Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Farewell to Frank


The (Com)Post says Frank Robinson will not return next year as manager. A lot of hay has been made about Frank being voted "worst manager" in baseball by the players for two years in a row in a secret Sport Illustrated poll. But let's not kid ourselves; the Nats haven't had much of a chance at winning since they moved to D.C. The farm system was destroyed before they left Montreal denying the team a chance to build from within, to say that MLB ran the team on the cheap would be very, very generous to MLB which cost the team vital veterans and any chance at building depth, and to top it all off Frank had to sheppard the team not only through potential contraction, a move, but the embarrassing roller coaster ride of MLB selling the team.

Personally, it doesn't matter to me whether or not Frank comes back next year as manager of the Washington Nationals. Clearly Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten do not believe that Frank is the type of manager who can handle a young and developing squad and I am fine with that. I would be fine with them deciding that Frank is that type of manager and keeping him around. But let's hope that now that the decision has at least been leaked (if not totally made) that the Lerners, Bowden, and Kasten do the right thing this weekend and give Frank the goodbye to baseball that he's never had. After 51 years in the game and all he's done (2 time MVP, 12 All-Star games, AL Triple Crown, World Series MVP, the first black manager of a MLB team, 586 home runs w/o the benefit of steroids or bandbox ballparks like Citizens Bank Park and Great American Ballpark, and over 1,000 wins as a manager just to name a few) Frank deserves to have a proper retirement ceremony.

Some have criticized Frank for the way he "burned out the team", especially the bullpen, last year. But I have a different take on that. Frank knew that the team was coming into a new city. Frank knew that the team had to build a fan base, and quickly. The best way to do that is to win. And that's exactly what Frank did last season. He made the moves to win games early on in the season that most managers wouldn't bother with because it could cost them down the stretch. There's 162 of them, you can't and don't really want to win them all. But Frank helped to guide the team into first place in the NL East anyway. RFK Stadium was rocking and the town was all caught up in a pennant race until the last few weeks of the season. When the Redskins opened up training camp last year, the story was buried inside The Washington (Com)Post’s Sports section and when the Nationals took to the field on October 2nd, 2005 for their last game, they received a standing ovation from the 36,491 who shunned the Redskins-Seattle game at FedEx field to be at RFK. The fans were appreciative of the team who were finishing up at 81-81. Frank Robinson was the reason for that. Frank Robinson is an instantly recognizable name in the game of baseball and Washington could not have asked for a better face of the franchise in their first two seasons.

So if for no other reason, the Nationals should honor Frank for helping to rebuild baseball in Washington. It would be the classy thing to do.

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