It's April Fools' Day and Don Mattingly awakens to a perfect world
For one day, all was right in the Dodgers’ world.
Clayton Kershaw really did look like the next coming of Sandy Koufax, Matt Kemp really was more disciplined at the plate, Juan Uribe really was a valuable off-season addition, the Dodgers were more aggressive on the bases and Jonathan Broxton was going to make you nervous but get the job done.
Check back after Saturday, and maybe the Dodgers’ world will have spun off its axis again. But in Thursday’s opener they were left happy and still feeling good about their spring.
"Obviously we know it’s just one," Manager Don Mattingly said. "We’re not going to get too giddy."
Yep, that’s one of 162. The road is so long, so grueling, it’s best not to think about it.
Yet if it’s only one, it was the only game that will ever be Mattingly's managerial debut. And no matter what happens the rest of the way, Mattingly can always say he won his first game as a major league manager.
"Yeah, I’ll always have that," he said.
Mattingly became the Dodgers’ ninth manager Thursday. He is the first rookie manager to defeat the defending World Series champions in his debut since Lou Piniella led the Yankees over the Kansas City Royals on April 8, 1986.
Those Yankees finished 90-72, 5½ games back of the Boston Red Sox. Piniella’s soft-spoken first baseman was Mattingly.
On a muggy Thursday night, there were not any tough postgame questions for Mattingly. No lineup card snafus, no two trips to the mound, no real quizzing of any managerial decisions. Just handshakes and congratulations.
Those tougher days are inevitable, and could come as soon as Friday. Still, nothing will ever erase the first one, when all was right in Mattingly’s world.
-- Steve Dilbeck