Friday, February 16, 2007
Why So Bitter?
Dear Frank: As a child, I grew up enjoying your play, even though I mostly remember you beating My Washington Senators game after game. No Doubt, you were a GREAT PLAYER. Arguably, one of the finest to ever play the game. Your professionalism and grace bestowed by you, during your playing career led to the Historical Significance of Frank Robinson, YOU-MY FRIEND, becoming the Very First African-American Manager, and opening up a door to many that both preceeded you, and came after. Countless minorities, from different races and ethnic backgrounds who were never fairly given the proper respect or chance, were now handed those opportunities. Those facts alone make you a GREAT MAN!!
Over 17 seasons you managed five separate franchises, interspersed with Front Office Assignments for your beloved Orioles, in the city of your GREATEST FAME-Baltimore. And, just when you thought your ON FIELD Career was over, Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig came calling, asking for a favor. "Frank," Selig said, "would you please step down from your job in the Commissioner's Office and go to Montreal and be a caretaker Manager for the soon to be contracted Expos."
Being the man you are, in love with the game, you could not resist. Anything to help baseball survive and improve. You found out upon arrival in Montreal, your competitive juices were flowing again. The Expos were very talented. They just didn't have competent ownership.
Through all miracles and a Caretaker General Manager in Omar Minaya (Minaya would personally drain the Montreal Franchise of every single top prospect, unfortunately), you kept The Expos a viable competing team for The Wild Card. Some would say, "THE DARLINGS OF BASEBALL" during the 2002 & 2003 Seasons. Frank, those two seasons may well have been your finest efforts as a Major League Manager. Major League Baseball could not contract the Expos, and your fire in the dugout had alot to do with the change in attitude at MLB Headquarters in New York.
Although Minaya's trading away of Montreal's youth core tanked the Expos in 2004, your work helped to force the move of this long forgotten franchise to one of the GREATEST CITIES IN THE WORLD, My Hometown--Washington, DC.
The excitement over Our Washington Nationals, even during Spring Training 2005--was special. And, when you led Our Nats to a first place 51-30 record by the end of June that summer--"DC" was SKYHIGH, drunk in HYSTERIA over all our new found fortune. Baseball had returned after 34 years. And, with now expectations so high, not a Single Nats Fan did not believe THE PLAYOFFS were in store. You, Frank Robinson, were THE TOAST OF THE TOWN!!
Unfortunately, the team went in a funk, and the worse it got, your managerial decisions came more and more into question. Playing veterans, at the expense of youthful talent. Pulling Starting Pitchers after 3 hitters. Overusing your Bullpen. Verbal fights, with players, not face to face, but in THE PRESS. The Nationals Clubhouse became a morgue. That responsibility sat solely in your lap.
The Inaugural Season of Our Washington Nationals ended poorly. Although the Fans continued to support the team throughout the downfall.
Over the winter of 2005-06, MLB let The Washington Nationals ownership situation simmer, while Baseball continued to extract each and every last penny from The Franchise and its Fans. All this resulting in Our Washington Nationals having a poor sophomore season. As the 2006 season progressed your demeanor seemed to grown ever more impatient, argumentative, while all the time isolating yourself among, not only The Nationals, but the Fan Base itself. I could never quite understand your mood.
After The Lerner Group were officially handed the Keys To The Franchise, you went into a serious rut. Publicly calling out The Owners, making demands in The Press. Almost clawing your way out of a hole, that may not have existed. I certainly was not privy to your behind the scenes conversations with The Lerners, Stan Kasten or Jim Bowden, but I have to believe there was more substance to them than what you are letting on.
Finally, during the final week of 2006, the offical word come down. You would not return. Yet, although I envisioned you not returning to the dugout in 2007, there was an important role for you to play in the future of this, soon to be, GREAT FRANCHISE. And, I wrote about you, emotionally.
Now, 4 months later, you have turned down every single advance from Our Washington Nationals. Whether you wanted the job offering or not, you should show them the respect, the same respect that you demanded from everyone else over the course of your FABULOUS LIFE!! You don't owe Washington anything. And, the Nationals don't owe you.
Yet, The Lerners and Stan Kasten want to honor you this coming May 20th, at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC when the Nats take on your other love--The Baltimore Orioles.
Frank--Baltimore Loves You. And,Washington, DC--DEFINITELY Loves You, Too!
I will remember you, and will cherish your work toward stabilizing Our Washington Nationals, for the rest of my life. There is NO MAN ALIVE that does not respect you. You ARE, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, A GREAT MAN!! Please don't make My FINAL LASTING IMPRESSION OF YOU--A BITTER ONE.
Frank, I mean it--from the bottom of my heart.