My last post regarding the Tigers managerial change generated more responses than any other post on the blog. There is no question that Tram was a respected Tiger as a player, but for some reason many "fans" soured on number 3 because he was not able to get the team over .500 as a skipper. In the months leading to his dismissal, some of the attacks on Tram became personal. Because of that, I have been asked by many people if Trams legacy has been tarnished or destroyed because he wasn’t able to get it done as a manager.. My answer: not a chance.
My lasting memories of Tram will always include sitting in the bleachers at Tiger Stadium on a cool October afternoon and watching him take Eric Show deep twice in Game Four of the 1984 World Series. Watching him play in six All Star games and winning the MVP award in the ’84 World Series. Watching him win four gold gloves and representing the city for twenty seasons while never wearing another uniform during his playing days. These are my memories of the greatest Tigers shortstop of my time. Three seasons as manager will never erase that.
Do people remember the Willie Mays that hit .211 his final season in the big leagues, or the Hall of Famer who was one of the greatest center fielders of all time? How about the Babe Ruth that hit .181 in his last season with six home runs, or the Bambino who finished with 714 homers and is considered one of the greatest sluggers of all time?
Trams record and legacy speaks for itself and his record as a manager will never change that. Nor should it.
Now that the season has come to an end and we focus on the playoffs as fans, the Tigers front office has already been busy at work sculpting the future of the organization. The first move was to make a change in the manager’s position. Jim Leyland is now in place as the organization’s new skipper. When Alan Trammell was brought in three years ago to manage the club, it seemed like a good fit. The club at that point was very green and a steadying influence like Trammell was what the club needed. In my opinion, Tram was a terrific teacher. Unfortunately for him, the roster three years ago resembled more a Triple A club than a major league team. Things quickly changed. As the Tigers dipped into free agency the last two seasons, the club became much more respectable on the field and at the same time became more veteran oriented. This is why I think the Tigers made the switch at the top. Dave Dombrowski refused, and rightly so, to critique Tram publicly after the change was made. I think it is quite clear though that there is a feeling that Jim Leyland may be better suited to managing a veteran ball club.
Most point to the fact that the Tigers lost 300 games in three years under Trammell. Unfortunately for Tram, the deck was stacked against him from the get go. He was learning on the job with a club that was just not quite big league caliber in the beginning. He never really got a chance to get comfortable in the position, because his team was losing 119 games. Instead of being allowed to grow, he was constantly being asked what it was like to chase the all time loss record in major league history. For all that he has been through the last three years, he handled the final three weeks of his tenure with class.
As is the case in most managerial changes, the coaching staff was dismissed as well. For our part at FSN, I would like to thank Tram, Bob Cluck, Bruce Fields, Mick Kelleher, Juan Samuel, Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish for all they did for us. It was a classy staff.