LAS VEGAS -- Brad Ausmus is back. And yep, I’m putting him back on top of these rankings. This is the sixth year I’ve done this and it’s Ausmus’ fourth time in the top spot. Mike Matheny beat him out one year and, last year, because he didn’t have a job, Ausmus was out of the running, ceding the title to Gabe Kapler. Who might’ve won it anyway because Ausmus was starting to get an un-handsome deer-in-the-headlights look about him in the Tigers’ dugout. And, obviously, Kapler is a hunk-a-hunk-a-burnin’ manager.
Ausmus is a new man, however. He’s tanned, rested and ready. Yes, there’s some gray in that dark mane now and yes he’s got some smile lines around the eyes, but that makes things better, not worse, in my mind. Just as a baseball glove or a pair of riding boots gets better with age, so too does a man’s face, as long as the man takes care of himself.
But seriously, Brad: sunscreen. There’s a fine line between tanned, rested and ready and being George Hamilton. You’re good for now, but be careful. You turn 50 soon and it’s gonna be harder and harder to maintain *gestures generally* all that. Especially now that you’ll be in southern California year-round.
Now, on to the other 29. But first, the usual disclaimers:
- No baseball manager is ugly. All of them have inner beauty, I’m sure.
- This is a subjective list, obviously. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will privately judge you for thinking unattractive managers are handsome, but that reflects poorly on me, not you. Let no one besides you dictate your feelings.
- Finally, because some of you will inevitably offer a neanderthal comment about all of this, let me head it off by assuring you that this is merely a list of aesthetic handsomeness, not one of love or longing. I hate that even in 2018 I feel as though I have to say it, but I will say that I am a totally straight man making these judgments. If you find something wrong or amiss with that, I feel sorry for you. There is far too much beauty among people in the world for us to fail to acknowledge 50% of it merely because we’re worried about appearing less than traditionally masculine or feminine. Free your mind, the rest will follow.
1. Brad Ausmus, Angels: Let’s take one more look at this guy:
No, the roses aren’t from me, but tell me he doesn’t deserve them.
2. Gabe Kapler, Phillies:
There is no shame in going down a slot in the rankings. Kapler is still a tremendously handsome man. The thing is, though, I have always given some weight to how handsome a manager is in the job, not just in an absolute sense. Sure, we can look at all of those old pics of a shirtless Kapler on the beach or what have you, but now that he has a year in the saddle, it matters far less than how handsome he is at the helm of the Philadelphia Phillies.
On that score, some of the bloom is off the rose. Top-spot-winning handsomeness requires an effortlessness and carefree demeanor. Kapler’s 2018 season -- especially early on, when he was managing the HELL out of Philly, to the point of absurdity at times -- carried with it an air of . . . desperation? An over-eagerness to impress? As any person interested in a man can tell you, that’s not a good look. That improved as the season wore on, and I’m sure it’ll improve more with more years in the gig, but for now he’ll take a step back and retrench.
3. Alex Cora, Red Sox:
As I do every year, I give the World Series winning manager a bump because with success comes confidence and there is nothing more handsome than confidence. Earned confidence, anyway, and Cora earned his. There are a lot of dudes walking around with a lot of unearned confidence. The born-on-third-base-and-think-they-hit-a-triple types. They’re just snakes.
4. Rocco Baldelli, Twins:
A great many managers now eschew actual jerseys and, instead, wear untucked pullovers or hoodies or something. I don’t care for that, but that’s just how things are now. If we’re gonna let them do that, I see no reason why Rocco Baldelli should be required to wear a cap. Indeed, given how amazing-looking that head is, it would be in his handsomeness-interests to not wear a cap. As a follically-challenged man myself I may be bringing a bit of bias to this, but I think that dome looks fantastic. Rocco Baldelli? More like Rocco BALD-Hell-Ya, am I right?
What? Shut up. Do your own rankings if you’re so clever.
5. Aaron Boone, Yankees:
The same thing that happened with Kapler happened with Boone. You get hired, you’re all boyish smiles at your introductory press conference and you snag number three in the Most Handsome Manager Rankings. Then, however, you meet the enemy, mismanage your bullpen for six months and utterly faceplant in the postseason. See that scowl? That’s not cute. Not even close. But he earned that scowl, and the knock down a few notches in the rankings.
6. A.J. Hinch, Astros: I mentioned managers not wearing uniforms and, instead, going with hoodies or pullovers or whatever. If you don’t think that makes a difference, you’re crazy. Here’s Hinch in uniform, which he usually does during the regular season:
Now that’s a manager you can set your watch to. Lookin’ great!
Here he is in the postseason wearing those ugly-ass hoodies MLB came out with:
Simply hideous. It takes the man down with it, frankly. Wear your uniform, A.J. Looking sharp is always preferable to looking sloppy.
7. Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks:
Lovullo goes up three spots in the rankings from 2017. Not because he got any more handsome in the last year, though. No, he went up because I met him a the Winter Meetings last year and talked to him for a bit and he told me he reads and enjoys this and other NBC Sports websites and if you don’t think I can’t be bought with flattery, you’re crazy.
8. Bud Black, Rockies:
Black remains baseball’s leading Silver Fox. He’s the guy Joe Maddon wishes he was, but isn’t, because Bud is 100% the real deal and doesn’t mess around with dying his hair and crap. Also, if form holds, he’ll show up at the Winter Meetings this week wearing a snazzy sport coat. He’s a throwback. He just wasn’t made for these times. And that’s a criticism of the times, not of Bud Black.
9. Kevin Cash, Rays:
I’ve been underrating Cash for a couple of years now. He’s got a smoldering quality that I don’t think I truly appreciated before. Maybe an alluringly haunted look? What’s haunting him? Maybe the knowledge that his front office is gonna sell off talent for little or no return every year and expect him to work miracles. To his credit, he did it in 2018. If he does it again in 2019, he’ll have to go up to the top five based on tortured angst alone.
10. Mickey Callaway, Mets: I ranked Callaway 18 last year and, my God, did I hear about it. Just a ton of people think I blew that one. It may be my least popular ranking in the six-years I’ve been doing this. So, fine, I reassessed and, yes, I think I probably had him too low. He’s got a strong jawline and nice eyebrows. Still, there’s a limit to how high a Robert De Niro lookalike can really climb, right?
“Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
11. Dave Roberts, Dodgers: He’s won a lot of games and just got a contract extension, but let’s be clear about something: the stressful and, ultimately, unsuccessful playoff runs of the last two years have taken a toll on him. Here he was in 2016:
Here he was this past October:
Maybe a season in which the Dodgers should cruise to the N.L. West title thanks to the Dbacks selling off all their talent will turn that frown upside-down.
12. Andy Green, Padres:
I still think he needs to to ditch the facial hair completely, but can we agree that these colors flatter his flesh tones a heck of a lot more than the boring blue and white the Padres usually wear?
13. Craig Counsell, Brewers:
Counsell is pushing 50 but he still looks like he just rolled up to your house on a BMX with a backpack full of baseball cards and some juice boxes and plans on hanging out in your basement with your kid for the next seven hours. You’ll be like “Craig, are you expected home?” And he’ll say “nah, my mom knows I’m here.” Then you have no idea what to do, whether to invite him over for dinner or what. Then, eventually, he’s coming over even when your kid isn’t there and it’s like, jeez, I guess Craig’s our kid now too. Which, to be fair, is kind of cute in a weird way. But this is the Most Handsome Managers list, not the Cutest Managers list. If it was the latter, Craig would be on top of the rankings, I figure.
14. Joe Maddon, Cubs:
Thank God he stopped dying his hair brown. Remember this from last year?
Perhaps old Joe -- who will turn 65 soon -- is no longer trying to be young hip Joe anymore. That’s probably for the best. I still like his energy, and there’s something to be said for trying to remain young at heart. It just doesn’t wear too well when you try to force it, and I think Maddon has gone too far into forcing it in recent years. If the new, gray, non-spiky-hair Maddon holds for a couple of years he may find himself back up in Bud Black territory, where distinguished gentlemen of a certain age belong.
15. Unknown Baltimore Orioles Manager:
I imagine, eventually, the Orioles have to hire a manager. Maybe he’ll be a real looker. Maybe he’ll be so ugly that general manager Mike Elias will have to shave his butt and teach him to walk backwards. I have no idea. I feel like they do need a manager, though.
16. Terry Francona, Indians:
At one time he was baseball’s most handsome bald manager. Baldelli and Alex Cora are streets ahead of him on that score now. Maybe an update on the glasses would improve matters? This is one area where I think Joe Maddon could help someone.
17. Mike Shildt, Cardinals:
Shildt just turned 50. He’s two years older than Craig Counsell to the month. Yet, if they were actors, it wouldn’t necessarily be crazy to cast Shildt a Counsell’s dad. Say, in some Douglas Sirk kitchen sink drama.
Shildt: “Best get home, Craig.”
Counsell: “But dad, I wanna--"
Shildt: “I said get home.”
Counsell: “Is it . . is it mom? Is she --"
Shildt: “HOME WITH YOU DAMMIT!”
*foreboding music swells*
18. Chris Woodward, Rangers:
I couldn’t find a photo of him from his Rangers press conference and I haven’t seen him yet here at the Winter Meetings, so I’m not sure if he still has the beard he wore with the Dodgers. I assume so. He’s worn some sort of facial hair for years. Which, that’s fine, but I gotta tell ya, he gives me some serious Billy Bob Thornton vibes, and Billy Bob Thornton is as creepy as hell:
Shave, Chris, and we’ll reassess with a blank slate, OK?
19. Bob Melvin, Athletics:
I’m just gonna say that there’s a lot going on with Melvin’s neck and chin and leave it at that.
20. Dave Martinez, Nationals:
This may be a bit low based purely on the aesthetic merits -- he’s not a bad looking guy -- but there were a lot of reports last season about him losing the clubhouse. That’s a hell of a thing to do in your first dang year. I read a report the other day that Martinez plans, in 2019, to focus more on “accountability” from his players, which one can usually read as micromanaging. Can’t see how that’s gonna make anything better. You think Martinez looks a bit, I dunno, hunted and besieged in that photo? Just wait until the Nats start off slowly in 2019 and people who, at one time, talked up Martinez start giving interviews in which they ask why Dusty Baker wasn’t brought back to begin with. Say what you want about the baseball merits of all of that, but we wear our emotions more than we know, and I can’t imagine they’ll wear well on Martinez if that happens.
21. Scott Servais, Mariners:
I feel like I’ve had him too low for a while. He’s a nice lookin’ chap, actually. Nice chin dimple. But since the Mariners are gonna lose 100 games for the foreseeable future, he’s gonna age by about 20 hard years in no time, by which time this spot in the rankings will probably suit him, so maybe we should just save the hassle?
22. Don Mattingly, Marlins:
Don Mattingly has turned into noted actor Chris Cooper so gradually, we didn’t even notice.
23. Ned Yost, Royals:
It’s been a rough couple of years for Yost. In addition to the Royals going from a championship team to non-competitive, Yost suffered an extremely severe injury last year. All of it has to take a lot out of a guy. He seems a lot more haggard now than he was just a couple of years ago.
24. Ron Gardenhire, Tigers:
Gardenhire is over three years younger than Madden. Bet if you asked a bunch of baseball fans who was older the majority would get that wrong. Heck, maybe Maddon was right to dye his hair.
25. Brian Snitker, Braves:
Call me old fashioned, but I think managers should have chins. Everyone should have a chin, but managers are included in that group. Also, Snitker looked way cooler when he had the old soup strainer:
26. Rick Renteria, White Sox:
There is a filter in the Getty Images database that lets you search for the most popular photos of a person as opposed to the most recent. If you do most popular for Renteria, they’re all of him arguing with umpires. I don’t know that he argues with umps more than any other manager, but his most popular photos -- the ones used by media outlets the most -- are far more commonly argument photos than almost every other manager. I think it’s because he’s got big cheeks as it is and when he’s yelling they seem bigger. Between that and the sunglasses he wears during day games, he looks a lot like some old school sheriff giving the business to some greasers or outlaws who think they’re gonna raise a ruckus in his town. Let me tell you what, though, son. There will be NO ruckusses raised here. Not while Richard Avina Renteria wears this badge!
27. Bruce Bochy, Giants:
I used to have him ranked dead last, but I’ve softened on him over the years. He’s way better looking than he used to be, that’s for sure. A lot of guys are like that, actually. In his case, a lightening of the hair has helped him out. Plus -- though he’d never admit it -- he’s definitely tweezing his eyebrows these days. I mean, there’s a shape and a discernible space between them now that was not there 38 years ago:
Mostly, though, he looks better when he looks serious -- a lot of guys are like that too -- and the current state of the Giants lends itself to seriousness.
28 (tie). David Bell, Reds:
While they were searching for their new manager, I feel like someone in the Reds front office said “we need a younger Clint Hurdle!” and whoever pulled the trigger on Bell took it literally.
28 (tie). Clint Hurdle, Pirates: I’ve said it before, but I wanna be clear: I love Clint Hurdle. If David Bell apes him in more than physical appearance, the Reds will have made a great hire.
30. Charlie Montoyo, Blue Jays:
Our bottom two from last year -- Mike Scioscia and John Gibbons -- are no longer managers, so someone has to land here. That someone is Charlie Montoyo.
I know that may seem harsh. And I really hate to do it to a new manager. The older, more seasoned ones seem to take my petty little rankings in stride each year. In fact, I think they secretly like being low on the list because on some level, I suspect, they resent the new breed of young, inexperienced pretty-boy managers and being the polar opposite of them in this totally frivolous exercise is a badge of honor.
Still, these rankings have to have integrity, and this is how it’s gotta be this year. If it makes Montoyo feel bad, hey, maybe the Orioles will hire some Gabby Hayes-lookin’ guy, bumping Montoyo up to 29. It could happen. Is the “Bitter Beer Face” guy from those old Keystone Beer commercials available? What does he think about the shift?
As for the substance, allow me to observe that while Chris Woodward might do better without the beard, Charlie Montoyo might do better with some facial hair. Maybe they can sit down this week and talk about.
All images via Getty Images