Well, the Giants have decided to line up their new general manager and their new coach, and though we have neither person’s identity yet, we know this: They will begin their tenure here on the same page. That should be a good thing. Generally, it’s a good thing.
So maybe it’s time for a snapshot at the other eight coach-GM pairings in town: where they rate so far on being copacetic as work partners and also in the success their teams have had. Some are still rated on spec, of course, but hey, that’s half the fun.
Anyway, one man’s rankings. Discussion, discourse and disagreement are welcome — and expected.
1. Lou Lamoriello-Barry Trotz, Islanders
OK, yes, you look at the Metropolitan Division standings and you see the Islanders dead last, as they’ve been for much of the year, and they have an awful lot of catching up to do to get within shouting distance of the playoffs.
Still, you can’t simply discount the first three years of this partnership, which resulted in two appearances in the East finals. The miracle may not come this year, but the miracle has already happened: a GM and a coach with rings already in their safe-deposit boxes.
2. Chris Drury-Gerard Gallant, Rangers
Sure, it’s early. But it’s pretty clear that once the shock of last year’s purge wore off, what has resulted is a team that is pleasing to watch almost every night and has little problem going nose-to-nose with the league’s best. They may not be ready to win a Cup yet, but who’s going to want to face them in the playoffs, assuming they maintain the level they’ve played at through 39 games?
3. Brian Cashman-Aaron Boone, Yankees
Here’s where the pitchforks will surely come out, especially after a 2021 season in which hardly any Yankees fan seemed happy at what was happening, and the start of a mostly dormant 2022 offseason. To which I would reply: 328-218.
That’s the record for the Cashman-Boone duo. And if it may not measure up to whatever championship era you want to cite, it’s still 110 games over .500 and the Yankees have made the playoffs every year. Around here, right now? That’s a gold standard.
4. Leon Rose-Tom Thibodeau, Knicks
You don’t get the sense that these two are spending much time together on the social circuit, and it sometimes seems as if Thibodeau is biting his tongue when talking about some players who aren’t exactly what you would call “Thibs Players.” But the fact is, the Knicks are watchable again after two full decades of being almost unbearable. Both men know what they’re doing. As we’ve learned, that isn’t always a given.
5. Sean Marks-Steve Nash, Nets
Look, we get it: We always tend to grade the Nets on a curve because they have who they have on the roster. And the moment they win the Finals — if they win the Finals, when they win the Finals — they will vault up this list. But we also know that they couldn’t finish the journey last year. There are plenty of reasons to think they’ll have similar problems getting there this year.
Prove me wrong. I really would like to be wrong.
6. Joe Douglas-Robert Saleh, Jets
Still very much in a wait-and-see approach here, but if there are three things that have to make Jets fans optimistic even after 4-13, it’s these: 1) They were far more competitive at the end of the year than at the start; 2) Zach Wilson was playing better in December and January than in September; 3) The GM and coach appear to be in lockstep and they had a good first draft together last year.
7. Tom Fitzgerald-Lindy Ruff, Devils
There have been flashes of hope in Newark, and in Ruff they have a coach who has won 769 games in the NHL and is 167 games over .500 for his career. There is no reason this can’t be a prosperous partnership. It just needs time.
8. Billy Eppler-Buck Showalter, Mets
If we were to do this list a year from now — assuming there are baseball games played between now and then — I suspect this twosome would be in the upper half of the list. But at 0-0 so far, it feels if they have to start somewhere, it’s here. Game on. Whenever the games are on.
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It is possible that when we look back at this era of the Nets, we’re going to wonder how differently things might have gone if they’d hired an established coach and not one who seems to still be constantly learning on the job, the way Steve Nash is. Assuming the Big 3 would have allowed that to happen, of course.
The Rangers being the team that ends our championship-drought misery around here would be some kind of story — and not anything close to something anyone saw coming.
Goodness, Bob Saget was funny. Even if you couldn’t list any of his 50 funniest lines in a family newspaper.
Ron Darling compared Keith Hernandez’s arrival in New York to Mark Messier’s nine years later, and I think he got that exactly right.
Whack Back at Vac
Rich Lilling: While I agree David Wright’s number should be retired at some point, I respectfully think that Gary Carter should probably go first (ultimately, it doesn’t matter so long as they’re both honored).
Vac: I think the door is opened. And I think Carter will follow Hernandez to the wall, same as he followed him to the Mets’ roster.
Jerry Vogel: Now that the Yankees made history by naming Rachel Balkovec manager of Tampa, are they going to change their archaic policy on hair below the collar? Just curious.
Vac: I’m with my ride-or-die, Joel Sherman, on this one: The Yankees can afford to ease up on their hair restrictions across the board.
TruthinNews99: Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly were a blessing to watch in the ’80s.
@MikeVacc: It’ll never be better than toggling back and forth between their games on Channel 9 and Channel 11 (back before we knew what “toggling” was).
Bob Kircher: Mike. I enjoy your writing. Disappointed, however, to see you refer to the Joe Pisarcik play, The Fumble, as that other phrase. There was nothing miraculous about it, unless you consider stupidity and complete incompetence a miracle. It was, and always will be, The Fumble.
Vac: I stand before you contrite, and humbly corrected.