Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tee Time

It was my first time in a while at RFK, and it would have been heart-breaking if I weren't already so damn jaded. The Nationals, in case you weren't paying attention, lost in humiliating fashion to a team that approached this contest with the hard-nosed, win-at-all-costs mentality usually reserved for NFL teams playing the last game of the preseason. Yes, the Cardinals' B-team made our home nine look rather foolish, but that didn't stop the embarrassingly kind RFK crowd from giving John Halama a standing ovation for his performance: 5.1 innings and two guys on base who wound up scoring after Tony La Russa realized the caliber of team he was dealing with and started calling the trick plays. I'm not saying we should emulate the Philadelphians and start throwing batteries, but can't we reserve the ovations for pitchers who have turned in at least a quality start?

As long as I'm complaining, I may as well complain about the complaining of others. The Washington Post's Mike Wise recently favored us with a pessimistic column that puzzlingly compared the Nationals to a "three-month Rehoboth romance." I understand the implication, but I can't say that I see the point. But that's not why I'm treating Wise to coveted Distinguished Senators coverage. After pointing out the problems the Nats are having, Wise lays out a three-point plan for the future. I'll work backwards:
2. Should Jim Bowden, the interim general manager, return? No. For every Guillen, you still cannot get away from the lack of productivity from the left side of the infield: Cristian Guzman at shortstop and Vinny Castilla at third.
Quite right, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Wise elaborates, and I don't disagree. Bodes has got to go. I do disagree with this, though:
1. Should Robinson return? Yes. Less than a week from turning 70, he's gotten more out of this lineup than most expected and has put to bed any notion that he has neither the fire nor managerial sense to stay in the game. He's the only manager Jose Guillen has ever truly responded to. He still engenders complete respect in the clubhouse. Questionable managerial moves aside and his lofty place in the game notwithstanding, Robinson has done enough to warrant at least another year with the Nats.
That's almost all wrong. "He's gotten more out of this lineup than most expected." If by "lineup" Wise means "offense," I hasten to point out that the Nats are butt-naked last in the entire major leagues in run-scoring. If by "lineup" he means "team," then I'd have to agree that they're better than I thought they'd be, but I fail to see why Frank should automatically get the credit, especially from someone so eager to jettison the general manager.

"He's the only manager Jose Guillen has ever truly responded to." Fair enough. Frank gets credit from me for two things: 1) handling Guillen and B) baiting Mike Scioscia into making a complete ass of himself.

"He still engenders complete respect in the clubhouse." This is an outright lie. Tomo Ohka hated him, and so did Claudio Vargas. Even if they were the only ones, that's enough to prove Wise's worshipful statement wrong, and I'm pretty sure they're not. Frank doesn't have the respect of a significant proportion of his players, and he doesn't deserve it. He needlessly humiliates his pitchers on the mound, then throws a fit and forces bad trades when they don't enjoy it. He slept through the Expos' last season in Montreal and is on his best behavior in Washington because he knows cameras are on him. He sees this job as a sinecure to subsidize his golf habit. The bottom line is that Frank Robinson doesn't care about this team as much as you do.

Sunday's debacle prompted Bowden to whine about the incompetence of the offence he assembled. Let's see if we can have some fun with his bitching.
"[I] know by [Labor Day] there's going to be enough choices for [the new owner] that he doesn't have to [keep my silly jumpsuit-wearing ass around] if he doesn't want to," Bowden said."Be a man, wake up and [stop doing] damage or guess what? After that, [the owner] can do whatever he can do. By the time it gets to [Labor Day], [I'm still] [suck]ing, he might as well put other people in there. There's a lot of guys who can [avoid signing the worst hitter in the history of baseball to a four year contract]."


Bodes said...

Why you gotta play me like that, dog?

Carl said...

I beg to differ on applauding Halama. He pitched a damn good game, and in my opinion Frank's yanking him prematurely may have cost us the game. He had thrown but 74 pitches at that point, and I had as much faith in him as anyone to get a DP grounder at that point. But you could just hear Frank thinking "Emergency starter = yank him at the first sign of trouble after 5 innings." Not Halama's fault, and he'd pitched better than I'd have hoped. I cheered him.

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