His wife said, “This is like coming home.”
They met during spring training at an Outback steak restaurant where she was a manager. “After a couple of beers they wanted to know who I was,” she said. “They asked to see the manager.”
Redmond taking over this club starts out as a feel-good story without question, but will only stay that way if Loria has more patience now than he has shown in making this the team’s fifth manager within three years.
Redmond needs time to succeed, and a chance to succeed. The task is bigger than him and his current players. It also requires that the front office, led by president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, does a heck of a lot better job than it has in terms of drafting and player development. And makes smarter decisions than, say, the Heath Bell signing.
Given the time and the tools, I like Redmond’s chances.
Fundamentally, he has the most contagious thing on Earth, something that doesn’t need to be cured but rather needs to spread: enthusiasm.
Guillen never had it — or at least failed to convey it. Guillen led the league in F-bombs but otherwise came off sour and unexcited, like, I don’t give a [bleep]. That attitude infected the clubhouse.
Redmond will be a positive hire simply if his attitude becomes that of the team.
“I wish spring training started tomorrow!” he said. “To the fans, things will get better. I will give every ounce of effort out on that field. I’m going to create a great environment for these guys so they can’t wait to get to the ballpark and compete. And the fans are going to feel that.”
If this is the new face of the franchise, it’s an upgrade. It matters not if the face of the Marlins is black or white or Hispanic. It matters not if the face talks with a heavily flavored accent or speaks the Queen’s English.
But it does matter that the face of the franchise has a smile on it. Conveys excitement and enthusiasm.
Redmond has an easy, self-deprecating humor, as when he joked Friday that he just joined Twitter and has two followers. “I’m not sure my message is getting out,” he deadpanned. He said he’d spoken to about half of his new players, adding, “A lot of ’em probably saw [my name on caller ID] and let it go straight to voicemail.”
Players will love Redmond, of course, because he is one of them. He knows when to have fun, but also has a respect for the game borne of an overachieving catcher who forged a 13-year career out of effort and love.
“We gotta get back to basics; no sideshows,” he said, perhaps an allusion to Ozzie the One-Man Circus. “When we walk in that clubhouse, it’s all business.”
Redmond’s two sons were babies on his arms in 2003. “They don’t remember the World Series celebration when I took them into the clubhouse,” he said.
That’s reason enough to make another one of those moments happen, and I can’t imagine anybody could want that more than the new man in charge of the dream.