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Thursday’s press conference and announcement of Mike Matheny as the 17th manager of the Kansas City Royals was not a surprise.
The surprise is the reaction from a Kansas City Royals fan base that should be excited about the future of the organization rather than question the decision.
Mike Matheny was hired at the end of the 2018 season as special adviser for player development. Ironically, it was the same position Ned Yost had prior to replacing Trey Hillman at the beginning of the 2010 season.
For those that forget, Yost was fired by the Brewers with just 12 games remaining in the 2008 campaign. That same year the Brewers made it to the NLDS where they lost to the eventual World Series Champion Phillies in five games.
Both managers have taken the same path to becoming managers of the Royals to include being the only managers ever fired during the season with winning records.
Thursday’s press conference gave most us the first chance at hearing from Matheny since he was relieved by the Cardinals. His message was very clear; Mike Matheny loves the game of baseball. Not only did he loved it as a player, but he loves to manage. That is important to winning in Kansas City.
The majority of the criticism that has been placed on Mike Matheny has come from the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have grown accustom to being over critical and quick to place blame when their team doesn’t win.
We have heard all the stories that Matheny was fired by the Cardinals because the culture in the clubhouse eroded. He was criticized for what was believed to be hazing towards younger players and being stubborn to make changes in the lineup.
Hazing has no place in today’s society period, but being stubborn describes most managers in MLB. Not just Mike Matheny.
As the special adviser for player development, Matheny has had the chance to reflect and decide if he indeed was ready to make the return to the dugout. He has had the ability to spend time in the Royals farm system to evaluate and be a part of the development of some of the younger players that are critical to success of the franchise’s future.
It’s a future that appears very similar to a decision to hire Ned Yost in 2010. It was a decision by Dayton Moore that ultimately landed Kansas City a World Series and most likely the number 3 retired next to Dick Howser‘s number 10 in left field.
Matheny spent nearly six seasons as the Cardinals’ skipper and had a winning percentage of .555 with appearances in four playoffs to include one World Series in 2013. Not a bad resumé if one simply ignores all the critics.
Thursday, Matheny was quoted as saying “I don’t think you can ever trust a leader without a limp.” Royals fans shouldn’t give him a cane or crutch, but rather give him a chance. He has probably learned from his mistakes and might just get the Royals back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.
Remember that the Cardinals and their fans also ran off a guy by the name of Joe Torre.