The Red Sox have had plenty of backseat drivers on their road to a new manager. The media frenzy begs the question–is a media-friendly manager a necessity in today’s 24-hour sports cycle?
The answer, according to precedent, isn’t quite black and white. Take these comparisons, for example:
What better place to start then the last Sox manager? Francona was a media darling for nearly the entirety of his Red Sox career. It certainly didn’t hurt when the team was successful, and it gave him a little slack during slumps–but all of that was forgotten when the media turned on him at the end of the 2011 season. It was an ugly scene, and the takeaway may be that you can’t (or shouldn’t) bank on media support, because it’s as conditional as anything else.
On the other side of the MLB manager’s spectrum you will find Ozzie Guillen, new manager of the Florida Marlins. Guillen is a proven winner, and he’s also a polarizing figure–to put it lightly. He once called Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti a homophobic slur. Afterward, he apologized to the homosexual community, but not Mariotti. So yeah–I guess you could say he didn’t get along with the media.
The New York Jets head coach isn’t a ‘little’ anything: he’s a big guy with big opinions and an even bigger mouth. He gets along great with the media, though, because he’s quick to provide a soundbyte and he’ll never shy away from a question.
The Patriots coach is maybe the best in sports at stymeing the media. In most of his press conferences, he somehow manages to say nothing at all of significance. Consider the game earlier this season, when Belichick called a timeout at a curious moment. After the game (which the Patriots lost), the media grilled Belichick about the timeout, to which he replied: “We took it. We called the timeout.”
So what’s the conclusion? It seems that media support isn’t necessary for success, although it can buy some time when the chips are down. The Sox would be wise to keep it far down the priority list, though.