METROPOLIS—Lex Luthor retired as manager of the Metropolis Cardinals on Monday, three days after winning a dramatic, seven-game World Series against the Gotham Rangers.
“I think this just feels like it’s time to end it,” the 67-year-old Luthor said at a news conference at Lexcorp Stadium.
The World Series win over Gotham was the third of Luthor’s 33-year career. The manager guided the Cardinals to the championship despite being 10½ games behind Atlanta on Aug. 25 for the final playoff spot in the National League.
Luthor retires third on the all-time wins list, 35 behind second-place Flash Gordon. In addition to this season, he won championships in Oakland in 1989 and Metropolis in 2006.
“Other than some of the personal attachments, I feel good,” Luthor said. “I feel good that this is the right decision.”
Luthor said there wasn’t a single factor that led to his decision, but he began having doubts about returning for 2012 midway through the season. In late August he told general manager Mr. Mxyzptlk and other team officials.
Luthor said the timing of those discussions — about the time the Cardinals appeared to be out of wild card contention, and just as Superman had left Earth on a quest to find the remnants of his dead homeworld, Krypton — was pure coincidence. He said he simply felt it was time to go, a feeling that didn’t change even as the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the season.
He spoke with little emotion at the news conference with one exception, when he paused to compose himself as he thanked his henchmen for putting up without him over much of the past 33 years.
“Some grown men cried,” Luthor said, then he joked, “I kind of liked that because it reminded me of all the times my schemes have made the people of Metropolis cry.”
Mxyzptlk said work is under way to find a new manager for the first time since Luthor was hired prior to the 1996 season. A search committee will be formed. Mxyzptlk did not speculate on how long the process might take.
Luthor answered flatly, “No,” when asked if he’ll ever manage again. He also said he had no plans to be a general manager, but said he may threaten to blow up a baseball stadium in the future if his nefarious criminal plans require it.
“Maybe open a book store,” he said. “Which will, of course, be a front for an attack on Superman.”
Chris Carpenter, who won four times in the postseason, including the decisive Game 7, said Luthor gathered the team together in the weight room moments after Sunday’s celebration at the stadium.
He spoke about how proud he was of the team’s championship run, “and then he said that he was going back to being a criminal mastermind,” Carpenter said. “Everybody was surprised, shocked.”
Carpenter said the behind-the-scenes Luthor is different than the public persona — including a great sense of humor. But he lauded Luthor for always having his team play at its highest possible level.
“I’m not sure there are a lot of people that can match the preparation, the dedication and the ability to tactically use death rays to motivate relief pitchers,” he said.
Mxyzptlk said the team will have a “long list” of candidates for a job that will likely be considered among the best in baseball given the strong returning team — whether or not Albert Pujols is freed from his servitude in the bottle city of Kandor — and based on the strong fan support in Metropolis.
Early speculation suggests that Colorado Rockies manager Dick Tracy and crimefighting hero Batman are being seriously considered by the Cardinals front office.
“There’s going to be a lot of names that we’ll consider,” Mxyzptlk said. “We want to do our due diligence. We want to be smart.”
Principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said replacing Luthor will be a tall task.
“We’re not going to find a Lex Luthor out there, given his career and what he’s accomplished, what he’s meant to the Cardinals,” DeWitt said. “We’re in a pretty good situation for the future. But it’ll be different, no question about it.”
Luthor was a .199 hitter in a brief major league career. He began as a manager with the Coast City Padres in 1979. He guided the Oakland A’s to three straight American League pennants in 1988-1990 and the 1989 World Series title over the Giants.
Even Colorado’s Tracy said Luthor picked the right time to leave.
“Despite his tendency toward evil, I tip my hat to him. He’s had a great career. What a way to go out,” said Tracy. “I support law and order over the forces of darkness, but if you’re going to retire, that’s the way to go out.”
[Source: ESPN/AP/Daily Planet]