If we could all mutually agree upon a lasting impression of Donnie Baseball Manager, all wrapped up in a Dodgers’ straitjacket, what would it be?
How about that awkwardly defiant moment when he defended his honor sitting next a horribly uncomfortable then-GM Ned Colletti after the 2013 season blew up? That tenacity was worth a three-year contract extension.
Then there was the awkward but loyal instance that really no one was to blame – not even himself – for the fact third base was left uncovered during a defensive shift that punctuated the decisive 2015 Game 5 of the NLDS against the Mets. The obfuscation likely didn’t sit well within the current front office boys, who wanted no part of awkwardness when they muttered something Thursday about Mattingly mutually agreeing to leave.
Remember Mattingly’s post-game press conferences, for those who could see them on SportsNet L.A.? They were often a series of shrugs, hand-wringing, hemming and hawing. There was some concern he was going to strangle himself as he rubbed his neck, searching for a simple answer to a question, without a lot of conviction.
Remember some of Mattingly’s in-game confrontations – not just the ones that were on national TV? He tried to appear far more stoic, if not emasculated, as players like Clayton Kershaw or Andre Ethier appeared as if they wanted to wrap their hands around his neck.
That feeling, apparently, was mutual, too.
The Don Mattingly who came to L.A. as a package deal with Joe Torre in 2008 is sent packing after posting one the most impressive regular-season winning percentages (.551) in franchise history, albeit in just a five-year sample.
It’s that nagging 8-11 post-season W-L mark (.421 percent) that did him in. Although, by comparison, Dusty Baker had similar numbers in his 20 years as a manager (.526 regular season, .422 in the playoffs at 19-26), and it’s not far behind Mike Scioscia’s current 16-year-run (.546 regular season, .438 in the playoffs at 21-27).
And those are two guys who fans have mentioned they’d like to see next?
Check the flux capacitor again. You know it’s not 2002, right?
== Mutual inductance, for you Mark McGwire-Big Bang followers, is a basic property of physics that has to do with the magnetic field of two or more coils close together producing some notable voltage.
Let’s at least mutually agree that Mattingly and Dodgers loyalists had no such connection, and there was never going be inductance into a Dodgers Hall of Fan Fame. AC/DC could have held concerts after every game and it wouldn’t happen.
From our vantage point, Mattingly The Manager came across as an affable concierge at a high-end hotel who knew how to use the phone book, sort the mail and be responsible for a set of master keys. He just didn’t make everyone around him real confident that he knew how to use them in an age of cell phones, emails and thumbprint identifications.
“I have a confidence in myself,” we recall him saying when Frank McCourt handed him a primo parking pass in 2011. “I’ve been around the game a long time, not necessarily in the manager’s seat. I know people are going to question it, and that’s understandable. But I know I can do it.”
A guy who watched a lot of Yankees World Series celebrations next to Torre but never came close to one as a player was cool and kind, commanded respect for his baseball accomplishments – which came with that now somewhat ironic nickname.
But something didn’t translate. As a motivator, a leader of a clubhouse with all kinds of factions, one who never could quite figure out this Yasiel Puig deal, he came off as more a caretaker than someone who wanted to take an extra base.
Based on the resume he has built in the skipper department, would a franchise like Washington, Miami or San Diego benefit by taking him in? Perhaps. It depends on their urgency to win versus a dependency to field a competitive regular-season team that keeps their fan-base satisfied.
The L.A. fans, asked to pay far too much more for tickets, food, souvenirs and still get shut out from TV access, won’t keep subsidizing a franchise with an obscene payroll when there’s nothing more than another NL West flag to brag about. It’s a warped, unrealistic scenario that’s been created.
Mattingly just may be the first of several to get swept under the mat because of it.
== So now, despite all the names thrown out there, the 40-year-old Gabe Kapler, by all intrinsic measure-
ments, appears to be the prime internal suspect in succeeding Mattingly?
Whiz kid president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spotted Kapler’s talents back when he played for his Tampa Bay Rays (2009-10), and GM Farhan Zaidi is confident in his metrics know-how and on-field experience.
Born in Hollywood and schooled at Taft High in Woodland Hills, with stops at Cal State Fullerton and Moorpark College, here’s a 57th-round draft choice who grinded out 12 years of big-league playing experience with six teams and both leagues as well as a season in Japan.
Note: Kapler was actually cut from the Dodgers roster by Mattingly after the 2011 spring training camp. Kapler also once helped run a business where Mattingly’s son, Preston, was one of his key employees.
The Malibu resident expounds life values on his website www.kaplifestyle.com. Seen it lately?
There are blog pieces that state: To build a winning culture “you need to clean the gutters.”
“If you want to encourage your athlete’s motivation,” he writes, “don’t praise innate talent. Focus on behavior instead.”
Another one: “Today’s players don’t blindly follow direction. They want to know the answer to the question ‘why?’”
He’s either got a great future as a Dodgers clubhouse motivational speaker or a fortune cookie writer.
== Kapler’s nutrition knowledge is beyond the charts, and his 6-foot-2, 205-pound physique without a shirt might be more striking than anyone else in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
Also, Kapler, who is Jewish and once coached the Israeli team in the World Baseball Classic, has a Star of David tattooed on his left calf with the inscription in Hebrew that translates to “Strong Willed, Strong Minded.”
Now is it easier to see how that could command some respect with someone like Kershaw or Ethier?
== These Utes of Utah, defeated and ranked third in the country, must accept the fact they are as much as a 3 ½-point underdog to the unranked, 3-3 Trojans of USC with a stand-by coach?
Is that enough of an indication for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham that, no matter what kind of team he brings to L.A., the Trojans’ roster will always be considered to be superior and it just might serve him well to look into their head coach opening?
== This was an actual final “Jeopardy!” answer on a show last week: “When translated, the full name of this Major League Baseball team gets you a double redundancy.”
Anyone care to guess how many of three contestants got it right?
The answer is: None. They guessed Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs and New York Metropolitans.
If you live around here, you probably already know that the first part of The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim literally translates from Spanish to English as “The The Angels Angels.” But the “Jeopardy!” answer provided neither that first “The” or the “of Anaheim” in the equation. That had to throw them Einsteins off their game.
Does that mean the literal translation of Los Angeles Dodgers is one who avoids Angels?
== After all he’s done for New York, and raised his free-agent value, there’s no way the Mets drop-kick Daniel Murphy after the season ends, do they? And they will overpay, even if the Baseball-Reference.com, at best, projects the one-time All Star to hit .279 with 11 HRs and 60 RBIs and post a .737 OPS in 2016.
The site also finds historical statistical comparisons for this 30-year-old middle infielder to heavyweights like Todd Walker, Martin Prado, David DeJesus or Kevin Seitzer.
Now you suspect why the Dodgers or Angels might take a pass?
== USA Today’s Christine Brennan poses this three-parter:
Why is Johnny Manziel still on the Cleveland Browns roster? Why hasn’t he been put on paid leave? Why hasn’t he already been placed on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, which is the one place he belongs in the wake of what happened in the Cleveland suburb of Avon, Ohio, on the evening of Oct. 12?
Perhaps it’s all because the Browns have already invested too much in him and can’t afford to throw away a good looking piece of trash at this point in the season. Makes as much sense as anything else in the NFL.
Although there has to be a CFL team just waiting for him to hit the waiver wire.