Matheny and Hitchcock: A Situation Comparison
For the past several months and then some, after scrolling through Twitter1 and following the feedback of our fanbases’ supportive, or unsupportive, comments, I’ve come to an interesting2 conclusion. The Cardinals’ and Blues’ coaching scenarios are awfully similar.
Let me start this off by saying this. I am not a Matheny hater. I am also not a Matheny fan3. He’s definitely made some questionable choices, however, you can’t dog the guy with no coaching experience prior to taking this position that has gotten the results he has in his short tenure so far with the Birds.
Obviously, Matheny is not completely to blame for the way the Cardinals season has gone so far and some of that blame should also be placed on the players too. I don’t necessarily want to see him lose his job, but I don’t see the players losing their’s anytime soon either.
Now this article may suggest I do want him gone, but this is mainly just a simple observation of 2 coaching situations that have eerily similar characteristics. Maybe I am just hoping that these comparisons make their way to DeWitt and Co.4 so that they become a little more open-minded, or hell, hold some more people accountable for the results5.
Let’s dive in.
Comparison: “He’s our guy”
This phrase is probably thrown around in a lot of interviews with managers, but I haven’t heard it said as much as Hitch and Matheny and they contradict themselves by playing other players.
Example: “Wong’s our guy at second.”
Example: “Allen’s our guy.”
This examples are a little tough due to injuries and other players out-performing these guys, but then again don’t use that phrase as often. They used it a lot.
This one goes along with the “he’s our guy” comparison slightly. When a player is used to hitting in one spot of the lineup, or used to playing with the same 2 guys on a line, don’t switch that up if its working. Hitch would constantly change lines even if the Blues put up 5 goals with the lines from the previous game. The Birds score 10, then next game its the rest your starters game.
Now I understand getting your players rest and days off is crazy important with seasons being as long as they are. However, athletes these days are trained better and more intelligently to not need as many days off as these guys are getting. And with advances in modern medicine, they recover quicker too6. Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Comparison: Perceived personality
This one is just pure personal opinion because I don’t obviously know Hitch or Matheny in the slightest. Based on video interviews though, these two guys are too damn serious. Sure, Hitch would throw some sarcastic jokes in his post game interviews from time to time and I guess Matheny does too, but when they’re on the bench, it is serious business, no jokes, no smiles, nothing. Even if they’re winning.
“David, it’s a business. Serious business.”
I get that it’s a business and about making money. If players are unhappy and its causing them to suck, which then causes the team to lose, then you won’t make as much money7. But you’re telling me you’d rather work for a guy who doesn’t like having fun, versus a guy who does?
Sure, when a team is losing a lot, its hard to have fun, so the coaches need to be serious then. But the Blues and Cards (minus this season and last) have won more than they have lost, so have some damn fun Coach.
Comparison: Coaching record
Hitchcock – 6 seasons:
- 60% winning percentage during regular season.
- Finished 1st or 2nd in division in 4 full seasons.
- 42% winning percentage in postseason.
Matheny – 6 seasons:
- 56% winning percentage during regular season.
- Finished 1st or 2nd in division in 5 full seasons.
- 48% winning percentage in postseason.
Stats don’t lie, close similarities here too.
Comparison: Clubhouse “beefs”
Hitchcock appeared to have beef with a couple players, or at least players appeared to have beef with him. Notably Alex Steen.
Here come the boys of winter. #stlblues #WinterClassic pic.twitter.com/4gGGXx3w1y
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 2, 2017
Steen and Rattie both get no love in the handshake line, interesting eh?
Not going to dive deep within the Card’s so-called beefs, but will list out the players involved. Molina. Pham. Wong. Molina again.
I’d like to point out that these beefs are mostly speculation in my eyes. These situations could be blown out of proportion by the media8 and no one besides the parties involved really know exactly what’s going on. Hence, the “beefs” with quotes.
Comparison: Support from upper management
Hitch and GM Doug Armstrong were basically best friends. He was very emotional when they announced the coaching change. Don’t get me wrong, that was nice to see that this is more than a business to some people.
DeWitt and Mo gave Matheny a 3 year extension and have constantly harped that he’s “our guy.” The irony there is killing me.
But now just think, the Blues fired a future HOF coach. Read that again. A HOF COACH. The team wasn’t performing and he appeared to have lost respect in the clubhouse. Sound familiar?
Note: I do realize that this comparison applies to all coaches and their upper management otherwise they wouldn’t have the jobs they have in the first place, so just shut up.
Comparison: Coach in waiting
The Blues were completely transparent with the Hitchcock/Yeo scenario. We knew Hitch was leaving at the end of the season and handing the reins off to Yeo. No drama there except the fact the Hitch didn’t get through the whole season like we all know.
Now with the Cardinals, it’s extremely hard to ignore the success of the Card’s AAA affiliate Memphis Redbirds and their manager, Stubby Clapp. They’re currently 70-37 and they even keep winning when their best players are getting promoted to the majors.
AAA broadcaster, Steve Selby, was recently interviewed9 on 101 ESPN, and he said, “[Stubby] manages like he played… he plays hard… he plays with passion… he has fun… and that’s how he runs this ballclub and it’s spread throughout the clubhouse.”
I’m not necessarily saying that this is going to happen and nowhere in the Birds organization has it been said that there is a coach in waiting, but technically, Stubby Clapp is a coach and he’s likely waiting to be promoted because of his success. Either way, I know some of us are waiting impatiently for that change.
There it is folks. The crazy10 similarities between our teams’ past and current coaching situations. The Blues of course went with the change and appeared to benefit immediately. Players seemed to have more fun and therefore performed better and in turn got the fans back in the good graces of the organization.
So could the Cardinals actually benefit from a manager change? Maybe. Maybe not11. Is Matheny just the blame target for players who are underperforming? Do we just think so much of the players that it couldn’t possibly be their fault? Maybe. Maybe not.
Nonetheless, you can’t ignore the way things played out with the Blues and maybe the Cards should follow in their footsteps to put a jolt into this team and organization.
Okay, maybe I do want him to lose his job. Sorry Matheny.
- Give us a follow by the way.
- At least to me.
- As a coach, that is.
- They won’t.
- Also not going to happen.
- Couldn’t find a gif or clip of that quote from Talladega Nights.
- And now myself, I guess. Damn it.
- Part about Clapp is at 5:03.
- Again, in my opinion.
- Most of you probably just screamed YES at the screen.