Most general managers shouldn't really speak in public. No benefit comes from your team's GM popping off in the paper, be it in response to criticism or in support of the local star. Dan O'Dowd recently took it upon himself to praise his stud shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the only way our society knows: comparing him to Derek Jeter.
Most Jeter comparisons invariably rush to "intangibles" quicker than a base hit bouncing past Jeter's glove side, O'Dowd thinks Tulowitzki's "innate" leadership abilities class him as a "once-in-a-decade" player.
To be fair to O'Dowd, it's the Times headline that screams TULO = JETER IN THE MOUNTAINS, though the Rockies GM doesn't hesitate to play the small market card when comparing the two shortstops relative levels of fame.
If he played in New York or Boston or for the Cubs, he would be recognized right now as one of the best players in the game -- not young players, but players in the game
Or, had Tulowitzki not responded with a stinktastic sophomore season after bursting onto the national baseball stage in 2007, his five-tooled goodness would have a much higher profile. Once a decade? More like once every other year, amirite??
More troubling than Dan O'Dowd's eagerness to position Tulo as the new Face of Baseball is his tossed-off slam on the great Indians teams of the late nineties, teams O'Dowd helped build.
In Cleveland, we really never had that kind of a player; we had great players. And that's why we didn't win a World Series. I think that's why we fell short. We didn't have one straw that was stirring the drink, taking everybody to a different level.
At the risk of taking a baseball GM too literally, think about this for a second. Those great Indians teams featured some of the best players of their time, including the criminally underrated Kenny Lofton. But O'Dowd believes they failed to win the World Series because they lacked a leader? Didn't they lose the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins?
Gary Sheffield. Bobby Bonilla. Moises Alou. Kevin Brown. Who among this group of notorious pricks and mercenaries would qualify as the "straw that stirs the drink?" How could this team, with all the high-priced turnover from the previous year, classify as a cohesive unit with a common goal? They won a 7 game series because of talent and luck. The Indians reached the series and lost for the very same reasons. Leadership is nice to talk about in March with a guy from the New York Times, but really?
Motivating 25 guys every night for six months is tough, no doubt. But isn't it amazing how these mythical leadership qualities seem to grow and improve when surrounded by increasingly talent players? That must be the mark of real leadership: get players much better than you to perform to the true talent level. Then; watch the plaudits and playmates roll in.