Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Possibility for a Different Type of Managerial Discussion

The prevailing attitude out there indicates that this Nats’ series against the Yankees will determine the fate of Manny Acta’s future in Washington. Maybe it does. But maybe, maybe, the absolute reverse could be true. What if this series somehow plays into the future that onetime Nats spurner Joe Girardi has in New York? Imagine a scenario in which the Nationals take 2 of 3 from the Yankees, or maybe even just take one game, perhaps the first one. What about, dare we say it???, a sweep. The maniacal screams of the New York Post, et al, for the immediate dismissal of Girardi would know no limit.

Living in the NY area and having direct access to the home of sensationalistic sports-related overreaction (not to mention some of the most spectacularly ludicrous trade theories you’ll ever hear) that is WFAN radio, I can attest to the thin ice some perceive Joe Girardi to be on, and it seemed to get thinner after the most recent sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, adding to that 0-whatever record New York now has this season against Boston. Who knows, if Luis Castillo catches a routine popup and the Mets take 2 of 3 in the increasingly watered-down Subway Series, maybe a few more calls for Girardi’s dismissal could have surfaced (then again, if Nick Johnson catches a routine popup in Tampa, maybe there are a few less for Manny’s).

It could happen. Remember earlier this spring, when a similar DC-NY table-turning went down involving a couple of goaltenders? As the story in that series shifted from Lundqvist to Varlamov, perhaps now a different kind of story could shift from Acta to Girardi (we do love any opportunity for a Caps/Nats parallel). If it does, be sure to tell all your friends where you read it first. Then call WFAN and continue to tell them the Mets should “pick up” Adam Dunn.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nats Fans: Less Flappable Than Nats Beat Writers

When Bobtimist posted a link on his Twitter feed this morning pointing to a poll in the Nationals Journal, I felt an almost immediate sense of familiarity.

The subject matter of the poll, of course, was whether the firing of the Master of 'Tism himself, Manny Acta, increasingly rumored to be imminent, would be warranted right now. A steady 55-56% of Nats fans have been maintaining that such a dismissal is, at the very least, ill-timed. It's worth noting the wording of the survey question: "Is it the right time to fire Manny Acta?", perhaps indicating that the questioner has already determined the Master must go, and just wonders when the right time is to drop the ax.

This survey brought to mind another such polling of the mindset of Nats fans, one undertaken just last summer, when things were looking similarly bleak for the franchise. The tide of optimism was strong then, even as the Nationals limped towards that 100 loss plateau they had so valiantly avoided a year prior. Back then, as now, a majority of the fanbase expressed confidence in Manny, 4/5 going so far as to say he would one day lead the franchise to a winning record. Back then, as now, Nats fans showed how strongly they ultimately believe in this team and remain hopeful in its future, in stark contrast to the continual snark, gloom, and overall negativism found in the pages of Nationals Journal and elsewhere.

There is, of course, that voice out there that is (usually) optimistic in the form of our buddy Boz, who so eloquently stated the dignity with which Manny still carries himself, and the support he still enjoys amongst his players. This is not some team implosion, poisonous locker room needing to be purged type situation (a situation, incidentally, that has been prophesied by naysayers whenever an alleged "troublemaker" or "cancer" with a name like Young or Dukes has been signed). It's just another struggling chapter in a re-building ballclub, one made all the more difficult with all that Bowden stuff that went down, and with all this young pitching trying to find its footing.

So, no, the time is not right to fire ChairManny, and we shouldn't assume such an action is or should be imminent. He's been the perfect character guy to keep a positive attitude through all this painful-if-necessary losing, and deserves to see things through to their ultimate, successful, winning conclusion. The fans seem to get that.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Can (and will, and must) Get Through This

It’s been a while. Almost a month, actually. The last post on DCO to this point was before a bitterly disappointing Capitals’ Game 7 vs. the Penguins. That ended not quite as we’d hoped, but that game’s repercussions are perhaps as nothing compared to the Game 7 that went down tonight, a Game 7 that will cause we DC fans such pain as perhaps cannot even be fortold yet this early into the crisis.

So, this is bad. Maybe not Tony-Romo-with-a-Lombardi-Trophy bad, but very, very close. We’re in for a dark summer and early fall, my friends, months of gushing talk of “destiny fulfilled” by “the next one”, of “adversity overcome” by the same, of the audacity of free agent Marian Hossa to spurn a young hockey diety to play in Detroit, etc. Further, the next hockey season may well be difficult as any accomplishment by Alex Ovechkin or the Caps will find some beer-swilling yinser from Wheeling or Charleston, or maybe even on occasion Pittsburgh proper, bloviating about “the debate being over” as to who is the more superior player for all time, Sid or Ovie. This dark cloud may even hang over another probable trophy windfall by Ovie at the upcoming NHL awards ceremony, as the above-mentioned cretins will remind us of the one, perhaps two, honors not yet on his resume.

But it is that word, “yet”, that gives us hope, and let’s cling to it even at the onset of this dark night. The well-positioned Caps, not quite as lucky in the obtaining of #1 and #2 picks as these (gag) champion Penguins but close to their level nonetheless, will, soon, bring the discussion/debate back to even ground. They will do this, of course, with a Cup of their own. Perhaps a couple. We at DCO believe this, partially because we have to, but mostly because we really, really do. This tiresome-as-it-is “Ovechkin vs. Crosby” debate is laughingly far from over, being so early in the careers of both, and with each respective team only now rising to elite levels after years of last-place finishes and at least one near-move to Kansas City (looking back now, how sweet would that have been?). Who knows, maybe someday Alex will even rise enough to not be so arbitrarily and automatically attached to the horrible beard-grower in southwestern PA. A few 70-goal seasons should do it.

The Hershey Bears won yet another Calder Cup tonight, so that should blunt this crushing blow to all that is good and not ruined by excessive fawning in the world. All that talented AHL goodness flowing through DC and resulting in championships in the coming years will blunt it further, until June 12, 2009, will be remembered as just another goofy sky-diving birthday for an aging ex-president and not for the atrocity that occurred in Detroit, and the gushy coronation that ensued.

It will take some time, and it may be painful, but we will get past this.

Now how about those Nats?