Both the Cleveland and Cincinnati baseball organizations have managers that are familiar with winning. Although the two men have different managing techniques, they both seem to know which buttons to push. Cleveland’s Terry Francona’s loose way of orchestrating seems to fit his team’s persona. On the other hand, Cincinnati’s Dusty Baker’s calm approach to guiding a team appears to work, but has not gotten his team over the hump to win a championship.
It is not farfetched to believe the Indians can win a championship with Francona at the helm. The former Boston manager won two titles with the Red Sox, one where his team defeated the Tribe in the American League Championship Series before winning it all in 2007.
With a little over half of his first season as the Tribe’s manager under his belt, Francona has seen a fair amount of success with his new team. The Indians are second in the division, trailing the Tigers by 2.5 games. In recent years, the Indians have been in this identical position leading up to the All-Star break, but then find themselves in the back of the pack by season’s end. With the way the season has gone so far, it’s looking more and more like Francona has a formula that will keep his team in the playoff race into September.
Cleveland’s skipper has a bit of a loose approach when it comes to managing. He likes his players to have fun on the field, and his loose personality appears to be working well with the team’s character. An example of Francona’s easy going style came before the start of the season when the team took part in the nationwide craze of making a “Harlem Shake” dance video.
Although Cleveland has gone through a few managers over the past ten seasons the Reds have not, as Baker is in his six straight year with the organization.
Although some may want Baker out of Cincinnati, no one can complain about him leading his ball club to two division titles in the last three years. The Reds won their division both in 2010 and again in 2012. Before the 2010 season, the only time Cincinnati had won the central division was in 1995. That year also marks the last year the Reds made the playoffs prior to the Baker era. He has turned the franchise into a consistent playoff contender.
As great as it is that Baker has won division titles in Cincinnati, the higher goal is to get deep into the playoffs and win a World Series. The last two playoff appearances for the Reds have been the opposite of that. In 2010, Cincinnati was swept in three games in the divisional series against Philadelphia. The 2012 squad had a 2-0 lead on San Francisco before losing the next three games at home in the divisional series. Baker has been an outstanding manager in regards to getting his teams to the playoffs, but the playoff appearances are short-lived.
Baker’s managing style is mainly laid back and relaxed, though there are times where he gets intense and wears his emotions on his sleeve. How the squad is this season, he may have to be more forward than usual in order to get his team on a roll. This 2013 team appears to be the type needing a constant push, seeming to have no sense of urgency. During one of the club’s more recent hitting slumps, second baseman Brandon Phillips said they would eventually get out of it. Baker needs to be more assertive and tell his players that eventually is not good enough.
Both managers have the makeup of bringing championships to their respective cities. With this being Francona’s first year in Cleveland, he has a couple seasons to prove himself. Baker does not have that luxury with this being his sixth year in Cincinnati.
The rest of the season is important to both franchises and managers as each are making a playoff push.