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Commentary: Cardinals' canning of Shildt leaves sour taste, reminds us of business of baseball

"After 18 years as one of the Cardinals' most dedicated disciples, Mike Shildt was gone with a phone call and an unclear explanation that still doesn't sit right"

ST. LOUIS — I think it's a safe bet we're going to see an abundance of Twitter jokes, fantasy sports team names and maybe even a T-shirt or two capitalizing on John Mozeliak's now-famous "philosophical differences" reasoning on why the team fired manager Mike Shildt.

The obscure explanation for one of the most shocking news drops in St. Louis sports history is good fodder for comedy, but still creates more questions than answers on what went wrong for the Cardinals, and how it could have seemingly happened so fast.

One thing is for sure, though. The Cardinals' canning of one of the franchise's most dedicated disciples leaves a sour taste, reminds us this game is actually a business and that, as Frank Cusumano said on Sports Plus Sunday night, "We all have a boss".

After 18 years as a steward of Cardinals baseball, Shildt was out with a phone call and a hurriedly executed press conference on Thursday.

Not because of a lack of success (three straight trips to the playoffs), not because of locker room issues (or at least any we've been privy to), but because of "philosophical differences".

Mozeliak opted to not get into what those differences might be, and Shildt took the high road on Monday, also declining to sling any mud.

“I was taught not to talk out of school and while clearly there were differences that led to this parting of ways, out of respect to the organization and the people who run it I can only express my gratitude," Shildt said via Zoom. "All of the philosophies that were shared over the many years most of us were together allowed us to part ways as professional friends. What differences there were will remain unsaid publicly by me.”

RELATED: 'I was taught not to talk out of school': Shildt thanks Cardinals, declines to talk about reasons for his ouster

I think that's a bit more gracious than a lot of us would have been under similar circumstances. Although it should hopefully help him in his future job hunt.

Even though we may never find out exactly what those differences were (and there's plenty of speculation out there about what they might have been), the fact remains this isn't a good look for an organization that time and again likes to pride itself on doing things the "right" way.

I know Shildt was back home on the east coast when the decision to give him the boot came down, but to have almost two decades of service come to an end with a phone call is a rough look. Period.

Mozeliak, the DeWitt family and the rest of the front office obviously have the right to make any move they want. It's their team after all, and things like this certainly remind you of that fact.

I don't question they made this move because they thought it would help them win a World Series. Perhaps it's hard for us outside the inner circle to see how that makes sense right now, but like I've said, we don't have all the facts, and we possibly never will.

It's the sloppiness of this that stands out.

The "Cardinal Way" is mocked a lot online and I get it sometimes. But you can't say the formula hasn't been a successful one. Mike Shildt had the "Cardinal Way" engrained in his DNA and devoted a majority of his professional life to keeping it going. To fire him with such apparent disregard and little explanation doesn't sit right, even if you didn't like him as a manager.

But the deed is done, and whoever is next up to lead this team better get on the same page as the guys making the decisions and writing the checks. And heck, maybe sign up for some philosophy classes at SLU while you're at it.

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