LAKELAND, Fla. - Sitting around Jim Leyland's office at Joker Marchant Stadium or anywhere for that matter can be quite entertaining.
Yesterday the subject turned to Bill Belichick as we spoke about great coaches.
Leyland, considered by many to be the best manager in baseball, had a brief meeting with Bill Belichick last year when Belichick was visiting Tony LaRussa, but now he wants a more extensive one.
"I don't know why the (expletive) he doesn't stop down here," Leyland said jokingly. "It would be an honor to meet him. He has to be special to do what he's done. I like the way he runs things. I don't think you ever hear it's the Belichick way. It's not his way, it's the right way. That's what I've tried to do bring here. I think that's the way Belichick does it."
Leyland has a small circle of friends in the coaching fraternity which includes Bobby Knight, who plans to visit Leyland soon; Bill Parcells; Tony LaRussa and he hopes Belichick will also be a part of it.
"I think he's tremendous. I think people totally over-reacted to the Super Bowl (handshake) thing. He went over to shake his (Tom Coughlin) hand. What the (expletive) else do you want the guy to do? Everyone knew the game was over. That was silly. I don't know the ins and outs of the other stuff (Spygate). You only know what you read. I thought he handled (the handshake) totally professionally. He shook his hand - there was one second left - silly."
Leyland did say that if another baseball team filmed his signals he would consider that cheating and claims. "I know that it's probably happened. But now everyone is conscious of it." But he also thinks concerning Belichick and the Patriots, "I think people are getting crazy and paranoid." He said he thought Belichick was getting a raw deal.