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Memo to Magic Johnson: Turns out Don Mattingly's job was at risk

August 07, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Magic Johnson said the decision whether or not to fire Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly "was never discussed" on July 31.
Magic Johnson said the decision whether or not to fire Dodgers Manager Don… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

I’m so confused. I mean, more than normally. No, really, even more than that.

Last week Magic Johnson, smiling face of your Los Angeles Dodgers, told The Times’ Helene Elliott that even when the team got off to its miserable start, there was not a single thought given to firing Manager Don Mattingly.

“It was never discussed,” Magic said.

Patience was the call of the day, he said. The team had to be smart and wait out the injuries and -- ta-da! -- look at them now! Regular geniuses.

Only Tuesday in St. Louis, Mattingly told reporters that earlier this season team president Stan Kasten told him directly that if the team did not turn things around, his job was in jeopardy.

“Stan was really honest” about the prospect of changing managers, Mattingly said. “He didn't want to do anything, but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I’ve got to do something.'”

Hmm, what to think? Makes the head spin, though it seems pretty clear Mattingly’s potential dismissal was discussed, what with it actually having been talked about with Mattingly.

Was Magic lying? Suppose it’s possible, though I highly doubt it. Was he simply out of the loop? Ah, now we could be getting somewhere.

Remember, despite his early pledge, Magic has not been around much. This conversation between Kasten and Mattingly would have taken place during the NBA playoffs when Magic’s busy being a TV commentator, not when he’s off on his annual one-month summer vacation in the Mediterranean.

Apparently Magic learned Mattingly’s job actually was in jeopardy the same way most people did -- he read about it. That’s curious for someone the Dodgers trot out at every major press conference like he’s just so involved in the team maneuverings.

Only he’s not, of course. Which is not to say he never is. Certainly he must be involved in major decisions -- he did put down some $50 million for his ownership stake -- but he’s an extremely busy man, involved in a wealth of pursuits and spends much of his time traveling the country.

Maybe he answered a question he should not have, maybe he was fudging his reply, or just possibly he truly believed he was giving an accurate response.

Magic admitted from the very beginning he was not a baseball expert and would leave baseball decisions to Kasten and General Manager Ned Colletti. It would be hard for him -- almost like admitting some personal weakness -- but he should leave the baseball questions to them too.

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