Just as October marks the start of baseball playoffs, it also means the end for some major league managers, with several more likely to follow.Dusty Baker and Joe Giradi’s exits were long anticipated — albeit unjustified in the case of Giradi, who just might be the National League’s Manager of the Year.But it will be Felipe Alou and Frank Robinson who will be missed the most.It’s not as though their respective releases come as a shock, but the impact they left on the game will last forever.Despite missing the playoffs the last two seasons while managing the San Francisco Giants, a team he once played on, Alou overachieved with a roster of has-beens through the thick-and-thin of the Barry Bonds mess.During the ’90s, Alou was one of the best managers in the majors with the Montreal Expos. In his 10 years as skipper, Alou became the team’s winningest manager, and if it wasn’t for the 1994 strike, who knows if he would be wearing a World Series ring on his finger or not. The Expos had the best record that season, and Alou was named the NL Manager of the Year, but the strike ended all postseason hopes.However, it was as a player that Alou made his mark.A steady leadoff hitter for 17 years who could play any outfield position, Alou was one of many to open the major league doors to Latin Americans as he was the first Dominican to play regularly and is currently the most prolific Latin American manager by any measure.Alou wasn’t the best player — he was a solid player and a three-time All-Star, but the reason he got the most recognition was because he was the best one out of the Alou family. His younger brothers, Matty and Jesus, played around the same time as him, teaming up in 1959 with the Giants to form the first all-brothers outfield. Also, as most probably already know, his son Moises currently plays for the Giants and had the opportunity this past year to have his father as manager. Let’s just hope it wasn’t Alou who taught Moises to pee on his hands to prevent blisters.But as big of an impact Alou has made on baseball, Frank Robinson has left just as big a mark.Nearly three decades after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as a player, Frank Robinson broke the color barrier for managing in baseball as he became the first African-American skipper, leading the Cleveland Indians in 1975. And he wasn’t just a bench man, either. He enjoyed two seasons as a player-manager for the Indians, although he wasn’t very successful as player or manager.After his stint with the Indians, Robinson went on to manage the Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, where he was named AL Manager of the Year in 1989, and, most recently, the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. He became just the 53rd manager to eclipse 1,000 wins, despite never making a postseason appearance.He didn’t have the best career as a manager, but like Alou, he made his name as a player.Already a member of the Hall of Fame as a player, Robinson had a remarkable 21-year playing career. Robinson’s career started off with a bang as he won the 1956 Rookie of the Year award, quickly earning himself a reputation as an aggressive player — what Pete Rose was in the field and the base paths before Rose was even in the majors. He later went on to win the MVP award twice — in 1961 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds and in 1966 when he won the Triple Crown with the Baltimore Orioles, the first player to win the honor in both leagues, in addition to two World Series wins with O’s.But what Robinson will be most known for is coming up short. He ended his playing career 57 hits away from 3,000 and 14 home runs shy of 600 (his 586 career home runs is currently sixth on the all-time list), none of which matters one bit to Robinson. “I don’t have any regrets about anything that happened to me in this game,” Robinson said in a pre-game ceremony speech Sunday. “People said to me, ‘Don’t you feel cheated or slighted that you didn’t get 3,000 hits?’ No. Because I had a great career, came up a little short. ‘How about 600 home runs?’ Nope. I hit 586, came up a little short, but I have no regrets, no regrets, no regrets about this game. All I’ve tried to do is make this game a little better.”Both Robinson and Alou have said they don’t want this to be the end of their respective baseball careers, but if it inevitably is, then baseball fans will have to bid adieu to two who have made this game not just a little better, but a lot better.Michael is junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. To celebrate the great careers of old-time managers contact him at email@example.com.
DULUTH, Minn. – Wisconsin junior forward Brianna Decker emotionally embraced her family and made her way to the podium Saturday afternoon as she became the 15th recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.The award recognizes the best player in NCAA Division I women’s hockey each season – much like football’s Heisman Trophy. Decker was one of three finalists for the award, including Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota and Florence Schelling of Northeastern.“It is quite an accomplishment,” Decker said. “I think it shows a lot about the depth of our program and the type of players that get recruited to Wisconsin. I think we have all-around staff and resources that are phenomenal.”Decker anchors one of the best offensive lines in hockey, playing alongside senior forwards Brooke Ammerman and Carolyne Pr?vost in a unit that combined for 77 season goals. Decker led the nation this season with 37 goals, and her 82 overall points tied for the nation’s best.Decker attempted six shots in the national championship against Minnesota Sunday but did not find the back of the net in the 4-2 loss.She became the fourth player in Wisconsin history to win the award, joining Sara Bauer (2006), Jessie Vetter (2009) and Meghan Duggan (2011). Four Wisconsin Patty Kazmaier winners in the past six years is quite an impressive feat for head coach Mark Johnson as well as the program.“We’ve had a couple of kids go though this arena before,” Johnson said. “Each one, if you look at all four, earned it. Brianna isn’t different than the other three; she went out and continues to grow as a player and continues to develop as a leader off the ice.”Although the Patty Kazmaier celebrates the nation’s best hockey player, Decker said the honor reflects the success of the team more than her individual play. The Greysolon Ballroom in Duluth, Minn. – host of this year’s ceremony – erupted with cheers from Decker’s teammates, a testament to the tight knit camaraderie within this Wisconsin squad.“I honestly don’t think this is an individual award,” Decker said. “Obviously it is given to one person, but it comes from the team and the team makes each player who they really are. I think that is exactly what my team did for me this year.”Johnson said the team held a dance contest after practice last Thursday, calling them an energetic group. That contagious attitude translated to Wisconsin’s play on the ice the season, uniting Decker and the entire Badger team.“If you are going to be successful in this game you have to play as a unit, and certainly players can make a difference, but it takes a group of players,” Johnson said.The success of Wisconsin’s program in recent years, including multiple national championships and Patty Kazmaier award winners also projects a good image to young hockey players.“I think it gives some young girls in Wisconsin some hope either to want to be a Badger one day or play hockey and be able to be successful, like Jessie (Vetter) and myself,” Decker said. “I hope the young girls take a lot out of it and come support our games.”As a sophomore last year, Decker cheered on Duggan – the 2011 Patty Kazmaier winner – never believing she would follow up her friend’s performance just a year later.Johnson believes playing alongside past UW leaders like Duggan helped develop Decker into the player she is today.“With the season last year, and the help of Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight, she understood what she needed to do to make the choice to go to the next level and the type of player she wanted to become,” Johnson said.Decker’s work ethic and will to win can’t be undermined, but she said her award-winning season relied upon support of those around her. “I can’t do any of this without my team, and I give so much credit to them and the coaches because they made me the player I am right now.”