Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LAT's Hernandez Covers Mattingly, But Zings Colletti

I was cracking up reading Dylan Hernandez' recap of the awkward Don Mattingly press conference earlier this week, not so much because he laid out the stakes that Mattingly had put forth, but also because he summed up Ned Colletti's appearance at the conference quite cleanly:

In the division series, Mattingly had to field a question about whether his uncertain job status factored into him starting Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest. In light of the revelation Monday about why Mattingly’s option vested, the questioned turned out to be a very valid one. But rather than offer Mattingly any public assurances, team President Stan Kasten called the inquiring reporter something that can’t printed in a family newspaper.

All of this could have been avoided had Kasten budged from his stance of refusing to comment on Mattingly's situation.

Kasten operated under the mistaken assumption that if he didn't address it, it wouldn't be written or talked about. The tactic might have worked in smaller cities in which Kasten previously ran teams but backfired spectacularly in America's second-largest media market.

Not wanting to cause any distractions for his team, Mattingly played along with Kasten during the season, according to a person familiar with the manager's thinking. But Mattingly became upset in the days that followed the Dodgers' elimination, as no one reached out to him to address his or his coaching staff's future.

Kasten usually loves talking in front of television cameras but conveniently excused himself from the Monday news conference. Later, he declined an additional opportunity to defend his handling of the matter. As such, Colletti was left in the uncomfortable position of answering questions on his behalf.

Colletti wants Mattingly back and it makes sense he would. Mattingly's departure would place him next in line to be fired. But Colletti also couldn't back Mattingly completely, as doing so would amount to him questioning Kasten's policies.

Colletti drew on the political savvy that helped him survive for eight seasons, simultaneously walking a tightrope and tap-dancing around land mines.

Colletti first complimented Mattingly, reminding everyone he hired Mattingly and saying he thought Mattingly has demonstrated he is capable of managing in the majors.

But asked if he understood Mattingly's concerns about being a lame duck, Colletti offered this non-answer: "It's a personal taste. There's a lot of guys that have won on one-year contracts — not one-year contracts, but the end of a contract. There's people that have won the World Series in that situation and there's people that haven't. There's people that have had three-year contracts and didn't survive the first two weeks of it."

Colletti then resorted to the ever-popular blame-the-media gambit.

"Certainly in the month of May, a lot of people that do what you do for a living had it all figured out, down to the very day it was going to happen," Colletti said. "It never happened. It's like when you hear the world's going to end, you know? That's the same type of deal. The world's still here and we're still here."

Basically, Colletti had nothing substantive to say.

And there you have it. This is more awkward than having my drunk uncle's inappropriate comments at the Christmas dinner table (followed by more unsubstantive conversation, in kind). Good times!

image swiped from here