MLB

St. Louis Cardinals: Mike Matheny’s surprising response following his dismissal

Mike Matheny owns up to his failures, and more, shortly after the St. Louis Cardinals showed him the door.

By Neil Harrington

After a brutal stretch heading into the MLB All-Star break, the St. Louis Cardinals sputtered to the mid-point finish line just above .500.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have nothing on this split personality of a team, who is still searching for its true identity. After seeking answers, the St. Louis Cardinals came up empty and needed a change.

In response, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt is kicking things up a notch, no longer taking half-measures for his team’s failures.

“You have failed me for the last time.”

The natural decision is to start with the team’s leader, Mike Matheny, and that’s precisely what DeWitt did — firing their Skipper following (another) disappointing loss to the last-place Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.

After his dismissal, I expected Mike Matheny to go “ghost” and disappear into the great unknown. However, to my surprise, Matheny “Mik’ed up” just hours after he was shown the door — speaking honestly and openly about the recent chain of events.

In candid interviews with both Tom Ackerman of KMOX Sports radio and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mike Matheny spilled his heart and soul to Cardinals Nation — which he loves like his own children.

He not only took ownership of the team’s subpar performance but was eternally grateful for the opportunity of managing the St. Louis Cardinals for six-plus seasons.

“I’ve got nothing but gratitude and this goes way back. I got two new lives with this organization, first when Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan and Walt Jocketty gave me a chance to have a second life as a player to play in a place I already called home.”

Mike Matheny understood that anything less than hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy in 2018 was unacceptable and inherited total responsibility for all that went wrong — which is something John Mozeliak (President of Baseball Operations) should have done, instead.

I comprehend why the St. Louis Cardinals fired Mike Matheny and from a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense. On the surface.

But, parting ways with Mike Matheny and (hitting coach) John Mabry is not going to the fix the core issue — which happens to be a roster problem.

John Mozeliak used Mike Matheny as a scapegoat, covering up the glaring eyesore of a roster filled with more holes than swiss cheese.

Marcel Ozuna, Greg Holland, and Dexter Fowler are names that come to mind, who have vastly underperformed — based upon the crazy cheddar the St. Louis Cardinals are paying them.

It’s more than subpar play on the field, but the lack of effort and grit shown by the current Cardinals squad. Their swagger is gone and the “Cardinal way” seems to be dead and gone.

That fact is not lost on the trio and the team as a whole, that their struggles and lack of effort (ultimately) led to Mike Matheny’s departure.

Yadier Molina manned-up and took responsibility for the firing of his mentor and (former) manager — man’s game, Yadi.

Instead of throwing Mike Matheny under the bus, as the organization did, the Cardinals (future) Hall of Fame catcher took ownership for the team’s poor play.

“It’s because of us as players, we aren’t doing our jobs… the blame is on us.”

Firing Mike Matheny is a bold move by Mozeliak and team owner Bill Dewitt, putting every player on notice — thundering that no one’s job is safe.

The team hears that message loud and clear, based upon their recent responses.

Jose Martinez:

“I wasn’t expecting that at all … Let me put it like this, if the manager is not here, maybe me too, maybe somebody else. Because even though I’m not doing my job hitting, I’m not doing my job defensively. So whatever change, whatever move, anything can happen.”

Matt Carpenter:

“Ultimately (Matheny’s firing) falls on us regardless. Players are the guys who have got to go out an compete and make things happen, both good and bad. It’s no different no matter who is managing, players have to be held accountable for quality of play.”

This shakeup will undoubtedly spark a fire to the burnt out flame that is the St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of Mike Matheny, but there are always casualties of war, I suppose.

In fact, Mike Matheny understands the “Cardinal way” and expectations more so than anyone within the St. Louis Cardinals organization — by the “way” he handled losing his job — with grace and class.

If the current players embraced the same work ethic and grace of Mike Matheny, we would not be having this conversation — and he would still have a job. But, I digress.

Whoever lands Matheny next will get a solid coach and remarkable man — where a change of scenery will undoubtedly do him good.

Maybe the grass isn’t so green on the other side for Cardinal Nation, but time will tell. First things, first. The roster needs to step their game up, if not, who will be on the chopping block next?

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