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Thursday November 19, 2009 12:29 am

AL Manager of the Year - Not Ron Gardenhire

Ron GardenhireAn unexpected travesty has occurred. Mike Scioscia has been chosen as the American League Manager of the Year for leading the Los Angeles Angels to another successful season. His accomplishment overshadows now five-time bridesmaid Ron Gardenhire, whose success in Minnesota goes unrewarded yet again. Gardenhire, who has helmed the Minnesota Twins for almost a decade, is a record five-time runner-up for the award. In that time span, he’s accomplished much more than most managers ever hope to. But it wasn’t always so easy for the 52-year old manager from West Germany. Gardenhire will remain the Twins’ skipper at least through the 2011 season.

His playing career was anything but successful. Picked in the sixth round of the 1979 Draft, he spent five seasons with the New York Mets. Gardenhire played in just 285 games, stroking 165 hits and four home runs for a .232 batting average. His 49 RBI and 57 runs scored are also lows among bench player expectations. He retired after the 1985 season, and from ’88-’90 he managed the farm teams in Class A and Class AA for the Twins. In 1991 he was moved back into the major league spotlight, becoming the Twins’ third base coach for 11 seasons, including their 1991 World Series championship year.

Gardenhire’s managerial record is almost as good as can be asked for. In eight seasons with the Twins, he is 709-588 and has five AL Central pennants, although each time the Twins went to the postseason, they lost in the ALDS, except in his first season at the helm in 2002, when they advanced past Oakland, but lost to the Angels in the ALCS. In early September, 2009, the Twins were a .500 team, almost ten games back of the Tigers, and Gardenhire led the team to an 18-8 finish, forcing a one-game playoff, which the Twins won to finish the season at 87-76.

Yes, the Angels struggled through adversity at the beginning of the year with the passing of Nick Adenhart, but what did Scioscia truly accomplish? He is leading a team to win a division they were heavily favored to win with a group of talented players far beyond any other team in their proximity, which is nothing compared to what Gardenhire did to pull his team up from the ground and into the postseason. While Gardenhire goes home empty-handed yet once more, if baseball ever decides to award an American League Manager of the Decade, the trophy goes hands down to Ron Gardenhire.

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