The Dodgers, Don Mattingly part ways

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Jon Heyman reports that Don Mattingly and the Dodgers “have parted ways.”

Mattingly was under contract for 2016, but ESPN reports he was offered an extension some time last week. The original headline to this post said the Dodgers “fired” Mattingly, but multiple reports since the news broke say that Mattingly and the Dodgers were on the same page regarding his departure. Depending on the nature of the offer he received and the conversations which surrounded it, it’s possible to couch this in any number of ways, but with additional reporting, “firing” is probably too harsh a way to put it.

But whatever you call it, the parting of ways is not terribly unexpected. While the Dodgers have had success during Mattingly’s tenure, winning the past three NL West titles and going 446-363 in his five years in charge, they have also undershot expectations, losing in the NLDS the past two seasons and the NLCS in 2013. This despite the game’s highest payroll and considerable expectations.

Also not working in Mattingly’s favor, a clubhouse that is, to put it mildly, difficult. While Yasiel Puig‘s greatest moments have been the most notable off-the-field distractions over the past few years, Mattingly was seen in a shouting match with Andre Ethier during the elimination game of this year’s NLDS. Molly Knight’s book about the Dodgers, “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” likewise revealed that there is no small amount of friction and no small number of difficult personalities under contract for the Dodgers.

Not that the Dodgers’ failures can all be laid at Mattingly’s feet. L.A’s bullpen lacks the sort of talent necessary to go far in the postseason in recent years, with there being no clear bridge between the starters and closer Kenley Jansen. And while the first two of those starters — Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke — are phenomenal, injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy made for a thin overall rotation in 2015, putting that much more pressure on the aces and the pen.

Mattingly may find himself a new job pretty quickly. He’s generally well respected in the game and the challenges he faced in Los Angeles are well known. Don’t be surprised to see him interviewed by the Marlins, Nationals and other teams with managerial openings soon.

As for the Dodgers? The search begins.

The Yankees and Red Sox will play on artificial turf in London

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Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s past time when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:

Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.

Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.

At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.

Still, this is whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface baseball has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.

It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. It could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on occasion in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, so you know that was off the table in this day and age.

Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.