It has been reported that the Nationals have asked for permission to speak with Don Mattingly, hitting coach of the Dodgers, former manager-in-waiting of the Yankees, former Yankee’s captain, and former best player in baseball for a few years. And if not for a bad back, he was on his way to being a surefire HOFer. What would he bring to the team?
I was living in New York City during the Torre->Girardi transition, and at the time Mattingly was considered the frontrunner for the job. He is extremely popular among Yankees fans, rivaling Jeter in how much affirmation they pour out for him. Many fans remember what he did from 1984-1989, when he was a dominating hitter. That, coupled with his tutelage under the Joe Torre management regime, made him the perceived #1 candidate to be the next manager of the Yankees to most of the fanbase, especially after Willie Randolph left to manage the Mets. It all changed, however, on that fateful night in Cleveland, when Joba was covered in bugs and blew a 1-0 lead.
Ok, maybe not, the Indians only tied the game in that inning, and with a win, NY would have only tied the LDS 1-1. Saying that changed the course of history is like saying Jeffrey Maier killed the O’s despite the fact that the HR only tied the game, it was only the 8th inning, and it was only GAME 1! Shouldn’t putting Armando Benitez on the field in a high leverage moment be enough to disqualify them? Regardless, many people in New York, who were already clamoring for a new manager after 6 years of playoff ousters, pointed to the moment as a reason to get rid of Torre. Torre himself said not pulling his team off the field during the attack of the killer midges was a big mistake. The result – the Yankees dragged their feet, offered him only a one year deal (still making him the highest paid manager in the majors), and he turned them down
Why is this all important?
It’s very important, because Don Mattingly then came in to the picture as the replacements. But he was subsequently passed up for the job, and left town with Torre. Read the rest of this entry »