Had a great dinner with my brother at his house last night - stopped by on my way home from the CAA media day festivities at the ESPNZone. Check out my coverage at www.vasportsnow.com - how's that for a cheap plug?
As usual, our conversation veered quickly to the Nats and managerial choices. We've heard a lot of names as I'm sure everyone else has. One name that I've not heard yet with regard to this opening - Terry Pendleton. I'm sure it has come up elsewhere and I just missed it.
My brother thinks he may be waiting a year to step into Bobby Cox's job and that may be true. He's worth trying to talk to, at the very least.
I don't know what he knows about the hit-and-run or the double switch or the intracacies of covering the bunt. I suspect a lot. What I like about Terry Pendleton is he's one of those people who is a natural leader. While his MVP season meant a lot to the Braves so many years ago, his presence and personality meant a lot more. He helped change that team from a crew with a loser's attitude to a crew with a winner's attitude. He may well be reason No. 1 why that changed happened.
A personal story that means nothing in terms of managing ability but, at least to me, speaks well of him: Back in those days, newspapers had money and mine used to send me to Atlanta regularly to do updates and stories on the many players who spent time with the Richmond Braves (may they rest in peace).
I approached Pendleton in the clubhouse before the game and said I'd like a few minutes to get his thoughts on some things I was writing. He was very polite but begged off because he had to take care of something - hitting cage, trainer's room, I can't even remember. He'd find me afterward.
Yeah, I'm thinking. That's the ultimate player dodge. Most in my experience at least try to be polite. I wouldn't see Pendleton again that day.
About 20 minutes later, I'm in a group interviewing another player and there's a tap on my shoulder. Pendleton. "I'm ready now so stop by my locker when you're done." I did and he gave some of the most thoughtful answers I've ever received. Before or since.
Big deal. I know. Think about it, though. It's bigger than you may think. Dealing with people, all kinds of people, is something a manager has to do above just about anything else. Some common courtesy curried a lot of favor for Pendleton in at least one corner.
Surely he knows the game. He's patient. He's a presence. He's a winner.
He's probably the next manager of the Atlanta Braves but I hope the Nats at least inquire.
Also, here's an interesting update from the Times' blog about Don Mattingly. I have a personal story about him, too (you expected any less), but I will save that for another day. I would be in favor of his consideration, too. Pendleton, Mattingly - if you aren't going to keep Riggleman, give me someone new or someone with a previous track record. Please.