If you aren't familiar with the former HBO show The Wire, this post will be of no interest. Fans of the show might enjoy this though.
The setting for the late and great The Wire is Baltimore, where the Mets are playing this week. It's cliche to say at this point, but it's the best television show of all time. If you haven't yet checked it out on DVD please do. The show is about the Baltimore drug trade and has almost nothing to do with baseball, although I recall McNulty and Bunk attending a game at Camden Yards. However, the combination of Baltimore, Jerry Manuel the "gangsta", and the imminent firing of Manny Acta as Nats manager had me finding some parallels between recent Mets managers/coaches and drug kingpins of "The Wire". This might be a stretch but it provides an excuse to write about the show.
Avon Barksdale and Willie Randolph
In addition to a slight physical resemblance, these 2 were proud leaders of their respective units. Both earned respect in their early days, Avon as a boxer and young leader, Willie as a solid player and coach. Both had connections -- Avon's father was a career criminal, Willie is a "true Yankee" and was part of Joe Torre's Yankee staff. Despite a decent run in their leadership roles, Avon and Willie's downfalls were partially brought on by stubbornness. Avon rejected confidant Stringer Bell's recommendations to decrease the Barksdale organization's street presence and increase its legitimate business interests. Willie repeatedly stuck by "his guys" and displayed little creativity with his lineups and bullpen management. The fates of these 2 men were similar as far as their respective professions are concerned -- Avon went to jail, Willie got the boot from the Mets last June.
Stringer Bell and Manny Acta
Manny was a coach under Willie before moving on to manage his own team, the Nationals. Stringer was 2nd in command to Avon, and eventually took over upon Avon's incarceration. Both men were open to new ideas -- Manny with sabermetrics and a fact-based approach to the game, Stringer with legitimate business undertakings (note that I use the past tense for Manny, with an assumption that he will be fired by the Nationals). Unfortunately, both intelligent men were in tough situations. Manny's Nationals were a joke, and his bullpen made the 2008 Mets bullpen look like the Nasty Boys. Stringer messed with Omar Little and was screwed over by Senator Clay Davis. At least Manny's end won't be as ugly as String's.
Marlo Stanfield and Jerry Manuel
Marlo and Jerry were beneficiaries of circumstance, ascending to management roles as former leaders were taken down. Much has been made of Jerry's "gangsta" attitude, and I think Marlo is the best parallel. They're both old school, ruthless leaders who have no use for new ideas (in Marlo's case, going legitimate; in Jerry's case, statistics). The 2 achieved decent success in their roles. Neither would hesitate to throw someone under the bus. Any possible snitch in Marlo's circle was usually visited by Chris Partlow and Snoop, and was not long for the world. A fat catcher, slumping right fielder, and promising relief pitcher similarly incurred Manuel's scorn. Marlo's fate is unknown at the end of the series' run, as is Manuel's at this point.
No parallel is flawless but these 3 are at least plausible. I figured I'd ask fans of "The Wire" to decide which character is the best parallel for gangsterous Jerry Manuel.
55 votes total
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