Cleveland welcomes former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove back to town tonight when the Mariners visit for a three-game series -- but watch out, Mike! This is BIZARRO Cleveland now!
And poor Mike Hargrove is the perfect manager to return to Bizarro Cleveland. He's been living a Bizarro Cleveland life since leaving the Tribe after the 1999 season. After building up a 1,312-721 record here and rising to second on the all-time wins list as an Indians' skipper, Hargrove has mucked around a couple of baseball backwaters and now sees his career record just eight games above .500. Yep, like a gambler who can't stop when he's ahead, Mike Hargrove has just kept plugging along, first with a bad Baltimore team and now with an equally bad Seattle team. Hargrove's teams have won 74, 63, 67, 71, and 69 games in his last five seasons. He managed Baltimore from 2000-03 and started with Seattle last year. That's a 344-465 record since leaving town. And believe it or not, the Indians own record is 416-394 in those five years.
Apparently, Mike Hargrove is the Bizarro Bill Belichick, who was ripped apart like a paper airplane in a tornado during his time here, only to go to the New England Patriots and become Hall of Fame Coach Bill Belichick by winning three Super Bowls. Or the Bizarro Paul Brown, who was fired by Art Modell in 1963 and then went to Cincinnati, founded the Bengals, and went to two Super Bowls while the cursed Browns went to none.
Really, who puts together a better managerial record IN Cleveland than OUT of Cleveland? Charlie Manuel -- .535 winning percentage with the Indians, .543 in Philly heading into this season. John McNamara -- .427 here, .491 in more than 2,000 games everywhere else. Pat Corrales -- .441 here, winning record everywhere else.
In fact, going back 50 years, Frank Robinson and Dave Garcia are the only other two Cleveland managers who posted better records with the Indians than they did with other teams. And their combined Cleveland record is exactly .500.
Then there's Richie Sexson, the Bizarro Player of the series. Sexson was traded to Milwaukee midway through the 2000 season, following Hargrove out the door. His teams have enjoyed even less success than Hargrove's since. NOT ONCE since Richie Sexson left Cleveland has his team won even 70 games. NOT ONCE!!
So this is the perfect time for Hargrove and Sexson to return. Up is down, left is right, and east is west on the Cleveland sports scene right now. And two prominent Cleveland sports figures who miraculously had more success in a town whose sports God hates than in towns whose sports He doesn't have returned. In these upside-down times, you can expect Hargrove to leave town that much closer to a career managerial losing record, and Richie Sexson that much farther away from 70 wins.