If a fired Cardinal manager returns to Busch Stadium and there are no fans to boo him, does it really happen?
Mike Matheny will be in the visitor’s dugout for the first time, at least as an opposing manager. Actually, it’s the only time he’s ever been on that side of Busch III. In 2006, he played in two games against the Cardinals in San Francisco but retired before the Giants made it to St. Louis. Which means the last time he was in a game in St. Louis not wearing the birds on the bat was August 19-21, 2005. It’s been a minute, shall we say, and a lot of things are different from how they were 15 years ago.
I do wonder how Matheny would have been received. Obviously Trevor Rosenthal would have gotten a big hand from the Cardinal faithful. Greg Holland, if he got into the game, might have gotten some boos. I’d like to think he’d probably have received more polite indifference, because a warm hand for a guy that was that bad in St. Louis seems a stretch even for the Best Fans in Baseball.
Look, there’s no doubt that by the time he was let go, he had worn out his welcome with much of the fanbase. The missing of the playoffs, the nonsensical double switches, the over-reliance on certain players (Matt Bowman still sees a reference to Matheny and goes out to warm up) has not been missed. There seemed to be little growth over his almost seven years at the helm of the Cardinals and the returns kept diminishing. The firing was justified and, if results are any indication, the switch to Mike Shildt probably should have been made earlier and has been a very good decision.
However, in fairness to the former manager, he did have four straight playoff teams to start his tenure. He never finished under .500. He’s fifth on the all-time Cardinal manager win list, behind four Hall of Famers and ahead of six more in the top 15. It does seem like the players….most of the players….were fond of him until the very end. He was gracious at the end of his time and never shot public arrows at the organization.
We’ll see just how much he’s learned in his time away from the game. He’s definitely shown some strong leadership on the health front by being an example on wearing masks and taking precautions. Perhaps his tactics will work better in the American League, where there is no need to double switch, than they did in the National. Maybe he’s embraced the analytics we thought he had before taking the Cardinals job.
So if you were actually in the stands today, how would you react? Would you cheer? Would you boo? Would you do nothing? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!