Sunday afternoon, as the sun sets behind the upper deck at AT&T Park, another Giants season will come to an end, and Giants fans will be left to spill out into Willie Mays Plaza and sort out exactly was accomplished this year. And ponder what’s ahead.
Hopefully, the first thing Giants fans will experience this offseason will be the retirement of Felipe Alou.
It’s time. His tenure as the Giants skipper has been purely forgettable, and I’m not sure it has been all his fault.
Maybe it was the timing. Maybe it’s the changing times.
Maybe it’s the combination of players he was left to manage. Regardless of the reason, the team, other than enabling Alou to reach 1,000 wins as a major league manager, hasn’t really done much.
A pair of really disappointing seasons only highlight the fact that the Giants are going backwards, and looking ahead, I think Alou would be the wrong man at the wrong time to be in the dugout as the Giants build a team that turns things around.
That said, I think Alou’s contributions to baseball over the last half-century are not being fully appreciated.
I really believe Alou should be in the Hall of Fame. His playing career was stellar. In 17 seasons, he was a three-time All Star, twice led the National League in hits and in 1966 hit 34 home runs and batted .327, but it is all the other stuff that pushes him in.
I know Ozzie Virgil was the first from the Dominican Republic to reach the majors, but Alou was the first player to star in the major leagues. The fact that his two brothers played in the Majors also adds to his case.
But to follow up that career on the field with a managerial career that reached 1,000 wins should put Alou in a special category for some kind of lifetime achievement entry into the Hall.
However, as far as being a manager in these times of athletes being larger than the team, Felipe has not shown a key ingredient needed to be one of today’s successful managers. I don’t think he’s been able to create an atmosphere that makes the sum of the team greater than the players on the roster.
He is a manager who has little contact with his players, who proudly handles his own duties in his own way, and I think that is a creature of the past.
Expecting players to be professionals on their own accord, to hold themselves to those standards, is old-school thinking. It’s also a thing of the past.
I think the talent level at the major league level is so high that a big part of a team’s success or failure has to do with attitude, enthusiasm and the feeling that playing the game right is a full-time endeavor.
This feeling has to be created and upheld by today’s manager, and the successful ones each have their own way of accomplishing this.
That’s why the Giants need to move on, not only with a pretty significant turnover in players, but to the next chapter of their managerial history. The next Giants manager has to be a motivator, a coddler, a disciplinarian, even a bit of a babysitter.
So, hopefully, Alou will retire, and proudly walk off into baseball’s sunset, his credentials and dignity in tact.
Don’t make the Giants make the decision for you, Felipe. You’ve done too much for the game of baseball to depart through that door. Retire and take your place among the greats of Giants baseball.
And let somebody else deal with the headaches that go with managing the talented athletes of today.