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.

9 comments:

SenatorNat said...

Frank has a curmudeon nature - seemingly long before he was an "old man"...He has already been quoted with his heartfelt fear - that his being out of baseball will mean his death!

Lerners and Kasten and Bowden had to cut the cord, and do so in a way that enables Acta to use the last year at RFK as his training year, so-to-speak.

They respected Frank by selecting one of his proteges, actually, and it is clear that Frank feels a kinship with Manny.

So - let's retire Frank's career number 20 on May 20th - unveiling a circle next to the Jackie Robinson number 42 circle, and thus have two Robinsons' numbers in adjacent circles - both Hall of Famers and both the first African Americans to play and manage, respectively, in MLB.

And, then, let time heal the hurt feelings...

Thanks Frank; Trust in Kasten. All Good...

phil dunn said...

On another topic, I just viewed the Nick Johnson video interview on the Washington Post website and it looks like a very grim situation to me. Nick had difficulty making it down the dugout steps and he looks very out of shape. He said he might be hack in June but he certainly didn't sound very convincing to me. I fear he may be lost for the season.

phil dunn said...

Frank is nearly 72 years old. In corporate American, he would have been shown the door fifteen years ago. He has had a good run but now needs to leave a couple of nickels on the table for those who follow him. It is time to retire, Frank.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Yeah Phil, I have feared for some time Nick Johnson will basically be unhealthy for longer than presumed. His fracture is far more severe than anyone has admitted so far. Too bad

Phil Dunn said...

SBF, The Nick situation will have a negative impact on Zimmerman too because Nick bats behind him in the batting order. Zim may not see many good pitches with Nick out.

Eddie Cunningham said...

I would still like to see the Nats retire Robinson's number, but will the ceremony to honor him go on, but what would be the point if Frank refuses to attend?

Thom Loverro was talking about this on the radio and commented about how the Nats handled this so badly. But what if it really is Frank's fault? The Nats can't say or do anything because it will make them look worse, so they have no choice but to keep their mouths shut. But I agree with the sentiments in your letter.

Tom said...

Compromise. Have MLB offer to honor Frank on May 20th. He was really their employee. And he was one of the key employees who made MLB a lot of money. MLB is the one that really owes a retirement ceremony to Frank. This was suggested over on the NationalsForum. It might also give Bud a potential excuse to miss the Barry Bond's homerun celebration which is projected to happen around then

Screech's Best Friend said...

Tom: That is a GREAT POINT. MLB Owes Frank Big Time. Robinson trudged through all the crap so Baseball could make their fortune. And, I think Selig will do ANYTHING to avoid Barry Bonds hitting number 756. Good Comment.

Jim said...

Frank's decided he's going to be stubborn, bitter and unforgiving. Because he feels disrespected, he's going to "punish" the Nationals by refusing a day in his honor.

Fine. His legacy is safe, no matter how much he tries to sully it.

I'd nearly forgotten how many times Frank - in essence - demanded a new three year deal. Through the press. Then, somehow, because the Nats' leadership didn't jump at it...didn't immediately do as Frank suggested (and according to his schedule)...it's all about how poorly the Nats handled things?

I guess everyone disappointed Mr. Robinson by not performing to much higher standards. But it's hard to be perfect. Someday, Frank will have to tell the rest of us how he does it.