Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire’s tenure in the Motor City came to a bittersweet close on Saturday after two full seasons and most of the 2020 COVID-19 season at the helm. While the team hardly saw its best years under his command, there was still plenty to like about the affable veteran skipper — even if his game-time decisions were questionable at best.
Gardenhire’s departure was abrupt, as he had dealt with a bout of food poisoning recently on top of the rigors of running a professional baseball team during the worst pandemic of this generation. Now that we will not have ol’ Gardy to kick around anymore, let us look reflect on his time in Motown as well as look forward to a future without his grandpa-like personality in the Tigers’ dugout.
Take the long way home
It has been a long and winding road for Gardenhire in his coaching career, dating back to his first gig with the Kenosha Twins of the Midwest League back in 1988. His next two seasons he managed the Orlando Twins of the Southern League, in which he coached future major leaguers Scott Erickson and Chuck Knoblauch, among others. At long last, his journey ended in Detroit.
Cody Stavenhagen over at The Athletic takes a look at Gardy’s departure from his final gig with the Tigers in a touching article about how he arrived at his final decision. It is often easy to overlook the human aspect of the athletes and others we see on television and Stavenhagen brings a strong dose of humanity to Gardy’s story.
Where do we go now?
Going into the final weeks of the season, the Detroit Free Press takes a look at what to expect with Lloyd McClendon at running the show. But before Gardenhire rode off into the sunset, McClendon had a few tender words for his former boss.
“Gardy is such a lovable guy. He had a special relationship with all of us. Obviously, him not being here is tough. But it’s such a business that you got to tighten up the belt buckle, go out and get it done. That’s the attitude we take.”
The now-interim manager has a history of managerial experience with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Seattle Mariners, spending seven years at the head of the bench in the big leagues before his latest promotion with Detroit. It has yet to be seen if his tenure will be extended any further.
Gardy’s possible replacements
So now that Gardenhire is officially gone and legendary Lloyd is holding down the fort in the interim, it is time to start thinking about what the next steps are. We published our Bless You Boys roundtable discussion on who should replace Gardy next season on Wednesday with some interesting takes from our staff; let us take a look at what some of the other members of the media think.
MLive took a stab at listing potential replacements for the managerial position, with names that featured McClendon, Josh Paul, Fredi Gonzalez, Joe McEwing, Mike Redmond, A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, Hensley Meulens, Pedro Grifol, Phil Nevin, Don Kelly, Marcus Thames, Will Venable, George Lombard, Vance Wilson and the greatest baseball name in a generation, Stubby Clapp.
I wouldn't be surprised if Stubby Clapp emerges as one of the peripheral candidates for the Tigers' managing job.— Jay Markle يعقوب (@jaymarkle_byb) September 21, 2020
He's a former player with minor league managing success and was considered for the Rangers' and Pirates' managing openings.
The best of Ron Gardenhire
Our friends over at Twinkie Town put together a compilation of the best of Ron Gardenhire that is well worth checking out. The post is basically a collection of links to the best stories about the veteran coach over the years, with a heavy emphasis on his Minnesota Twins tenure. Nonetheless, it is a fun and humorous trip down memory lane.
Other Tigers tidbits
One major obstacle for the Tigers’ rebuild is the strength of the AL Central. Growing pains: Tigers lose helmet, mitt and game. Tigers’ Brandon Dixon is happy to get the call after a long year in Toledo. As Joe Jimenez works back to form, his future role with Tigers remains unclear. Daz Cameron is determined to prove that he belongs in the big leagues. Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson stays on task despite uncertain future.
Around the horn
Alejandro Kirk is 5-foot-8, 265 lbs, and yes, he mashes. Angels have been MLB’s biggest 2020 disappointment; so what happens next in Anaheim? Multiple reports link former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski with the Angels. Has the strike zone changed in the age of COVID-19? “You can’t own an idea”: Attempt to patent a baseball stat surprises community. The Arizona Fall League cancels its 2020 season due to COVID-19. Nolan Arenado’s season is over, but he and the Rockies are still stuck with each other. Rob Manfred wants fans at the 2020 NLCS and World Series and this is a bad idea.
Baseball is awesome
In case you forgot it was September…..THREE TEAMS CLINCHED WITHIN MINUTES OF EACH OTHER.— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 23, 2020
Congrats @Braves @Cubs @Indians! pic.twitter.com/qkg8PafGC1