Our Hero: Brad Ausmus
What You Need to Know: In a Tigers Meet Harlequin All-Star first I give you - our manager. In his playing days Ausmus was a catcher and enjoyed an 18-year big league career. He made one All-Star team (1999) and won three Gold Gloves ('01, '02, '06). He attended Dartmouth college and while he was never a "superstar" during his playing days, he had a reputation for being a solid player, smart guy, and all around good teammate.
He's probably best known for his tenures with the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres - but he also played for the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers. After retiring in 2010, he coached the Israel national team in the World Baseball Classic in 2012 and was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 which means that yes Jewish romance readers - you could bring Brad home to meet Mom.
His Baggage: The Tigers named Ausmus their manager in 2013 after Jim Leyland retired. This news was met with...skepticism. While Ausmus had stayed in baseball (working as a special assistant in the Padres front office) his leap straight to managing a team that was loaded and primed to "win now" was seen like giving your 16-year-old son the keys to a Ferrari on prom night. Plus, just look at this guy ::dreamy sigh::. The Tigers have always played their best under crotchety old white guys who like to smoke (see: Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland). Hey, I love Sparky and Jim but dreamy isn't an adjective that really applies.
Just how dreamy is Brad? So dreamy that some jokester in the clubhouse last year had T-shirts made.
So dreamy that photos he did for a fitness magazine years ago once again surfaced online. (No, no - feel free to thank me later). And yes, Brad surfs and (at least he used to) lives in San Diego in the off-season.
Honestly, if I didn't know for a fact he was married with grown daughters I would take up stalking San Diego beaches in my free time.
And then last season happened. The wheels fell of the team, we went from first to last in one season, star players like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes were traded away, and everyone started pointing fingers. Rumors started flying and everyone was calling for Ausmus to get canned. Instead? We waved so-long-farewell to our GM and Brad survived to manage another season.
The Proposed Category Romance Plot: The spotlight is shining bright and it's starting to get uncomfortable. As one of the youngest managers in baseball, he realizes how lucky he was to land his first managerial job with a team that was loaded to the gills with talent. The first year was OK, they made the playoffs. Last year was when things got ugly. Fans, the press, everyone seemed to be calling for his job. He somehow survived, but he knows he's on a short leash with the owner - who has one foot in the grave and is ready for a World Series ring already.
So he understands the pressure, the spotlight, the glare of unwanted attention. And while he knows he can't afford any distractions (especially now!) - he can't help but feel sorry for his personal assistant, who is surviving her own public nightmare.
The Heroine: She made the mistake of falling into a workplace romance and it ended very, very badly. Not only did her accountant ex lie to her and sleep with every baseball groupie sniffing around hoping to score with the players - he also got up to shenanigans with the team's financial records. On his way out the door he tried to foist the whole thing off on her, which blessedly - didn't work. When his back was truly up against a wall and jail time became imminent? He decided to go out with a blaze of glory by posting nude photos of her online - some of which landed temporarily on the team's web site. They were taken down quickly, but by that point? The damage was done.
What Category Romance Line?: Oh Brad. Hunky and a protector of damsels in distress? Could you possibly get any dreamier?! I don't think so! A boss/secretary romance merged with a pretend relationship means I think we have ourselves a surefire Harlequin Desire.