As a player, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny recalls wondering why manager Tony La Russa would "wear" criticism that should have been leveled against others. Now that he has spent almost a season in the same chair he better understands why the manager is the target — and he welcomes it.
Matheny said he started the season reading and monitoring almost everything said in the press about his team.
He now delegates that so that he isn't distracted. He does, however, have a better feel for how the fan base has a "vested" and passionate interest in the team.
"I'd much rather be that punching bag than for it happen to the (players)," Matheny said.
"If they see me taking the bullet for them that builds them up collectively and builds them up individually. In the right atmosphere, the right clubhouse culture, that's how it should go."