Dodgers’ bosses get points for patience
I don’t know Mark Walter, the Guggenheim guy who runs the Dodgers. We had one phone conversation, and I’d rather talk to Jamie McCourt.
I’ve written off Stan Kasten as a blowhard, and while I really like Ned Colletti, we have our disagreements.
But they all get high marks today as bosses.
I thought after we watched Walter run on the field last season to celebrate a game-winning hit and generally come across as a yahoo fan, he’d panic in defeat.
I thought Kasten would do something dramatic to reassert himself as some kind of baseball whiz. Or at the very least take the opportunity to bring in some pal from Atlanta or Washington.
And I figured Colletti would buy time, shifting focus from the general manager to the manager.
More than anything I thought Dodgers management had no choice and would bow to national media pressure and resume play Friday with a new manager.
It’s disturbing. So many media types seemingly are in a rush to get rid of Mattingly as if he did something to them. Many of these people have spoken with authority, as if they really know the Dodgers’ thinking.
But I don’t imagine Walter is calling USA Today, or talking to the folks at FoxSports.com. Kasten isn’t the helpful sort, and while Colletti knows everyone in the media, he has said there are no plans to dismiss Mattingly. I’ve never known him to lie.
And he knows I am prone to write very bad things when someone does lie.
So why is everyone piling on Mattingly?
I did so when he went ridiculous and said he felt better about his team after losing three straight to the Giants. But if we start firing every coach who sounds ridiculous we will be coachless.
OK, the Dodgers millionaires are in last place — in May. But they are only six games out and in a far better position to recover than the Angels.
In Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, they have the pitching the Angels lack.
As for Mattingly being a bust as a manager, everyone knew he had no experience when he took over. I thought the Dodgers could do better.
But once he was hired, he deserved a chance to develop. Wednesday’s benching of Andre Ethier clearly was an indication he’s developing.
Mattingly’s critical comments of the team and Ethier came a day after being assured by Colletti that he had management’s support.
I’ve been writing it for years: Ethier is the most selfish athlete in town and counterproductive to a team’s achieving success.
I thought the Dodgers’ off-season should have begun by trading Ethier, but that’s something for Colletti to explain later.
Mattingly’s mistake was waiting too long to publicly demand more from his players. Unlike Mike D’Antoni, who blasted Pau Gasol almost before meeting him, Mattingly took the heat.
Whether you agree or disagree a manager should do such a thing, Mattingly is 1-0 as a tough guy.
It’s true Mattingly doesn’t have a lot going for himself other than he’s a nice guy. He’s a former Yankee. His teams won nothing while he was a player, but as a player under such tough circumstances, he won massive respect as Donnie Baseball.
He worked for Frank McCourt as a rookie manager, short on resources, and then took on new management, Boston baggage and great expectations.
Quite the ride, and it’s only May in his third season as a manager; each of his first two years ended with more wins than losses.
Sure, he makes his mistakes. And emailers who know so much about handling the bullpen and the lineup are more than willing to remind everyone.
But it’s May, the Dodgers are a good winning streak away from being back in the race, and so what does everyone have against the guy?
Maybe he never will be a special manager. It’s guesswork right now.
This season he’s managing a team shy a third baseman, starting shortstop and dependable closer.
Will a new manager change that?
I talked at length to Matt Kemp recently. He cannot fully extend his swing. Whether it’s a mental or a physical issue, he doesn’t know. He had two teammates experience the same thing after shoulder surgery, and they have told him time is the only answer.
Will a new manager change that?
How much of a difference did a coaching change make in the Lakers?
There is a feeling in the air it’s only a matter of time before management dismisses Mattingly, appoints an interim field boss and begins the off-season searching for a new manager.
But unless a serious case can be made that all this is Mattingly’s fault, why not continue to show leadership, end the uncertainty and announce Mattingly will lead the team the remainder of the season?
I might even find myself writing positively about Dodgers ownership with regularity, and I never thought that would happen again.
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