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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I hesitate to post this for a variety of reasons. I don't want to sound like I'm going from sunny Opening Day optimist to doomsayer based on one perfectly awful game. I also hate to think about it because I just don't like the subject. I've never been one to suggest a quick trigger for coaches/managers and the like. Plus there's the fact that Manny Acta seems like a perfectly excellent guy and I really, really want him to succeed. Not just because he manages my favorite team.

That said, I must admit: I am starting to wonder if Manny Acta is the right manager for this team. Not if he's a good baseball man. I think it goes without saying that he is indeed. I also realize it is difficult to judge anyone who is being asked to make chicken salad out of chicken, uh, feathers.

But I am starting to wonder. And I bet a bundle I'm not alone.

It was driven home last evening in the middle of the opener. My son is not unemploy *** uh, self-employed. He gets up each morning, goes to work, comes home afterward. He strolled in about 5:30 and sat down on the couch. Took one look at the score and said, "Holy shit." Welcome to my world, I said.

Just then, the TV went to the classic dugout shot of Manny. It's the one we've seen a million times before. Stoic Manny, sitting there taking it all in without a trace of emotion.

"I'm not glued to these guys like you are," my son noted, "but I have never, ever seen a shot of Manny Acta doing anything but that."

He clearly missed the Dukes exchange last season. Even that was mild compared to what it could have been. My brother was quick to ask, "What would Frank have done?" Dukes may have busted the old man up but they would have had to drag Frank off him.

Being stoic, being patient? Great, terrific virtues. I could use a little more of each. For this team, I think maybe it is time to have a guy who is about out of patience and ready to kick some ass. My son said if he was the Nats' manager, he would have found a way to get tossed yesterday. Then he would have told them afterward "I DID IT ON PURPOSE BECAUSE I AM TIRED OF WATCHING THIS CRAP." Maybe Manny is that way behind the closed doors but I sense he is not.

Again, these are fleeting thoughts. I really wanted the former GM out because I didn't think he was doing a good job for this club. I really want Manny to work out. I am not calling for his head. I think he is good for the community. I want him to be the Nationals' manager.

I'm just starting to wonder. Is he the right guy at this time for this team?


Anonymous said...

Besides the pitching, two things I think they are missing, even at the begingin of the season: 1. A manager that can lead in abscense of a team leader (you can't ask a 24 year old, "face of the franchise" without a contract to be the leader). 2. A winning attitude. I've heard all the interviews and everyone alomost to a man said their goal for the year is to improve. Very admirable considering last year, but not one (including Manny) said "I'm going to come to the park to win every single day." There's a point when the highly improbable becomes possible.

Just my thought.

Dave P.

Sec314 said...

Manny seems like more of a GM than a field manager.

And maybe he'd be a great manager for a team full of egotistical stars, like the late 90's Yankees. But I am coming to the same conclusion, he's not the right guy for a bunch of youngsters who need a leader.

unnamed source said...

I won't get into details on how I know this, but let's just say that I am one of the flies on the wall in the clubhouse. I can say that once he's away from the public (fans, cameras, etc), Manny is by far a stoic man. He lets his players know exactly what he thinks, in no uncertain terms. Which is the way, I feel, this should be handled.

I don't get why everyone thinks a manager needs to act like a lunatic on the field and air dirty laundry out in public. I think that shows way more direspect to the players than the way Manny has chosen to handle things. If he were to call Milledge out to the media for swinging at the first pitch of the season or by missing a meeting, don't you think that this would cause more harm than if Manny handles internally?

Can everyone please get off of Manny's back? Since he's been here, he's been given *NO* talent whatsoever to work with. This year, he finally has some pieces of the puzzle. Let's give him some time to figure out where each piece goes. This won't happen overnight.

Dave Nichols said...

Dave P, i have to disagree. I've heard Acta say on several occasions this off-season that his goal is to win every game, it's the reason he comes to the park.

he has been (and continues to be) saddled with players that don't fit and pitchers that are either washed up or not fit for the majors.

it amazes me that just because Acta isn't a screamer people think he's ineffective. as much as i love Frank Robinson, he's in the Hall as a player, not a manager.

MikeHarris said...

Interesting stuff gang, thanks for the responses. Keep 'em coming.
And I'm not of the mind that you need to be a screamer to be effective. I am of a mind that sometimes you need to bust loose - our anonymous fly on the wall indicates that happens. I was glad to see his response. We as observers from the outside only see so much.
As I said in the original post, I want this guy to succeed. I like him. I would also like to see what he could do with some real talent throughout the roster, not just sprinkled throughout.

The one place where I disagree with our source is in calling players out where merited. You lose the message if you do it all the time just do it. But there are times when it needs to be said, period. The good managers pick their spots.

Anonymous said...

I don't think your source said that Manny doesn't call players out when merited. He just doesn't do it in public. You think he should? I'm curious if any manager who has become known for doing that kind of thing has ever been a long-term success. Can anyone recall one?

MikeHarris said...

No, he didn't say that - you are right. I said I'm OK with it if it is done judiciously. Sometimes, it is merited. I think Frank did it a couple of times. Billy Martin did it now and again (Reggie Jackson anyone?)

I remember covering a Division I men's basketball game that one team lost thanks to its center getting used on a late-game rebound. The coach comes out and says, "There's no way a Division I center should get beaten to that rebound. No way. And that's our problem. We're a Division I team without a Division I center."

Anonymous said...

I think my post sounded harsher than I intended it to be. I do appreciate what Manny is doing, especially with what he has. But I don't think we can expect him to be the manager and the team captain. Typically, the face of the franchise is the captain. Not that Z-man can't do that, but to be the fantastic player he can be (or at least I think he can be), he needs to focus on playing. Leading will come in time. This will be helped by the inclusion of Dunn in the line up and the continued health of Nick Johnson and Guzman.

As far as not hearing anyone say we are going out there to win every single game, I think it is just that, "I" haven't heard anyone say that yet.

Dave P.

MikeHarris said...

I'm the first to admit I tend to panic way too early. So let me ask the more reasonable among us - when is it a legit time to panic?
I don't mind the losses as much as I mind the way the losses are happening. The flat-out declaration that Milledge is the CF. The idea that he'd make a good leadoff hitter. No one can argue that there have been some questionable decisions - who is making them?
And don't get me going on the pitching.