12/17/12 1:59 PM ET
For many clubs, it's World Series or bust in 2013
By Terence Moore / MLB.com
He's wrong. He's dead wrong.
He told a Los Angeles radio station last week that if a team -- including his loaded (and expensive) one for the 2013 season -- battles like crazy in the playoffs and loses to the likes of "two hot pitchers in a five-game series," that team deserves a firm handshake or something.
Said Mattingly to ESPNLA 710, "It's tough for me [in that situation] to be down on guys after they battle 162 [games] for you."
Yeah, well. If Mattingly's Dodgers expire anytime shy of winning a World Series championship this season, he'll join ownership, management, his coaching staff and everybody on the roster in deserving the loud and lengthy public tongue lashing they'll likely receive.
It's World Series title or bust for the 2013 Dodgers.
The same goes for the 2013 Los Angeles Angels, because they're spending another offseason shouting, "We're going for it all."
It didn't work so well for the 2012 Angels. Despite using big bucks before the season to get slugger Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson, those Angels didn't even make the playoffs.
Consider, too, those Angels had Mike Trout, the American League Rookie of the Year who nearly became the league's MVP.
That said, the Angels just gave $125 million to Josh Hamilton to bring the former AL MVP to Anaheim. Which means the 2013 Angels have to win the World Series, all right. So do the heavily talented Cincinnati Reds, who were shocked out of the playoffs last season by the eventual-champion San Francisco Giants.
Then there are the Toronto Blue Jays, seeking that next level by adding veteran pitchers R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, along with All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and 2012 All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera.
The Yankees are old, but they have Derek Jeter and those ghosts, which means their World Series championship pressure hasn't eased. Neither has it for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox, both with enough stars to become as significant as they were not too long ago.
Those in Detroit want more than another runner's-up finish in the World Series from their loaded (and expensive) Tigers. Nationals fans, after getting their first taste of playoff baseball in 2012, certainly have good reason to expect an even deeper run this year. And Giants fans shouldn't expect anything less from their defending champions than a third title in four years.
This is the Major Leagues, not Little League -- where everybody gets a prize, just for showing up and playing hard.
Such mercy definitely doesn't apply if you're part of the current Dodgers, and you're team is likely entering the 2013 season with the highest payroll in baseball history. More specifically, after starting last season with the 12th-highest payroll in the game at around $95 million, the Dodgers are projected to begin this one with a payroll beyond $230 million.
The Dodgers just signed pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu for a combined $208 million. Now add that to their big-money acquisitions of last season -- Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, among others.
The Dodgers already had all-everything outfielder Matt Kemp. Plus, Greinke brings his AL Cy Young Award-winning credentials to a starting rotation with holdover Clayton Kershaw, who finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting last season after earning the honor in 2011.
As is the case for all loaded (and expensive) teams -- along with others around baseball that rank slightly below in that category -- the Dodgers' future is now ... or else.
Mattingly disagrees, of course. In fact, he harkened back to his days from 2004-2007 as a coach for those loaded (and expensive) Yankees team that featured a younger Derek Jeter, a demanding George Steinbrenner and a slew of unforgiving headlines on the back of New York tabloids. Then he said during that radio interview that the expectations for those Yankees teams were too unrealistic.
"It was like if you didn't win it all, you had a horrible season," Mattingly told the radio station. "I mean, teams that went out, played hard, battled their way through Boston, won a bunch of games, got into the playoffs. If you lost in the playoffs, it's like you didn't do anything."
That's because those Yankees didn't do anything, at least not given the following: They set their bar higher than high after grabbing four World Series championships in five years through the 2000 season.
The Atlanta Braves of the 1990s can relate. They were congratulated for ending the 1991 season with the first of a record 14 consecutive titles, but they were criticized for winning the World Series only once during that stretch. It's a stretch that mostly featured Cy Young winners Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, as well as future Hall of Famers in manager Bobby Cox and third baseman Chipper Jones.
Worse, the Miami Marlins loaded up after the 2011 season with stars such as Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell, and they also changed their name, their uniforms, their manager and their stadium. They were expected to win big. Instead, they lost big enough to finish last in their division. So they were ridiculed.
Rightfully so, the 2013 Dodgers would suffer more than the 2012 Marlins when it comes to an overall backlash if they don't win the World Series for the first time in 25 years.
Take it from Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson, who is the face of the Dodgers as one of their new co-owners. He was asked by a reporter to comment during the news conference to announce the Greinke deal, and he responded, "We're here to win."
That's all Johnson said.
That's all Johnson needed to say.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.