Thursday, December 15, 2005

Punishment, Reward

A vision of 2005: the old man sits in the dugout. He gazes at the field, oppressed by age and constant bewilderment,. His only solace is that once -- once -- he was better than any of the men he watches. And he hates them. He hates their money, their vigor, their insistence on speaking Spanish and not listening to him. So he sits back, folds his arms, and thinks about his new golf clubs. First he thinks about playing golf with those clubs, but that reverie soon transforms into a delicious, guilty fantasy in which he holds one of the clubs -- the sand wedge -- and takes it upside Tony Tavares' head. He snaps out of the daydream as next to him, Eddie puts on . . . well, something. Hit and run, probably. Something happens on the field; people boo. Ah, but those clubs . . .

Prepare for many, many reenactments of that scenario, as Frank Robinson will be getting paid for another 162 games of desperately trying to stay awake. I think Frank's a godawful manager, but you probably already knew that. It's not even his (or his bench coach's) tactical and strategic decisions that bother me more -- not that they don't annoy me -- but he just doesn't have the attitude to manage. It's one thing to be tough -- Bobby Cox yanking a loafing Andruw Jones out of the game in mid-inning comes to mind -- it's another to be cranky. When Robinson humiliates and complains about his pitchers or when he insults Ryan Zimmerman, what purpose does it serve, other than making Frank feel a little better and giving me something to get on my high horse about? So yeah, he's awful and we'd all be better off if they paid him to "consult" or something. You know, subsidize his golf game in exchange for trotting him out at the All-Star Game.

The fun part is the lying.
"We felt our organization made positive strides last year, improving from 67 wins to 81 wins, being in first place as late as July, being in a pennant race until the second week of September," General Manager Jim Bowden said. "We're pleased Frank's strong leadership will be back."
Sure, Bodes. Sure. In case we forgot that all was not hunky-dory with the Nats in 2005, Svrluga reminds us.
The decision, though, was agonizing for both sides, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Some high-ranking Nationals front-office members occasionally become frustrated with Robinson's strategic maneuvers.
And as if to underscore that message, management took a step equivalent to moving a rowdy student to a desk in the corner away from his friends by firing all his buddies.
Organizational sources have indicated for weeks that changing some coaches was a condition of Robinson's return. . . Hitting coach Tom McCraw, first base coach Don Buford, third base coach Dave Huppert, bullpen coach Bob Natal and roving instructor Jack Voigt were all fired.
. . .
[Robinson] was stung by some of the departures. McCraw and Buford, both former teammates of Robinson, are two of Robinson's closest friends.
It's all part of following a third-world franchise. No owner, low payroll, and a manager who would have been fired just about anywhere else. I certainly don't blame Tavares for this decision; there wasn't much else he could do. I warn him, though, to avoid Frank when he's got a sand wedge.

How did I celebrate my birthday, you ask? Well, it's traditional in my family to do nothing that hasn't been described in a song by the Birthday Party, so after the ice cream and jelly, it's time for heroin and John Milton. Here's the song.

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