Who would have thought that something said more than 70 years ago couldn’t be truer today? When Leo Durocher said in 1939 that “nice guys finish last,” he might as well have been talking about Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly in 2013.
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Mattingly is the manager of the Dodgers … for now. He will probably still be the man in Los Angeles tomorrow. And maybe even the next day.
But he won’t be for long.
Mattingly will be fired soon, and it’s a shame. He deserves a better fate. We’re talking about Donnie Baseball, for Pete’s sake!
Groomed to manage a Major League Baseball team since he began coaching for Joe Torre with the New York Yankees in 1996, Mattingly is a baseball guy. He is one of the best hitters of the past 30 years.
Mattingly exudes baseball confidence. He looks good in a baseball uniform, which is something that can’t be said for many MLB skippers. Mattingly did an admirable job in leading the Dodgers to an 86-76 record in 2012, his second with the team since taking over for Torre in Los Angeles in 2011.
Mattingly is a nice guy. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you. And he can’t control injuries, of which the Dodgers have had more than their share this season. That being said, though, Mattingly won’t be able to ride out this season of disappointment in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers stink now, as they have all season. A record of 18-25 just doesn’t cut it when the new ownership group shelled out $215 million for the team payroll. Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners didn’t assemble this roster to just give it the old college try.
Anything short of a serious playoff performance this season is going to be a disappointment for Dodgers fans from Rancho Cucamonga to Rochester. That’s why Mattingly had better be updating his resume and tapping into his LinkedIn network.
Every baseball writer with half a Twitter follower is talking about Mattingly’s impending departure. If (when!) the Dodgers make it official and give Mattingly his walking papers, where should they look for a replacement?
I’ll tell you where – about 90 feet from home plate at Dodger Stadium, that’s where. Current third base coach Tim Wallach is the man Ned Colletti should hire to try to straighten out this train wreck of a 2013 baseball team.
Wallach was born about five miles from Dodger Stadium in Huntington Park. He played for the Dodgers and set the single-season win record as manager of triple-A Albuquerque in 2009 by leading the Isotopes to 80 wins.
It has never been a question of “if” Wallach will manage in the major leagues; it has only been a question of “when.” Wallach has been a hot managing candidate for several years and has received several serious interviews.
There may also be discussion about bringing Mike Scioscia back to Los Angeles (not Anaheim!) if and when he gets fired as manager of the Angels. Scioscia and his Angels are actually in the throes of a worse season than the Dodgers, and that’s saying a lot!
With a 13-year track record that speaks for itself, Angels owner Arte Moreno will probably give Scioscia the benefit of finishing the season before a change is made. However, even if Scioscia becomes available, I think the Dodgers’ managerial search should begin and end at third base with Wallach.
I haven’t created the website www.canmattingly.com. I am not lobbying for the Dodgers to cut the cord with Mattingly. However, I am sick of watching my favorite team play listless baseball and continue to lose series after series.
I would love to see Mattingly get mad. I would love to see him look like Tommy Lasorda after his favorite Italian restaurant ran out of linguini. But it’s not going to happen. That’s not who Mattingly is, and I respect him for it.
Mattingly is going to be a successful manager one day. That day just isn’t going to come while he’s in Los Angeles, unless he’s the skipper of a visiting team playing a three-game set at Chavez Ravine.