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Donnie Ballgame Deserves A Fair Chance

Donnie Ballgame Deserves A Fair Chance

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!

The Old and New

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)

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

21 Responses to “Donnie Ballgame Deserves A Fair Chance”

  1. Ken says:

    Amen. The better job that he does and the obvious differrences between him and Torrid will go a long way to improve the Team and disclose that 2010 was a Torrid reminder of staying Too long. Go JoePa.

    Is he marrying that babe that was in the news a year ago?

    If the Dodgers decide that they can afford the Japanese 2B does that mean that we should expect a Gibbons/Hoffmann platoon in LF next year?

  2. Ken says:

    LawDog – How different would it be to have a manager that “Briefs” the games? IRAC anyone?

  3. Badger says:

    Mattingly is from Indiana?

    Uh oh.

  4. lawdog says:

    Interesting thought Ken. LaRussa probably comes closest as he’s a former lawyer, (if he even bothers to make notes on games anymore.)

  5. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I wasn’t thrilled when he was named manager, but said then and since, that he deserves a chance to wipe out my doubts. I read the Hernandez article last night. I also like what Mattingly has been saying, especially with respect to wanting to see mental toughness. And I also know that talk is cheap. But he deserves a chance (as would anyone) to show us whether or not he’s his own man, and capable of running a big league team. Only time will tell. And I agree that he gets the full year to prove himself.

    So, are the Dodgers considering Brandon Webb (see MLB Trade Rumors above)? Not someone I would hang my hat on, but not a bad idea. I believe I’ve said this before. YOU NEVER KNOW.

  6. lawdog says:

    Dodgers Eyeing Brandon Webb
    By Tim Dierkes [November 10, 2010 at 1:27pm CST]
    The Nationals and Dodgers have some interest in free agent right-hander Brandon Webb, tweets Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. We’d heard about the Nationals, but the Dodgers part is news. Webb hasn’t pitched professionally since he made one appearance in April of 2009, as he was sidelined by shoulder surgery. Prior to ’09, Webb was among the best pitchers in all of baseball.

    The Dodgers signed Ted Lilly early, so he’s penciled into their rotation along with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. One more veteran arm would make sense. The Dodgers are also known to be seeking a left fielder and bench players, with another question mark being Russell Martin’s standing as the starting catcher.

    That was short enough I thought it should be posted. Webb had outstanding stuff before he blew out his arm. Chancey? You bet! But McGoo is only going to take chances that are cheap but yet might create “fan interest” like signing Lilly.

    I say grab Webb and hope his arm is now sound. Then grab that Japanese infielder. Spend some bucks on a real power hitting 3rd baseman and hope it works.

  7. Badger says:

    Webb should pay the Dodgers for the opportunity to prove himself. If he wins a game or two, the Dogs can pay him back.

    I don’t think Mattingly will make, or break, the Dodgers. He is immersing himself into a very dysfunctional situation, a tough place to get OJT, but, he is there and deserves a break.

  8. Ken says:

    Looks like the Dodgers are kicking the tires on Bentleys while holding a Moped budget.

  9. Badger says:

    “Bidness as usual” was last year’s slogan. “Payroll will rise” is this year’s.

    Kicking tires on Bentley’s suggests to season ticket holders that the Dodgers are in the market. Sign somebody big and do it without backloading and I will be a believer. Until then, it’s smoke and mirrors.

  10. lawdog says:

    Ya gotta understand the position McGoo has gotten himself into here. He’ got no choice but to go “all in ” on a gamble like Webb and hope he gets a jackpot. He can’t afford anything else. Giving Uribe a Blake kinda deal isn’t going to make the nut with the fans and I think he knows that.

    • Ken says:

      He went All-In 2 years ago and lost most of his chips. Now he has a really short stack, (possible other reason for the divorce). Going All-In now will only result in a small increase in the number of chips even if he wins.

  11. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Got this link from Dodger Thoughts. It appears that Cory Wade and Charlie Haeger are minor league free agent. I would think there’s a decent chance one or both of them could be signed by another team.

  12. Jim D says:

    Donnie boy will have to prove himself to me. Lasorda & Alston were DODGER PRODUCTS ! Donnie boy is a YANKEE product. Yankees do things “different” than the Dodger way (see as in “spending $$$ & buying ballplayers, rather than developing them). He will be on a SHORT LEASH with me. If you were a Brooklyn Dodger fan, you will understand where I come from.

  13. Mark Timmons says:


    Actually, Walter Alston played briefly with St. Louis, not the Dodgers, so Alston really wasn’t a Dodger Product.

  14. Mark Timmons says:

    The Dodgers have 36 on their 40-man roster, including Martin, Theriot, Oeltjen and Sherrill. That could change.

  15. Roger Dodger says:

    A bit more on Alston and the Dodger tradition.

    In 1950 Alston was promoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ top minor league club in Montreal. In four (4) seasons in Canada, he managed many of Brooklyn’s future stars, and his teams never finished below second place. On November 24, 1953, Walter O’Malley named him to replace Charlie Dressen as Brooklyn’s Manager.

    Thus, he started out as a St. Louis Cardinal, but was in the Dodger system long enough to learn the Dodger way and keep it going.

  16. Bobby says:

    i thought hernandez’ article was very well written. i also preferred wallach, but who the hell cares what i prefer?

    now i need to root for him to succeed so our team can get back to where it belongs.

    and i’d LOVE to take a chance on webb as our #5. worst case he flops, and we go with the usual ely/haeger/etc combo. best case he returns to form and gives us an even deeper staff

  17. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    “If you were a Brooklyn Dodger fan, you will understand where I come from.”

    My moniker is what is because I started out as a Brooklyn Dodger fan. Admittedly, I was a Brooklyn Dodger fan when I was a kid, having gone to my first game at Ebbets Field in 1956. Maybe I’m just dense, but I really can’t figure out where you’re coming from.

    Dodger way, Yankee way, who cares. All I want is the WINNING way. And the Yankees don’t develop their own? Cano, Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettite. Where did they come from? Furcal, Blake, Ethier, Manny, Padilla. When did the Dodgers sign and develop them?

    I would have loved for the Dodgers to have held onto guys like Scioscia, and Roenicke, and I hope Lopes comes back. But when you get right down to it, all I care about is winning, winning, winning. And although I am a dyed in the wool Dodger fan, I understand that there is more than just the Dodger way. Whatever gets the job done, that’s all I care about. So if Davey Lopes had been chosen to manage the Dodgers, my leash for him would have been the same length as the one I have for Mattingly.

  18. Badger says:

    One of the first books I read as a kid was “The Dodger Way to Play Baseball” by Al Campanis. I still remember a couple of things from it that I used when I was coaching. It is all about fundamentals and I can tell you the Dodgers don’t do some of those things anymore. I could give you specifics but I think most of you probably know it already.

    There is no more “Dodger” way to play baseball. Brooklyn is right, winning is the only barometer for success, but the Dodgers won by being fundamentally sound decades ago. Now? I don’t know what you call how they played last year – soporific?

  19. Anonymous says:

    I call it Crap-That-Joe-Torre-Created!


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