Volume 93, Issue 29

Thursday, October 21, 1999


The Rock smells what's cooking

Hume poses silent threat

No loyalty in the world of professional sports

Post-season nears for rugby women

No loyalty in the world of professional sports

The recent firing of manager Mike Hargrove by the Cleveland Indians begs the question – is there any loyalty left in sports?

The answer seems to be no.

No one has any sense of loyalty left in the world of professional athletics. Oh wait, I'm sorry, there still is a sense of allegiance – to the almighty dollar which is the motive behind Cleveland's move.

Hargrove has helped the Indians win five American League Central division titles and has led the team to the World Series twice – first against the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and again in 1997 against the Florida Marlins.

Although Hargrove was unsuccessful in capturing a world championship, he consistently won during the regular season, packed Jacob's Field and returned respectability to a team whose reputation as a good ball club had dwindled.

The only reason Cleveland made this move is because Hargrove did not deliver the elusive World Series title and consequently the money which accompanies being named champions.

Hargrove lived, breathed and slept Indians' baseball. He also made it through times of bad management, especially when the Indians' front office decided to favour offence over pitching.

His situation is similar to Toronto Blue Jays hitting instructor and former manager, Cito Gaston. Gaston led the team to back to back world championships in 1992-93 and two years later was fired because the Jays were not winning anymore, thus losing money at the profit-hungry ticket window.

The biggest problem with the firing of Hargrove is the fact the team was not in dire straits – it's not like the Indians are a last place team. They have been consistent throughout the time Hargrove has been manager. He has battled through times when management changed the lineup and allowed key players to leave, yet Hargrove put a winning team on the field. Is Cleveland tired of winning?

Hargrove never got enough credit for the job he did in Cleveland, much like Gaston never got any respect for the task he did in Toronto. This can be illustrated by examining the similar criticism which befell them – both managers were said to be handed winning teams.

Regardless of the talent on the team, it takes a manager to gel and perfect the roster. The Baltimore Orioles are a perfect example of a team which was chalk full of talent, but couldn't put the pieces together. Even with the play of outfielder Albert Belle and first baseman Will Clark, the Orioles could not gel as a unit. Consequently, manager Ray Miller was fired.

Hargrove and Gaston were able to take a large group of talented players and overcome any egos to produce a cohesive unit. In the end, however, they were both fired for their efforts.

Loyalty. It is a nice word which appears to have become an illusion in the world of sports. Sports other than baseball have forgotten the meaning of the word as well.

Hockey, basketball and football have all lost a sense of fidelity for their players, managers and coaches. When was the last time a coach retired after leading the same team for years in a professional sport? When was the last time a player spent his entire career faithful to one team? Tough question to answer, isn't it?

The truth is, there is no more loyalty in sports. Instead, money has slipped in its place, threatening an integral part of its existence.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999