The two faces of evil, my friends.
Less Terrible is a new Cubs DNA feature where one of our staffers picks two hated MLB personalities and tries to decide which one is less terrible. This column literally started on a dare as a way to give you, dear reader, a chuckle and a way to vent with us. This installment takes a look at two former NL Central managers: Clint Hurdle and Mike Matheny. Will either be deemed less terrible? Let's find out.
"Oh god, REALLY?!?" you might be thinking. And honestly, I don't blame you... these two are real pieces of, uh, work. JUST LOOK AT THEM. Onward we go, however, and as with our first installment I'll be looking at three questions: 1) How does their awfulness directly impact the Cubs? 2) How terrible are they as human beings in the general sense? And 3) has anything good ever resulted of their general badness?
Question 1: The Cubs Consideration
Matheny is smarmy and when he smiles pure evil seems to drip from every ruggedly handsome line in his face. That said, there's not really much you can say about him that directly relates to the Cubs other than he beat our team a whole bunch before 2015, and even then our boys were able to finally get their revenge.
It wasn't just high, it was far!
Hurdle, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. We all know Hurdle has a bit of a reputation for playing bean ball. His antics have been on full display against the Cubs on numerous occasions, particularly when the Pirates were losing or he felt like they were being shown up. Remember this little situation in the 2015 Wild Card Game?
We can laugh at it now because it led to an all time great moment where Sean Rodriguez took his frustrations out on an unsuspecting Gatorade cooler, but it wasn't the first or last time one or more of Hurdle's pitchers would intentionally plunk a Cub (or a player on another team, but we'll get to that).
And what of his penchant for playing attitude police with certain Cubs players? Remember that little incident in 2018 when Javy threw his bat in frustration after popping up and Hurdle thought it was okay for him to say things about it? (Note: this was after Javy hit a whole bunch of dingers off Hurdle's pitchers.) Yeah, we weren't having it, and neither was Javy.
You might also remember Javy taking a few high, tight ones from one of Hurdle's henchm... er... pitchers last season that got Joe Maddon in a lather and led to this:
Frankly, I still think Sparkles should've let Joe have at 'em.
Winner: Mike Matheny
Question 2: Which Evil is More Evil, Anyway? Let's stay on the topic of Clint Hurdle's penchant for bean ball, shall we? Because this little hobby extends far beyond the Cubs and well into other teams in the NL Central, in particular. Let's ask Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell what he thinks about Clint Hurdle:
What prompted such a display, you ask? Hurdle and his pitchers literally stayed butthurt at the Reds through the entirety of the 2019 season for doing things like, uh, batflipping home runs. The genesis was Derek Dietrich, who you might remember started off super hot and then got not that good later on, hitting some dingers off of Chris Archer and then admiring them. You might also know Chris Archer as one of the more demonstrative pitchers in the league, particularly when he strikes a guy out. It was all pretty dumb and unnecessary--just let a guy admire his homer, eh?--and culminated in a mid-season brawl that I'm just gonna let Jomboy narrate for you. Seriously--watch the entire thing. It's worth it (warning--lots of salty language).
Hurdle also allegedly lost his clubhouse toward the end of his tenure and allowed his coaching staff to run rampant, showing preferential treatment to certain pitchers (like now incarcerated pedophile Felipe Vasquez--oops!) while Hurdle spent his days kissing up to the boss. None of this is exactly a great look.
So this is bad and Matheny couldn't be worse, right? Well, not so fast. See, Matheny's treatment of his own players is the stuff of legend now that he's out of St. Louis. I already covered how terribly he handled the situation with Tommy Pham, preferring guys like Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty even though Pham was tearing the cover off the ball in Triple A.
Then there's the Bud Norris situation.
Yes, this chucklehead.
You see, Mike Matheny seemed to appoint Norris as a snitch sometime during his time in St. Louis, asking him to "report his teammates infractions" to him and seemingly being okay with him hazing young reliever Jordan Hicks because he showed up late a time or two. Why? Because he's Mike Matheny, advocate for "the dying tradition of teaching younger players in the harshest possible ways." No, that's a direct quote... if you thought you were getting out of this without some Cardinal Way, play the right way bullcrap, you were sorely mistaken! And if it seems like there's a vaguely racist whiff coming off of all of this, well, I'm not gonna dissuade you from what you're smelling. You wouldn't be the first one. I feel like Kansas City should give Jorge Soler back to us before Matheny fully takes over.
Winner: Clint Hurdle
Question 3: Has Either of These Two Ever Brought Any Joy to Anyone Outside of Their Own Fans?
Honestly? I don't think I can give an honest "yes" about either one of these two dolts. Brooke thinks Matheny is attractive in a superficial sort of way, but the Bible also says Satan was beautiful and I wouldn't trust him with my baseball players, either. So my answer here has to be that there is no winner, because they both suck.
Ultimately, I believe I've come to the conclusion that these two are both so awful that I just can't declare one less terrible than the other. Congratulations, I guess?