At the Detroit Tigers - Minnesota Twins game the other night, I watched Tiger manager Jim Leyland chat it up for about 10 minutes with a half-dozen fans next to the Tiger dugout. What I found interesting was not the conversation itself (I was too far away to hear it), but just the fact that Leyland bothered to spend time with some diehard baseball fans.
True, these might have been well-heeled season ticket holders, and Leyland might have a vested interest in keeping such fans happy, but then again Leyland could have just as easily stayed in the dugout before the game. However, it appeared to me that this was just one regular guy talking shop with fellow aficionados of the game of baseball.
It is also possible that Leyland has cultivated something of a friendship with these Comerica Park regulars, and that their conversations are something more than a tip of the cap fro manager to star-struck fans. Jim Leyland has developed a reputation as a down-to-earth, old school, and throwback manager, and his willingness to kill some time with these fans is admirable.
This probably also says something of Leyland's delegation abilities. This image was taken about 20 minutes before the Tigers-Twins game Saturday night, and I think Leyland has the luxury of being able to relax a few minutes before the game because his team is well coached and the preparation has been completed.
Of course, given the fact that the Tigers lost 11-0 this night, one might argue that Leyland should have spent more time in the locker room, but the ugliness on the field the other night had little to do with Jim Leyland's managerial skills. Blame that loss on a lackluster performance by starting pitcher Justin Verlander, some shoddy relief pitching, and the silent Tiger bats.