So now comes the news that Don Mattingly is about to be named the manager of the Miami Marlins, and the Washington Nationals are about to hand the reins to Bud Black. And again it occurs to me, as it frequently does where baseball is concerned, that I have seen this before.
Mainly it's because I have.
I'm not too young to remember, for instance, the day Mattingly was hired by the Dodgers in L.A., or the day Black got the call from the Padres. I also remember the day Black was fired 65 games into the season just past, and the day -- a week or so ago -- when the Dodgers decided they'd had enough of Donnie Baseball.
Yet Donnie was unemployed for roughly 12 minutes, and Black for only slightly longer. It all lends credence to my theory that there are in reality only as many major league managers as there are major league teams, and that those teams simply swap them back and forth the way those of us of a certain age used to swap baseball cards.
My Jerry Grote for your Jose Cardenal. Your Oscar Gamble for my Sudden Sam McDowell. You get the idea.
Now it's the Marlins picking up Mattingly from the Dodgers, and the Nationals snapping up the Padres' discard, Black. Who knows how long before they get passed on again?
One of the knocks on Mattingly, for instance, is that he didn't speak a lick of Spanish, and therefore didn't relate well to Yasiel Puig and the rest of the Dodgers' Hispanic players. Yet he's going now to a team that has nine players from either Cuba, the Dominican Republic or South America. How's it going to go any better for him in Miami?
As for Black ... well, the Nationals are getting a guy who won less than half his games (.477) in San Diego. Yes, he was the 2010 National League Manager of the Year -- but that same season he also presided over the worst collapse in Padres history when the team lost 10 straight, went 12-16 in September and blew a 6 1/2-game lead over the Giants.
At least in that regard he'll be on familiar ground with the Nats, whose collapse this season lasted the entire summer after they were tabbed in the spring as a favorite to reach the World Series. Instead, they didn't even make the playoffs.
But a guy with a sub-.500 career record's gonna turn it around?
Full disclosure compels me to admit that part of why I mention all this is because no one seems willing to give Fort Wayne native Eric Wedge another shot, and Wedge is a friend of mine. But I'd be shaking my head even if that were not the case.
Then again ... I'm still shaking my head over that Grote-for-Cardenal deal. So, there's that.