When the Cardinals hired Mike Matheny to take over the managerial helm in the wake of the Tony LaRussa retirement, many baseball analysts criticized the move, citing Matheny's "lack of experience". Many of those same analysts felt the Cardinals missed the boat by not pursuing the charismatic and overly outspoken former MLB manager (Rangers and Mets), Bobby Valentine. After all, he had "experience".
When the volatile and egocentric Bobby V landed in Boston in the wake of the September Red Sox Collapse of '11, many baseball analysts thought it would be a good fit, for some reason. I suppose it seemingly made sense to have a manager who is so comfortable being in the spotlight as Valentine; surely he would handle the media with relative ease and charm, while gaining the respect and admiration of his ballplayers; so they thought.
Of course, Bobby V's dumb move of openly criticizing the struggling Kevin Youkilis on a local Boston television station ("I'm glad he walked twice in yesterday's game, so his on base percentage will be higher than his batting average.") is the hot national story for Monday, April 17; however, it pales in comparison to the uproar created by the antics of the Miami Marlins' volatile and egocentric Hispanic manager, Ozzie Guillen.
In an interview with Time Magazine, the outspoken Guillen came across like the President of the Fidel Castro Fan Club (He "loves" him); a move so blatantly insensitive and dumb, an embarrassed Marlins front office hastily suspended Ozzie for five games. Hooray; I wonder if this is what they had in mind when they hired this babbling jackass to take over the helm for the new-look Marlins - with all their overpriced and mostly over-the-hill free agents?
It seemed like a good fit, eh? Surely, Senior Guillen would charm all those Little Havana residents into supporting this weird-looking, fundamentally ridiculous ball club, playing in that weird-looking, cavernous new ballpark; so they thought.
When Guillen returns from his little five-day vacation on Tuesday, it'll be interesting to see what the reaction of the fans will be to Little Fidel's appearance in the home team's dugout. Will they even care? My guess is, there will be little fan reaction, because there will be little fan attendance. When the season ends, and the Marlins are once again the last place team in the NL East, while hardly anybody bothered to come out to the old ballpark to witness those debacles in person; what will be the fate of Ozzie Guillen?
My guess is both Ozzie and Bobby V will be seeking new employment opportunities for 2013; while their former employers will be going back to the drawing board, trying to find another experienced manager to guide their teams deep into the postseason. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, back in St Louis, the quietly confident Mike Matheny seems to be adjusting nicely to the challenge of managing in the big leagues. It helps when the manager knows how to communicate with his players by building mutual trust and respect. It helps when the manager avoids making dumb and controversial comments to the media, too. Over the course of Matheny's first year as manager of the World Champion St Louis Cardinals, there are bound to be some tactical mistakes made; moves that will be second-guessed. That comes with the job description; he'll deal with it well; and he'll continue to improve his managerial skills.
When the 2012 season draws to a conclusion, Mike Matheny's "lack of experience" will have proven to be a non-issue. He'll be in St Louis for a long time; his "experienced" counterparts in Boston and Miami won't fare so well, I suspect.
If nothing else, I'm sure both Bobby V and Ozzie G will provide us with a lot of laughs, along the way.