By: Kurt Snyder
When we determined keys to the team’s success early in the season, Jose Iglesias was right in the middle of the discussion. In order for this team to contend, he needed to be on the field doing what he does.
And what he does has been nothing short of remarkable. Who would have predicted Jose’s appearance in the All Star game given how really, our only goal for him in 2015, was an injury free season.
But he has had a great season, an All Star season. Surprisingly, he’s hit over .300 all year, silencing every critic who thought he wouldn’t hit. In reality, it’s been the opposite and I can see him settling in as the Tigers’ leadoff hitter at some point in the future.
Defensively, Iggy has been maybe the best shortstop to ever wear a Tiger uniform. His athleticism allows him to be able to get to every ball, make creative decisions with the baseball after fielding it, and doing it with a flair, all of which has endeared him to Tiger fans. So, what’s not to like about Jose Iglesias?
Well we found out Saturday. Not Friday during the dugout altercation, I am talking about Saturday when he finally commented. I almost wish he hadn’t, because in doing so, he demonstrated some character flaws that we can only hope will be cured with simple maturity.
On the other hand, James McCann appears to have maturity beyond his years and I will get in line with everyone who shares the opinion that he looks to have leadership skills we have been sorely missing in the Tiger dugout. And he is only a rookie, so the future is certainly bright for the Tigers at the catching position.
You don’t find many rookies who will call out another player’s effort on the field. But McCann knows his shortstop and how good he can be. So when he saw something he didn’t like, he called him out. No issue here.
When asked about the incident, McCann simply made it clear it was a private matter and that it was over with. Heck, McCann handled the questions like a veteran. However, sadly, Iglesias did not. And when given the opportunity to make things right with McCann, he chose not to; in fact it was quite the opposite.
But you know what, I am glad this whole thing infuriated Iggy. What we witnessed from him on the field was very uncharacteristic for him and it may be the trials of a disappointing season are getting to him. But he clearly doesn’t like when his play is questioned, which is fine. But the aftermath has really been disappointing.
He felt his physical actions in the dugout were justified, he felt he did what he had to do, and when asked if his relationship with McCann is good going forward, he shockingly said he didn’t care.
Now I am not naive enough to believe that everybody on a baseball team needs to be friends, but you do hope over the course of a season to develop a bond. Even teams that are tight have disagreements and conflict, but they are normally handled more professionally. When you do run into an uncomfortable situation like this, you don’t make it worse with words.
There is real value sometimes in the things you don’t say. But when given the opportunity to patch things up with McCann, Iglesias decided to drive a wedge between them instead.
And Brad Ausmus isn’t absolved from any blame here either. He too could benefit from a little quiet time. He did fine in the post-game press conference, but when questioned about the incident again, he undermined the actions of his catcher, by saying he didn’t think there was a lack of effort in Iggy’s play.
Brad, this is where silence is golden. When a rookie catcher notices something on the field he doesn’t like and calls out his teammate, that’s leadership folks. Managers benefit greatly from players who emerge as leaders, and they know how valuable it is to a ball club. When leadership presents itself, especially from a rookie, you have to embrace it and recognize it.
So, I am sure McCann was not too thrilled to hear his manager make light of a play that James clearly thought needed be addressed.
We can only hope that Ausmus did in fact pull McCann aside privately to do two things; acknowledge how good of a leader he is becoming, but also make it clear where it is best to be demonstrated, especially when it is confrontational. But Brad is what he is, continuing to make the little mistakes that make his dismissal more and more necessary every day.
In an era where almost every photo, every video, every comment and every thought is played out on social media, the best course of action in most cases is to not say anything. McCann gets it, but Iggy clearly does not.
Hopefully this whole episode will disappear and end up being just a meaningless spat between two talented Tigers who will be playing together for a very long time.