If everything were backwards and the Discovery Channel did a special on baseball managers, I doubt the animals would find it very engaging. They perch themselves on the top step of their habitat, chew tobacco, sunflower seeds or Bazooka bubble gum and observe for upwards of three hours. Every once in a while, they descend the dugouts steps or stiffly stroll out toward the pitcher’s mound.
Every once in a while, though, they go absolutely berserk. They go honey-badger irate. And the humans wearing navy blue shirts and bulky protective padding bear the brunt of these outbursts. If it weren’t for crafty cameramen and their innovative filming techniques, we may have fallen asleep before this portion of the episode.
I played baseball for 15 years, and the only two things I’m absolutely certain a head coach does are arrive at practice hungover and bogart batting practice. This is what we know about baseball managers.
They move slow. They climb up and down steps. Some may actually necessitate the railing they lean on for nine innings a night. We’re not exactly sure how they affect outcomes of games. (Have I missed a sabermetrics statistic on this?) We just assume that the managers who win games are doing a good job, and the ones who win games with a group of players who shouldn't win games are extra good.
Such is Don Mattingly, MacGyvering his way to a .500-plus winning percentage with a roster full of players you'd think twice about trading a paper clip/rubber band package for.
Here are five reasons why he should continue leaning on the home dugout railing at Chavez Ravine.