OK, I have to admit that when it became apparent that Don Mattingley was going to be the new Dodgers manager, I was not happy. I wasn’t happy with the way he had handled the job as Dodgers hitting coach. I wasn’t happy with what I perceived as a lack of knowledge about the rules (i.e., batting out of order, two visits to the mound, et al), but mainly I think I felt he was guilty by association with Joe Torre who obviously had “lost the team” somewhere during the 2010 season. Maybe I was too harsh and jumped to conclusions that were inappropriate or even wrong! Long story short: I am putting Don Mattingly back at square one and am going to give him a chance – maybe even a full season free pass!
I had been mulling this over for a while and then Dylan Hernandez came out with a piece today in The LA Times that really did it for me. Before you go any further, read this in it’s entirety HERE. Look, Donnie has really been going through some hard stuff in his personal life. Over the past three years, we know that his 28-year marriage broke up and there were issues with his ex-wife being arrested, and probably lots of issues we will never know. Dylan talks about the “depression” Mattingly suffered and we know that he even took some time off. I’m sure that was a very confusing time for him. Donnie is now getting his personal life back in order and is getting re-married next month back home in Indiana.
I am going to erase what has happened and give the Dodgers new manager a fresh start with a clean slate. According to Hernandez, Ned Colletti revealed that it was Mattingly’s idea to manage the entire AFL season. He evidently felt he could learn from it. I like that! He says he is reading the Umpire Manual and the Rule Book. Great Idea! Hernandez goes on to say:
Mattingly studies voraciously, and he keeps pads on which he has scribbled notes for years. A row of different-colored markers neatly lines the inside of the small compartment on the front of his backpack.
“I’m always writing at night — things I would change, things I would do differently,” he said. “When I write a note, it sticks in my head differently.”
His penchant for details may make him more of hands-on manager than Torre, who had his coaches warm up the team while he entertained reporters and guests.
Mattingly makes his way around the field in the hours leading up to a game, throwing batting practice, watching bullpen sessions and talking to players, all things he wants to continue during the regular season.
“I want to be on the field,” Mattingly said. “It’s a better place to talk to the guys. It’s a relaxed atmosphere. You want to make sure you know what’s going on, not just with the hitters. I really look at a BP as an opportunity to do that.”
Mattingly says he has a clear vision of how he wants the Dodgers to play, and it has more to do with clubhouse culture than tactics.
“Good teams I played on … just the tone that they play with, the energy they play with, how they go about it. When you get it going the right way, you get everyone going in the same direction and it’s a powerful thing.”
Maybe with his problems behind him and with his personal life in order, Don Mattingly will be the Dodgers Manager for the next 20 years and retire to a front office position. Maybe we will mention Mattingly in the same breath with Alston and Lasorda. We can only hope…
Now, if I could only feel the same way about Jon Broxton…
FYI: Here’s a list from Baseball America of all the Minor League Free Agents (Over 550 of ‘em)