David Blatt’s ouster by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday was certainly unusual. While there isn’t a similar firing in baseball history, a number of prominent managers have been fired after successful seasons.
Perhaps the most acclaimed manager of all, Casey Stengel was fired by the Yankees after his team lost the seventh game of the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Stengel’s Yankees had won seven World Series, and lost the eighth by one run.
“I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again,” Stengel said.
Four years later, Yogi Berra was fired after a single season as Yankees manager. He lost the seventh game of the World Series, too. Berra, it was said, lost control of his players.
Joe Torre, the fifth winningest manager in baseball history, wasn’t exactly fired after he again won the AL East in 2007, but was offered a new contract of just a year with a sizable pay reduction. He left instead.
And, keeping with the Yankees, after Buck Showalter guided them to their first postseason berth in 14 years in 1995, he left when he was ordered to fire some coaches.
Lots of other teams have let managers go after winning seasons.
Take the Orioles, Davey Johnson wanted a raise and contract extension in 1997 after the Orioles came within a game of the World Series. Instead, he was gone on the same day he won Manager of the Year.
Larry Dierker had four NL West titles in five years with the Houston Astros, but that didn’t stop them from easing him out after the 2001 season.
Billy Martin was fired after his first season with the Minnesota Twins in 1969. He won the first AL West title, but lost the ALCS to the Orioles in three games.
During the 1983 season, the Phillies fired Pat Corrales when the team was tied for first with a 43-42 record. He was replaced by Paul Owens, and he guided Philadelphia into the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Orioles.
After the playoff-bound Milwaukee Brewers lost 11 of 14 in 2008, Ned Yost was let go with 12 games remaining in the regular season. The Brewers lost in the division series to the Phillies, and Yost resurfaced two years later as Kansas City Royals manager.
Last season, Yost won his first World Series. Maybe there’s hope for Blatt.