If Marlins ownership and fans thought that bringing 80-year-old Jack McKeon back to be their manager would change things for their beleaguered team, they were wrong, at least after his first game; the Marlins lost 2-1 to the Angels Monday night, their 11th consecutive loss.
About the only thing different for the Marlins last night was the smell in the dugout. No, not the players. McKeon spent part of his pregame preparation sitting in the dugout smoking a cigar, to the obvious discomfort of third base coach Joey Espada.
Old-school? That's what we have back in the major leagues in McKeon. Even noted chain-smoking manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers sneaks into the walkway to the clubhouse before puffing on a cigarette. Smoking in the dugout is so 1950s, Jack. Haven't you read about the new graphic cancer warnings that are going on cigarette packs soon?
These Marlins could drive McKeon to harder stuff than just smoking. Their 11th consecutive loss, to the Angels, by a 2-1 score, was pretty much like most of the rest of the losses in the streak. Florida has been outscored 67-28 during the losing streak, been shut out once and scored just one run six other times. Since they were 29-19 and just one game behind the first-place Phillies in the NL East on May 26, they have gone 3-22 and been outscored 135-74.
Jack McKeon was home in North Carolina watching his granddaughter's softball game when the phone rang with a job offer.
Maybe he should have brought that team with him -- they might be better than the Marlins right now. One of his first actions was to bench Hanley Ramirez:
"I didn’t think he was running very good (Sunday)," said McKeon, who watched the game on TV from his home in North Carolina. Ramirez has been battling a sore back but also has a reputation for a lack of hustle, and McKeon declined to say which he thought was the issue.
McKeon said Ramirez would be back in the lineup Tuesday. Ramirez had no complaint about the situation and said he welcomed McKeon’s old-school approach.
Never mind the "lack of hustle", it may be that Ramirez's sore back has him hitting .200/.298/.295, on the way to the worst year of his career. Bench him for lack of performance, if nothing else.
An 80-year-old man likely has better things to do than smoke cigars in the dugout and watch a bad team lose in front of an announced crowd of 16,984, many of whom came disguised as the usual sea of empty orange seats at Dolphin Stadium. Soon the national media will depart and the Marlins -- and McKeon -- will be left to lose in their usual anonymity.