St. Louis felt the decision had to be made. After all, the Cardinals were hoping to make the postseason, since here they were just one game over .500 at the All-Star break. Then manager Mike Matheny was fired after two straight losses to Cincinnati, making way for interim captain Mike Schildt.
Had the front office studied the 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 luckily they didn’t fire their manager.
In reality, the 2017 Cubs’ situation was even slightly worse than the current Cardinals’, as Chicago was two games under .500 and had lost three of its last four heading into the Midsummer Classic. Those results were deemed unacceptable for the team that seven months earlier had brought home the organization’s first World Series Championship in more than a hundred years, and the overwhelming favorites to win it all again.
Many fans in the Windy City feared that Joe Madden had lost the managerial wizardry he had the previous season, as his star-studded Cubs had spent exactly zero days atop the NL Central. Not only did the hope of repeating the 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 opted to stick with his employer, and that patience was clearly rewarded.
Madden made the Cubs play much better after the All-Star break, and by September they had beaten the Milwaukee Brewers to win first place. They kept that momentum going for the rest of the regular season, after which they disposed of the Washington Nationals in the NL Championship Series.
Although they fell just a few outs away from winning their second straight pennant, the Cubs had still pulled off a huge 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 the Cardinals, who haven’t made the postseason for two straight seasons, would be thrilled to finish where the Cubs did last year. If his front office had exercised the same patience as Epstein and his staff, St. Louis would have a better chance of getting there.
Instead, they chose the easy way out, firing the manager. That tactic is often one hopeless teams resort to, so what does that say about the current state of the St. Louis Cardinals?