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Mckeon "Stats Are Over-rated" and more...


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May 11, 7:51 PM

 

Still smokin', on and off field

 

Florida's McKeon has no thoughts of retiring

 

BY SCOTT BROWN

FLORIDA TODAY

 

MIAMI -- It is just past 1 p.m. and the South Florida sun is unmercifully beating down on the turf. Members of the grounds crew tend to the field and water the seats. But they are not the only ones working in Pro Player Stadium six hours before the Florida Marlins host the Montreal Expos.

 

 

Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon acknowledges the crowd as he takes the field to accept his 2003 World Series Championship ring during a ceremony before the Marlins' game against the Philadelphia Phillies in April in Miami. Image ? 2004, AP

The man in the shorts and black windbreaker cuts a rather solitary figure.

 

Yet one does not need to know his pre-game routine or even see his face to make a positive identification. That's because a trail of smoke follows him as he briskly walks the perimeter of the field.

 

Yes, Jack McKeon doesn't just smoke cigars before games and after games but also during his daily workout.

 

Anti-tobacco forces and exercise enthusiasts might cringe at such a sight, but after what McKeon accomplished last season, it seems he has earned the right to indulge -- especially since a cigar represents a symbol of ultimate victory.

 

Making a MacArthuresque return to Major League Baseball last May, McKeon guided an underachieving and then-unheralded team to a stunning world championship. And to think before last season he had just been hoping to get back into the game as a bench coach.

 

But the old-school manager, who likes to spin baseball tales as much as he likes to puff on cigars, turned out to be exactly what the Marlins needed. He called his future boss, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, "Jerry" when the two first had lunch to discuss his return to the game, but McKeon made few wrong moves after Loria hired him anyway.

 

And anyone who thinks the Marlins were a fluke last season, consider that they played .600 baseball (75-49) in the regular season after the tough but tender McKeon took the reigns.

 

 

Retirement can wait

 

The corners of his mouth form a natural frown, but McKeon, 73 years young, is having the time of his life. That is why the man who was honored by the AARP last season, as well as a group that can be equally crusty (the Baseball Writers Association of America), is entertaining no thoughts of retiring (again).

 

 

"When the time comes and they don't want me, fine, I won't have any problems," said McKeon, who was named National League Manager of the Year in 2003 by the BBWAA. "As long as somebody wants me, I'll be here."

 

That is just fine with the Marlins, who despite sustaining significant losses during the offseason, have led the National League East for most of the young season. They continue to win with a combination of youth and temerity, pitching and speed, defense and McKeon.

 

"He's got a lot of insight into the game and experience and for all of us, it's what we're trying to gain," said Carl Pavano, one of a handful of starting pitchers who started realizing their potential under McKeon. "He's got some of the best stories and it's fun to hear his take on things and things that happened in the past."

 

McKeon, who had been in professional baseball since the Truman Administration, receded into the past after the Reds fired him following the 2000 season.

 

With the Marlins floundering at the start of last season and the organization considering making a change at manager, traveling secretary Bill Beck suggested it take a look at McKeon.

 

Beck first met McKeon back in 1969 -- "He was smoking a cigar and had a black, flattop haircut," Beck recalled with a laugh -- when he served as the broadcaster for a Triple-A team in Omaha, Neb., and McKeon came aboard as the manager.

 

The two later worked together in San Diego and Beck remembered the job McKeon did with the Padres in 1988.

 

After the team got off to a miserable 16-30 start, McKeon, the team's general manager, assumed managing duties as well. He guided San Diego to a 67-48 record the rest of the way.

 

Still, when the Marlins hired him to replace Jeff Torborg on May 11, the move was greeted with skepticism at best. And it spawned its share of "Grandpa Jack" jokes in the media.

 

"I didn't know much about him," Pavano admitted, "but we learned quickly it was his team and he was going to run it the best way he knew to win and it really motivated us."

 

Running it the best way he knew to win meant demoting struggling closer Braden Looper late in the season. It meant leaving All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell on the bench for most of the National League Division Series because rookie Miguel Cabrera was playing too well to take out of the lineup.

 

It meant putting Cabrera in right field for the slumping Juan Encarnacion during the NL Championship Series -- an extraordinary leap of faith given Cabrera's age (20) at the time and the fact he had never played the position. It was a classic example of a manager trusting his instincts.

 

"He has faith in the guys he puts out there and lets you play," left fielder Jeff Conine said. "I think guys are really confident because of that."

 

 

Stats overrated

 

It is 1969 and McKeon is walking down a street in Oklahoma City. This after a night in which he no doubt told baseball stories well into the morning.

 

A panhandler approaches his group and asks if anyone could spare him some change.

 

Suddenly, McKeon grabs the man by the shirt and hoists him toward the heavens. "I'm working this side of the street," he said. "You work the other side!"

 

McKeon has always had the sense of humor that leaves those in his company in stitches. He showed during last year's World Series that he still has an unpredictable side as well.

 

With the Marlins leading the series 3-2 going into the sixth game at Yankee Stadium, conventional wisdom had McKeon saving his best pitcher, Josh Beckett, for the seventh game.

 

But McKeon started Beckett on three days' rest -- and took his share of criticism for the decision -- and Beckett tossed a complete game-shutout in the Marlins' 2-0 win.

 

"I think that was just using my head, saying, 'Hey, who's the best guy you've got to go in Game 6? Beckett,' " McKeon said. "I looked at the stats and saw where the Yankees were extremely tough in Game 7 so I figured I better try and win Game 6. That's one time I paid attention to stats."

 

Statistics.

 

Don't get McKeon started on that -- or more specifically the philosophy espoused by A's general manager Billy Beane and his disciples.

 

Beane's reliance on statistics more than the naked eye of scouts was chronicled in the best-selling book Moneyball. McKeon hasn't read it. Nor does he even know what an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is.

 

Never mind that the numbers crunchers infiltrating baseball claim it is the most accurate way to determine a player's value.

 

"When you say stats are the reason you win, then what do we need managers and coaches for?" McKeon said. "Just get the statisticians and say, 'Here's what you want to do' and you should win. It doesn't happen that way. There's a human element involved. "

 

And in McKeon's case, a true character involved.

 

"He is definitely," said Conine, "one of a kind."

 

Contact Brown at 242-3698 or sbrown@flatoday.net

 

The panhandler joke was pretty funny.

 

How can he not know what OPS is?? :blink: I wonder if he knows what slugging and on base percantage are.

 

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Florida Today must love pieces on Trader Jack ... this one made the print edition out here in Phoenix this morning

 

 

 

Old McKeon full of youthful energy

 

Florida Today

May. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

 

MIAMI - Making a MacArthuresque return to the major leagues last May, Jack McKeon guided an underachieving and then-unheralded Florida Marlins team to a stunning world championship. Before last season, he had just been hoping to get back into the game as a bench coach.

 

But the old-school manager, who likes to spin baseball tales as much as he likes to puff on cigars, turned out to be what the Marlins needed.

 

The corners of his mouth form a natural frown. But McKeon, 73, is having the time of his life. That is why the man who was honored by the AARP last season, as well as an equally crusty group (the Baseball Writers Association of America), is entertaining no thoughts of retiring ... again.

 

"When the time comes and they don't want me, fine, I won't have any problems," said McKeon, who was named National League Manager of the Year in 2003 by the BBWAA. "As long as somebody wants me, I'll be here."

 

That is just fine with the Marlins, who despite sustaining significant losses during the off-season, have led the National League East for most of the season. They continue to win with a combination of youth and temerity, pitching and speed, defense and McKeon.

 

"He's got a lot of insight into the game and experience and for all of us, it's what were trying to gain," said Carl Pavano, one of a handful of starting pitchers who started realizing their potential under McKeon.

 

With the Marlins floundering at the start of last season, traveling secretary Bill Beck suggested the Marlins take a look at McKeon.

 

The two had worked together in San Diego, and Beck remembered that the 1988 Padres began the season with a 16-30 record and finished with a winning one after GM McKeon assumed managing duties.

 

"I didn't know much about him," Pavano said. "But we learned quickly it was his team and he was going to run it the best way he knew to win, and it really motivated us."

 

Arizona Republic Reprint

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I wish writers would put summaries after their long ass articles.

Just read the first sentence of every paragraph. You will be able to tell what they are talking about by doing that.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. (sigh) are you being sarcastic?

I think it's pathetic actually. I'm just giving some advice... :D

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I wish writers would put summaries after their long ass articles.

Just read the first sentence of every paragraph. You will be able to tell what they are talking about by doing that.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. (sigh) are you being sarcastic?

I think it's pathetic actually. I'm just giving some advice... :D

and it's bad advice.

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I wish writers would put summaries after their long ass articles.

Just read the first sentence of every paragraph. You will be able to tell what they are talking about by doing that.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. (sigh) are you being sarcastic?

I think it's pathetic actually. I'm just giving some advice... :D

and it's bad advice. im not going to argue if its good advice or not...just try it and you will see that you will get a lot of the main points in the article by barely reading anything.

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I wish writers would put summaries after their long ass articles.

Just read the first sentence of every paragraph. You will be able to tell what they are talking about by doing that.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. (sigh) are you being sarcastic?

I think it's pathetic actually. I'm just giving some advice... :D

and it's bad advice. im not going to argue if its good advice or not...just try it and you will see that you will get a lot of the main points in the article by barely reading anything.

 

lololololol

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I wish writers would put summaries after their long ass articles.

Just read the first sentence of every paragraph. You will be able to tell what they are talking about by doing that.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. (sigh) are you being sarcastic?

I think it's pathetic actually. I'm just giving some advice... :D

and it's bad advice. im not going to argue if its good advice or not...just try it and you will see that you will get a lot of the main points in the article by barely reading anything.

 

lololololol it wasnt really meant as a joke...lol

but its ok if you thought it was a little funny

 

:)

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Make sure when you buy a house that you follow your own advice and only read the first sentence of each paragraph.

 

Words are beautiful, you should savor every one. They are what defines us. I realize most people here are children of the MTV generation but there's more to life than taking shortcuts.

 

If you do you're only shortchanging yourself and anyone who follows your advice.

 

Go read a book.

 

The whole book.

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Make sure when you buy a house that you follow your own advice and only read the first sentence of each paragraph.

 

Words are beautiful, you should savor every one. They are what defines us. I realize most people here are children of the MTV generation but there's more to life than taking shortcuts.

 

If you do you're only shortchanging yourself and anyone who follows your advice.

 

Go read a book.

 

The whole book.

When I read books I read the WHOLE think...

 

And I read the WHOLE article...

 

I was just saying that if you want to know a lot about what the article is saying without having to read a lot than just read the first sentence of every paragraph.

 

But I wasnt lazy...I read the WHOLE article.

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