Wednesday may or may not be Don Mattingly's final game as Dodger manager, depending on whether or not you believe he had to win the series against the Brewers in Milwaukee to save his job. But it's clear that Mattingly, sitting on the hot seat at eight games under .500, isn't going down without a fight. His opponent: Andre Ethier?
I want to point out that I hate parsing quotes, that there are often tonal shifts are context that add meaning to words that don't necessarily come out in the 140 characters of a tweet. But these two reports of Mattingly's meeting with reporters on Wednesday leave little to debate:
Andre Ethier is not hurt. Mattingly said he is sitting because he wants to field team that will compete the best.— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) May 22, 2013
Mattingly said he wanted to "put out my most competitive lineup today." One that will "fight the hardest," Andre Ethier not part of that.— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) May 22, 2013
Ethier is sitting against the right-handed Wily Peralta, and it seems odd that Ethier is the one being singled out since he did hit a home run and a triple on Monday, and Ethier is hardly the only hitter, or outfielder, struggling on the team.
But Mattingly, backed into a corner, has chosen his most emotionally volatile target, perhaps trying to light a fire, or maybe desperate. Mattingly even noted that the club has "discussed" calling up both Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson, per Hernandez, though Mattingly noted that nothing seemed imminent.
Mattingly is in full desperation mode, seeing the team is in need of a shakeup and hoping his ousting isn't said shakeup. Plunkett has more:
"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."