During an interview with ESPNLA 710 on Wednesday, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly showed signs of cracking under the immense pressure that him and his Dodgers team will be under for the 2013 season and beyond.
"That's tough, because it's not easy. We're going to have to work hard and there are going to be a lot of hills left to climb and we're going to have some low points during the season. For me, it's not fair to guys. They bust and they bust and they bust, then you run into two hot pitchers in a five-game series, they shut you down and they're out of the playoffs. It's tough for me to be down on guys after they battle 162 (games) for you."
Yes Don, it's not fair at all that a team can run through the regular season like a hot knife through butter, and get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs (like the 98 win Nationals and 97 win Reds in this October's playoffs). But this has nothing to do with being unfair to your team in relations to their expectations on the field. The Dodgers already have $210 million in salary committed in 2013, the highest payroll in baseball history. With newly-signed starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu joining 2011 NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers rotation, the Dodgers shouldn't be faced with a situation where a pair of hot pitchers can shut them down...because they have a stout rotation that can go pitch for pitch with the best in the league.
The Dodgers also have an inordinate amount of talent on the offensive side of the game, Five of their eight offensive starters are former All-Stars, and all five of those All-Stars have also finished in the top ten of MVP voting at least once each. This is a star-studded team in a massive market with a huge payroll, and Mattingly is whining about sky-high expectations not being fair for his team. Mattingly should know better as a long-time coach in New York and Los Angeles under former Yankees manager Joe Torre. When you have the perfect storm of an active winter, a large market, a huge payroll, and more stars than the Milky Way galaxy, expectations will be high...as they should. To say that its "not fair" is just silly.
Now, if Mattingly's Dodgers have the second-best record in the National League and are forced to play a wild card playoff game that they lose...then we can talk about things being unfair.
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Mr. Mattingly is correct... no matter how talented we all must play through our minds to get to bats and balls on the field of play. Expectations of any kind, be they high or low... block spontaneous plays hitting and fielding. These guys put pressure on themselves, and they need a source of unconditional love... (acceptance) from somewhere that counts and one of those places... is the manager's office. If Don talked about his high expectations... these guys may look like straight up soldiers... but they'd be intimidated by the stress creaking in their bodies. Baseball and any game... must be fun, free of mind games. Expectations are the game we play... worrying "if my expectations are not met."
It is easy to talk down to a humble man... but every man I ever met who lingered in my memory for the wisdom I heard through his teeth... was humble, not a pompous big shot. Every blowhard... is deeply insecure, acting confident to cover his insecurities. The willingness to look humble... signals inner strength feeling up to the task and not wanting to mess with the breakables.