Ned's comments to the media today did nothing but raise more questions about the whole firing situation.
Mark A. had said that he asked Ned for reasons and solutions for the most recent slide and when Ned had none, he was dismissed. Today, Ned said that he was told he was dismissed the second he walked into the room and the questions were asked after that. Mark A intimated that Ned's answers (or lack thereof) directly led to the dismissal, but Ned disagrees.
The tone garnered from most of Ned's quotes is one of bewilderment and I actually find that bit a little shocking. Mark A has made no bones about the fact that this season is do or die. My reaction to that mantra was well documented heading into this season. Ned had to know that his head was on the block and that there would have to be answers for 2 straight seasons of blowing a lead so late. Last year the Crew lost a 8.5 game lead on the Central - one they had late into July. This year it was a 5.5 game lead on the wildcard that has completely dissipated with a 3-11 start to September.
Ned said he was happy with the job he did, didn't have hard feelings and that he'd be rooting for the Brewers to go all the way.
One of the most telling quotes, in my opinion, was Ned's assessment of Dale Sveum and I think illustrates exactly why Sveum was given the nod:
"Dale is a real calming influence. He's a very steady guy, he's a very smart baseball guy," Yost said. "I honestly don't think they could have picked a better person to finish out these last 12 days."
Dale is everything Ned was not. The fact that Yost was known as Nervous Ned in the clubhouse leaked out a few times this season, though no players would confirm it. Ned had the guys uptight and pressing. It seemed like the team was not happy about some of the decisions (see the look on Prince's face when Shouse gives up the 3-run shot in Philly over the weekend). Sveum is loose and takes chances. He's a gambler - hell, he's earned the reputation as being a windmill at third base. If you're going to have a crash course in getting into the playoffs in 12 games or less, it seems like Sveum's just the guy to lead it. We're all in square one right now and the conservative, adamently stubborn to a fault decisions of Yost's weren't going to get it done.
Just as I suspected yesterday, Ned took the "it will get better, basebally is cyclical" approach to explaining his team's September swoon and I think it can be assumed that the management was sick of hearing the same old non-answers.
"I look at it as we're driving down a bumpy road, and bumpy roads are never endless. You may just pass into a new state and they have more money to spend on roads and all of a sudden they get smooth. We just have to wait until that bumpy road gets smooth," said Yost.
It's exactly this kind of innocuous BS that got Ned fired. There are 12 days left in the season - the second season in a row in which you've either un-managed or out-managed yourself and left your team on the outside looking in. Screw the philosophy and give us some real answers. You can say you accomplished your goals, other than the playoffs, but really, what else is there? Jack Z and the rest of the organization got you the players. There is no excuse and your inability to take responsibility for the poor hitting, bad pitching choices and all-around suckitude led to this, Ned.
Now that he was fired, he did say there might be something to think about in terms of why his talented team slumped at the end.
He did concede that it's no fluke that the Brewers have struggled in the second half under his watch. That's one of the issues he will mull during his unwanted down time.
"It's my job to get those guys to play the game the way they are capable of playing," Yost said, "and for the last two Septembers, that hasn't happened. I take full responsibility for that and I'm going to have to delve real hard and long and think this thing out. Why is this happening? It can't be coincidence, because two years in a row, it shows to be a trend. I'll figure out what my part was in that and go from there."
It's great that now that you're relieved of your duties that you can finally take a step back and realize that there may be something to the fact that your team blew it twice down the stretch. It's possible that had something to do with your firing and you might have considered the problem earlier - instead of mulling it while you look for a new job. And to act like you only had a small part in that dive is ludicrous to me. Whether it was directly coaching decisions, or players losing confidence or getting nervous or the tone of the lockerroom or any number of other intangibles - that's back on you Ned. You're the skipper. No matter what, it's your job to keep the team going and motivated and on the right track. You didn't do that.