Like any other business, baseball can be ruthless. Just ask every manager who has hung up the phone or walked out of the owner’s office unemployed.
Managers being fired is just one of the many harsh realities attached to the game. It happens every year, at every level. It’s something they all know is coming eventually when they sign up for the job. But the dismissal of Doug Mientkiewicz, a former major leaguer who had been serving as manager of the Twins’ Single-A affiliate, the Fort Meyers Miracles, has raised some eyebrows.
That’s because Mientkiewicz is currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which damaged his home in the Florida Keys.
Mientkiewicz learned the news on Friday, not long after his cell phone service had been restored. It served as the latest gut punch in a week filled with them. He was working to help his community clean up and get back on its feet when the phone rang, and not surprisingly he’s pretty upset about what transpired during that call.
He hasn’t held back in the 24 hours since, telling the Star Tribune that the timing and handling of the decision was less than professional.
“I’ve been cutting down trees up and down the block, cleaning up after the hurricane, and watching the National Guard go up and down the street. My cellphone was out for several days, and then I got a call today. I’m out here working my rear end off, dealing with the remnants of the hurricane, and they call to tell me I’m fired. You think they will ever do something professional as an organization?”
It’s tough not to feel for Mientkiewicz given the circumstances. Most can only imagine what it’s like going through the anticipation and aftermath of such a powerful storm, not knowing when your life will return to some semblance of normalcy. It’s a situation we wouldn’t wish on anyone. But, again, this is what baseball managers sign up for. Baseball and business go on, and in Mientkiewicz’s case he at least knew this possibility existed.
“I wasn’t shocked, because I had a message that changes were taking place,” Mientkiewicz said. “I feel bad for the kids who played for me, including the ones I managed that are helping the Twins make a run for the playoffs right now. Ask any of them about me as a manager.”
As much as the timing bothered him, Mientkiewicz was even more bothered by the lack of communication from Twins general manager Thad Levine and CBO Derek Falvey. Instead, he received the news from director of minor league operations Brad Steil, who refused to divulge why the decision was made and who was responsible for making it.
That part is understandably frustrating. One would think a guy who was drafted by the Twins in 1995, represented the franchise as a player for seven years, and now as a minor league manager, would garner a little more respect. Mientkiewicz says the Twins brass offered him next to nothing in terms of feedback throughout the entire season.
The whole situation seems a bit odd and undoubtedly runs deeper than what we’ve heard. The timing though is definitely unfortunate, and that doesn’t reflect very well on the Twins. More than anything though, it’s a harsh reminder that baseball at the professional level will always be business first.
BLS H/N: Sporting News
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