(BaseballStL) — Casey Stengel used to say that the secret to managing is keeping the guys who don’t like you away from the ones who haven’t made up their minds yet.
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His point was that if you manage long enough with one team, you’re going to make some people unhappy. That’s the nature of managing; you have to make tough decisions that don’t make individual players happy but give the team a better chance to win.
In the end, being well respected is more memorable than being well liked. Well-liked managers are often called “players’ managers.”
The benefit of being a players’ manager is that everyone in the clubhouse likes you.
The consequences of being a players’ manager is that you WANT everyone in the clubhouse to like you.
Mike Matheny might be a wonderful guy but it’s time he stopped being a wonderful guy and started managing a team that needs a serious lesson in reality.
The St. Louis Cardinals are a talented team playing horrible baseball led by a man who sincerely hopes they start playing better sometime soon but seems powerless to make it happen.
Losing exposes poor decisions and bad execution, like failed bunts which kill innings, questionable pitching decisions and what appears to be a highly forgiving nature, all of which have characterized Matheny’s season thus far.
Bad decisions aside, it is the apparent tolerance of sub-standard baseball that is most troubling.
Awaiting Lance Lynn’s predictable meltdown inning in every one of his starts has become tiring. Watching him walk hitter after hitter with a 3-run lead Sunday night is a nauseating example. He also surrendered a 2-run single to the pitcher after walking a bottom-of-the-order batter and then failed to back up home for the expected throw.
When you have a deep staff, you do not need to accept that level of performance.
The fact that he is one of the league’s winningest pitchers over the past five years would only make a message more potent.
But Lynn is not the only player not hitting on all cylinders. Players bobble balls, collide in the outfield, commit Little League base running mistakes, walk the opposing pitchers, take called third strikes, and show the passion of a dime store clerk. Yet they manage to remain jovial in the dugout, part of that baseball myth of staying positive.
This is a team with arguably the best talent in the National League playing some of the worst baseball Cardinal fans have endured since before Whitey Herzog came to town over 30 years ago. Assuming that it will all magically turn around labors against the burden of reality.
It is time for the man in charge to take control of this team, raise expectations and demand a better effort. Teams don’t play well because they like the manager. They play well when there are consequences for not doing so.
Anyone can manage a team that is winning. It’s time for Matheny to show he can manage one that should be winning and isn’t.