Miami Marlins: Don Mattingly’s ejections not about frustration

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

After being ejected early in the game two nights in a row, Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly stayed in the dugout last night. His ejections were never really about balls and strikes anyway.

The last few weeks have left Miami Marlins fans scrambling for good news. In truth, it’s been a miserable stretch for Fish fans. Of their last 15 games, the Marlins have come up short in 12. Worst of all, there isn’t one clearly defined problem. Each of the Marlins losses have been the result of failure in a different phase of the game.

Some nights it’s starting pitching. Other nights it’s offense. Or the bullpen. And on rare occasions, it’s been the defense. Losing for a different reason each night can be the source of frustration for everyone involved. From the fans right up to the manager, when there are too many issues to address, nobody is having a good time.

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The Marlins bountiful harvest of losses led many to draw a fair, if misguided conclusion. Following successive ejections in the first two games of the series agains the St. Louis Cardinals, many felt Mattingly was cracking under the pressure. To be sure, frustration is mounting. But his ejections are not the result of frustration; not solely, anyway.

With the Fish reeling, they needed a jumpstart. Look at what else Mattingly has done to try and spark some life out of the team. The most drastic changes have come in the batting order. Dee Gordon has been moved to the bottom of the lineup, and the pitchers spot slots up at eighth. An old wrinkle most famously authored by former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

Thus far, it hasn’t been enough to drum up some wins. That’s where the ejections come into play.

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The Marlins were floundering and something needed to be done. The energy surrounding the team was down; the players looked listless on the field. Winning a Major League game is hard enough, it’s impossible with players who aren’t hungry.

So Mattingly took a bullet. It’s not coincidence that his ejections took place early in the game. Were the pitches he was arguing bad calls? Absolutely. But managers know that arguing balls and strikes is a useless exercise. Mattingly’s ejections were a deliberate attempt to ignite some fire under his players.

The notion that Mattingly would succumb to frustration is ridiculous. Not only is he a seasoned manager, he put together a pretty respectable career as a ballplayer, too. Donnie Baseball is very familiar with the frustrations of the baseball season, and he knows how to handle them.

His ejections aren’t anything new. Managers will often attempt to use their ejection as a catalyst for to spur success. Two nights in a row Mattingly put his neck on the line; the Miami Marlins failed to back him up each night. Want further proof? The calls were just as bad on the third night of the series, and Mattingly stayed in the dugout.

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Mattingly is doing everything he can to get some wins out of this team. Despite the injuries, despite the the lack of starting pitching, the team is expected to win. And they will win, eventually. Mattingly is pushing as many buttons as he can, but it might take some time. If Miami Marlins fans are willing to grind with the team for a while, it’ll make a World Series victory that much sweeter.