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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tom Petty had it right

The waiting IS the hardest part.

The anti-media crowd is probably loving all this. The media is the easy target because people naturally have a "kill the messenger" reaction to a lot of bad news. So it is easy to think the Nats don't need to say anything, don't need to lend credence to a media report that may not be quite accurate.

Well, that's not quite right. If it is accurate, do something. If it is not accurate, make that clear (and do it honestly - waiting until NEXT week to do something does not count).

First, this is not some fly-by-night blogger who threw that "Manny is gone soon" report out there. Ken Rosenthal has been a respected and reputable journalist for years. Does that mean he's always right? No. It does mean he's not going to throw something out there just to create a fuss, just to have some fun. Someone in the Nats organization said something. And that is why the Nats' alleged braintrust needs to react.

If what Rosenthal reported is true, Uncle Stan or El Jefe needed to man up right away and go to Manny. "Look, dude, it wasn't supposed to happen this way and I'm sorry it did. We will find the leak and take care of that. But we are going to make a change."

Or, they needed to come right out and say, "Nope. Wrong. Not true. Someone is spreading horsecrap. Manny is our man." And they need to stick with that.

One or the other. Manny deserves a straight answer (he may have already received one) and the fans deserve one. I put a lot of coin into this team. I have a right to know if the manager's job is really in jeopardy.

I'm also not going to play "kill the media," though I do have a bit of bias on that one given my background. No self-respecting reporter would sit on something like that.

I'm OK with any of the following statements:

"We stink and we're going to continue to stink no matter who manages. Manny is a classy guy and we like what he's all about, so we'll stick with him and reassess after the season."

"The reports are false. We have assessed every aspect of our organization in recent days and, yes, a change in managers was among the topics we discussed along with many others. Someone involved jumped the gun and got a little too anxious to spread some news that isn't true. We will deal with that. But Manny is our manager and will remain our manager."

"We are making a change. We are bringing in (fill in the blank of some poor sap who is about to be saddled with a significant challenge) to try and change the direction of our ballclub. We admit it was not handled well, because someone in the organization was in a rush to share news before we were ready for it to be announced. We will fix that and we apologize to Manny Acta and our fans for that. But we do need to make a change."

I do love Manny's response in the story - he's still the manager and you wouldn't have reached him if he wasn't. I imagine, though, he's a bit jumpy every time the phone rings.

And I'm sure our reporting buddies enjoyed their "day off" in New York. Where does stuff like this fit in the dream job scenario?


An Briosca Mor said...

"If what Rosenthal reported is true, Uncle Stan or El Jefe needed to man up right away and go to Manny. "Look, dude, it wasn't supposed to happen this way and I'm sorry it did. We will find the leak and take care of that. But we are going to make a change."

Or, they needed to come right out and say, "Nope. Wrong. Not true. Someone is spreading horsecrap. Manny is our man." And they need to stick with that."

Someone (Vin Scully perhaps?) once said "aren't we all just day-to-day?" What if the truth of the matter is that they really haven't decided yet what to do about Manny? Or that they have decided what to do about him, but still need to figure out what the best thing is to do next whenever they do fire him? Neither one of those things you claim they need to come right out and say fits that situation. If they said either of those things, they'd be flat out lying.

Now look at what they did say, which can be boiled down basically to this: We are not going to let leaks or the press dictate our decision making process. That's the truth, no way around it. Why is that so wrong?

MikeHarris said...

That's not quite what they said. If they did say what you suggest, I'd be OK with that. But "I don't talk about personnel (even when said personnel is a public figure)" isn't that.

"When you're 16-45, things are constantly being discussed. No decision like the one that has been reported has been made."

You can add that to my list, thanks for the suggestion. But they didn't say that. They said they are not going to discuss it.

An Briosca Mor said...

"They said they are not going to discuss it."

Which is exactly the same thing as saying "We are not going to let you tell us what we are doing", is it not? It's not like they pulled this "no comment" stance out of thin air. That is Kasten's SOP. The press is spinning it as "this is the same thing he said right before Bowden resigned, so of course the outcome this time is going to be the same." I can understand the national media who don't deal with Kasten all the time making that mistake, but the local guys like Harlan, Zuckerman et al really ought to know better.

MikeHarris said...

Let me ask you in all seriousness, not trying to be a snark - are you really OK with them not saying anything at all? Doesn't such a report make you go "whoa" and wonder?
I hope they have at least told Manny something. He deserves first consideration. I still believe the fans/public deserve something, too. Someone in your house let this cat out of the bag!

An Briosca Mor said...

Yes I am okay with them handling this the way they are. It really sounds to me like they are in the decision process regarding what to do about Manny long-term, as they have been all season long. Despite the bad record this year, they obviously still value him as part of the organization and don't want to just arbitrarily toss him over the side like they did St. Claire. Manny has to know that, and I'm sure it's been communicated to him all season long. (In fact, after the Rosenthal report broke Kasten, Acta and Rizzo were reported to be talking and smiling in the stands in Tampa Bay. It's not like any of the parties involved have isolated themselves, gone to the mattresses or whatever.)

Really, what it's going to come down to is that sooner or later they are going to hit the straw that breaks the camel's back on this decision. (Or a miracle will occur and Manny will turn it around.) Should not the organization have the right to determine when that last straw is reached, and not outside influences like the press? How is saying "no comment" any different than saying "we haven't made a decision yet"? And if asked "when will you make a decision?" the answer is clearly "we don't know - but whenever we do you'll be the second ones to know, right after the parties involved." The press should be reporting the news, not driving it. We as fans can tell that they haven't made a decision yet, and anything beyond that is always going to be uninformed speculation until the decision is announced. If the press doesn't like that, tough.

MikeHarris said...

I'm not so sure on the decision hasn't been made part. Rosenthal did indicate it might not come until after the Yankees series.

Nats took two of three from the Yankees in 2006, two of the better days of my life. And the Nats did win against Minnesota when the pitching matchup was Johan Santana vs. Levale Speigner (who had that?). Maybe the Nats sweep the Yanks and start a 56-game winning streak.

I do disagree on the press driving the story. Rosenthal didn't make this up.

An Briosca Mor said...

"I do disagree on the press driving the story. Rosenthal didn't make this up."

Whether he made it up or it was leaked to him by someone in the know, he's still reporting rumor. Even if the decision had already been made that Acta will be fired after the Yankees series, the reporting by Rosenthal and the resultant press feeding frenzy has put the Nats brass in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. There may have been valid reasons why the firing was scheduled for after the Yankees series even though the final decision had already been made. By perpetuating the Rosenthal-induced feeding frenzy, the press is essentially daring Kasten to abandon his timetable and fire Manny now. Your demanding an explanation for the way they're handling the situation is essentially doing the same thing. This is the press (and you) attempting to drive the story, plain and simple. Kasten is a stubborn guy, often for good reason. Given the choice of letting the press drive the story or basically saying (truthfully) "I refuse to let you make my decisions for me", which do you think he's going to choose?

And if I had to put money on how this situation plays out, I bet we will see Manny in the dugout on Friday when the Blue Jays arrive. And if that happens, the press may well have driven the story in a totally opposite direction from where it would have gone if Rosenthal hadn't piped up. There's no urgency to firing Manny now. Nothing is going to change if Kasten waits a few more weeks and does it on his own terms. It's not like the savior is waiting in the wings or anything. Manny can be interim manager just as well as Riggleman can.

MikeHarris said...

To get back to your earlier quote (and yes it was Scully): They're all interim managers.

There IS no story if someone doesn't talk to Rosenthal. Chicken-egg, I guess, but no reporter in his right mind doesn't report that if it comes from a trusted source.

By the way, this isn't a private conversation. We're happy to chat all day (with interludes of work in between) but others are welcome to join us.

Chris Needham said...

Buck sez Manny or a member of his family was the source of the original story. He wants out so the remaining stink of this year doesn't totally destroy the reputation he has left, but doesn't want to resign and lose out on the remaining $200K on his contract.

OK... maybe not. But what if?

MikeHarris said...

Wouldn't be the first time a ploy like that has been used.