What to expect from Mike Matheny


Spring training always answer questions and gives birth to questions that we could not have dreamed of.  One of the big questions going into camp this year was the new skipper Mike Matheny.  This was the first season in well over a decade that TLR wouldn’t be guiding the ship through camp.  I think collectively we all feel that Matheny is going to perform well in his new role.  Cardinal Nation as a whole feels that way.  We want him to succeed not just for the team, but for the fact we like him.  He is an old Cardinal fan favorite and we want him to do well.

One of the big questions was is Matheny ready for this type of job?  Is he going to be able to follow the future Hall of Famer?  Can he handle the players?  What will the personality of his team be?  It is a long season and only time will answer many of the questions out there.  It is impossible to predict the answers.  But, I think we have seen a few flashes already that may give us some insight to what Mike Matheny the manager is going to be like.

We remember him as that hard nose, tough as nails catcher.  He was fiery in the performance of his duties and could hit the tilt switch on occasion.  I don’t think this going to be too far off to what we are going to see out of him from the dugout either.  He does not appear that he has going to have any difficulty in meeting things head on and relaying his message in blunt Matheny fashion.

At the start of camp he was writing motivational quotes and sayings on the workout cards.  The pressed picked up on this and began to report his daily sayings.  He stopped, abruptly.  He explained that his quotes were for his ball players and not for news stories.  I like that.  It was a subtle way of saying this isn’t for you, I know you won’t stop, so I will.  His reaction was to the point but classy.

It was also reported that he refused to sign a baseball for an autograph seeking fan.  I will admit when I first saw the headline of the story, I thought what the heck is that about.  As I read more it again turned out to be a class move by Matheny.  As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.  The ball had been signed earlier by Cardinal Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.  When Matheny saw the ball had been signed by the Wizard, he said he wouldn’t sign it because his signature would do nothing but decrease the value of the ball.  He said he would sign anything else the fan had, but not the ball with the Hall of Famer’s name on it.

The day of his first game as the manager, Matheny awoke basically in the middle of the night, got dressed and came to the park.  He admitted he was nervous and he was anxious.  Good for him, it shows he is human and he wants to do a good job.  It shows that he understands what has been entrusted to him.  The fans of Cardinal baseball take everything personal and the success of the manager is no different.

When all of Cardinal Nation hit the panic button when ace Chris Carpenter complained of neck stiffness and was sent away from camp to be evaluated, Matheny remained calm.  At least he did on the outside.  I am sure down deep his stomach was doing flips.  He didn’t let show on the outside though.  He told the media to go ahead and speculate because that is what they get paid to do.  He said he would wait for the doctor’s reports.  This was another good move from the rookie manager.

I know it is a long, long time before the end of the season and I am sure Matheny will make moves we may not agree with.  All managers do at some point.  But, I think some of the early signs that we see from Matheny show he is going to be able to handle just about whatever is thrown his way.

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