By: Holly Horning and Kurt Snyder
Today’s topic has everything to do with our manager and how he manages to survive this most significant of Tiger downturns.
As is the norm, Holly and Kurt have not shared their responses to the following topic; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.
What is Totally Tigers take on why Brad Ausmus continues to have his job?
There is an alternate universe located on Woodward Avenue directly across from the Fox Theatre. If you have read literally a hundred tweets as I did on Monday morning, or watched/listened to any of that day’s MLB shows on tv/radio, the universal expectation of everyone (and we’re talking professional writers, baseball analysts, former GMs, etc.) was that Brad Ausmus would be out of a job after Sunday’s last game.
Never have I seen someone defy termination for so long and so successfully. A cat has nothing on this guy. Not even his GM is capable of telling us what Brad does well – offering excuses instead for purposes of deflecting blame.
So the question to ask is why is Ausmus being protected? There has to be a reason and in most cases, if we are stumped as to the rationale, it is usually because it has been hidden from public and media scrutiny. But it’s there and it’s gonna require asking a lot of questions and having a few discussions.
And hopefully, we are arming you with a few topics to throw out there to your friends, family and co-workers this week……
Could it be as simple as Al Avila not wanting to fire someone after a win?
Could it be that the Tigers see no viable candidate currently to take over the helm?
Could it be that they are in the process of trying to finalize a plan of succession?
Could it be that Al wants to keep Ausmus as manager in order to take the attention off his own track record?
Could it be that Avila realizes that with Brad gone, his own job could be the next casualty?
Could the entrenched ex-managerial mafia be lobbying for the status quo in order to protect their own employment?
Could the Tigers simply be trying to avoid the bad publicity and increased press coverage a firing commands?
Could their corporate culture of failing to lay blame anywhere be a factor?
Could their corporate culture of avoiding bold moves and risk taking be a consideration?
Could their continual lack of urgency be a factor?
Could they be concerned about how the trade deadline may negatively impact their ability to successfully complete trades by the deadline?
Could Avila know that the team may be sold after this year – and could he have been asked to keep everything intact until the end of 2017?
Could Chris Ilitch know that the team will be sold in the off-season and that any new owner would replace everyone, including the GM, manager and coaches?
Could the organization be waiting to see if the clubhouse and/or team play continues to crumble? Could their “worst case scenario” for decision-making not yet be met?
Could they be waiting for a natural break in the season, such as the All-Star Break, to make a move?
Could it be one of these or a combination?
Or could it be what I strongly suspect? A revenue situation, pure and simple.
If you look at the attendance figures, per game, they are down, but not by much.
Yes, attendance is dipping for the third straight year, but the Tigers are still pulling in decent turnstile figures. Mid-30,000+ per game ain’t too shabby. Yet.
And when you are still putting fannies in the seats, you don’t want to rock the boat. Yet.
The Tigers are back for their next home stand and undoubtedly, the team will be looking at the numbers to see if they are changing. Don’t expect them to terminate any personnel unless the empty seats dictate it. As it is, attendance will plummet once those trades start to happen in July.
In the meantime, the entire organization will pretend it is business as usual. There will be no announcement of a sell-off until it starts to happen. Avila will continue to defend Brad without saying much of substance. And the tv network will continue to show 1984 highlight clips to keep fans from thinking too much about this season.
Afterall, baseball is a business. It’s a bi-i-i-i-g business and the name of the game is to keep those turnstiles clicking as long as possible. That’s the priority right now and quite frankly, it’s always been one of the top two goals of the past and current ownership.
And in all probability, this could be the biggest reason why the team has decided not to muss with Ausmus. Yet.
You know, I have to hand it to Brad Ausmus. If there was ever a season where you have seen so many dire faces and visual displeasure, it’s this one.
Even Brad himself has to wonder how he still has a job. The social media outlets are all asking the same thing. And why? Well, because when a team falters, a team considered to be underachieving, the manager is normally the fall guy. But why not Brad Ausmus? Why does he continue to survive all of this?
Well, it’s all on the ownership. The Ilitchs’ seem to love Al. They love Brad. But what is it all based on? What have they done? Has anyone seen the team move the needle in any kind of progressive motion?
The Tigers play the most constipated style of baseball than you can bear. It’s mostly painful and when they do win, it is short-lived.
So I have to turn to our readers on this topic.
I would ask our readers to put together a reasonable list of Brad’s positive attributes that have contributed to helping the team win.
I would also ask them not to allow excuses to cloud their thinking.
I would ask them if they believe that teams take on the personality of their manager. And if they do, isn’t that a bad thing, given the lack of fire and emotion the Tiger manager possesses? Haven’t you seen it rub off onto his team?
I would ask readers if they noticed how grateful players are when their manager charges onto the field to defend them and argues on behalf of the team. And then I would ask if they noticed that these events become topics of conversation because they rarely happen.
And then I would ask this. Shouldn’t the GM who hired a manager who has made no measurable positive impact on the team, be held accountable for that hire? And shouldn’t that same GM get a second strike for renewing his contract when he had every reason to pull the plug?
And I would also ask this. Why would ownership be so concerned about attendance when they should be more than pleased with the throngs of people who still attend games?
I believe this. The Tigers must have a deteriorating fanbase. And I am not talking about quantity. I am talking about quality . The Tiger organization seems very concerned about the bottom line. So much so that a future firing of the GM and the manager is perceived to be a concern to fans and thus would affect attendance.
To me that insults the intelligence of the fans who understand the game and recognize a downward trend when they see it. It also insults the fans who visit Comerica Park strictly for the entertainment. And they surely would not understand why the Tigers would fire their manager, because of course, he doesn’t play in the game, so how could he be at fault?
This is not the time to lollygag. This is the time to act. Transition time is now. Only losing will slow down the attendance. Firing Brad Ausmus and/or Al Avila would be moves supported by fans who understand what is happening in Detroit.
But next would come the selling of stars the people love, which will not be understood by the average fan. And with it will bring more losses. That’s when the turnstiles stop turning. It won’t have anything to do with the firing of a GM or the firing of a manager.