It’s in the darkest of moments that a man’s true colors show; Detroit Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus showed his during their grotesque losing skid.
The Tigers were having a hot month in may, treating themselves to a scolding six-game winning-streak. They swept both the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox on the road. Things were shining on the motor city; talks of the World Series now brewed with glaring hope. Every one was confident; Ausmus’s Tigers were the best team in baseball, and Detroit was heading to face the lowly Cleveland Indians. Things were about to get better for Detroit, only Cleveland reversed roles and swept Detroit like dust, sending them into a three-game losing streak and much more perishment. The Tigers continued their tumble, only winning 9 of their next 29 games.
Hope was fading out of Detroit like the color on a worn shirt, Ausmus’s praise was beginning to evolve into criticism, and the aura of a World Series seemed like an ancient dream. The Tigers were a completely different team being plagued by sloppy defensive plays, untimely hitting, and subpar pitching. And if things weren’t already terrible, the Kansas City Royals gained first place in the AL Central Division.
People wanted answers. Ausmus was under the interrogation lights, players were scolded. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer weren’t pitching well. The bats were cold at the worst possible times. Through it all, Ausmus kept his composure like a mayor in the face of angry citizens. He fed them impassive answers, showed emotionless expressions, and kept the same monotonous voice.
Ausmus was even bold enough — or crazy in others’ opinion — to make a joke about beating his wife when asked about how he’s handling these losses. It’s speculated he did that to relieve pressure off the players, shifting the line of fire completely to himself.
Proceeding that joke, the Tigers picked up steam and were back at it again, starting a seven-game winning streak. Detroit currently is 12-2 in their last 14 games. The offense has perked up tremendously, hitting and scoring at crucial points, the starting pitching is rolling smoothly again, and the Tigers regained their crown in the AL Central Division.
We give a manager credit when things go bad, therefore they deserve credit when things go well. Ausmus, a first year manager, refused to crack under the massive amounts of pressure he was enduring. He held his sanity, preventing himself from making crazy decisions to “shake up the lineup” the way fans and media screamed for. He didn’t yell in front of the cameras. He didn’t go on a benching spree and kick certain players to the curb; he stuck to his cool nature, made personal, educated decisions, and pulled his team out of a tailspin. He made a few slight tweaks to the lineup occasionally, based upon statistics he liked.
Being a first-year manager is difficult as it is; enduring a tailspin through it is even harder. Ausmus remained the same, looking like a veteran manager in the dugout. He could have thrown his arms up in the air and threw people under the bus. He could have made major changes to the lineup. He could have benched players, alleviating himself of criticism. But he didn’t. He believed in himself, his players, and his ideas and plans, the way an experienced manager would. The darkest times do indeed show a lot about a person’s character; Ausmus shined the brightest in his darkest moments.