I’m usually the last guy to call for a manager’s head, but I’m sorry, when you call out your own team’s toughness and your boss’ construction of the roster, you’re not long for your job. Here’s Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, quoting Mattingly today about what ails the Dodgers:
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.”
Deep thought: if the team is not getting the most out of its ability, don’t we usually blame that on the manager? A manager giving quotes about the team not playing to its talent level is the manager’s version of suicide by cop.
I doubt he lasts a week at this point.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.