Why Mike Matheny Is the Perfect Manager for the St. Louis Cardinals

Jeff SucherContributor IIIJanuary 6, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals argues with first base offical Bill Miller #14 during Game Two of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on October 15, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Mike Matheny was a tough, gritty player in his playing days. 

Many remember in his days with the Milwaukee Brewers when he took a fastball to the kisser.  Most guys would have fallen to the ground in a pool of blood.  Matheny?  He just simply walked toward the dugout spitting out buckets of blood and a few teeth. 

Check out the video: here.

That is the kind of guy players can rally around.  MLB writer Adam McCalvy wrote an article about Matheny's toughness and how it resonated with his players. 

David Freese commented in the article about Matheny's toughness: "Right when he got nailed, you could tell his first thought was, 'Don't go down,'" Freese said.  "He walked it off with a mouthful of blood. That says something about what kind of guy he is."

It was an up and down 2012 for the Cardinals.  Coming into the season as defending World Series Champions with a new manager and coaches, it was unclear what the Cardinals identity would be. 

The Cardinals got off to an excellent start, going 14-8 in April and just bludgeoning their opponents with their bats.  But the good times went away for a spell, along with bats.  The bullpen was a mess most of the year. The Cardinals found themselves at .500 during the middle of the summer.

All that said, Matheny never let his squad quit.  He rallied the troops and when October rolled around, the Cardinals found themselves one game from a World Series berth.

They could have rolled over many times during 2012. The Game 5 comeback against the Nationals is a prime example of how this team battled with their skipper pushing them along.

Mike Matheny is still fairly young, at 42, and can relate with his players.  This has gone a long way in the continued development of young talent such as Jon Jay, David Freese, Allen Craig, Jaime Garcia and the list goes on.

Matheny has a way of getting the best out of his squad and pushing his players to the limit without them cracking.  If the Cardinals can stay healthy in 2013, with the young talent they have coming up, Matheny is the man to take the Cardinals to the post season for years to come.