Can manager Don Mattingly help the Miami Marlins finally have a winning season for the first time in his tenure in South Florida?
It’s been a slow process. First, the foundation was laid for the Miami Marlins, then the walls and the floors leading to the completion of the process that is now reaching an ending point. It’s been two years since the first blueprints were offered and now, with the 2020 season on hold,
Manager Don Mattingly has time to reflect on the journey he and this organization has been on.
It’s one of the reasons Derek Jeter, the team’s CEO, kept Mattingly, his one-time teammate in New York, onboard and gave him a two-year extension before the end of the 2019 campaign.
It’s a bit of a parallel as Mattingly managed teams in 2016 and 2017 that were competitive and full of big-name stars who hit home runs at alarming rates and brought masses to Marlins Park. In 2017, everyone watched to see if Giancarlo Stanton could eclipse 60 home runs if his bat and the power in the swing of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Justin Bour could will this team toward the playoffs.
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If anything, the Marlins made losing look exciting.
But over the course of four seasons, Mattingly has not been able to produce a winner. Everyone knows it, including him. The pains associated with losing are something managers go through. But after producing winning teams in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, no one expected it to be a four-year run with “Donny Baseball” at the helm.
Until Jeter tore down the walls he has now rebuilt.
For Mattingly, it really is a labor of love.
"“I said it from the beginning. I love young players. I love watching them grow and get better,” Mattingly said via the Miami Herald. “You also like to see them get to the finish line and not just help them get three-quarters of the way and turn them over to somebody else who gets to enjoy all the fruits of when you were freaking putting all the trees in and digging all the dirt and everything else.”"
But with change comes opportunity – yes, it’s cliché’ The Marlins are starting to look like a team that will contend in the near future and who knows if they can eke out more wins than losses in a shorter season.
For Mattingly, this season could also be about redemption. There were plenty out there in the baseball community that did not think he would survive his fourth year in Miami given the team’s record and struggles. Now, he can help motivate and help his youngsters finally taste success.
There are plenty of expectations for the coming season. Mattingly, Jeter and the players on the current roster know it’s time to show this team is better than it has been in recent seasons. The clock is now ticking to produce a winner.
"“It’s challenging,” Mattingly said, “but I think it’s going to be very satisfying as we’re starting to get over the hump and start to get that momentum.”"