The relationship between Don Mattingly and Buck Showalter goes back more than 40 years.
But this week might mark the last time they see each other in dual pursuit of the World Series ring that has thus far eluded both baseball lifers.
Mattingly will embark on his final full week as the managerof the Miami Marlins Tuesday night, when his team visits the New York Mets in the opener of a two-game series between the National League East rivals.
Pablo Lopez (9-10, 3.88 ERA) is slated to start for the Marlins against Carlos Carrasco (15-6, 3.79 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
Both teams were off Monday. The Mets concluded a winning road trip by cruising to a 13-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics. The Marlins -- who took the field Sunday hours after the announcement Mattingly would not return as manager in 2023 -- fell to the visiting Washington Nationals 6-1 in the finale of a three-game series.
The loss ensured the Marlins (63-90) of finishing with at least 90 losses for the fourth straight full season. They are now the only club with a streak that long.
"Last year was disappointing and then this year has really been kind of more of the same," said Mattingly, who is the longest-tenured skipper in franchise history and won NL Manager of the Year honors for directing the Marlins to the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
"And that's really kind of the conclusion I came to is -- 'It's time for a new voice.' I think it's best for the organization, quite honestly, that we have a new voice and move forward."
Mattingly said he planned to head home to spend time with his family in Indiana but that he hoped to return to baseball at some point. The 61-year-old began his career as a 19th-round pick of the New York Yankees in 1979 -- two years before he played at Double-A with Showalter, who became Mattingly's manager with the Yankees from 1992 through 1995.
The short-term picture is much clearer for Showalter, who has managed the second-most games of any skipper who hasn't reached the World Series.
The Mets (97-57) clinched at least a wild-card berth last week and entered Monday 1 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the race for the NL East title and the likely second bye in the playoffs. The Braves were slated to play the Nationals Monday night.
The Mets and Braves are scheduled to play a three-game series in Atlanta beginning Friday.
Pete Alonso had that series at least somewhat in mind Sunday when he collected five RBIs to increase his season total to a team-record 128, breaking the mark of 124 RBIs previously held by Mike Piazza (1999) and David Wright (2008). The outburst also vaulted him into a tie for the big-league RBI lead with the Yankees' Aaron Judge.
"It's an awesome possibility," Alonso said of winning the RBI title. "But again, I'm just trying to do the best I can every single day (to) try and win a division here."
Neither Lopez nor Carrasco factored into the decision in their most recent starts Sept. 20. Lopez allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings as the Marlins fell to the Chicago Cubs 2-1, while Carrasco gave up three runs over four innings in the Mets' 7-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lopez is 3-5 with a 6.53 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mets. Carrasco is 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in nine starts against the Marlins.
--Field Level Media