The modern game of baseball owes a lot to how Earl Weaver managed the Orioles from the late 60s to the mid 80s. For example, Weaver was known for extensively using statistics to adapt his everyday lineup, something that has become a staple in the current game. Saying he ‘extensively used statistics’ is a large overstatement in the current context of sabermetrics, graphs and advanced scouting stats, but Weaver was definitely ahead of his
time in that respect.
What he is most known for is the ‘never waste any of your 27 outs’ and ‘wait for the 3-run homerun’ approach to managing. Weaver did not believe in small ball, he saw it as a pure waste. His style of coaching would have a large impact on the American League for years to come, becoming the standard by which most AL teams have been managed for a number of years. It worked. Only once in 17 seasons did the Orioles finish below .500 under Weaver.
There was actually a time, believe it or not, that the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles were the class of the American League. At this time Weaver’s strategy was challenged by a fast and defensive minded Kansas City team that could run balls down in their large outfield. Weaver admired the Royals for this style of play, but he realized that his team was not built to play like that. His team relied players to merely get on base to compliment his sluggers such as Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell. Weaver would conclude that every team needs to adapt their lineup to the ballpark in which they played. This idea is extremely prevalent in modern day baseball when look at teams like the 2010 champion San Francisco Giants on one end and the current New York Yankees on the other.
No Weaver post is complete without talking about his on field antics, of course. Weaver held the record for manager ejections with 97, until it was recently broken by Bobby Cox in 2007. It is safe the say that Weaver’s ejections were the most flamboyant in the game. He is a now YouTube sensation, in that respect. He once ripped apart an entire rule book in front of an umpire and forfeited a game in Toronto because he felt the Blue Jay bullpen tarp was unsafe for his left fielder.
As General Manager are gaining more power in terms of how a team is constructed and run. And the ‘wait for the 3-run homerun’ approach fading in popularity. I wonder if a manager like Weaver would still be able to succeed in the game today?
Regardless, the game owes a lot to Earl Weaver, so I made a design honoring Weaver. I tried to make it in similar fashion to the Madden 11 cover.
Weaver On Strategy, Earl Weaver
Baseball Anecdotes, Daniel Orkent and Steve Wulf