Now it can be told. I was one of the 28 voters for both the National League and American League Manager of the Year awards. The winners were announced Wednesday afternoon -- with San Diego's Bud Black (the former Bisons pitching coach) winning in the NL and Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire winning in the AL.
You vote for the top three. Votes were due prior to the start of the playoffs and the Baseball Writers Association of America requests you keep them confidential until the award results come out in November. Hence, this blog post.
I had it this way:
NL -- Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia; Dusty Baker, Cincinnati; Bobby Cox, Atlanta
AL -- Ron Washington, Texas; Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay; Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota.
Obviously, looking at the results, it seems I may have been a little out there in the NL. I was the only first-place vote for Manuel and one of two not to list Black on the ballot. I had the top-three in the AL, albeit in a different order, so there's really no explanation needed there. But here's a few words on my NL ballot.
Why not Black? -- He's a great guy as anyone who was around the '98 Bisons will attest. I was thrilled to talk to him several times during the 2002 World Series, when he was the Angels' pitching coach and won a title. And it's been great to see his success as the skipper in San Diego. Black was on the hot seat coming into this year and the Padres had a huge bounceback season. I think he was a runaway winner if the voting was done on, say, Aug. 15. But it's for the whole season. It was hard for me to put a vote -- let alone a No. 1 -- for a guy whose team basically choked away a division it led all season and did so with an epic 10-game losing streak. The players have to be culpable for that collapse but so does the manager. Harsh assessment? Perhaps. But so be it.
Why Manuel? -- Many folks will probably assume I did a career achievement award vote since Manuel has won four straight NL East crowns and never won this award. Not a chance. That's not what these are. It was for 2010 only. Sure, the Phillies had the most talent. But they were also decimated by injuries. They were well back of the Braves in the NL East. It would have been easy for them to fall apart in the wake of the guys missing from their lineup and the deficit they faced. But they didn't. Manuel held them together when they needed him the most. Sure, it was easy for him to write the lineup in September, when everyone was healthy and the Phils finally put it together. But he was there in the months prior to that when his team needed a steady hand.
Why no Bruce Bochy? -- It was a flip of the coin for him and Cox. Remember, regular-season only. Did you really think the Braves were going to be the wild-card this year? Throw out it was Cox's last year. That was a great job. So was Bochy's work at coming back in the NL West. But you could only pick one No. 3.