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Jim Leyland

Jim Leyland, the new Tigers' manager, is the 44th winningest manager of all time. He is also, sadly, the 30th losingest manager of all time. He's a two-time manager of the year, but then Dusty Baker's won three times and Larry Bowa's won once. He's got gray hair, and looks managerial, for what that's worth.

On the plus side, he won a World Series. On the downside, he quit baseball in 1999, saying his heart wasn't in it. Coaches in sports can come back and be effective after doing that, but they seldom last a long time with the team that brings them back (see Hubie Brown, Dick Vermeil). He's bringing in experienced assistant coaches (Gene Lamont, Lloyd McClendon), but his choices provided over Tiger-like futility in Pittsburgh. In his press conferences, with Dave Dombrowski grinning like a Cheshire Cat in the background, Leyland didn't pretend to know anything about the team, but he also said a few rational things. "I've never been big on clubhouse atmosphere (chemistry)," he said, "because I don't think it's mandatory for winning. It's a bonus. But one of my biggest jobs, I can tell you this for a fact, is to quietly convince the veteran players on this team to buy into the program I'm going to present. If they don't, I'll probably be fired."

He was Dombrowski's man all along, and his presence takes a lot of the ambiguity out of any future failures the Tigers might entertain. If young players regress (Infante, Inge), if veterans whine (Rodriguez), we can be sure it wasn't the manager's fault when it happened before. So welcome, Mr. Leyland, and let's see your best Larry Brown or your best Dick Vermeil.