They once worked in Miami where Detroit is playing this weekend and Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski did quite well there. They won a World Series in 1997 a neat feat they have been trying to replicate since each agreed to help steer the Tigers. A question fitting to ask as the Tigers prepare for a closing series against the Marlins ahead of their fourth playoff run in eight seasons is how much longer each man will remain in Detroit? And what might be their futures either in terms of new job stops or in the case of Leyland as a manager who someday will be considered for a Hall of Fame plaque? Neither has been willing to go much beyond safe diplomatic answers when quizzed. Leyland who turns 69 in December is expected to work for at least one more year hoping before he turns 70 he can bring Detroit a championship that would finish off one of the top managerial runs in history. He is 15th on the career victories list (1769) and could ascend as high as 11th if he were to hang on for two more seasons. Left unsaid but known to Leyland is that if he had not taken a six-year hiatus from 2000-05 he could have added another 500 victories that today would have him in sixth place just ahead of another Tigers manager Sparky Anderson. A ticket to Cooperstown would be his just as the top 10 managers all have earned or will have once Tony La Russa Joe Torre and Bobby Cox are inducted as expected. “He’s a clear Hall of Famer” MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds said this week during a phone conversation. “And you can back it up in two ways: I think his record speaks for itself. And you also have to look at what he’s done with the organizations he’s been with.” Aaron Boone who like Reynolds is a former big league infielder and an analyst for ESPN said Thursday: “I think his longevity and the bookending of his three consecutive division series at Pittsburgh and Detroit along with what happened at Miami puts him in a separate league. If he gets to another World Series it’s (Hall of Fame) a foregone conclusion.” Dombrowski’s situation is both simpler and more complicated. He is happy with the Tigers where he has had freedom and helpful financing from owner Mike Ilitch to craft one of the best brand names in baseball since being hired in 2001. The Tigers win. They are accustomed to drawing 3 million fans which at one time was an unimaginable number in Detroit. They are a model for sustained success in a sport that doesn’t easily allow it. And nothing about their roster or their minor leagues suggests the team is in line for a serious falloff any time soon. Dombrowski is also young enough (57) to wonder if Detroit is or should be his last stop. His profile across baseball is high and accomplished. One World Series championship in Detroit would give him and Leyland titles in each league and while they never admit it they each want that rare double every bit as much as Ilitch wants for a World Series trophy alongside his Stanley Cups.
Tigers' Leyland, Dombrowski building impressive legacy together
Detroit News | Sep 27