(It's the end of February, meaning I'm as exhausted as all get-out, the perfect state of mind heading into the busiest month of the year. Yay! Time for Cardboard appreciation. This is the 268th in a series):
Take a look at this card and what do you see?
At face value, it is a "play-at-the-plate" card. In simpler times, I'd try to determine when this play happened and the outcome of the play.
But let's go deeper. What else do you see on this card?
Yes, it's a card of two future major league managers. Two future, current major league managers. A.J. Hinch of the Astros and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals.
I'm sure two future managers have appeared on the same card before. But I don't know how many of them were involved in a play at the plate.
To make this card more personal, though, it happens to be a card of two future managers who are younger than me.
Ah, now you've reached the point.
I don't like A.J. Hinch very much. It's purely for selfish reasons. He is the manager of the team that beat my Dodgers in 7 games in last year's World Series. I will accuse any manager who beat my team in the World Series of nefarious activities, and I have no doubt that Hinch is guilty.
But also I don't like him, selfishly, because he was just 34 when he was named major league manager for the first time, by the Diamondbacks, back in 2009. Thirty-four! I believe at the time, it was the first MLB manager who was younger than me. But not just younger than me, BLATANTLY younger than me. Being an MLB manager at 34? That's kind of obnoxious, don't you think? Like one of those 14-year-olds admitted to Stanford (yes, Hinch is a Stanford grad).
Hinch was something of a novelty when he was hired. There were major league players older than Hinch at the time, and Jamie Moyer was still pitching, so there were still players younger than me.
But then Moyer retired and teams started naming more managers younger than me. Mike Matheny -- who clearly has attended "Never Let Them See You Smile" class for Cardinals managers -- was appointed St. Louis manager in 2012 at age 42.
In 2015 and 2016, Craig Counsell, Dave Roberts, Torey Luvello, Andy Green and Scott Servais were appointed Managers Who Are Younger Than Me. Oh, and I forgot Kevin Cash, who I'm pretty sure is younger than Justin Bieber.
This offseason, the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets and Phillies all named managers who were playing in sandboxes when I was in high school. So, the trend that A.J. Hinch started is clearly not going away. In fact, someday I may be clinging to Hinch or Dave Roberts like I did to Jamie Moyer as a sign that, "SEE? There's someone more ancient than me!"
Just for your handy-dandy comparison amusement, here are all the current managers and their ages:
Orioles: Buck Showalter - 61
Red Sox: Alex Cora - 42
White Sox: Rick Renteria - 56
Indians: Terry Francona - 58
Tigers: Rod Gardenhire - 60
Astros: A.J. Hinch - 43
Royals: Ned Yost - 63
Angels: Mike Scioscia - 59
Twins: Paul Molitor - 61
Yankees: Aaron Boone - 44
A's: Bob Melvin - 56
Mariners: Scott Servais - 50
Rays: Kevin Cash - 40
Rangers: Jeff Banister - 54
Blue Jays: John Gibbons - 55
Diamondbacks: Torey Luvello - 52
Braves: Brian Snitker - 62
Cubs: Joe Maddon - 64
Reds: Bryan Price - 55
Rockies: Bud Black - 60
Dodgers: Dave Roberts - 45
Marlins: Don Mattingly - 56
Brewers: Craig Counsell - 47
Mets: Mickey Callaway - 42
Phillies: Gabe Kapler - 42
Pirates: Clint Hurdle - 60
Cardinals: Mike Matheny - 47
Padres: Andy Green - 40
Giants: Bruce Bochy - 62
Nationals: Dave Martinez - 53
I admit there is a certain amount of skepticism when I watch a manager younger than I am make a decision in a baseball game. Sure, he has all the major league experiences, but when I realize that I was watching baseball games before that dude even knew what baseball was, well, sometimes you think you know better from your couch.
Of course, it doesn't help when the little rascal beats your team in the World Series.
P.S.: The card photo appears to be from a June 7, 2002 game between the Cardinals and Royals in Kansas City. Mike Matheny scores from second on a two-run single by Fernando Vina.