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Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008

Yost On The Go

Jim Cryns on Sports

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There wasn't a whole lot of middle-ground when it came to emotions regarding Brewers former manager Ned Yost. You either liked him, or you really loathed the guy. Regardless of how you felt, you can't deny the man stuck to his guns and never apologized for his work or motives, even as the door was hitting him on the way out.

Yost took a lot of hits for having the personality of a grapefruit, abrasiveness of coarse sandpaper. He was criticized for being too loyal to his players, failing to call them out when they performed poorly. In the end, with just a couple of weeks left in the season, it's probably just as well the Brewers brass pulled the trigger when they did.

"I came in here and wanted to be a part of a solution to help this club back to prominence," Yost said during a teleconference on Tuesday morning. "We've done that at Miller Park. We've drawn 3-million fans, everything except get this club to the playoffs, and I believe I would have done that."

Whether this club makes it to the playoffs or beyond will require more than a managerial change. The players must shake off the lethargy and start hitting. In his parting comments, Yost was surprisingly forthright and you would be hard-pressed to sense a trace of anger or bitterness.

"My best wishes go out to the Brewers," Yost continued. "We've not played well in the past few weeks. Being the head of the club I had to take responsibility for that. I put my heart and soul into this for six years."

Yost says he's walking out with his head held high. The team was sixteen games over .500 when the axe fell and Yost was confident he was going to lead his team to the playoffs, despite the recent free-fall.

Participants in the television news conference on Monday made it sound like a cordial conversation took place when Yost was fired. Yost saw it differently. He says his butt hadn't hit the couch before they told him he was out.

"I said hello to Doug (Melvin) and Mark (Attanasio,) and Doug said 'we're going to make a change.' That was it. I had no idea what happened the last two weeks." Yost says they didn't ask him any questions in regards to what he thought did or did not happen.

According to Yost, his successor, Dale Svuem, is a heck of a baseball man. "As good as anyone I've met in my life," Yost said, "Dale has a calming influence.

I don't think they could have picked a better guy."

Now that's being magnanimous at a time where he had every reason to lambaste his former employer. Yost had a great deal of empathy for his players while he managed and even after he was canned. "They're professionals, they all play with a lot of passion. They'll get through this. For some reason or another the last two weeks have been tough on everybody. Sometimes you need something to snap you back and get you on track."

It's almost hard to comprehend how a man can be too loyal to his players, yet that was another claim made against Yost. He says he treated his team in the same manner he'd want to be treated. "When I was a player, I appreciated the managers that hung with me through thick and thin. That's been my style.

I understand players are going to be up and down."

Melvin and Attanasio should be applauded for being decisive and acting with the intent of bettering their ball club, accepting of the potential public relations ramifications. "I don't agree with the decision, Yost said, "but I respect the decision. Fair or not fair doesn't matter."

Yost was confident he'd manage again, citing he would even learn from this difficult situation. "If you think I'm going to sit back, laugh and eat sunflower seeds, you don't know me very well."

The September impotence of the Brewers remarkably mirrors last year's pattern. "Two years in a row we have struggled in September. In that vein, I have to bear responsibility somehow. It's my job to get these guys to play the way they're capable of playing it. I'm going to have to delve real hard and long as to why this happened. It can't be a coincidence."

Developing a thick skin behooves both a player and a manager when you are in the big-leagues. Yost says he didn't take it so hard when fans and media ripped on him, but his players were a different matter. "I got more upset when they dogged Ricky Weeks or Eric Gagne," Yost said. "I like these kids, I see how they go about their business. I wanted to help them achieve that in any way I could."

Yost may be gone, but good, bad or indifferent, he won't soon be forgotten.