Jim Leyland thought some changes might be good for himself and the Pittsburgh Pirates this year.
So he stopped screaming at his players, stopped smoking cigarettes and stopped drinking coffee. Calmed down, he then charged up his team and turned the Pirates from a fifth-place club into division champions.On Wednesday, Leyland was rewarded with the National League Manager of the Year award.
"Sure, I'd thought about having a chance to win it," he said at Three Rivers Stadium soon after receiving the honor. "But it still was a shock. It was an unbelievable feeling."
Not much was expected from the Pirates this season after they went 74-88 in 1989. But they bounced back to become contenders, held up to the pressure of a stretch drive and held off the New York Mets in September to win the National League East. Pittsburgh finished 95-67, second-best in baseball to Oakland's 103-59.
Leading the way was Leyland, regarded as one of the most intense men in the majors. He was just as serious and studious this season, although he showed it in other ways.
"I took a little bit of a different approach. Everybody in the world has to make adjustments," Leyland said. "I stayed a little more low-key and I disciplined myself more.
"I think they were tired of hearing me yelling all the time and seeing hamburgers go flying across the clubhouse," he said. "I thought this club was at a point where it was important to keep things low-key and let the players stay focused on what they had to do."
Leyland had Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla for offense, but did not have a set starting rotation or a relief ace. Leyland juggled his staff and 18 pitchers wound up winning games.
Leyland got 17 of the 24 first-place votes and finished with 99 points. Lou Piniella, who led Cincinnati past Pittsburgh in the playoffs and sent the Reds to a sweep of Oakland in the World Series, got three first-place votes and was second with 49 points.