Donnie Baseball for the Masses
In a press conference in the Stadium Club, Joe Torre handed the baton to Donnie Baseball as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers after the season is over. Don Mattingly becomes the ninth manager in Los Angeles Dodgers history and the 27th in franchise history.
“There’s no one I feel more secure turning it over to than Donnie,” Torre said. As to what prompted his decision to retire, “during the second half of the year it came to the point where I just felt this ballclub needed a different voice, a younger voice.”
This different voice is someone who has never managed a team full time at any level, however even the Dodgers are confident noting that Mattingly becomes the eighth current Major League manager to do so without prior experience joining Torre, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, Ozzie Guillen, Cito Gaston, Bud Black and Kirk Gibson.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Mattingly said. “I feel like I’m ready.”
However Mattingly made sure to issue a disclaimer. “I’m sure I’m going to make mistakes and probably plenty of them. I know I’m also willing to learn and keep working and working.”
When Torre was first brought to Los Angeles after the 2007 season, it was widely known that Mattingly would also come over to be groomed for the managing job once Torre stepped down.
“We wanted continuity here,” Colletti said. “We wanted somebody who understood our players, understood the situation that we have, the type of team we have and not have to adapt or adjust to that.”
And in keeping with the continuity Colletti and Mattingly agreed on a three-year extension that would keep Mattingly in the organization before the start of the season whether it be as a hitting coach, a manager or any combination thereof.
“When I turned down the opportunity to talk, not that I got the job in Washington, and talking with Cleveland, I had a meeting with Mr. McCourt and Ned Colletti and got the feeling they knew the interviews were coming,” Mattingly said. “The feeling I got from that conversation made me feel good enough to know that they were interested in me. That’s all I needed.”
Naturally with all the adulation heaped on one person, there is always bound to be someone standing on the sidelines hurt. The 2009 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year and manager of the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes Tim Wallach has been primed for the opportunity. However he sounded gracious in the congratulatory remarks for Mattingly.
“Donnie’s put in his time and done all this,” Wallach remarked. “He deserves this. To be honest with you I am happy for him.”
Having said that Wallach is still chomping at the bit to get back in the Major Leagues. When asked if he would prefer coaching with the Dodgers rather than managing in Alburquerque Wallach responded, “Probably, yeah. Sure. I want to be in the big leagues again. Sure.”