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Mike Matheny lost the clubhouse and now he has lost his job

Sunday’s Say Hey, Baseball talks about how things in St. Louis under Mike Matheny had deteriorated to the point of no return.

St Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

For the first time since 1995 when Joe Torre got the axe for poor performance, the Cardinals will be finishing a season with an interim manager after they fired Mike Matheny following an 8-2 loss to the Reds on Saturday night. The dismissal ends what started out as a successful relationship between Matheny and the Cardinals as they made the playoffs in his first four seasons at the helm, including a World Series appearance in 2013. It was a smooth transition from the Tony LaRussa Era and the honeymoon period was an extended one as well! Life was good in St. Louis!

Then in 2016, the arch-rival Cubs officially took the throne as the top dog in the NL Central and things got sour as the Cardinals missed the playoffs for the next two seasons. As of right now, they’re only one game above .500 and a third consecutive season without October baseball at Busch Stadium (which hasn’t happened since the 1990s) appears to be a serious possibility. They’re just used to winning in St. Louis and there hasn’t been enough of it in recent times.

Even with the results in mind, this move appears to be done for the sake of culture instead of trying to judge things purely on win-loss record. There have been multiple stories written and anecdotes shared about just how poisonous the Cardinals locker room has been this season. The two main stories appear to be Matheny’s isolation of Dexter Fowler and his enabling of Bud Norris to just be a general nuisance to other players (namely, Jordan Hicks) in the clubhouse. Harmony in the clubhouse isn’t a guarantee of success but it surely helps matters and when morale is in the tubes, it makes a difficult sport even more challenging.

When you combine his man management skills (or lack thereof) with what could be described as poor tactical management, it’s easy to see why the Cardinals finally decided to cut bait with Mike Matheny. Will it be enough to save their season and avoid that third consecutive playoff-less season? The start of that story will begin next weekend.

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