Last weekend I was at a bachelor party in Montreal.
AT&T generously allowed me to pay $40 for 200MB of data that I had somehow used 80% of before noon on Friday, putting me right into airplane mode.
So when a buddy slid his phone across the table and told me to “check this out”, I was genuinely taken aback.
Cardinals fans are many good things. But one quirk that doesn’t really have an explanation is their (our) constant harping on managers.
I just Googled ‘Fire Matheny‘ and it returned 384,000 results. Go to Twitter anytime of the day and you’re going to find Cardinals fans griping about skip. More than one tree has been killed printing letters to the editor that a real human has sent to the paper decrying one managerial move or another.
You almost can’t blame a guy for thinking it’s him against the world.
I’m not here to tell you how to fan.
If you really believe that Mike Matheny is the biggest reason the Cardinals have been languishing a couple games under .500 for over a month now? That’s your right.
I happen to think the Cardinals have a pretty average team and are exactly where I expected them to be at the start of August. The Cubs, on the other hand, are playing up to their potential again.
Combine the two and the chances of a second consecutive playoff-less season are pretty darn good.
You haven’t seen me write a ton about Matheny this season for a couple of reasons:
ONE: He’s a pretty average manager.
Let’s pretend for a second that every manager was put into a draft. Teams drew ping pong balls to determine the order of picks and then they picked their new manager. Matheny would probably go between 10 and 15, right? I think teams would look at his overall record, relative youthfulness and ability to stay on message/brand as plusses.
His deep, passionate love for the bunt? Not so much.
TWO: Even if you did piss and moan about Matheny, the fact of the matter is no matter what happened in 2017, he wasn’t going to be dismissed.
Cardinals could lose out and I still think he’d have a shot at staying on. This particular team just doesn’t fire managers. They haven’t pink slipped a guy since I’ve been post-pubescent.
But let’s not sugarcoat what’s going on here… the Cardinals manager is not super popular.
Next time you’re with a group of friends, poll them.
Ask them how many think Mike Matheny is doing a good job as the Cardinals manager. I’d bet you a drink that the most positive reaction you get is something along the lines of ‘he probably needs more talent’.
- Is he developing the youth?
- Is he creating excitement around the team?
- Is he fixing team deficiencies (like defensive lapses)?
- Is he learning from his mistakes?
My gut is telling me that he’s doing an average job on an average team that is producing average results.
Sorry. Not sexy insight. It is what it is.
The one thing he had in his back pocket, though, was the support of the actual team. He was one of them not long ago and understands the nuances of being an MLB player. He’s a ‘player’s coach’, as they say.
That IG from Molina above?
I put no credence whatsoever in any walking back he or the team has been doing the past couple of days. In today’s social media age if you press ‘post to Instagram’ with the hashtag ‘misinforming’?
You know exactly what you’re doing.
This particular social media kerfluffle will blow over.
Mike Matheny will be at next year’s Winter Warm-Up saying all the right things about ‘being excited for 2018’ and ‘looking forward to proving this team’s mettle’ and telling us how the Birds ‘won’t be afraid of the Cubs or anyone in the NL Central’.
The problem with all that is the Cardinals – barring a blockbuster trade – are going to be pretty much the same team they were in 2018 as they are in 2017. Lance Lynn might be replaced with Alex Reyes. Paul DeJong might be the starting shortstop. Maybe Grichuk or Pham gets dealt for a solid relief pitcher.
The Cubs, though, they’ll still be loaded with a ton of talent. And – barring a blockbuster trade – will beat the brakes of the Cardinals again in 2018.
Mike Matheny’s seat will get hot.
And if he can’t get a Wild Card spot, then, because he’s not all that popular with fans and now the players, he might be fired.
Won’t be because of social media, though.
It’ll be because the Cubs made a decision years ago to not be middled anymore. To not chase the Cardinals with a wish and a prayer. They made a plan, stuck to it and it’s paying off.
And the Cardinals inability to make moves to acquire the right talent to come back over the top will be the undoing of Mike Matheny as manager.
Not Instagram. Not Twitter. Not letters to the editor.
It’ll be the Cubs.
And is that on Matheny?
We are Cardinals fans, so, yeah, we’ll probably try to put it on him.
Photo: God Reports