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A Fan’s View: Can the Yankees Faithful Not Cheer for Don Mattingly?
It may have something to do with the man's the class. Perhaps it's his legacy in connection with the New York Yankees. Maybe it's the fact he deserved a World Series ring or two. Or maybe it's because of his courageous battle to play despite his balky back.
No matter what the reason, it's very difficult for even the most steadfast fan of the New York Yankees not to be rooting for Don Mattingly - even as he manages the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mattingly Era
Don Mattingly was selected by New York in the 19th round of the 1979 amateur draft. Anytime a player is drafted that late he is an underdog. For Mattingly this was just simply a challenge given little was expected from him.
He made his major league debut for the Yankees in 1982 at 21-years of age supplanting veteran John
Mayberry Sr. and the disappointing Steve Balboni at first base. These were tough times as many Yankee fans remember. They went through three managers that season (Bob Lemon, Gene Michael, and Clyde King) and were on the verge of rehiring Billy Martin who eventually took over the roll in 1983.
They finished the 1982 season 79-83.
The Mattingly Era was marred with awful signings by the Yankees, scandal leading to disciplinary action against owner George Steinbrenner, and an extended playoff drought.
During his entire tenure with the Yankees, the only season they made the playoffs was his last when they abruptly bowed out to the Seattle Mariners in the first-round.
The Mattingly legacy
"Donnie Baseball" was the pre-Derek Jeter face of the franchise. He displayed a combination of class, athleticism, and work ethic. He was a beacon of light in a time fans of the Yankees clamored for something, anything, to root for.
In 1985 he drove in 145 runs and managed 100-plus RBI in five seasons. In 1987 he homered in eight consecutive games. He won the batting title in 1984 and captured nine Gold Gloves. Mattingly was a six time all-star.
In a bizarre twist, despite being left-handed, he made three appearances at third base (2 starts) in 1986. He made one error in 13 chances.
But that was Don Mattingly - doing anything he could to push the Yankees past the finish line.
Mattingly finished his career .307/222/1099/1007/14. Absurdly, he walked 588 times with just 444 strikeouts.
Mattingly and the 2012 Dodgers
No one is going to confuse the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers with the New York Yankees. There is no Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera or Mark Teixeira on the Dodgers. Yet there is Matt Kemp to build around. There is also stud starter Clayton Kershaw. Los Angeles potentially has one of baseball's best bullpens with Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen closing out games.
In other words, they are hardly desolate.
While they certainly aren't the favorites to win the NL West, the division is weak compared to the NL and AL East divisions. Going to the playoffs isn't out of the question for this team. Stranger things have happened.
Besides, from this side of the country it would only be fitting for "Donnie Baseball" to succeed.
Sources: Yahoo! Sports
Robert Watkins is former investment professional and partner. A native New Yorker until 9/11, he considers Pa. his adoptive home. A passionate Yankees fan and Pennsylvania sports enthusiast, Robert is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.
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