Good morning and Happy Friday to one and all.
For fun I like to look at things from a different perspective and see what others see. We could be talking about politics or the latest TMZ scandal or whatever. There are many situations where people weigh in with their thoughts and gut reactions based only on a fraction of the story. So I thought it would be amusing to pose a scenario below and see how it would be perceived. With a bit of prolonged ado…and some more…alright, now in the immortal words of pop/rap star Flo-rida: here we go.
Since the MLB baseball season has concluded I thought it would be amusing (too soon?) to focus on the ending of the season for the St Louis Cardinals. For this argument I need the reader to suspend any and all knowledge of this past baseball season. Pretend you are a Cardinals fan (if you presently are not) but you have been stranded on a deserted island since about February. Keep in mind that Cardinals fans tend to be very emotionally rooted to this team and live and die with how the Cardinals do. The Cardinals have a rich tradition of winning baseball and are perpetually in the playoff hunt.
The St Louis Cardinals baseball team, which was beset by injuries, lost their highest paid players on both the pitching side (Wainwright) and the hitting side (Holliday) for a large chunk of the season. But in their absences, the younger, unproven minor leaguers stepped in and made admirable contributions. At the All-Star Break, the team had the best record in all of baseball. Fast forward to the end of the season. Most of the injury issues with the team were resolved but from an offensive standpoint, the team struggled for weeks. To finish out the season the team lost six of their last seven games. In a three game series with the Atlanta Braves, the team was completely shutout losing all three games by scores of 4-0, 6-0 and 2-0. These three wins gave Atlanta their 64th, 65th and 66th wins respectively. Following that ugly series in Atlanta, the Cardinals lost three of four games to the Cubs. After a 4-0 win engineered by wiley veteran John Lackey, the team lost the next three by giving up 20 runs and a whopping 10 home runs. The Cardinals Stephen Piscotty in the series, who started the year in the minor leagues, hit three home runs by himself.
So just based on this end to the season for the Cardinals, after being the best team in baseball at the essential midway point, do you fire the manager Mike Matheny? Three ugly losses to one of the worst teams in baseball (Atlanta) without scoring a run and then follow that up with losing three more to end the season against the hated Chicago Cubs who are young but improving. Did the team quit on their manager? Maybe the organization needs a new voice to get the players to play all the way until the end of the year?
OK so reveal…yes you did choose Coke over Pepsi in this blind taste test! Wait, wrong topic. In the above scenario just based on the slanted information given, you might be inclined to question if firing Mike Matheny was indeed the right choice based on the outcome. Now let’s rope in some more of the facts and see if you change your viewpoint.
The Cardinals were in fact the best team in baseball at the All-Star Break – and likewise at the end of the regular season with 100 wins. The team secured the best record before the final regular season series against Atlanta and essentially treated the series like spring training games. The players got to get some live looks and game action but with nothing on the line except maybe pride, the team went through the motions and no-harm, no-foul on the win-loss results. The Chicago Cubs had a stellar season and behind the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates had the third best record in all of baseball. The Cubs defeated the Pirates in a wildcard game to advance to the Division Series which was best of five format. After the Cardinals looked like the classic Cardinals in game one, playing good defense and pitching flawlessly, the young Cub hitters tee’d off the rest of the way hitting home run after home run – including six in a game three 8-6 Cubs win. Somehow Mike Matheny and Company held the team on course (during the regular season) despite significant injuries to the team’s pitching ace, bullpen setup man, starting first baseman and starting left fielder plus perennial underdog part-time center-fielder Jon Jay was injured and never returned to form. Despite all the obstacles, Matheny kept his team together and on the shoulders of a pitching staff kept the team focused and made the most of the scarce run support to eek out win after win.
So based on the full picture, I would not fire Mike Matheny. In the grand scheme of things, he should probably be manager of the year in the National League for the accomplishments of his team and overcoming key injuries that would have torpedoed just about any other club. Kudos to Mike Matheny and the St Louis Cardinals even though they did bow to the Chicago Cubs. lol
Have a great weekend.