Monday, October 14, 2013


You could almost hear the whimpers of hundreds of Water coolers trembling in most of the now empty dugouts and clubhouses around the league. The various rumors became fact and it was confirmed that Paul O’Neill was interested in becoming the next manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

I myself was of two minds when I heard the news. On one hand my favorite all-time player would be returning to the game. The fire and passion he has for winning would once again be on display if he were to take the wheel of the next Big Red Machine. It would no doubt be a dream come true for the native Ohioan, and a great “local boy comes home” type story for the Reds’ faithful. I get that…. hell I’d even raise a glass and offer up an Irish prayer for Mr. O’Neill on his new endeavor…May the road rise to meet your spikes etc…
 On the other hand, I felt a bit like I did when Donnie Baseball went Hollywood. Yes, Donnie was a career Yankee, so seeing him in that awful Dodger Blue is much more extreme then seeing Paulie in Cincy red and white. After all O’Neill was a product of the Reds’ system, made his Big League debut with the Reds on September 3rd 1985 and even won a World Championship with the club. I’d like to say that makes it okay for me. I’d like to say, “Hey, this is great. I am thrilled for Paul!” But see…I can’t fully say that. To me (and I know it’s seeing the world through Pinstriped glasses) Paul O’Neill is a New York Yankee. 

He became the Warrior battling in the Bronx. World Championships, a batting title, that catch in Atlanta in 1996 on a bad hammy…O’Neill more than earned his stripes and the love of Yankee fans forever. I’d rather see him take K Long’s job, serve and the most volatile hitting coach in the league and then take over for G.I. Joe when Girardi decides he’s ready to step down. I’m not pushing Joe out mind you, just saying O’Neill would be a worthy successor.
The question that has been thrown around is, “Would the Reds be wise in taking a chance on a former player and hometown kid with no managerial experience to his name?” ABSOLUTELY! ROGER THAT! HELL YES!! Paulie was known for being a fiery player, but I think we often forget what a smart player he was as well. He knows the game. He learned from his Father Charlie, Coaches in Little League, High School, the minors... and then Piniella, Showalter and Torrethat’s an education in the American Pastime, ladies and gents. 

One could question if his league renowned temper would cloud his judgment or make playing for O’Neill a nightmare for his young players and veterans alike. I don’t see it. O’Neill may have days, which I am whole heartedly rooting for, where he makes Billy Martin look like Pope John Paul, but he isn’t Billy. Martin was a great manager, but Billy’s demons were his undoing. O’Neill is a much more stable candidate than the late Martin ever was.

I think the Reds’ roster, front office and fans would welcome Paulie’s philosophy of “Be Perfect”. I remember being at a game in late 1999 in the Bronx with my dad. The Yanks had wrapped up the division and Mr. Torre was resting some players for the playoff run. O’Neill played that night and in his first at bat he chopped a ball between first and second for a single. As he stood at first base you could see he was visibly upset with himself. I didn’t understand it. He got on. It was a solid grounder with eyes. My dad said, “He got on top of the pitch. He was looking to drive that one.” That said so much to me. Paulie wasn’t allowing himself to be just good enough. He spent the entire night in the outfield practicing his swing between hitters. Its one of the reasons he is and will always be my favorite. Never let your guard down on the field. Out work the other guy. Win.

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that #21 will be an outstanding manager and one that the Reds would be damn lucky to have. I am not one of those people who has an NL and an AL team…by the way, don’t be that guy. But I will root for Paul O’Neill to be successful at home in Cincinnati. I will still hope one day he might stand on the top step of the home dugout at Yankee Stadium as skipper of the Bronx Bombers… but Paul started his journey as a player in his home in Ohio…why not go home again? Good luck, Paulie. Red or Yankee, you’ll always be the Warrior to me. Sainte’!

--Mike O'Hara, MLB Fan Cave Host, Season 1
   Twitter: @mikeyoh21
"Paulie was always my favorite player."

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