The 10 Greatest Moments During Don Mattingly’s Time With Dodgers
The 10 Greatest Moments During Don Mattingly's Time With Dodgers
Recently the Los Angeles Dodgers officially extended the contract of manager Don Mattingly through the end of the 2016 season. There was some uncertainty a couple of months ago whether or not the two sides would be able to work something out in the way of an extension. For some reason there is a school of thought that someone with a huge payroll should be able to lead his team to a World Series win or he is a failure as a manager.
I don’t understand why something as difficult as winning it all, the ultimate prize in the game of baseball, can be the measuring stick for seasonal success. Even the best managers of the last few decades know the real goal is to win the regular season and just enjoy the postseason. Tony LaRusa is just one of many legendary skippers that share that ideal. In that way the turnaround that the Dodgers had during the 2013 season should have stamped his ticket for a long term deal.
Why it is only a couple of years are assumedly because they want to keep options open to changing a manager. Oddly enough I would think the Dodgers would understand the value of keeping a manager for a long time better than anyone. The Dodgers have only improved each year Mattingly has been there. It can’t get better than their first place finish in 2013 other than going deeper into the postseason. We will see if they keep him even longer than the current contract. Hopefully they will. Here are ten great moments from his time with the team.
10 – 2013 Summer Explosion
Any time a team goes 42 – 8 over a 50-game stretch it is something to talk about for years to come. That incredible run by the Dodgers carried them from the bottom of the NL West all the way to running away with the division. It was truly an amazing run of winning that will likely take a while to be matched by anyone.
9 – August 2013 6-run Comeback
Against the Tampa Bay Rays the red hot Dodgers found themselves down by 6 runs. Instead of packing it in as a rare bad day the Dodgers bullpen held while the Dodgers chipped away and finally won it with a 4-run ninth inning.
8 – Hanley Ramirez 2013 Return
Every single Dodgers fan on Earth is a hater of the World Baseball Classic or probably were when Ramirez came down with a broken thumb before the season even started. All was forgiven however when he hit the field on absolute fire and was a huge reason for their season from that point forward.
7 – Clinching NL West
The NL West in the 2013 season belonged to the Dodgers. If anything cements Mattingly’s position with this team it should be the fact that he led them to a better finish each season he has been here. It can’t get much better than that for the Dodgers skipper.
6 – Signing of Adrian Gonzalez
The Dodgers really started building their winning 2013 team during the 2012 season and the signing of Gonzalez was most definitely one of the biggest moments of the last half decade for this franchise.
5 – Trade for Hanley Ramirez
This guy is so good that had he not been injured during the early part of the 2013 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals it could have very easily been a different series. The move that brought him in was a defining moment not only in Mattingly’s term but also in the recent history of the Dodgers.
4 – Magic Johnson Owner
When Johnson joined in as an owner of this franchise something changed. There was a shift with money and television deals and everything in-between. I don’t think there is anything magical about him being there except that it really put a huge focus on winning for the owners and they should remain a competitive team as long as that remains.
3 – Zack Greinke Injury
It seems like old news now but for my money one of the best moments of Mattingly’s tenure as Dodgers manager was how he handled the Greinke situation. He scoffed at the thought that his pitcher would throw at someone in that situation. His comment that, “He shouldn’t play until Zack can pitch.” is one of the greatest quotes from any manager. He was hacked and had no intention of hiding it.
2 – Yasiel Puig’s Impact
There is little doubt that the Dodgers began to turn around when Hanley Ramirez returned but the sudden impact of Puig is undeniable. One key to the amazing year that Puig had is the managing of his situation by Mattingly. The two weren’t always on the same page but that shouldn’t be surprising with a young superstar and a former superstar player. Everyone would love to throw dirt on Mattingly for mishandling something but they cannot do that with his handling of Puig and still praise the impact Puig had.
1 – Juan Uribe Home Run
There is less doubt about this than anything. Juan Uribe’s ultimate game-winning and series winning home run in the 2013 NLDS will go down as one of the great moments in Dodgers history, not just Mattingly’s tenure.