Don Mattingly, the Dodgers and the avoidable talk of his future
This is what happens when you try to ignore an issue: speculation, reports from sources and accompanying uncertainty.
Those are seldom good things, yet it is where the Dodgers find themselves with Manager Don Mattingly at exactly the wrong time.
Mattingly is in the last year of his contract. And although the Dodgers have an option on him for another year, from spring training through this very moment, his future with the team has been ongoing conversation.
Now comes a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with an indirect quote from a high-ranking Dodgers executive saying that Mattingly will get an extension. This follows up on The Times’ report last Wednesday that the Dodgers are leaning toward bringing him back but would not focus on the contract until the end of the season.
But stories referenced an identified team source, and unless that source is team President Stan Kasten, I’m not sure how much its worth.
And given Kasten’s tight-lipped approach on the topic, it’s difficult to imagine he is the source.
But ultimately it is Kasten’s call, and he has mistakenly refused to address the topic all year. And even if the source is correct, that doesn’t mean the decision isn’t subject to change. Until Mattingly has a signed contract, it will be.
Mattingly has come under criticism for several of his managerial decisions during the post-season, and if perceived miscues should continue, how much of a stretch would it be that it’s placed his future in jeopardy?
This should not be a topic at all by now, but that’s what happens when the subject is not addressed and the decision is left undecided with a team in the post-season. Kasten’s approach seemed to be if he did not talk about it, it wasn’t an issue, which hardly has proven correct. That may have flown with the smaller markets Kasten came from in Atlanta and Washington D.C., but in the second-largest media market in the country, it has been an ongoing issue — one that should not be hanging over Mattingly and the team now.
Nightengale’s story also reported that a player told him that a small group of players had met prior to Game 4 of the division series to complain about Mattingly’s managerial ability, and The Times’ Bill Plaschke wrote that some players were unhappy.
Mattingly is actually very well-liked in the clubhouse, and really, by all who know him. Do players have that conversation if he’d already signed a three-year extension?
It’s a results business and Mattingly did guide them from out of that 30-42 start — when speculation had him being fired any day — and to the National League Championship Series.
The emotion, focus and national spotlight all intensify during the post-season. A time when a team is trying to win a World Series, not deal with an avoidable managerial issue.
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