The Unbearable Lightness of Hitting Coaches

YES interviewed Don Mattingly after the game, and in a display of pure vapidness, he said nothing. It’s not that we don’t love Donnie Baseball (even as a Sox fan, it was hard not to like him), but if he communicates with the players the same way he does with Suzyn Waldman, then I don’t see the players coming around anytime soon. His comments were near Bull Durham-esque, spouting meaningless cliche after meaningless cliche. And, his demeanor was one of pure resignation.

I sincerely doubt he’s as useless around the cage as he is in the studio, but there’s been a long history of really good players failing as instructional coaches. The Yankees are far better hitters than performance indicates, and they will certainly start racking up the runs. But if anything, this slump calls into question Mattingly’s usefulness in general. If they awaken, then is it because of Mattingly’s expert advice? Or are they struggling at this point because Mattingly isn’t that good a teacher? Seems like we have a chicken and egg thing here, pointing strongly to the overestimation, particularly in these pages, of the impact of Mattingly’s presence.

2 comments… add one

  • Maybe it’s a bit early for the attacks on Donnie-as-teacher. With a veteran team, there’s only so much you can do. Certainly, what he might say to Suzyn Waldman bears little relevance to anything. And he was perfectly good in an interview on the radio postgame.
    One interesting thing I did notice yesterday, was that at an apparently crucial point in the game Torre got up off the bench and walked over to Mattingly, who was standing on the dugout steps, and clearly asked his opinion about something or other (I can’t recall the exact situation). That’s not something we saw in the past—Joe getting up to go consult a hitting coach during the game—and I made a mental note of it. So clearly he’s bringing some value to the team.

    YF April 25, 2004, 5:19 pm
  • Not an attack on Donnie B, necessarily, but more on the whole hitting coach position.
    Here’s the attack: I don’t see how Torre asking an unheard question (can you read lips?) indicates that Mattingly is bringing “value”. That’s pure presumption on your part, an assumption that Torre asked Mattingly a question of any import. If anything, his being there in the first place indicates that the Yankees think he adds value, not the fact that the manager speaks to him. Really, how pathetic would Mattingly’s position be if Torre didn’t talk to him at all?
    I’d say the jury is still way out on this one. Mattingly hasn’t had sufficient time to prove himself an adept hitting coach. So, it’s not fair to say that Mattingly is a failure, by any stretch of the imagination. It is fair, and it is also quite a different thing, to say that he’s been no success to this point.

    SF April 26, 2004, 9:56 am

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