Jimmy Leyland wants to manage again. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is happy to sing his praises :
If you gave him talent, he found a way to get it done. Leyland won three straight National League East titles with Pittsburgh from 1990 to ’92, and led the Florida Marlins to a title in 1997 when everyone expected him to win.
The Rockies signed Leyland to a three-year, $6 million contract before the 1999 season, and he planned to move his wife and two young children to Denver. But the Columbine High massacre took place that spring, and Leyland spent the rest of the season sleeping on a cot in the clubhouse and realizing Colorado might not be the best fit.
For starters, Coors Field neutralized Leyland’s ability to strategize. In the Rockies’ home opener, Leyland did his usual masterful job of matching up, but the Rockies still lost to San Diego on an 11th-inning homer by Jim Leyritz.
“He knew it wasn’t a baseball park he could do his stuff in,” Donnelly said. “It was like telling Picasso, ‘You have to paint by the numbers, ol’ Pablo.'”
Has Leyland been tarnished by his decision to bail on the Rockies? Perhaps, a bit. But consider the alternative. Piniella is dying in Tampa Bay, but not enough to walk away from the millions still owed him under his contract. Leyland devotees point out that he asked to be let out of his contracts in Pittsburgh and Florida after both teams ripped it up to rebuild and that he received promises of support from Rockies management that failed to materialize. When the team signed free agent Brian Bohanon instead of Kevin Brown, that was a pretty good sign of things to come.
(not only did some of these evil teens show callous indifference towards human life, but they also fucked with the future of the Colorado Rockies)
Actually, Leyland jumped off a sinking ship in Pittsburgh in favor of free-spending Wayne Huizenga’s Waste Management All-Stars in Miami, then managed to get himself cut loose after the Marlins’ sorry salary dumping ensued. His bailing on the Rockies was the third time in short succession the much-revered manager essentially quit on a team and city, the excuse each time being they’d quit on him first (though this is the first time I’ve seen the Columbine massacre blamed).
Crasnick says Leyland doesn’t want to manage on the West Coast. So that limits his wish-list to Eastern contenders with deep pockets…but he doesn’t want to campaign for a job someone else is already doing. Good news for Joe Torre, then.