Dodgers skid is bad, but hardly unprecedented

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The Los Angeles Dodgers still hold a commanding lead in the NL West and still have the best record in baseball, but they have lost six in a row and eleven of twelve. This has some Dodgers fans panicking, and wondering if a season that once seemed destined for the history books will end with yet another ignominious playoff exit.

While it’s every fan’s God-given right to panic, there’s a difference between panic and despair for the future. The former is an emotional response to bad stuff. The latter carries with it some amount of pessimism that is roughly based on reason. “They stink now,” the despairing Dodgers fan says, “so the NLDS is gonna be the end of it.”

Bah. This may be a crappy stretch for the Dodgers, but despairing fans should know that basically every great team — including World Series champions — go one one or two skids a year. Here some of the more notable ones from World Series champs since we began this website:

  • 2016 Cubs: Lost nine of ten between June 30 and July 9 and eight of twelve between May 11 and May 23;
  • 2015 Royals: Lost nine of eleven between May 24 and June 6 and nine of twelve between Septemeber 4 and September 16;
  • 2014 Giants: Lost six of seven and seven of nine in early to mid August and six of eight between September 19 and September 26;
  • 2013 Red Sox: Lost nine of eleven between May 3 and May 14 and seven of ten between August 8 and August 18;
  • 2012 Giants: Lost seven of ten between May 1 and May 11, seven of nine between June 29 and July 8 and seven of eight between July 25 and August 2;
  • 2011 Cardinals: Lost twelve of fifteen between June 10 and June 26;
  • 2010 Giants: Lost seven of nine between May 17 and May 26 and nine of ten between June 23 and July 2; finally
  • 2009 Yankees: Lost seven if nine between May 2 and May 12 and nine of thirteen between June 9 and June 23. They also lost three of their last four heading into the playoffs if you care about such things.

The point here isn’t that the Dodgers will definitely be OK. They may not be! The point is that every team has a bad skid or three from time to time, World Series winners included. The Dodgers losing these games are less preferable than them winning them, obviously, but their losing them carries no predictive value whatsoever.

So dudes: stop panicking. Or, if you can’t do that, at least stop despairing.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.