x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Three are proving managers make a difference

Kirk Gibson in Arizona, Terry Collins with the Mets and Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh are proving that the right manager can make a league of difference in baseball.

So much attention is paid to the impact of coaches in the NFL, it is easy to forget that the right manager can have the same influence in baseball.

If further proof is needed, look at the job being done by these three managers, each in their first full season with their current team.

In Arizona, Kirk Gibson, hired midway through the 2010 season, has the Diamondbacks in contention with the defending champions San Francisco Giants in the National League West. The Diamondbacks were picked by most to finish last in the division, but Gibson seems, by force of his personality and intense drive, to be inspiring his players to be better.

Terry Collins's job is different, with the New York Mets. He has been without his best pitcher, Johan Santana, all season and hasn't had one of his two best position players, David Wright, for weeks. But despite the financial and legal turmoil surrounding the team's ownership, Collins has the Mets playing smart, fundamental baseball while tuning out the distractions.

The Mets won't win the NL East, but they're not going to be the laughingstock many expected them to be. Not on the field, anyway.

Finally, Clint Hurdle, hired by Pittsburgh last winter, has the Pirates daring to dream of ending their streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, with a record hovering near .500.

That's cause for celebration in a town where hope usually disappears before May 1.