It’s a familiar tune for Dodger fans – “Fire Jim Tracy!” “Fire Grady Little!” “Fire Joe Torre!”; and the latest version, “Fire Don Mattingly!” (or Mark McGwire or Rick Honeycutt or Chuck Crim).
Is it fair? Not really. After all, these are some brilliant baseball minds we’re talking about here. But whether it’s fair or not, somebody has to be the fall guy – there always is. Just ask Mickey Hatcher or Dave Hansen.
The problem is, it isn’t Don Mattingly or Mark McGwire who are striking out or popping up with runners in scoring position; and it isn’t Rick Honeycutt or Chuck Crim walking the potential tying or winning runs late in the games. It’s the guys who are being paid millions of dollars to hit with RISP or to preserve a lead, yet it always seems to be the managers or the coaches who get the ax.
Now I’m certainly not saying that some managers and/or coaches don’t deserve to be let go, Lord knows that’s the nature of the game, but is it really Donny B’s or Mac’s fault that Matt Kemp looks more like Juan Uribe at the plate this year than the 2011 NL MVP runner-up? Is it really Honey’s or Crim’s fault that Ronald Belisario and Matt Guerrier have almost as many walks as they do innings pitched?
The unfortunate part for Mattingly is that the new Dodger owners went out and spent an absolute fortune and I mean a ton of money to give Mattingly the tools that he needed to field a championship-caliber team, but they are instead getting a sub .500 team that seems to be completely lost. But here again, is it Mattingly’s fault? The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, it is always the manager who is held accountable.
Make no mistake about it, the Guggenheim Baseball Management group knew exactly what they were doing when they decided not to offer Mattingly a contract extension this past spring and allowed the former AL MVP and six-time All-Star to begin the 2013 season, the final season of his three-year contract, without a new contract in place. They are basically holding a gun to Mattingly’s head saying win or you are out of here. And barring some sudden divine intervention, the Dodger manager (and perhaps a couple of his coaches) might want to start checking the Help Wanted ads.
Again, is this fair? Of course it isn’t. But it comes with the territory as a big league manager.
Now, if the Dodgers can continue to play like they did on Sunday, then never mind.