Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, I became a Yankee fan from birth. My favorite player then, and now, was Don Mattingly. I got to see Donny Baseball a few times. When Mattingly stepped up to the plate, the Stadium became electric. Tens of thousands of fans chanting in unison, Don-ny-base-ball. Like many fans, I was sad to see him retire. Especially since a year later the Yank’s most recent string of championships began. However, Mattingly now has a new opportunity to achieve what he was unable to do in Pinstripes. Except he’s on a different coast.
The 2011 season will mark the beginning of a new era in Dodgers baseball. Don Mattingly is taking over the managerial reins from Joe Torre. With a modest $95.3 million team salary, Los Angeles has a team that will need to work hard to contend in the National League West. Kuroda and Lilly will definitely need to prove their worth in the starting rotation. Andre Ethier and Rafael Furcal are the only other names that stand out.
There is no guarantee the Giants will repeat, or even win the Division. The Colorado Rockies are the front-runners for the NL West. But what none of these teams have is Don Mattingly. Call me biased, but Mattingly, I think will bring a quiet confidence and a strong leadership style to the Dodgers. Divisions are not won on character alone, but with Donny Baseball at the helm, L.A. may just surprise us.
As much as I am somewhat of a dreamer when it comes to baseball, I’m very much a realist. The Dodgers chances are not the greatest going into the season. They finished the 2010 season 2 games under .500. Yet with changes in leadership can come changes in productivity. Only time will tell if the Dodgers will turn it around under Mattingly. Will his jitters affect his decisions? That remains to be seen. The former Yankee captain and fan favorite has his work cut out for him. But I suspect there are a number of purists out there who see this New York favorite as a throwback to days when baseball was simpler. Is it possible the former Yankee favorite can resurrect the feeling of them Bums from Brooklyn? I digress.
One thing is for sure, this Yankee fan will quietly be rooting for his favorite Yankee on the West Coast.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!
All statistical data from espn.go.com.