Seeing the press release stating that Dave Trembley was fired as Orioles manager reminds me of how hard the decision is from the inside and how it affects an entire organization.
I was part of two franchises in the NFL in a PR/new media capacity, the Saints and Falcons. During the time I was in New Orleans, Jim Haslett lost his job after a 3-13 campaign in 2005 in the wake of the forced move of the Saints to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, I was in Atlanta when Jim L. Mora got the gate after some bad seasons.
Coaches know that when they are hired, more than likely, they won’t be able to choose their final day with the club. It’s part of the territory. So are the calls for their heads in every medium after losses or when the team misses the playoffs.
I don’t know Dave Trembley. But from what I’ve read, he isn’t any different than Haslett or Mora. Each of them worked very hard to move up the ladder and get one of a very limited set of jobs in the world. They all were grateful for the opportunity, and even more grateful were the families who supported their dreams.
Today, it’s the families I think of. When you make a change, it’s the wife and children who’ve had to deal with the uncertanty that comes with public speculation. They know it’s part of being in a coach’s family, but it’s not any easier for them to know that their dad or husband is out of a job. Their assistant coaches don’t know if they will still have their jobs when the “new guy” come in. You can feel the stress in every part of the building.
Many of us have had to come home and have the difficult “out of work” discussion with the spouse and kids. It’s no different for a shift worker, a corporate suit or a baseball manager.
Most of the time, the coach knows he’s “dead man walking” when he goes through the front office in the days before a change. People who may have shared a meal, or a joke, with the coach aren’t sure what to say or how to say it. The front office feels different on those days as more doors are closed and rumors run rampant.
Ultimately, the coach keeps going to work and trying to succeed until the boss tells him that his services are no longer needed. And once it’s done, no one is sure how to approach the departing staffers, even if just to wish them well.
We can debate the merits of Dave Trembley’s tenure, his successes and failures. That’s fair in sports and part of the fan experience. Tomorrow, we can debate the next man to occupy the office, and what he needs to do to turn the club around. Today, though, is for taking a moment to thank a decent man for his service and understanding that a change is much more than a press release for those involved.