Ethics Dunce: Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly


When new Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly chose Barry Bonds as his batting coach, it was considered a bold move. Bonds, after all, is simultaneously baseball’s all-time home run champion, holding both the single season and career records, and its biggest cheat, having achieved both records while being secretly, illegally and unethically assisted by steroids. In addition to knowing how to cheat, Bonds undeniably knows how to hit (he was a great hitter before he decided to mutate himself), so this was a chance at redemption for Barry, as well as an opportunity to soften some of the sports media antipathy toward his conduct and character which has so far kept him out of the MLB Hall of Fame.

Asked this week how Barry Bonds was doing as batting coach, Mattingly replied,

“Him getting used to the coaching part of it is a work in progress from a standpoint of the amount of time and the preparation. You see [assistant hitting coach Frankie Menichino] still doing a lot of the prep work. Barry is still getting into the routine of the ugly side of coaching — being here at 1, and studying video, and studying on the plane and you don’t get a chance to watch movies, and things like that. It just depends how good you want to be as a coach. If you want to be a really good coach, you’ve got to do the work.”

Translation: “So far, Barry’s been lazy and isn’t doing his job. His assistant is doing it for him. The job requires a lot of hard, tedious work, and Barry hasn’t shown that he’s willing to do it. At this point, he not a good coach.”

Ethics foul. Mattingly was a fool to hire Bonds, and MLB is wrong to let this sport-wide ethics corrupter set foot in a clubhouse. Bonds is a living, breathing advertisement for the proposition that cheating pays, and should not be trusted not to promote that proposition to young players. Having hired Bonds, however, Mattingly still is obligated to treat him fairly and professionally.

It is not fair and professional to make a negative job review public by communicating it to the news media. Mattingly gave a critique of Bonds’ performance that should have passed from him to Bonds, and only from him to Bonds, in private. Attacking Bonds—and it was an attack, if a passive aggressive one—in the press is unfair, irresponsible, disrespectful, a betrayal of trust, and also cowardly.

Mattingly’s job is called “manager,” and this is atrocious, unethical management. He owes Bonds an apology, and if I were Marlins management, I would be thinking very hard about whether Don Mattingly is qualified for his job.


13 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly

  1. I coundn’t agree more. Bonds never should have been hired but should be treated professionally.

    Mattingly’s lack of an understanding of human relations and motivational techniques probably explains why Mattingly’s Dodgers’ teams never achieved the heights of accomplishment to which they seemed to have been destined.

  2. What might be an appropriate answer to the question then? Is it essentially a bad question with no appropriate answer?

      • But he’s not doing fine, so as a fan I would resent that answer. I guess the question is, do managers have any obligation to inform the fans, through the media, of their thought process or decision making?

        • As a fan, you would resent Mattingly acting as you would want your boss to act if you were in Bonds’ position? Was your supervisor in the habit of sending out press releases and interview about why you didn’t get a raise or promotion? The Golden Rule even applies to Barry Bonds.

    • How about, ‘He’s getting used to the coaching side of baseball. Obviously, this is a new role for Barry so there is an expected learning curve here. He’s making the type of progress we expect.’

  3. Does the analysis change if this had been communicated to Bonds and he has done nothing to improve? Does public shaming of someone you want to do well (if only to cover your own ass) have a place?

  4. Not that it makes any difference to Jack’s analysis, but I bet the entire Bonds as hitting coach idea was forced upon Mattingly by the Marlins GM or ownership. Or maybe even ownership was pressured by MLB to hire Bonds. Bonds’ hiring by the Marlins is inexplicable. Among many other things, wasn’t Bonds a clubhouse cancer? Why hire a clubhouse cancer as a coach? Weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. I doubt Mattingly will even make it through the season in Miami.

    • I don’t think Mattingly is dumb. He may be confronted by a full on dumpster fire and this was his only way out. How do you hire a guy who wouldn’t talk to anyone to be a coach? What’s there to coaching besides talking and demonstrating things. I’ve never heard of a surly coach. Preposterous.

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