Question: How important are managers to the outcomes of Major League ballgames?
I might divide the question. 1) How important are managers during the game to the outcome? And how important are managers in the long haul to the outcome of a single game?
I say they are not very important during the game. They make decisions; some of those decisions are successful and some backfire. But they never swing a bat or throw a pitch or field a grounder. They aren't very important as cheerleaders in a game that comes down to one hitter and one pitcher locked in personal combat where being relaxed and observant are far more important than being motivated, driven or, especially, being angry.
My guess is their good and their bad decisions tend to even out.
But they do seem to be valuable in establishing a culture and a personality for a team. That begins in spring training. They set expectations in terms of work habits and the good ones know how to make players feel confident enough to silence their inner voices and just play the game as it happens. The good ones know how to get out of the way of the George Bretts and Frank Whites and the Mickey Mantles and Whitey Fords.
And, in my opinion, the good ones get out of the way of the game. The best sort of manager between the lines is a passive one. Why on earth have two managers in the Phillies - Giants series insisted on sending a starting pitcher out in relief in crucial situations? This never works. Starters are different from relievers, especially closers. You might as well bring the centerfielder in to pitch. In the Phillies' case, the cost was a ball game. The same was nearly true last night in the Giants' case.
However, here is a cogent article from the New York Times about their skipper which takes a different position on the value of managers between the lines. And it isn't very complimentary.
--Lofflin ... happy I got the World Series I was hoping for, the East Coast powerhouses are goin' fishin', and the whoever is broadcasting the series is no doubt disappointed...