There is a good bit of acrimony between the Cardinals and the Brewers. Brewers fans think Albert Pujols and that whole operation in St. Louis is lousy, two-faced and low-rent (adjectives which actually filled my inbox from Brewers fans in recent weeks). The Cardinals think much the same about the Brewers. Or at least Nyjer Morgan. And you know that La Russa doesn’t do much to diminish any “us-against-the-world” feelings that simmer in the minds of his players.
It appeared yesterday that a new front had opened in that little war, with the Brewers accusing the Cardinals of jerking around their family and friends with respect to seating in Busch Stadium. It seems the Phillies families had all been located behind home plate in the NLDS, but the Brewers families were seated in multiple places around the park, causing some degree of consternation among the Brewers.
As of last night everyone in an official capacity was claiming that it was all a misunderstanding. The Cardinals explained that the Brewers families were in multiple suites, which was exactly what had been done for the Dodgers in the 2009 playoffs and the Padres and Tigers in 2006. Brewers traveling secretary Dan Larrea said “[t]here was some concern initially among the players about the situation, but it worked out.”
I suppose there will still be some beefing about this from Brewers fans who I have learned in recent weeks are really awesome at holding grudges. In this case, however, a grudge seems inappropriate. And really, given Mark Kotsay in center field, it was not even the most significant instance of someone connected to the Brewers being in a poor location yesterday.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.
This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.
I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.