June 16, 2009

Nats' Acta Still Manager, But GM Fails to Convince

We've parsed front office statements in this space before, but today's Washington Post report on the future of Nationals' manager Manny Acta had holes big enough to accomodate a Metro train.

First, here's the report from the Post:

When a Fox Sports report on Saturday suggested that Acta's firing was imminent -- and already decided -- Acta spoke immediately thereafter with acting general manager Mike Rizzo and President Stan Kasten, who assured him that the report was inaccurate. But even that assurance does not solidify Acta's job, which now survives on a series-by-series basis.

"It's certainly uncomfortable with the speculation," Rizzo said. "Names are being bandied about of replacements and we haven't even discussed it with the current manager. He's still our manager. We support him. And all the reports that happened over the weekend, I don't know where those reports come from."

I'll ignore the part where Rizzo and Kasten told Manny the weekend report that Acta's firing is imminent was "inaccurate". That's not a direct quote.

Here are the quotes of importance.

"He's still our manager." Yes, Mr. Rizzo, that is correct.

"And all the reports that happened over the weekend, I don't know where those reports come from." What an odd way to say that. Did Rizzo mean "We're still trying to find the leak"? Why didn't he say something that directly refuted the Fox Sports report?

If they're really going to fire him, they need to do it. If they're not really going to fire him, try this out instead:

"Manny Acta will manage our team so long as he is making sound decisions on the field, helping our young players develop their talents and improve, and displaying the work ethic and attitude that we want to instill in our young franchise. He is meeting those expectations right now, and we will not remove him this season unless circumstances change. Consistency and continuity are important as we build a contending team around our nucleus of talent. Acta is an important part of that process."

You want fans? You want people to ride out this putrid team with you? Give them hope that you have a real plan. Replacing Acta for the sake of replacing Acta is not the answer, and in the long run will give the impression that the front office is flailing. Staying with him gives the impression that this season is just necessary pain on the way to playoff appearances.

Maybe the franchise will make its first wise decision since moving to D.C.

June 15, 2009

ESPN.com Is the TMZ of Sports

Let me prepare the analogy. Variety covers the actual production of Hollywood entertainment. TMZ covers the people who work in that industry.

So who is actually covering sports now? See the snapshot below from 10 p.m. ET on Monday evening.

As you can see, there are three articles about legal matters (Burress, Stallworth, Phoenix Coyotes), five articles about player movement (Favre, Turkoglu, Shaq, Ellis, Meeks) and two articles, the 9th and 10th, about actual sporting events.

Why do I know more about Phil Mickelson's wife's breasts than I do about golf itself?

June 14, 2009

Nationals Prepare for New Act(a)

Like everything else related to the Washington Nationals' front office, the situation with manager Manny Acta has been horribly mishandled.

CNNSI and other sources are reporting that Acta will be fired, "perhaps as early as Monday." Everyone who has ever been asked has had only positive things to say about Acta. All the compliments are probably code for "he's not the reason the guy next to me would struggle to crack the lineup of the Nashville Sounds."

Bill Parcells said he wanted to buy the groceries if he was to do the cooking. If we apply that analogy to the Nats' horrific front office management, Acta has been asked to cook five-star meals using only Spam, Velveeta, sweet gherkins and Triscuits.

At least Acta will be able to spend Fathers' Day with his two daughters, albeit unemployed.

This should come as no surprise as GM Mike Rizzo gave Acta the dreaded "vote of confidence" back in late April. The team, of course, has performed even more poorly since then. Badly enough, in fact, that players have vocalized support for Acta even without prompting.

The Nats are 16-43 this season under Acta and went 148-234 under his direction. Acta is the second manager in team history after Frank Robinson.

Penguins Hoist Cup, Proof God Hates Us

The Pittsburgh Penguins came through on their second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, bringing the most famous trophy in sports back to Pittsburgh. This means the Cup, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and baseball's weird circle of pennants all reside in the shitacular state of Pennsylvania, with the NBA championship almost certainly heading to L.A.

Why hath thou forsaken us? Did God settle His eternity-long dispute with Satan and award the evil one dominion over sports?