Detroit Tigers: Imagining the managerial debate

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction about the Detroit Tigers and their search for a manager. None of these events actually happened. Enjoy

A hush came over the small but exalted group of Detroit Tigers dignitaries loaded into the meeting room with dubious social distancing at the Comfort Inn in Lakeland, FL as the moderator of the looming debate gave the signal the Zoom call was starting.

Good evening. I’m Jake Yapper of CNN Sports…yes our sports network went belly-up many years ago but we still work cheap. Tonight it is my honor to host the 2020 Detroit Tigers Managerial Search Debate.

Tonight, we will be holding an important discussion to identify the best options available for the Tigers’ open dugout leadership position. Let’s begin!

Yapper: First we’re bringing out former Tigers manager Jim Leyland!

JL: Thanks, Jake. Before we get started I don’t see an ashtray. I was told a smoke was copacetic in here.

Yapper: Sorry, Skip. It’s a patch night.

JL: Avila will pay for this.

Yapper: We know, Jim. NEXT, let’s bring out the man leading this search, the Tigers exalted front office leader Al “The Art of the Deal” Avila!!

AA: Thank you, Jake! Such a great surprise to be here!

Yapper: You set this up.

AA: No I didn’t. This is a big surprise and I have no previous agenda to serve by being here!

Yapper: Ok. Our final combatant tonight is longtime Tigers radio analyst Jim Price!

JP: Ummm…All my thoughts come out of the same keyhole. We need more Art of Pitching, BUGGY WHIP!

Yapper: Great to have you here! Tonight’s rules are simple. We didn’t make any! First question…how analytical should the new manager be?

JL: My analytics judge a ballplayer by the cut of his jib, the length of his hair, and the dirt on his uniform.
AA: Times have changed Jim…you need to be smart with the numbers…

JL: NUMBERS?!? SMART?!? Don’t give me that crap. Do you think you’re “smart” after guys like you hired the Dartmouth Dipstick to follow me? Brad Ausmus was a surfer boy doing a man’s job.

**From the back of the room**
Brad Ausmus: Did you know I’m here?

JL: Yes.

BA: Oh. Carry on.

AA: I know, I know. Brad wasn’t the leader we hoped…

JL: Geeze! Sorry to interrupt…but that’s like saying Rich Rodriguez was slightly disappointing at Michigan. Ausmus was a clown with a tan.
JP: Hey, let’s not get political talking about tanned clowns. Mr. Kaline eschewed politics.

JL: He chewed what? Kaline chewed nails. The Tigers need a guy like him. Respected, old school, tough but a teacher at heart. There is only one man…besides ME…who we can trust.

Yapper: You don’t mean…

AA: Don’t say it. Light up a Marlboro instead.

JL: …Don Kelly, baby. No one else is equipped. Plus my wife loves him.

JP: Don Kelly would be great… Hey… Papa John’s just arrived. I’m gonna eat. Al, send me a check for tonight and let me know when Spring Training starts.
Yapper: He’s a pro’s pro. Thanks, Jim Price! Al, what say you to the Kelly talk.

JL: Al knows the fans want Donny Kelly, the players want Donny Kelly, GOD ABOVE wants Donny Kelly.

AA: Here’s the deal…we love Don Kelly. But Ilitch wants a splash. He wants AJ Hinch! I might have to deliver him.

JL: What?! That’s about as big a splash as I made after my coffee this morning. Does Hinch get to bring the magic garbage can with him? More importantly, does Hinch bring Jeff Luhnow with him to run this shop? You want that, Al? If you deliver Hinch, you’ll be the one delivering that Papa John’s within 18 months.

Yapper: Mr. Avila, when do you hope to have a new skipper in Kelly’s office…I mean… the manager’s office?

AA: We’re hoping to have a decision by November 3rd, Jake. But we aren’t going to mail it in. If it takes another week or another month into December, we just want to get this right and declare a true winner.

JL: You have no clue what you’re doing, do you? This whole process is thrown together in a rush.

AA: I resent that! I hired Ron Gardenhire after all. Nobody faults that. I can do it again.

JL: This ain’t a caretaker job anymore! Gardy took the check, had some fun, and helped a few guys along. You need a damned winner like your’s truly. You need to get this right. You need to open the checkbook and get Donny…I mean your “new manager” (air quotes were used)...some real talent.

***From the very back of the room, music plays and an unknown masked man pulls down his face covering ***
Yapper: THAT’S CHRIS ILITCH’S MUSIC!!!

Chris Ilitch: Checkbook? Yeah. Maybe you’ve heard of “COVID-19”. Money is tight. Can’t we just play these drafted “studs” Avila is always telling me about? By the way..this pizza is tasty. Price! Bring me another piece of the Supreme.

Yapper: Well folks…we were going to have closing statements but Al Avila is on the phone with his son’s agent to get Alex a deal in Detroit for next year, Mr. Ilitch is eating pizza, and Jim Leyland just got a Jim Beam and Coke in a to-go cup to go outside to light up a heater.

Its been a real pleasure to be your host tonight and here’s a reminder to catch me next Spring as host of The Don Kelly Show before every Fox Sports Detroit telecast! Good night everybody!!

**In the doorway a nice looking man in his 60’s with salt-n-pepper hair and a beautifully pressed striped golf shirt just stood there smiling a satisfied smile bordering on a smirk**

Dave Dombrowski: This rebuild will never end! (Insert demonic laugh here) Muuuuwaahahahaha!