So I suppose we can officially begin at least one Manager Death Watch in Southern California. Because when you've lost Ken Rosenthal, you've probably lost the Southland ...
I’ve seen the Dodgers twice in person this season, and both times came away thinking that the team would be OK, that manager Don Mattingly would survive.
Now I’m convinced that Mattingly is going to get fired. And the sooner it happens, the better.
Watching Sunday’s meltdown on television, I thought, “Mattingly might be gone tomorrow.” And then I got a text from a rival scout, one who has no particular insight into the Dodgers, but is attuned — like so many in the sport — to the game’s day-to-day rhythms.
“Making the call — Donnie Ballgame will get the axe tomorrow,” the scout said.
Tomorrow is now today, and the axe has yet to fall. Which doesn't mean that Mattingly's job is safe. At some point the manager usually gets held accountable, especially if the manager's in the last year of his contract. Which Mattingly is.
Everybody knows about the lofty expectations for this year's Dodgers. At one point, someone -- and it might even have been Don Mattingly -- quite ridiculously suggested that anything less than a World's Championship this year would constitute failure. But it's easy to forget that the Dodgers spent nearly all of the first half last year in first place. Shoot, as late as the 20th of August, the Dodgers had first place all to themselves. The club's new ownership did what it could, approving and financing the second-half acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Josh Beckett, and Joe Blanton. They spent, baby, they spent!
Thusly fortified, Mattingly's Dodgers went 19-21 from the 20th of August through the end of the season and finished out of the money.
But of course the Dodgers, even after fortification, still had some gaps in the battlements. So management spent even more before this season. And yet here we are again, wondering why the club's not winning more games. And when there's enough wondering, before long there's usually a firing.
Is all of this Mattingly's fault? Hardly. It's not his fault that Zack Greinke got hurt, or that Chad Billingsley got hurt. It's hardly Mattingly's fault that Matt Kemp and Andre Either haven't been good. But as Rosenthal suggests, at some point the weight of the failures, no matter who's at fault, becomes too great for the manager to carry. I might also point out that aside from having a cool nickname, there's never been anything about Don Mattingly that screamed out FUTURE GREAT MANAGER.
Which isn't to say he isn't a great manager now, or won't become one. But it seems that his best chance for that might come with another team, and a fresh start.