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War Crimes: Baseball, Politics and the ‘Who’s-to-Blame’ Game


Can we hold baseball managers responsible when their teams underperform? Usually not. Terry Collins gets a pass while the Mets flounder: everybody knows a team with a largely triple-A lineup can’t win. Donnie Mattingly is a different story. He can be excused for overseeing the performance of an injury-depleted Dodger team. (How long the front-office honors the excuse is something for Donnie’s many fans to worry about.)

The toughest recent case of a manager held to account for a team’s flop was the saga of Bobby Valentine, hired over the new GM’s wishes in Boston last season. Asked to preside over a dysfunctional team that would be dismembered halfway through the summer, Bobby was fired a year before his contract ended. Surely part of a shared-blame situation, he nevertheless had to take the fall for what happened...