Friday, January 12, 2007
When I interviewed Washington Nationals Team President, Stan Kasten, this past Monday, one of the questions I asked concerned the future of former Manager, Frank Robinson. What role, if any, would Robinson play, and would it be meaningful?
Mr. Kasten replied positively, noting, the team had reached out and, "We may have something to say very soon." Although he didn't say exactly what, Mr. Kasten was nodding his head up and down (yes), and I got the impression there was going to be a positive conclusion to this matter.
Then, the very next day, Todd Jacobson from the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star broke the story that the two sides were parting ways. The Washington Post and Washington Times followed with "BITTER" comments from Frank and now Tom Boswell has got on the bandwagon to take a stab at The Nationals Owners. Boz claiming the Nationals have made a huge Public Relations Mistake.
Personally, I have mixed feelings over the matter. As I wrote so emotionally back on September 30, it saddened me to see this Hall of Fame Player shoved out the door, unceremoniously. For 5 Seasons, Robinson had put up with a lot crap, as Caretaker Manager of The Montreal Expos and then Nationals, due to the cheapness of Major League Baseball's Ownership. Never given alot of quality players to compete on an even level with the rest of baseball's team, Frank, nonetheless, was able to take what he was given and put a competitive team out on the baseball diamond, most every night.
And, by far--This one time GREAT PLAYER, was the FACE OF THE FRANCHISE. NO DOUBT!!
I always loved his in your face manner--never one to baby a spoiled athlete. In today's give me the constant love, instant gratification and "ME FIRST" ways of professional players, I will always appreciate how Frank Robinson put those coddled brats back in there proper place, as just another player. Just ask Alfonso Soriano his reaction to Frank Robinson sitting him down for not going to left field in an exhibition game last spring in Viera, Florida.
But, as we all came to know, his managerial skills were well below par when it came to strategy. He would trash his own players in the press, without communicating with them directly. Cantakerous and crusty--he could rub a lot of people the wrong way. Yet, Frank was still extremely popular with the fan base. And, as such, its disappointing that something meaningful could not be worked out by The Lerners and Stan Kasten.
To his credit, Mr. Kasten has taken the fall of this one, and refuses to sullen Frank's reputation even more. Our Washington Nationals are moving in a new direction, a youth movement. Truly, this franchise is rebuilding from scratch. I understand the efforts being put forth. I am behind most everything being done to nurse the franchise back to health. But, with that infusion of youth, comes the obligation to teach. Teaching effectively comes from knowledge. I only wish that Management could have utilized Frank Robinson's 50 years of knowledge and expertise in a significant way. No doubt, Number 20 has something to offer.
Of course we don't really know exactly what job The Nats tendered. Stan Kasten doesn't negotiate in the Press--and rightfully so. Frank, as usual, sounds bitter, then says he's not. Washington wants to throw a celebration for him on May 20, during the Homestand at RFK Stadium with The Baltimore Orioles. Robinson sounds like he doesn't want to attend. Its part of the problem with Frank, you really don't know where he stands, sometimes.
But, I still like him--a lot. And, beside, Frank, his wife, Barbara and daughter, Nichelle, LOVE SECTION 320 and our antics!
Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson, may be a Bitter Old Man, but, more than just about anyone else, he single handedly kept the Expos/Nats Franchise relevant on the baseball field these past five difficult seasons.
I only wish there was some way to make both sides happy.