Will the Dodgers Oust Manager Don Mattingly?
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
The clock keeps ticking down the games of Don Mattingly's tenure as manager of the Dodgers. Since the sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves was completed on Sunday, the fans have turned into a collective Salome demanding his head on a silver platter. Even winning two of three against the Milwaukee Brewers can't save him from the mob.
Throughout this season Mattingly has been trying to keep things upbeat only occasionally venting out a little bit of frustration here and there. Then there is what happened before today's game. Mattingly sat Andre Ethier on the bench for the third time in this six-game road trip.
Asked if he was trying to send a message to Ethier, Mattingly replied, "We’re last place in the National League West. Last year, at this point, we’re playing a lineup that basically has nobody in it, that fights and competes and battles you every day for every inch of the field. We talk about it as an organization. We’ve got to find the club with talent that will fight and compete like the club that doesn’t have that talent. If there’s going to be a message sent, it’s going to be over a period of time."
Either Mattingly spoke with the blessing of general manager Ned Colletti, team president Stan Kasten and the club’s new ownership, or his words amounted to an angry, desperate stand from a man who knows he soon might lose his job. One rival GM said it had to be the latter, finding it difficult to believe that upper management would endorse criticism of its own strategies.
“He’s trying to get himself fired,” the GM said upon learning of Mattingly’s comments.
Back on December 12, 2011, the Kings fired their head coach Terry Murray. Offseason acquisitions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne raised the expectation levels of the team, and much like the Dodgers this season they had been underperforming.
Murray was optimistic the whole time, but finally the ax fell. General manager Dean Lombardi had to make the change and was not happy about it.
General manager Dean Lombardi flew in to Boston not only to fire Murray face-to-face but also to reportedly give the team a scorching. “The message was ultimately [the players] are accountable,” a shell-shocked Lombardi told the media in a conference call. “Ultimately the coach had to pay the price.”
People can argue if the Dodgers need a new voice in the clubhouse, whether it's unfair that the injuries will be Mattingly's undoing, whether it's right or wrong that Mattingly gets canned. Every sports writer in Los Angeles who has dealt with Mattingly in person will say what a great guy he is, how easy he is to work with.
But it's clear a change is needed, and unfortunately much like it played out for the Kings it will be Mattingly who takes the fall. This being baseball and not hockey, the move will not spark the team into the playoffs. Instead it will show which players should be cast off and look towards next season.
The only question now is when. Remember this is Los Angeles where it takes hours to tabulate votes seemingly on abaci for an election with historically low voter turnout. So who knows?