St. Louis felt that the decision had to be made. After all, the Cardinals had been expecting to reach the postseason, as here they were at only a game over .500 at the All-Star break. So manager Mike Matheny was fired after two straight losses to Cincinnati, giving way to interim skipper Mike Schildt.
Had the front office studied very recent history within its own division, St. Louis might have exhibited more patience. The team the Cardinals are chasing right now were in nearly the same situation just last season, but thankfully they did not fire their manager.
Actually, the situation of the 2017 Cubs was even a little worse than that of the current Cardinals, for Chicago was two games under .500 and had lost three of the last four heading into the Midsummer Classic. Those results were deemed unacceptable for the team that had seven months before brought home the organization’s first World Series Championship in over a hundred years, and the overwhelming favorites to win it all again.
Many fans in the Windy City feared that Joe Madden has lost the managerial magic he had held the previous season, as his star studded Cubs had spent exactly zero days atop the National League Central division. Not only did the hope for a repeat of a World Series Championship appear bleak, but also even the likelihood of qualifying for the postseason.
General Manager Theo Epstein could have bade farewell to Madden at that point, just as St. Louis GM John Mozeliak just did to Matheny. Instead, Epstein chose to stick with his skipper, and that patience was clearly rewarded.
Madden had the Cubs playing much better after the All-Star break, and by September they had passed the Milwaukee Brewers to gain first place. They carried that momentum through the rest of the regular season, after which they disposed of the Washington Nationals in the National League Championship Series.
Even though they fell just a few outs short of winning their second consecutive pennant, the Cubs still had mounted a great comeback without taking the drastic step of replacing their manager. Certainly Chicago would have preferred another World Series Championship but, considering how far behind they were in July, it was quite a feat for Madden to get them to the playoffs at all.
There is no doubt that the Cardinals, who have not reached the postseason for two straight seasons now, would be thrilled to finish where the Cubs did last year. Had their front office exercised the same patience as Epstein and his staff, St. Louis would have a better chance to get there.
Instead, they chose the easy way, firing the manager. That tactic is usually one hopeless teams resort to, so what does that say about the current state of the St. Louis Cardinals?