Yadier Molina was already at home on Saturday night when he learned of the news of Mike Matheny’s dismissal by watching television.
“I was surprised,” said Molina. “I got a text from Mike explaining what happened. You never want to see and hear that. But I guess it’s part of the game, could happen to anyone. Just bad news.”
Greg Holland had his brother call him with the news, which he doubted until confirmation from a teammate. Kolten Wong learned via social media.
Adam Wainwright found out the news via text and later spoke with Matheny.
“He was very gracious of the opportunity,” said Wainwright. “I would not say he seemed disappointed, I just know he was. He was just in a mood of appreciation, actually, of the time that he did get to spend here which is a good way to look at things.”
As for how most of the players looked at the St. Louis Cardinals firing their manager in the middle of the season, it was more a statement on their own performance.
“I think so, when you see that happen it’s because us as players are not doing our job,” said Molina. “I hate to say that, but that’s what it is. We’re not doing our job and the blame’s on us.”
And even with their struggles this season, the move of firing Matheny was not expected.
“The only sense I had was that I needed to do better myself,” said Holland. “As a group, I think that’s what we all had a sense of. There’s a collective unit, but individually if we all do better than we’re going to play better. So for me, it fell on me. I felt like it was a ‘what could I do better, what should I have done better?'”
“What happened today was a wake up call for all of us,” agreed Wainwright. “Knowing that this game is a finite game for all of us. At some point, it’s going to be over for all of us and if you don’t play like you’re supposed to be playing, then bad things happen. People get moved, managers get fired, hitting coaches get fired, people get traded, and people get released–all kinds of bad stuff. What we can control is going out and playing the game. Playing the brand of ball that we should be playing. If we do that, then things will fall into place. I think we have a lot of really positive things coming out of here today after our meeting, we just–it’s time to move on, it’s time for our team to start playing better.”
“A lot of guys, we kind of had a group text going last night and wanted to come together,” shared Kolten Wong. “Even though Mike lost his job, this has a lot to do about us. It’s about us stepping up, playing more collectively together as a team, and trying to do what we can to redirect the path we were going on.”
And while the last two and a half seasons have been frustrating in terms of record, ‘winner’ was an adjective commonly used by the players in describing Matheny.
“Until these last couple years, we were highly successful with him as manager,” said Wainwright. “Deep runs into the playoffs, been to the World Series, been to the NLCS a few times–he’s a winner. Glad we got to win for him. One of my only regrets is that we didn’t win a championship for him. We almost did in ’13 and we could have in ’12 and we just kind of let it slip through our fingers.”
“He was a good person, he was a good leader,” said Molina. “The stint that he had here, the seven years–he was a winner. The record shows he was a winner, hopefully the fans remember that.”
While there has been a lot of speculation about the nature of their relationship, Dexter Fowler offered a compliment in his reaction to the change.
“I respect the hell out of Mike,” said Dexter Fowler. “He’s a winner. You don’t coach that long in the big leagues if you don’t know what you’re doing. Obviously, we had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, he’s a good man.”
“Mabes and them were great, but at the end of the day we didn’t play up to our potential. You never want to see anybody, you be at the brunt of it, to cost them their jobs.”
For some of the younger players, like Paul DeJong, this was the first time they had ever been on a team that experienced a managerial change during the season.
“It’s not an easy decision for anybody,” said DeJong. “The best we can do is just try to move forward. I thank Mike, and Mabry, and Mueller for all the work they did and all the help they did in supporting me. I’m forever thankful for that.”
“Looking back, I’m just so appreciative of the time I had with Michael,” said Wainwright. “He’s a mentor to me, still is. A friend to me, a spiritual mentor, and a figure in my life that I always know I can count on and trust.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports