Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Jimy, We Hardly Knew Ye

Jimy Williams, fired as the Astros manager, will be missed.

No other manager in Houston baseball history, or perhaps in the entire history of Major League Baseball, had such a knack for irritating the hell out of the sportswriting/sports broadcasting media.

Williams was uncommunicative, uncooperative, grumpy and surly. He never provided the pithy quote, the amusing anecdote, the self deprecating aside that the media loves. The media was lucky to get anything out of him they could put in the paper or on the airwaves. Before and after every game, the media shows up, crying, "Feed us, feed us," and more often than not, all they got from Williams were a few crumbs, never a full meal.

The day after Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice wrote a piece that suggested the Astros should place Jeff Bagwell second in the batting order rather than sixth following the acquisition of Carlos Beltran, damn is Jimy didn't do just that.

I think he did it just to spite Justice, as if to say, "OK, you're so smart, we'll do it your way."

It didn't matter. So far, nothing has mattered. The team is misfiring no matter what batting order is thrown together. Point proven, I guess. Whatever, Jimy.

Whenever KILT sports talk show host Charlie Pallillo would talk about Williams' public relations skills (which is to say, the way he treated the media), Pallillo's voice would instantly rise three octaves, and he would start talking in that squeaky little girl voice of his, which he does whenever he tries to make an emphatic point.

Williams may not have been able to handle a pitching staff, but he had a singular knack for getting under the skin of the sports media, which can't help but favor the sports figure who kowtows to their unique needs. You have to admire a baseball manager who doesn't kiss their asses simply because it's not the recommended approach to success in this media-intensive age.

On the other hand, you don't want to pick a fight with a guy who buys his ink by the barrel, but Williams didn't give a shit, so he was probably sort of a dumb ass in that respect. Oh well, dumb ass or not, every sports reporter from Atlanta to Boston to Houston is gleeful now that grumpy britches Williams has gotten the heave-ho. They won't have him around anymore to give those monosyllabic answers. Win or lose, interim Astros Manager Phil Garner will at least provide better post-game quotes than Jimy. That, however, won't be much of an accomplishment.

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