And one of the biggest will be what happened in the top of the ninth of Game Two of the American League Championship Series when Detroit third base coach Gene Lamont prematurely held up Ramon Santiago from trying to score the go ahead run after Don Kelly lined a double into the right field corner.
Now it’s easy for arm chair fans like me to second guess managers and coaches because we have the advantage of slow motion instant replay and with “hindsight being 20-20.”
A third base coach has to make a split second decision on whether to send a runner home while watching the play quickly develop. Considerations include the speed of the runner, the strength and accuracy of the outfielders’ arm (and that of the relay man for that matter) the position of the outfielder in relation to the ball and how a throw would line up the score of the game, the number of outs, and who would hit next. (if you can think of anything else please add your remarks in the comment section.)
Yet this season Lamont has reminded me more and more of Sparky Anderson’s long time third base coach Alex Grammas, who as he got older always seemed to wave runners home when they should have been held up or stopped them from trying to score when he should have sent the runner home. This year I recall seeing more than one Tiger player ignoring Lamont’s directions.
Anderson eventually fired Grammas but I don’t know if it had been strongly suggested by the general manager. Normally Anderson would never allow management to tell him who his coaches should be. (or shouldn’t be) My guess is Jim Leyland doesn’t either.
Whether it’s his age, eyesight, or just increased difficulty in making the right decision, Lamont needs to leave the third base box. (I will say however that he does give a nice high five after a home run!) It would be a lot easier on Leyland if Lamont volunteered that a change should be made.
I am not suggesting that Lamont necessarily needs to be fired. He has been a successful coach and manager and in fact was the A.L. Manager of the Year in 1993 when he guided the Chicago White Sox to the American League Western Division title.
I don’t think Leyland would fire his close friend. Lamont appears to be Leyland’s most trusted advisor and their relationship goes all the way back to the Detroit minor leagues in the 1960s when both were catching prospects. Lamont could certainly serve as Leyland’s full time bench coach, or if necessary be named the first base coach with Tom Brookens moving to third.
But if it were me (or I suspect many other observers calling the shots) Gene Lamont would be called out at third and it wouldn’t even be close.