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October 13, 2006

Donnie Next Would Be A Mistake

This comment by Michael Kay at the Post's Blog got my attention today:

From everything that I have heard the Yankees are absolutely blown away by how great Don Mattingly has been as the hitting coach, his work ethic and his level of preparedness. I think when Joe Torre leaves, the next manager will be Don Mattingly.

This would be a mistake. When Donnie Mattingly looks into the mirror and asks "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the current most beloved ex-Yankee of them all?" the mirror says back to him: "Duh, it's you - by a landslide."

Don't believe me? Listen to the crowds at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day, Old-Timer's Day, and the post-season when his name is announced during personnel introductions. If you asked Yankees fans born between the years 1975 and 1989 who was their favorite Yankees player, I would bet that 90% of them say "Don Mattingly."

And, when someone is loved that much by the fans, you should never hire them as a manager - because every manager is hired to be fired - and, someday, if he's hired for the job, Don Mattingly would have to be fired. When that happens, the fans will go nuts against Yankees management.

If the Yankees thought the feedback that they got from the fans in 1978 over Billy Martin being fired was bad, they haven't seen anything yet if they hire Donnie and then fire him. The Orioles have never hired Cal Ripken Jr. as manager - even though he is super qualified for the position - for this same reason. You don't put your "gods" in a position where you then have to strike against them. It's pretty much common sense.

This is why I would never hire Mattingly to manage the Yankees - even though he probably has the skills for the job.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 13, 2006 10:06 AM

Comments

Not only do I 100% agree with your rationale that hiring my favorite Yankee (I was born in 1975, by the way) would create a backlash at the time of his inevitable firing, but I also think that when the Torre era ends, that would be an appropriate time to totally clean house and bring in all new voices that don't have the insider status that might be contributing to a sense of complacency in the clubhouse. I'm not saying they should hire a hell-raiser, but I think they should hire someone who has no previous ties to the team.

Finally, and I say this with all due respect to my favorite Yankee...do we actually KNOW that he's qualified? I mean, I watch the hitters' approach some times and I wonder what they're doing up there. Sometimes they look like they can't make adjustments from AB to AB and sometimes they look like they've never seen a major league pitcher before. That might be on the scouting too, but the hitting coach does have to get his guys ready to go and I've wondered about Donnie's qualifications sometimes...

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 10:56 AM

If the Yankees thought the feedback that they got from the fans in 1978 over Billy Martin being fired was bad, they haven't seen anything yet if they hire Donnie and then fire him.
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They'll get over it, like they did when Stengel, Martin, Berra, Piniella, Showalter, etc got fired.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:16 AM

With the hitters, I think you can prep them, etc., until you're blue in the face. But, in the end, when they're up there, there's a good chance that everything you told him flies out of their head. It's a very fast task and not one that allows for much thinking up there.

I think Donnie is a fine batting coach. Great? I don't think you're great until you have a Charlie Lau-George Brett or Rudy Jaramillo-Gary Matthews pelt to hang on your belt.

And, since it's rare for the Yankees to allow someone who struggles to bat often, I don't think Mattingly has many chances to turn an average guy into a star.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:16 AM

~~~They'll get over it, like they did when Stengel, Martin, Berra, Piniella, Showalter, etc got fired.~~~

Raf - if I may ask, how old were you in 1978?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:19 AM

I was all of 4 years old in 1978.

Attendance (avg)

1976: 2M (25,155)
1977: 2.1M (25,964)
1978: 2.3M (28,838)
1979: 2.5M (31,330)
1980: 2.6M (32,437)

Attendance #'s boosted from baseball reference.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:36 AM

~~~I was all of 4 years old in 1978.~~~

I have an advantage on you on this one. I was 16 in 1978. And, trust me, when Martin was fired, Yankees fans wanted Stein's head on a stick. It was ugly - that's why he pulled the OTD stunt to quiet everyone down.

This is why I disagree when you say "They'll get over it, like they did when Martin."

I was there in 1978. The fans didn't just "get over it."

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:44 AM

If Donnie happens to be the best candidate available (and I'm not sold that he is), I hope the Yankees give him a shot. It wouldn't be fair to not hire him just because we're worried about how some fans would react when he eventually leaves. We've seen time and time again how important it is for a Yankee manager to understand NY. I can't remember the last successful Yankee manager who was a complete outsider. I'd hate to see Donnie move on and be a great manager somewhere else, like Willie and Girardi. If he's qualified and ready, then he should get the job.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:44 AM

Wasn't Torre a 100% outsider when he was hired?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:55 AM

I mean an outsider in terms of NY and all the goes along with it. Joe is a New Yorker and managed the Mets.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 11:58 AM

While I don't argue that Martin was loved, attendance had been steadily rising since 1972. The attendance rose during that whole saga (technically, he resigned, not fired, but I say that with a wink and a nudge... lol; it was a firing). If the fans were angry, they had an interesting way of showing it, by going to the park and spending their $$ @ the Stadium.

What happened in 1979, after Martin was fired? 1983? 1985? 1988?

Yogi was pretty popular, too. Took an honorable stance, not talking to Steinbrenner for 15 years. How'd the fans react?

Doing things based on fan reaction is a terrible way to run an organization. Sometimes things need to be done. The Braves eventually traded Dale Murphy. The Dodgers are playing in LA. Frank Robinson was fired by the Orioles. Alan Trammel, the Tigers. Howser let go, after winning 103(!) games. So on and so forth.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:15 PM

I mean an outsider in terms of NY and all the goes along with it. Joe is a New Yorker and managed the Mets.
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Bob Lemon

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:17 PM

Lemon was their pitching coach before he become manager. He wasn't an outsider.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:24 PM

FWIW, Stump Merrill and Bucky Dent were insiders that flopped.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:29 PM

FWIW, Stump Merrill and Bucky Dent were insiders that flopped.
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heh heh heh. Remember Stump's tirade when he got canned? Going on about how the Yanks needed better players (he was right...)?

Dent, fired in Boston, of all places.

Also, Dallas Green was an outsider that flopped.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:36 PM

There's certainly a long line of insiders and outsiders who flopped, but it's been a long, long time since a manager with no experience playing/coaching/managing in NY led the Yanks to the playoffs. If it comes down to hiring Mattingly or a great strategist who's never dealt with NY, I'd go with Mattingly.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:44 PM

FWIW, I've always believed in the Bill James' "Burt Shotton Syndrome" idea. That said, I would like to see the next manager of the Yankees be a bit of an ass-kicker.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:58 PM

I guess the answer is simple:

We need to hire Cal Ripken Jr. and the O's need to hire Don Mattingly.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 01:00 PM

LOL bailey!

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 01:22 PM

"...the O's need to hire Don Mattingly."

Scr3w the O's, after the way they treated Mazilli.

Posted by: TomP [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 01:24 PM

FWIW, I've always believed in the Bill James' "Burt Shotton Syndrome" idea.
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???

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 02:28 PM

98Yanks: When an intense manager is replaced by a low-key guy. Such as Bob Lemon replacing Billy Martin. Or Torre replacing Showalter.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 02:39 PM