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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:37 pm 
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63-Year-Old Manager Sees New Life


Bret Richards was 59 years old when he got his first managerial job with the Nine. Four seasons later, he says he feels better than he’s ever felt before, and would like to stay on for the long haul. “These guys are my life now,” he said in explanation. “They brought me out of a tough time in my life.” Richards has been mostly quiet about his personal travails, which are rumored to be bouts with depression he's lived through due to family difficulties. He played minor league ball in the mid-90s, and worked in several roles since then. He took the YS9 role on the cheap back in 2029.

Details are not known, but Richards is rumored to be asking for a five season deal at a pay rate commensurate with the upper regions of the league’s skippers. Having led the team to the playoffs each of his first three seasons, winning a division title, and a Frick League Pennant, it’s not an unreasonable ask on the whole. His career record to date is 363-259. The club sits at 79-57 as we speak, and is 5.5 games behind Madison. His handling of players has been solid, and to a man the clubhouse seems to favor playing with him.

All that success aside, Richards’ term has not been without its turmoil. He’s considered an in-game tinkerer, and his propensity to use strategies on a whim (and players on the same) have caused several to question his wisdom. The latest controversy has been in his use of the running game, which on the whole has been fairly productive when you look at overall metrics, but down in the guts has been controversial.

For instance, take a recent game with Des Moines that eventually ended in a 4-1 defeat. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nine were down 1-0. Note that 4th inning bit, as it’s somewhat important in context of the rule of thumb regarding steals early in a game. With two outs, Angel De Castillo steps to the plate and laces a single into the outfield. We've got something going. Next up is Victor Guerra, a power hitter having a good year. One swing of the bat and the Nine could be ahead.

De Castillo is a horrible base stealer. He's fast, but gets thrown out all the time. (10 SPEED, 4 STEAL). His stats the past two seasons are 32 SB, 38 CS. Add to this the fact that when you talk to Richards, he says he’s not particularly enamored of the steal, and add again that he’s on base against a lefty who’s hard to run against and one of the better catcher arms in the league.

In other words, the runner is horrible, the manager theoretically dislikes stolen bases, the game situation calls to run almost never, and the battery he's running against is outstanding.

You know what's coming, of course...De Castillo runs himself into the third out of the inning, and we're done. And, of course, leading of the next inning Guerra singles, so who knows what would have happened?

This would be stupid enough as it was, but just two innings before, with the score tied in the second inning (and with all those other parameters in place, too) Guerra led off with a single, and then with two solid hitters coming up behind him decided to run on the first pitch and got himself thrown out. At least Guerra ia a good base stealer (11 STEAL), but he's pretty "slow" (6 SPEED).

So, yes, fans are torn. “On the one hand, Bret seems like a good guy,” said Melinda Mays, an engineer who hauls her boyfriend to Nine games as payment for going to football games in the fall. “On the other hand, he makes me want to drink.”

The team is said to be interested in retaining Richards, but hoping to arrange a deal that’s more in the range of 2-3 seasons. The cash is apparently not a major concern.


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