Jeff Banister Wins Manager of the Year

At this time last year, everyone, including us, were still trying to process how Jon Daniels could have skipped over Tim Bogar for the Rangers new skipper. Bogar took over for Ron Washington after he suddenly resigned, for reasons we still don’t know other than that he cheated on his wife.

Bogar led the team to a respectable 14-8 record down the stretch after being hammered by injuries and a 53-87 record. At the time, we all thought Bogar was the right choice – and the obvious choice. But Jon Daniels and company apparently had other ideas.

The final two candidates for the job didn’t even include Bogar. It came down to now Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash and Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister.

Yesterday, MLB named Jeff Banister as the American League Manager of the Year. He beat out rival AJ Hinch of the Astros and Hall of Fame player Paul Molitor of the Minnesota Twins.

I think JD made the right decision.

Banister spent more than 30 years in the Pirates organization as a player and as a coach in some capacity. He spent his last few years in Pittsburgh under Manager Clint Hurdle, who coincidentally spent 2010 as the Rangers hitting coach. Did Hurdle have any input on Banister? Did he give good words to Banister about the Rangers? I’d venture to guess yes on both fronts.

Banister didn’t spend much time in the big leagues as a player. Actually he spent all of one at bat. He finished his career with a 1.000 batting average though with an infield single against the Atlanta Braves.

Banister has quickly won our hearts, our approval, our trust, and hell, some of us are willing to run straight thought a concrete encased stainless steel wall for this man. That’s how good of a manager he is. That’s how good of a motivator he is.

How could you not do what this man tells you to do? He nearly lost his leg to cancer, suffered a broken neck and defied doctors after they told him he may never walk – or play baseball – again.

Yet, here we are. Walking tall with baseball’s highest individual award for a Manager.

We all thought Ron Washington could his guys up to play? Absolutely, but not nearly in the same capacity as Jeff Banister can – and does. Banister is a man among boys when it comes to his toughness and his philosophy on how to play the game. He’s smart, he’s ballsy and he isn’t going to take shit from you or anyone else. Don’t agree with one of his in-game decisions? He welcomes disagreement. He says it shows you have passion about the game, just as he does. And he loves that about Rangers fans. Most managers would give the proverbial middle finger to people that question their decisions.

Not Banister – at least not publicly.

He knows not every move will work out and he knows not every move he makes will please everyone. He also knows that if he managed to please the armchair General Managers of the social media world, the Rangers would probably lose 100 games.

He’s confident in his decisions, as he should be.

The players love the man. Adrian Beltre was quoted as saying:

“I like pretty much everything about him. In spring training, the attitude that he had made the players believe in him. He talked about leading us to the World Series then. It doesn’t take long to build trust with a manager. You can tell the way they go about their business and how honest they are when they talk to you.”

And from Shin-Soo Choo:

“He’s a great leader. He’s a really good communicator, especially one-on-one with the players. It’s easy to talk to him.”

The Rangers clearly made the right decision with Banister. He led the team to a 21 win turnaround despite being ravaged with injuries once again and missing his ace Yu Darvish for the entire season.

The Rangers twitter account posted a pretty cool infographic detailing some of Banisters accomplishments.

Get used to him. He’s going to be here a long, long time. I tried to tell you all a year ago that he was a Dude.

I didn’t lie. He’s definitely a Dude. And he’s the right Dude. Our Dude.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

One comment

  • I watched / listened to every Banister interview I could find yesterday, from Ben & Skin to ESPN to MLB TV. He constantly deflected the praise and congratulations, giving credit to others – Clint Hurdle, Pirates coaches, his coaches, his team, his front office, up to and including his mother – everyone but himself. He used the term “servant-leader” numerous times. I think this guy is wired correctly and, like Billy, I hope and believe he’ll be here for the long term.

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