St. Louis felt a decision had to be made. After all, the Cardinals were hoping to make the postseason, as here they were just one game over .500 at the All-Star break. So manager Mike Matheny was fired after two straight losses to Cincinnati, giving way to interim captain Mike Schildt.
If the main office had studied very recent history within its own division, St. Louis might have shown more patience. The team the Cardinals are chasing right now was in much the same situation last season, but thankfully they didn’t fire their manager.
In reality, the 2017 Cubs’ situation was even slightly worse than the current Cardinals, because Chicago was two games under .500 and had lost three of the last four heading into the Summer Classic. Those results were deemed unacceptable for the team that seven months earlier took home the organization’s first World Series Championship in more than a hundred years, and overwhelming favorites to win it all again.
Many fans in Windy City feared that Joe Madden had lost the administrative magic he had had the previous season, as his star-studded Cubs had spent exactly zero days at the top of the NL central division. Not only did the hope of a replay of a World Series Championship look bleak, but so did the likelihood of qualifying for the postseason.
General manager Theo Epstein could have fired Madden at that point, just as St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak did with Matheny. Instead, Epstein chose to stay with his employer, and that patience was clearly rewarded.
Madden made the Cubs play much better after the All-Star break, and in September they had passed the Milwaukee Brewers to win first place. They maintained that momentum for the remainder of the regular season, after which they got rid of the Washington Nationals in the National League Championship Series.
Despite falling just a few short of winning their second straight pennant, the Cubs had still 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.
There’s no question that the Cardinals, who haven’t made the postseason for two straight seasons, would be delighted to finish where the Cubs did last year. If your main office had the same patience as Epstein and his staff, St. Louis would have a better chance of getting there.
Instead, they chose the easier route, firing the manager. That tactic is often the one desperate teams resort to, so what does that say about the current state of the St. Louis Cardinals?