With Jim Riggleman having punted his career away yesterday, the Nationals are in the market for a permanent replacement to follow interim commander John McLaren. The one wonderful aspect of what is a rather sad story is that Riggleman's wriggle out of DC follows closely on the heels of the Marlins' resurrection of Jack McKeon, octogenarian manager. Now that Trader Jack is back, almost anything is possible. EVERYONE is younger than McKeon. If 80 is okay, then surely 76-year-old Felipe Alou could handle another go-round. Whitey Herzog, who hasn't managed in over 20 years, is a year younger than Jack is. Frank Robinson is younger. Bobby Cox is 11 years younger, and Lou Piniella 13 years younger, as is Davey Johnson. We could empty the Hall of Fame for the Nats, except Tommy Lasorda and Dick Williams are over 80. Maybe we shouldn't discriminate against them, though, if they're still feeling vital, if 80 is the new 40 in baseball, then surely 81 is not too old, and Derek Jeter will someday be good again. Wait, that doesn't make sense. Maybe for some of you it will if you stare at it long enough and love Jeter hard enough, but I digress.
Joe Torre is out there as well, hangin' with Bud Selig in the Commissioner's Hall of Just Us (and Us Alone, No McCourts). He will celebrate his 71st birthday in about three weeks. As they used to say about Richard Nixon, Torre is tanned, rested, and ready. Time to sort out that Washington mess and patch up the crack in the Liberty Bell (don't blame me that the Bell is in Philadelphia--the same non-sequitur is in the song I'm referencing).
Only 24 managers have kept going up to or past their 65th birthdays in the last 110 years. The truth is, though, that managing is a younger older man's game, and McKeon became the only manager to reach the postseason in his seventh decade back in 2003. Even Casey Stengel was done after 1960, his age-69 season (he turned 70 late that July). Bringing back some of these old timers is a sentimental choice, but probably not a wise one. A young team on the rise needs a young manager on the rise, and as bursting with baseball wisdom as some of these great managers are (and will always be, until death or senility claims them), the generation gap, and just plain ol' energy, will always be of greater concern.