them? Did he convince them that he could help? Or were they sure? Did he leave a lasting impression that recharged their batteries for another run?

Something tells me that Mike Matheny left an impression on his team in St. Louis that they will never forget. Heck, he wrote a 2,200 word letter to a group of Little League parents! And after reading it, there was no misunderstanding about what kind of man would coach their kids.

In Detroit, I think the Tigers are still wondering who Brad Ausmus is and where he will take them.

4 thoughts on “THE AUSMUS LITMUS TEST

    • Many of us don’t either Robert. Leyland was thrown under the bus for much less. Once the bats went cold in the playoff, the Tigers were dead in the water. This team has a better roster and is much more balanced and has more ways to win thanks to how Brad’s wants the team to play. He is just not the right person at the right time.

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  1. Home Run Kurt. Out of the park. Mr. Reneker, respectfully, after 200 games, what is there to like about Ausmus? When you watch a manager repeatedly squander victory opportunities at this stage, it certainly arouses ones Tiger passion. And in this LAST season of “all in” we can ill afford losses as we go through “growing pains” with Ausmus. I truly believe that was part of the Mr I/DD visit to the clubhouse the other night beyond the VM decision.

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