It's been long months, who knows how many, but here they are: alone in fourth place. Finally a solid black and teal bufffer between them and the filthy basement to which MLB tried to shackle them. Not even a basement, a Silence-of-the-Lambs-esque squalid pit within a squalid basement. As the bats cool from another offensive outburst after a homestand of relative dormancy, and as we marvel at Nook Logan's five masterful strokes from last night, we look to our Jodie Foster, our Clarice Starling: Manny Acta (this is perhaps where the Silence of the Lambs paralells should end, eh?), he who exposed the squalid pit and led us from the basement.
We've discussed GM (the G is for Genius, the M is for...Manager) Jim Bowden's support of ChairManny as Manager of the Year recipient. Calls for such a recognition are growing, not only on mildly popular blogs, but also in the realm of the anonymous scout (third bullet point under “Ready to Rumble”). We wish this scout would reveal their identity, as there could be a year’s worth of Optimist of the Week awards given for such recognition of the forces of ‘tism.
There would also appear to be the initial rumblings of a campaign for the Nationals to immediately extend Manny’s contract, or, more accurately, pick up the team option for 2009. While we obviously tip our cap to such a move, we (predictably) believe it does not go far enough. No, a one-year, or even two-year, option pick-up is not sufficient given the history-defying and precedent-setting performance of Man Act this season. Consider:
-This team is essentially on its third distinct starting pitching rotation, yet continues to churn out quality start after quality start.
-This gaggle of would-be historical losers is guaranteed to finish at least 15 games above .500, with .500 being a relative number. For the Nationals, a .500 record for the season would be considered 42-120, which is about the average finish predicted for them.
-The Nationals are only six wins away from 63 victories, ensuring they will not lose 100 games this season. Most probably thought Manny’s 63rd victory as a manager would come some time next June.
Given these undeniably mind-blowing considerations, it is clear that there is only one contract to which we can look for precedent: Wayne Gretzky’s 21-year pact with the Edmonton Oilers, signed in 1979, when Wayne was wowing the hockey world much in the same way Manny is wowing the entire world.
Yes, the comparison is imperfect, since Manny is a much better bench coach than Wayne will ever be, but that’s not the point. The point is the Nationals should lock up the services of Manny for at least that long, and not foolishly part ways with him less than ten years later, as the Oilers did with Gretzky. If having the Manager of the Year for one year is great, imagine how much greater it will be to have the Manager of the Year for the next two decades!
Think about it, Jim. It could be your most ingenious move yet.