Body language is everything in photo by AP's Nick Ut, one of the media photographers featured in Jon SooHoo's gallery from today's press conference at Dodger Stadium.
Today's press conference at Dodger Stadium was on the grim side, judging by team photographer Jon SooHoo's portraits of the media members in attendance. Barely a smile could be seen among the three dozen-plus shots of sportswriters, bloggers and photogs who listened as Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly summarized the season. "Awkward and revealing," said the LAT's Steve Dilbeck of Colletti and Mattingly sharing the same table, not exactly with warmth. "Tantalizingly awkward and uncomfortable and dramatic," wrote Jill Painter of the Los Angeles News Group. Colletti said the usual stuff about the season just concluded, and said he had never lost confidence in Mattingly, even when the Dodgers were losing. Mattingly surprised the room by saying his $1.4 million contract option to return next year kicked in when the Dodgers won the division series over Atlanta, and adding "that doesn’t mean I’ll be back."
Colletti said the precise future of Mattingly and his coaches would not be discussed internally until later this week. But Mattingly, veering way off the party line, made it clear he's stung by the Dodgers leaving him in lame duck status all season. He said he wants to manage where he is valued and trusted, and apparently alluded to other openings around baseball. "Monday was either the last time Don Mattingly will appear publicly as the Los Angeles Dodgers' manager, or the first day of his new long-term contract," ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne wrote afterward. Ken Gurnick at MLB.com:
Mattingly hinted that he not only needed a multiple-year contract to lift the lame-duck status, but assurances from owners that they trust his ability. His original contract was guaranteed for three years.
"It puts me in a spot where everything I do is questioned. Because I'm basically trying out, auditioning to say, `Can you manage a team or not manage?' It's a tough spot. To me, it gets to that point where three years in you either know or you don't," Mattingly said.
"When you're put in this position, the organization basically says, `We don't know if you can manage or not.' That's the position I've been in all year long. So, that's not a great position for me as a manager. That's the way the organization wanted it last year. That's fine. At this point, it is what it is.
Outfielder Matt Kemp, meanwhile, underwent ankle surgery today in North Carolina and may not be fully ready to play by spring training. Apparently, Colletti told the media this morning that he was not aware of any Dodgers facing surgery. A few hours later the Dodgers confirmed the Kemp news. This ticked off at least LA Times beat reporter Dylan Hernandez, who seemed fed up in a tweet: "Colletti said today there were no surgeries scheduled. Kemp's might've already been done, but, man, can't these people ever tell the truth?," he posted, then added: "The #Dodgers seem no more honest now than they were under McCourt. Will be interesting to see how image changes if they ever start losing."
Then tonight, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and others posted that Sue Falsone — for the past two seasons the only female head trainer in a major sport, famously — had resigned. There's no reporting on what is behind the move, but Gurnick does point out that the Dodgers did put players on the disabled list 25 times (with an aging, injury-prone roster.) Falsone gave a statement:
It is with a heavy heart to say that I will not be returning to the LA Dodgers in order to pursue other opportunities within my career. I would like to thank ownership, Ned Colletti and Stan Conte for the incredible opportunity they have given me, not only over the last two years as the head athletic trainer and physical therapist, but for the six years I have been involved with the organization. To be a part of such a storied organization has truly been my honor.
I'd like to thank Don [Mattingly] and the coaches for welcoming me as part of their staff. I'd like to thank fans for their incredible support they have shown me in so many ways. And finally, thank you to the players and their families for allowing me to be a part of your lives and healthcare. You are truly the reason I do what I do.
Conte is senior director of medical services. Dilbeck posted that Falsone apparently made the decision on her own to leave, "though it’s doubtful she could have been thrilled the Dodgers forced [Conte] back on the field this season." Assistant trainers Nancy Patterson Flynn and Greg Harrel will return, Dilbeck says. On Twitter, Karina Longworth posted: "I can't wait to read the 'here's why Sue Falsone resigned' story that the Dodgers will never let happen."
It is with a heavy heart to say that I will not be returning to the LA Dodgers in order to pursue other opportunities within my career.— Sue Falsone (@suefalsone) October 22, 2013
In other Dodgers highlights from a season that ended in a bust:
- They signed Cuban-defector infield prospect Alexander Guerrero to a four-year deal that includes a $10 million signing bonus and the right to free agency at the end of the four years. He is 26 and has never played professionally outside Cuba.
- Dilbeck warned that the stakes on Yasiel Puig are too high for the "apologists" to get in the way of his learning how to play baseball. Puig's mental screw-ups, especially in the final game against the Cardinals, can be fixed with the right coaching. Dilbeck doesn't dwell on this, but I wonder if Puig's alienating of the umpires the night before led to the strike zone being squeezed on Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers' final meltdown in St. Louis.
- Howard Cole, the Dodgers writer for the LA Weekly, tweeted that Mattingly sealed his fate by going rogue at the press conference: "Prediction: Mattingly out by tomorrow, Wednesday latest."