Sometimes, you can easily tell that a player will be a great candidate for managing soon after his playing days are done. Mike Matheny was definitely one of those guys. His first year as manger of the St. Louis Cardinals was a success. He finished fifth in NL Manager of the Year voting, and could have been higher.
It isn’t the way he looks out of his shades that make him the perfect fit for managing the Cardinals either. It’s everything else.
To sum it up, what makes Matheny the right man for manager is the little things. More to the point, he stresses the little things. One thing he said was that baseball is always baseball. No matter what level you are playing or how famous you might be, the fundamentals are the same.
You teach it the same, practice the same, and treat the game the same. It is clear when he said that, in not so many words, that he really believes and lives it. The team had a bunt derby, for goodness sake. Who would do that but someone who knew how important fundamentals were?
Sure, those big guys can come in and smash balls during batting practice, but doing the little things correctly is the kind of stuff that wins games, series and championships.
I’m not saying the Cardinals are going to win the World Series this year. What I am saying is that if they ever decide that in St. Louis that the Cardinals are better off without Matheny managing their team, I would love to see him managing a favorite team of mine.
He’s a good guy, and has a great mind and great respect for the game – what more can you ask for in a manager?