The other person, of course, being Joe Paterno. But in all seriousness, ladies and gentleman, the news that the Florida Marlins have entrusted what’s left of their shambolic 2011 campaign to an 80-year-old man — albeit one who led them to an improbable World Series upset of the Yankees in 2003 — is being widely mocked this Monday morning, and SB Nation’s Rob Neyer cannot resist adding, “it’s hard to deny the suggestion that Jack McKeon is just plain old; there’s just something about a number that starts with 8.” Those of us who’ve read Albert Brooks’ “2030” are well aware of the slippery slope traveled when the nation’s old motherfuckers elderly are targeted, and I for one, am praying that Neyer’s is not the first salvo in a full-scale terrorist war against the AARP set.
When McKeon took over in 2003, we all thought he was too old. Only Stengel and Mack had been older managers, and neither had been successful. Since then, Joe Torre’s managed the Dodgers to a division title at 68 and Tony La Russa’s still going strong at 66. So while the notion had generally been that managing was a middle-aged man’s game, maybe we should redefine “middle age” (I know I certainly have, now that I’m technically there).
What might go wrong? McKeon did work a miracle in 2003, but that was earlier in the season and the Marlins were nine games out of first place; today they’re 12-and-a-half games out, and looking up at four teams, two of those highly capable of winning at least 90 games. In terms of the postseason, their season is over. So it’s not like hiring McKeon is endangering something great that might happen this season.
There is another risk, though. If McKeon becomes a joke — falling asleep on the bench, telling Logan Morrison to get the hell of his lawn, etc. — then the Marlins become something of a joke, too.