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Why would any team want Mattingly for a manager?

Oct 23, 2009, 4:09 PM EDT

It’s long been assumed that he’d get the Dodgers’ job once Joe Torre retired, but Don Mattingly is in demand and apparently could jump ship now. He’s a leading candidate to take over for Eric Wedge in Cleveland and Jim Riggleman in Washington.
I just want to know why.
Mattingly’s reputation as a fine leader goes back to his playing days. There’s no doubt his teammates had great respect for him, and there was never any reason to question his status as one of the game’s gentleman.
Of course, that leadership never really translated on the field. Mattingly’s Yankees teams made the playoffs once in 14 seasons. That was in 1995, his final year of the bigs. Just a shell of his former self, he hit .288/.341/.413 with a mere 49 RBI in 128 games. He did end up turning in a big ALDS, going 10-for-24 with a homer and six RBI. However, the Yankees lost to the Mariners in a thrilling five-game series anyway. It was immediately after Mattingly retired that the Yankees went on their historic run.
Mattingly essentially took eight years off after his playing career, though he did serve as a spring training instructor with the Yankees. After the 2003 season, he took over as the Bombers’ hitting coach, serving in that role for three years. The Yankees then made him their bench coach, apparently with the idea of grooming him to replace Torre. However, after Torre was fired following the 2007 season, the Yankees picked Joe Girardi as their new manager.
Mattingly followed Torre to Los Angeles, but it was a bumpy ride at first. He was hired as the Dodgers’ hitting coach, but he abruptly stepped down in Jan. 2008, citing family issues, and took a lesser role. After six months, his family issues apparently cleared up, he made his interest known and took back to hitting coach job, replacing Mike Easler.
The family issues, though, have drawn more headlines than his on-field work of late. After Mattingly initially stepped down as hitting coach, his wife was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct for refusing to leave Don’s property. Mattingly later got a protective order. In July of this year, his son Taylor was arrested for allegedly shoving his mother and spitting in her face. He was charged with battery by bodily waste and criminal mischief.
There’s not any evidence out there that Mattingly isn’t the man every Yankee fan who grew up in the 80s admired. Still, it’s hardly unfair to question his ability to manage a family. As for whether he can manage ballplayers, we simply have no idea, since Mattingly had no interest in working in the minors following his playing career. That remains the biggest strike against him. Mattingly has never had to handle a pitching staff, and he hasn’t exactly had the best role model in that area in Torre. His track record as a hitting coach is largely positive, but it’s quite possible that’s the best role for him.

  1. Joey B - Oct 23, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    As a long-time confirmed Yankee hater, I have nothing but respect for Mattingly. Paul O’Neill said it best. When asked about the Yankees success post-Mattingly, he said that all the young players on the team grew up admiring and emulating Mattingly, and so that it was still very much Mattingly’s team, even if he no longer played for them.
    There a lot of players still on the Yankees for 15 years that have developed a style for the Yankees, based on Don Mattingly. His lack of a mangerial background is slightly troubling, but he also strikes me as someone that will surround himself with good coaches, and have enough control over his ego to allow those coaches to do what they do best.

  2. steve - Oct 23, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    That’s why you are a writer and not in a position to hire a manager.

  3. mkeryan - Oct 23, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    I like almost everything you do/write. But this seems like a hack piece Plashke would write.
    Citing him not making the playoffs as a player is weak at best. He was one player on not very good teams most of that time.
    Citing family issues is, to me, really questionable. You are citing only the instances (police reports), not the cause or root of problems. You don’t know his wife’s issues, his son’s issues. Seems like a bad decision to even go down that avenue.
    Talk about his baseball acumen or lack thereof. don’t try to make a baseball team and family life analogous.
    And just for fodder, Andy Reid is widely thought of as a very good football coach despite his family’s publicly known problems. And maybe the family life is what it is because athletes and coaches are, you know, never home.

  4. mkeryan - Oct 23, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    And for the record, I’m a White Sox fan with little to no opinion or input on Don’s playing days, so i have no attachment to Mattingly.

  5. alyce Iavarone - Oct 23, 2009 at 5:38 PM

    It was a pleasure watching Don for many years. As you know his career was shortened because of an injury to his back received by Bob Shirley, an insignificant relief pitcher. In fact, if you all remember, following his escapades, although I am sure he felt horrible about the injury to Don, nobody ever heard of Bob Shirley again. I always felt that Don was positive for the Yankees. He was an excellent 1st baseman and timely hitter, but the teams he was on had players that were scraping the bottom at best. So, the individual who made the comment about Don during those years with the Yankees, cannot possibly think the teams would have been any different when the scouts were finding players who I am sure many do not remember (i.e., Gary Ward?). As to his personal life, that is exactly what it is and should remain and should not be factored into whether he can coach any kind of baseball team.
    Hey, all you critics out there. I think you should try managing a major league baseball team.

  6. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 23, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    The family problems aren’t necessarily a reason not to hire him, though I’d certainly be wary of the fact that he’s previously stepped away from commitments because of them.
    I’m just asking for some good reasons to hire him. He’s never managed a pitching staff in his life, and there’s not much reason to think he’d be any good at it.

  7. Ditto - Oct 23, 2009 at 6:30 PM

    I just did a quick Google search on this so I may be wrong, but Torre, Scioscia, and Girardi all lacked managerial experience before they became managers.
    How does one get this experience? Don’t all new managers lack this experience?
    And the family leave? It is low to be “wary of the fact” that he did the right thing.

  8. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 23, 2009 at 6:45 PM

    All three were catchers and spent most of their careers working with pitchers, getting a feel for when they’re tired and so on. Catchers have definitely had a lot of success as managers lately.
    Unlike the other two, Torre, who also spent much of his career playing third base, wasn’t considered a great handler of pitchers. Of course, he was a pretty brutal manager early on.

  9. Alan - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:24 PM

    Matthew, you are such a hack! It is unbelievable that you bring his personal family issues of children who may be under the influence of drugs, pimps, bad judgement, and other external influences. It is something else to read your trash and the human waste of a writer who could not understand these issues that all human beings have. I hope your family sees you for the snake in the grass that you are?

  10. Alan - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:24 PM

    Matthew, you are such a hack! It is unbelievable that you bring his personal family issues of children who may be under the influence of drugs, pimps, bad judgement, and other external influences. It is something else to read your trash and the human waste of a writer who could not understand these issues that all human beings have. I hope your family sees you for the snake in the grass that you are?

  11. Ditto - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:27 PM

    That’s fair.

  12. JimC - Oct 23, 2009 at 8:20 PM

    I guess the writer is one of those men who knows how to “control’
    women- you beat them until they do what they’re told- right buddy?
    There are psychologically damaged people and it sounds like Mattingly’s wife is one of those. There is no handling someone like that- although he did take the time to try. Resigning as a hitting coach doesn’t mean he would resign if he were a manager- hitting coaches aren’t even always good hitters- he was. Mantle never managed- Mays never managed- the Babe wanted to manage but nobody else wanted him- great players rarely make good managers- they have no patience with ordinary players. Mattingly was a great hitter but since his teams didn’t win, the ego is probably knocked out of him and that would allow him to b e a good manager. The writer of this article however is doomed to be an also ran.

  13. Jason - Oct 23, 2009 at 11:56 PM

    There are not many people or situations where i would blindly say “I’ll take my chances” but Mattingly is one. I was a die hard Yankee fan growing up during his reign so i am obviously biased but Donny Baseball was the incarnation of everything it meant ot be a professional. I say (especially in Washington), wy not give him the opportunity? However, if I was a general manager it would trouble me that he wasn’t wiling to manage in the minors – but if I was a hall of fame quality player I wouldn’t want to spend any time away from the big leagues either no matter what position I held

  14. hop - Oct 24, 2009 at 1:17 AM

    I guess we are supposed to forget how bad the Yankee pitching was during almost all of Mattingly’s career, to blame him for them not winning back in the 80’s is the opinion of someone who just doesnt know any better. Once again one is left to ask how why does MSNBC print this joker’s opinion on anything? amazing

  15. john - Oct 24, 2009 at 1:28 AM

    If teams take on the persona of their managers, then Mattingly would be a terrific manager. He didn’t have the glaring skillset of some of his contemporaries such as Darryl Strawberry, but the one thing Mattingly had that they didn’t was a burning desire and work ethic to become better than his skills would dictate. He was a very low round draft pick with no hoopla but worked his tail off to become what he was. I don’t think it was so much Bob Shirley as the amount of time and effort Mattingly put in on his swing and defence that caused his back problems. I don’t think a Mattingly coached team would ever lose because they weren’t working hard and getting the most out of themselves, Donnie Baseball would see to it.

  16. Mike Hunt - Oct 24, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    The vestibule of life can often be seen from the radar of a young girl in a pink skirt. Matteningly was one of these men.

  17. pool - Oct 25, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    you are a p.o.s…what kind of article is this? Don’t you have anything better to write than hash up someone’s personal life? I think you should sumbit this to the National Enquirer. They looking for junk talent like yours.

  18. Mike - Oct 26, 2009 at 1:06 AM

    I’m pretty sure Mattingly isn’t the first one to have family issues and work in the Major Leagues. Also, there are several managers that didn’t manage in the minors. Joe Torre is one of them. Why not give him a shot?

  19. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2009 at 1:25 AM

    Torre started out his managerial career 286-420 with the Mets. That’s the equivalent of a 66-96 season.
    Of course, he wasn’t blessed with a lot of talent. But talk to anyone who was around back then and they’ll tell you it took quite some time for Torre to become a quality manager. In fact, a lot of people thought the Yankees made a bad choice in bringing him in.

  20. Jeff - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:45 AM

    I think you’re taking cheap shots at the man’s private life. His wife obviously suffers from mental illness and the ability to “manage” (your word) a family is not analagous to managing a team. When you have a deranged, violent, mentally ill spouse, you deal as best you can and suffer the consequences of a situation oyu didn’t create and can neither control or fix. When you have a deranged, mentall ill, violent player, you trade him like the Red Sox did with Manny, and he becomes someone else’s problem. See? Not the same options available.

  21. Jimmy Beantown - Oct 26, 2009 at 10:25 AM

    I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan and you are an idiot for writing something like this. Maybe the wife is the one out of control with her personal issues and the son has emotionally had enough. That isnt an excuse for laying your hands on a woman but dont draw the line to Mattingly as being a bad family manager and therefore a bad baseball manager. What a crock. You must be awfully bored to write something as trashy as this.

  22. Paul V. - Oct 26, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    You have to be kidding me if you don’t think Mattingly will make an incredible manager. You obviously never watched him play. He was practically a manager on the field, during a time when the Yankees’ had several awful managers (see Stump Merrill). Mattingly’s effect on the team can still be seen. Players like Posada, Jeter and Pettite owe a lot to Mattingly who was a great role model for them to emulate. And if it wasn’t for Mattingly, a pretty decent centerfielder by the name of Bernie Williams might not have lasted a year in the Bronx. It was Mattingy who taught him how to hold his ground and fend off the taunts of Mell Hall, who at the time was bullying the young Williams…Just because he doesn’t stick his face in a computer for hours doesn’t mean he can’t manage a game. Mattingly has something called instinct which worked pretty well for a lot of baseball men before the computer age sucked the “gut instinct” out of the game.

  23. Vincent Giannotti - Oct 26, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    Paul V,
    Your comments are right on. Posada, Jeter, Pettite and Bernie owe a lot to the influences of Mattingly. Textiera also admired and emulated him. As far as having no experience in handling a pitching staff, I think he would do fine if he brings in a strong and experienced pitching coach. Would the Nationals be any worse off with him as their manager?

  24. George - Oct 26, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    It’s reasonable to think that Mattingly’s baseball savvy, character and temperment are likely to translate into his being a good manager. It’s reasonable to make the point that he has no managerial experience, so we won’t know how good/bad he can be until he actually tries it. It’s reasonable to question whether his family situation has calmed down enough so that it wouldn’t be a distraction to him in managing. But it’s illogical and unfair to analogize questions regarding one’s “ability to manage a family” (whatever that means) to uncertainty as to whether he can be a good baseball manager. Certainly, we all know of people with difficult family situations who succeed professionally. What should have been a pretty straightforward piece, analyzing the pros and cons of giving Mattingly his shot at managing and guessing how it might turn out, took a wrong turn and ended up looking like a series of low blows relating to a man’s family.

  25. Timothy Rusher - Jan 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    A good background check service is difficult to find.

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