Chris Hrabe Says The St. Louis Cardinals Firing Manager Mike Matheny Was Inevitable

“For the last three years, they haven’t won,” Chris Hrabe said

Ferrall On The Bench
October 30, 2018 - 10:45 am
MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals

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From the look of things, the St. Louis Cardinals are about to enter a little bit of a transition period.

After beginning the 2018 campaign 47-46 – and on pace to miss the playoffs for the third straight year for the first time since 1997-99 – the Cardinals fired manager Mike Matheny with the hope of rebooting their season.

St. Louis Cardinals pre- and post-game host Chris Hrabe joined CBS Sports Radio to discuss the reasoning behind the mid-season dismissal. From Hrabe’s perspective, it was only a matter of time before Matheny was fired. Still, Hrabe was surprised that it happened during the middle of the season.

“The thing that really drove this was for the last three years, they haven’t won,” Hrabe said on Ferrall on the Bench. “He inherited an incredible team – a World Series team – after the 2011 season. His record – wins and losses – speaks for itself. However, the last two-and-a-half years, they have not won, and for a team that operates like the Cardinals, I think that got to be unacceptable. I was surprised by the timing because Bill DeWitt Jr. operates a little bit like the Rooneys (Pittsburgh Steelers). I think that’s a pretty good comparison. Thinking about how the Steelers operate, it’s kind of a family business and they don’t like to fire people. This is the first time since Joe Torre was the manager like 20 years ago that they made a move in-season, and that is what surprised me. Not the fact that they parted ways with Mike Matheny. I thought it would happen by the end of this year. It’s been the same .500 team the last three seasons. That has not changed, so the manager changed.”

Matheny also reportedly failed to address and quell tension within the locker room. Still, Hrabe thinks the main reason Matheny was fired was because he failed to win games.

“I think that you always get those stories when a team is not playing well,” Hrabe said. “If this team was 20 games above .500 right now, nobody cares about that. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of the off-the-field stuff is only magnified and brought to the forefront because there isn’t really anything to focus on the field. I think that every team has their issues. Baseball is a long season. You start in February in Spring Training, and you spend every single damn day with the same people until almost the end of October. There’s going to be stuff that comes up, but when things are going great, there’s other stuff to write about. When things aren’t going great, there’s not.”

According to Hrabe, Matheny’s dismissal carries a lot more emotional weight on the Cardinals fan base than most would realize. Being a former player that won three Gold Gloves with the franchise, Matheny was considered a beloved icon among fans, and his failure as a manager only cements itself as a painful reminder about the overlying theme on sports heroes — they are only human, and none of them are perfect.

“When Mike Matheny was hired in 2011, he was such a fan favorite,” Hrabe said. “He kind of epitomized the Cardinals and the blue-collar, old-school mentality. You were riding such a high after that 2011 World Series – when they came back from the tomb to even make the playoffs, but then win the World Series. Add onto that they hire a legend from the organization, a guy that really cemented himself within Cardinals lore. So you hire this guy, and often times I think when that happens, you’re flying a little too close to the sun.

“I talked to a buddy of mine today who is the biggest Cardinals fan that I know," Hrabe continued,  "and he said, ‘I don’t know what is bumming me out (more) – the fact that we had to fire him, or the fact that I just realized that he’s not that good of a manager.' I think that’s kind of the intersection that fans are now grappling with because you don’t want one of your heroes to let you down. I think that’s been hard to reconcile, but hopefully at least you’re turning the page for not only the better of this season, but better for 2019 and the future.”