Rumors have surfaced that a local pro team is considering firing their coach because the team that many thought could contend for a playoff spot has been so bad the diehard fans are begging themselves to stop watching.
Just a year ago, the rookie coach was universally praised for his work with an overachieving squad, and the front office spent the past off season marginally upgrading the team’s weaknesses to make a push for a low playoff seed.
But everything has gone wrong. And now that the pro team is playing terribly, every move by the manager is being scrutinized because the fine line between being competitive and being awful is razor thin.
Fans and team officials acknowledge - but immediately discount - the fact that most of the team’s best players have been sidelined by injuries, or underperforming when healthy, or both.
It’s really the coach’s fault for his crazy mixing and matching, and failing to manage the team out of its funk.
And now the coach is about to be fired for his ineptitude, while any replacement will be given a pass on wins for the remainder of the year BECAUSE of all the injuries and underperformance of the players.
Sound familiar, Suns fans?
Last year, this was affable, golden child coach Jeff Hornacek - just a year removed from finishing second in Coach of the Year voting - getting run out of town by first the fans and then the front office as the Suns completely fell apart in the wake of injuries to Tyson Chandler (December), Eric Bledsoe (Dec-April), Brandon Knight (Jan-Mar, Mar-April) and massive underperformance by Markieff Morris. That’s four of the five starters right there.
Add in underperformance by guys like P.J. Tucker, injuries to 2 of the top 3 guys off the bench in T.J. Warren (Jan-Apr) and Ronnie Price (Jan-Feb), and underperformance by other bench players, and you’ve got a team that went from playoff contender to laughingstock within two months.
Hornacek got the axe before a single player trade was executed.
Today, it’s Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale - just months removed from being lauded for his work in 2015 - getting run out of town by first the fans and now potentially the front office.
Everyone acknowledges the loss of All-Star A.J. Pollack for all the games so far and periodic injuries to several other important role players. Everyone knows that the $200 million ace Zach Greinke underperformed for a month, and now is injured. Everyone cedes Shelby Miller’s awful season is part Shelby Miller’s and part the front office’s fault. Everyone accepts Paul Goldschmidt can’t be expected to play like an MVP 100% of the time.
But more and more, everyone still needs to point fingers, and the finger pointing is aiming like a lightning rod right at manager Chip Hale.
None of the aforementioned issues are Hale’s fault. It’s not his fault that Patrick Corbin has been bad this year either, or that he doesn’t even have three outfielders on the roster most of the time.
But when injuries and non-performance abound, every little decision by the manager comes under a microscope. And when those decisions fail to produce, the manager is in trouble.
But just like with Jeff Hornacek, any manager who replaces Hale won’t be expected to produce wins.
That replacement will simply be asked to make onlookers smile again, and think of the D’backs in a positive light going forward.