In a career plagued by years of uneven results and dubious accomplishments, former Milwaukee Brewers manager and 43rd President of the United States George W. Bush has led the resurgent Kansas City Royals to their best season in years.
Bush, 67, who manages under the pseudonym “Ned Yost”, employed his trademark “manage-from-the-gut” leadership style to motivate the underdog team, which includes a mixture of blossoming young talents such as Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, veterans Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, and the stabilizing presence of a key off-season acquisition, pitcher James “Big Game James” Shields.
Bush, a journeyman player who enjoyed a brief career as a major league catcher, held a variety of jobs before ultimately achieving his dream of becoming a major league manager in 2002. In addition to a short stint as a taxidermist, Bush also served as a coach for the Atlanta Braves, spent several years as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, and was elected President of the United States in 2000, in a controversial vote ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
The Bush years in Milwaukee began with optimism, and a gradual turnaround of the moribund franchise led observers to speculate that playoff success was imminent. Over time, however, the team consistently failed to live up to the expectations of fans and ownership. Furthermore, Bush’s game and personnel management decisions became increasingly erratic and bizarre, until he was finally replaced in September 2008, just weeks before the team would ultimately make the playoffs under the leadership of interim manger Dale Sveum.
“Yup, 2008 was a rough year for me, a real double-whammy”, the Connecticut native recalled. “First of all, the Brewers fired me when we were on the cusp of the playoffs. Then, I found out I wasn’t gonna be presidenting in the 2009 season. I bet I’m the only guy who ever got fired from two jobs within a week.”
While managing the Brewers, Bush always maintained that the largely ceremonial functions of the presidency did not distract him from his managerial duties. Nonetheless, in the interval between managerial jobs, the reflective, introspective man came to realize that the frequent travel, reading from teleprompters, and remembering of stranger’s names required of the position gradually wore him down over of the course of the grueling six-month baseball schedule.
“It wasn’t so bad. I had a good assistant president, Dick, who did most of the work anyway. He actually wanted to do it, so I figured ‘Hey buddy, knock yourself out’. I mean there was some stuff I had to do, Dick had a bum ticker, but I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, over time it gets to you, you know?”
“Ain’t none of us getting any younger”, he added sagely.
When he accepted the Royals job, Bush vowed to learn from his previous experience and to not take on too much responsibility, and to better prioritize his day to day activities. One thing that has not changed about the veteran baseball man, however, is his boyish love of the game.
Following every home victory, Bush still performs his traditional “victory lap”, originally started in 2003, in which he circles Kauffman Stadium in a golf cart, with a streaming “Mission Accomplished” banner waving in the breeze.
Despite a largely successfully 2013, as the season concluded, the Royals playoff hopes and fan goodwill were squandered following a series of disastrous excursions into the hostile territories of Detroit, Cleveland, and Texas.
These debacles, marred by gross mismanagement of game situations, hubris, and ill-conceived strategy, threatened to destroy the American League’s credibility and forever jeopardize the Royals presence on the World Series stage.