Jeff Sullivan has a story up talking about the Don Wakamatsu firing, and in discussing it, has a good discussion about what a major league manager's job really is:
It turns out there's been serious talk about Don Wakamatsu getting fired for at least two months. I know this, because it was two months ago that I emailed a few local media members to get their opinions on what a manager is actually expected to do. I'm just a guy on the outside, some idiot sitting in his office in Portland. The media is on the inside, so they know what's up. They can paint a clearer picture of a manager's true job responsibilities. And by knowing the things for which a manager is responsible, we're then able to seriously consider how he's doing.
The responses I got matched up with one another, and what they boiled down to - perhaps unsurprisingly - is that, above all, a manager has to be a leader of men. It isn't about strategy. It's never about strategy. No manager ever gets hired or fired based on how he answers a question about bunting. It's about leadership, and passion, and determination, and communication, and all those words that, one after another, start to sound hollow until you pause for a minute to really think about what they mean.
It is the manager's responsibility to set a certain tone in the clubhouse. To set the right tone, and to press the right buttons. A manager has to keep everybody focused and determined and aware of their roles. As the last sentence of one of the emails I got back reads, "If all goes well you end up with a club that reflects its manager."
We talk a lot about why it is Ron Washington is still here, when he makes so many baffling decisions during a game, when it seems to us like he's one of the weaker in-game managers that is out there.
But the reality is that you can use the iceberg analogy with a major league manager...the in-game decision making is the tip, the part that the idiots sitting in our offices in Portland or Houston or Addison or wherever can see. Jeff's point is that what matters a whole lot more in evaluating a manager is his ability to, well, manage people. His ability to deal with the egos and personalities of a bunch of young males, the majority of whom make more money than he does, and many of whom have been treated as special and better than everyone else for much of their lives.