Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why So Sensitive?

I can't believe what I've been reading.  Maybe it's the nature of the online world, but I cannot understand what exactly is wrong with a manager stating something that he believes has got to be said.  Sure, you can argue that Donnie should have done this a long time ago, but that's neither here nor there.  All we can look at is what needs to be done today, and I applaud this initial effort to try to steer the ship in to the right direction.

After all, If a manager perceives that a player is lacking in his hustle (his grit) and he doesn't do something about it, doesn't that mean that said manager isn't doing his job?  Sure, you prefer it stay in-house.  I get that.  You always prefer that this kind of thing stay in the clubhouse, but sometimes public admonishment is needed too.

Heck, I don't even believe this was all that bad.  Mattingly just stated what he thought to be obvious.  He put the best team, on that given day, on the field that he believed would give the team the best chance of winning.  If that means that Ethier has to sit because he hasn't been giving the kind of effort the coach believes is necessary to win, then so be it.  And on some other day, Kemp might sit for the same reason.  Or Carl Crawford.  Or Adrian Gonzalez.  Or AJ Ellis.

And there is nothing wrong with that.  There is no shame in it.

Have we become so damn sensitive that public criticism of a millionaire ballplayers effort is construed as an insult that cannot be allowed? 

Get this straight.  Ethier should feel no shame because of the recent comments made by Mattingly.  Mattingly was not trying to insult him or publicly out him as a villain.  He was signalling to Ethier that he knows he has more to give.

In sports this is often called "Compete Level", but I prefer to call it "Manning Up".  You experience it when you are about to take that midterm exam, or when you're at work getting prepared to give an important presentation. 

The test here is how the player in question responds.  We'll get a good look at his mettle, and for that matter the mettle of the entire team.

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Is Donnie Doing a Sutter, or is Donnie Asking to Get Fired?

You're probably wondering, "Who the heck is Sutter?"

Well, Darryl Sutter is the current LA Kings coach who has been credited with bringing his own kind of homespun logic that borders on in-your-face honesty to transform the once addled Kings into Champions.  He has an ingenious way of being direct, and it had made believers out of a group of players who were just not doing enough.

The situation Sutter came into last season (before their rise as Stanley Cup Champions) was not an easy one.  The Kings were not unlike the Dodgers of today.  They were filled with many players that were arguably superstars in their sport.  Heck, like the Dodgers they made some huge trades to get them.  And like the Dodgers, they didn't immediately perform the way you would expect.  It was like they were getting crushed by the expectations.

Founds familiar, don't it? 

Then, in comes Sutter and he provided an honest intensity that was embraced by the team.  He told it like it was, and we all knew deep down that he was right.  More importantly, the team responded because they knew it too.

Well, as reported by Bill Plunkett of the OC Register this morning (Hat Tip: Craig Calcaterra at Harball Talk) Dodger skipper Don Mattingly made some direct comments that some folks find too critical.  Too honest.  Too in-your-face.

But you know what, he's right.  See what Plunkett wrote below.
Must-read strong comments from #Dodgers mgr Don Mattingly pregame seemed to point finger at not only lack of "mental toughness" from his players but also at poor construction of the team.
"We gotta find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn't have that talent," he said, pointing to last year's team which led the NL West by 5 1/2 games at the end of May despite a far less-talented lineup.
"I felt we got more out of our ability (last year). I don't know about being tougher but I felt we got more out of our ability.

"There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It's not 'Let's put an All-Star team together and the All-Star team wins.' It's finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it.

"All grit and no talent isn't going to make you successful. But all talent and not grit isn't going to get you there either."
The only problem I have with Plunkett's description is the part about involving the construction of the team.  I don't think Mattingly was questioning who was signed or who we traded for.

I do think Mattingly does question the players will.  I think he questions their willingness to fight.  And as he puts it, "all talent and (no) grit isn't going to get you there either."

So Dodgers, can you muster the energy, the will, the grit to win?

On the other hand, maybe the pundits are right and Mattingly is not long for the job.  Maybe he has thrown his arms up the air and said, "screw it!"  Maybe Mattingly has made an unconscious effort to sabotage his job as manager.

I dunno.  I guess anything is possible.


I know sometimes it might seem that I have a huge crush on the Kings and how they do things.  Well... ya know what?... I do.  I've witnessed their transformation and I hope for the day when the Dodgers can emulate it.

I know they can and I really believe the Kings are a great model to learn from.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Blog Kiosk: 5/22/2013

Perfection in motion.  Above is a pic of Clayton Kershaw doing what he does best.  Pic via the Dodgers tumblr Dodger Dugout Steps.
Yet H├ęctor Espino did not feel deprived or denied of anything; he could have played, yet he chose not to. To him there was nothing unfortunate at all about staying in Mexico. He embraced the baseball of his nation, and in doing so also rejected the notion that Mexico was some kind of little brother; that the United States owns the history of the sport. He refused to allow himself to be defined in American terms, to be measured by those who did not know him or his country. In the United States, Espino would have been a foreign entity - always and forever a Mexican slugger. His reward for staying home was a kind of heroism, a unique status of immeasurable respect and deep reverence that eludes all but a very few. Where else but Mexico could Espino have been Espino?
  • Dodger Penguin shares a a great autographed Baseball of Roger Craig that has the notation 1955 Champs.  Awesome!  I hate knowing that he used to skipper the hated SF Giants, but having that Dodger notation on the ball really helps erase that memory.
  • Greg at Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle shares his haul from this past weekends card show in Culver City.  I love the vintage Batman cards he got.  The artwork is fantastic.  Jesse at LA Inspiration also shares what he came home with.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *