Monday, July 13, 2009
The Press Conference Scene Today
The scene set at Nationals Park in the interview room next to The Presidents Club late this morning was much like attending a funeral. Sullen faces, some near tears, eyes diverted down. The Staff Of Our Washington Nationals was expressing the unexpected loss of one they cherished so much.
For 25 Minutes, Team President Stan Kasten and Interim GM Mike Rizzo took to the microphones to explain the decision to the assembled media. Sadness was truly all that was communicated. Both Mr. Kasten & Mr. Rizzo stating how wonderful the person Manny Acta is. And that each feels--in the long run--Manny will be a successful field manager in Major League Baseball.
Just not here in Washington, DC. Just not right now. The firing of Manny Acta officially announced. Bench Coach Jim Riggleman to replace him on an interim basis.
A complete transcript coming of all 25 minutes. Individual availabilities with both Mr. Kasten & Mr. Rizzo following the formal news conference as well. But of all the things said this day--what Mike Rizzo stated honestly in response to my last question on the side--resonated the most.
How long did you wrestle with this decision to let Manny go? (SBF)
Mike Rizzo: “It was a very difficult decision to finally come to. We wrestled with it for quite a while. And we all ultimately came to this decision, begrudgingly, because of what we think about the man and the baseball man inside.”
Toughest baseball decision you have ever made in your life? (SBF)
“Yes, without a doubt, it was a very tough night last night.”
Though crying might not be allowed in baseball--Interim GM Mike Rizzo was showing his true heart, fighting back not choking up over a very hard personnel decision made.
Much, much more coming later as I finish transcribing.
But for now--here is the letter written by Our Washington Nationals to Fans, followed by Manny Acta's final written statement. He chose not to attend today's press conference--according to Mr. Kasten.
TO: Fans of the Washington Nationals
No one is more dissatisfied in the first half of the 2009 Washington Nationals season than we are. Like you, we had hoped that some of our younger players would have matured faster and that the addition of some of our new veterans would have significantly improved our record from a season ago. Our hope was that a solid club leadership would emerge on and off the field and that some intangible combinations would begin to click resulting in many winning streaks.
We definitely do see significant pieces materializing for the future, and there have been many close, exciting games and optimistic bright spots: Strong outings by John Lannan, the home run and RBI production of Adam Dunn, the All-Star selection and 30 game hitting streak of Ryan Zimmerman, and the recent addition of speedster Nyjer Morgan. Much of the season, however, has been defined by weak relief pitching, poor defense, and youthful inconsistency. We have tried to work through this period with patience and focus but now we are faced with mounting losses which are beginning to take a toll on our entire roster. Clearly, some changes are required as we prepare for the second half of the 2009 season and, more importantly, build for a competitive future.
Today, we announced that manager Manny Acta is being replaced on an interim basis by Jim Riggleman , veteran manager, and currently the Nats bench coach. Both the Ownership and the entire Washington Nationals organization have the highest respect for Manny Acta and the role he has played in the short history of the Nationals. However, it is our belief that a fresh attitude and approach is necessary as we set out to improve our performance for the remainder of the year. We want to send a strong message to our clubhouse and our fans that the status quo is unacceptable. We believe that more is expected of everyone in the organization.
Baseball operations will be reevaluating all our players and our options for improvement over the next several months. We hope to sign our 2009 draft choices by the August deadline. We hope these new additions will join an already exciting Nationals youth movement headed by the likes of Lannan, Jesus Flores, Alberto Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Craig Stammen on our current roster, and the likes of promising minor league stars like Chris Marrero, Michael Burgess, Danny Espinosa, Derek Norris and Drew Storen, among many others. But, we also will be determining the viability of trades or roster upgrades that can be made without doing damage to the farm system or the developing talent we expect to blossom within the next two years.
When we bought the Washington Nationals in the middle of the 2006 season – just under three years ago – we committed to a patient, long term approach, building a strong farm system and core foundation that would deliver a perennial and consistent contender; to provide a second-to-none family entertainment value at Nationals Park; and to investment and involvement in the metropolitan Washington DC community. Today we remain steadfastly committed to each component of that mission. We are proud to represent the National Pastime in the Nation’s Capital, and we are proud to call the Capital area home.
We know we have a way to go, but the end result will be all the richer for the early days we’ve spent together at Nationals Park. We are getting better. We want you to be with us as the pieces of the puzzle come together. Your support is powerful to the Nationals and baseball in Washington . Thank you for your continuing patience and your commitment to a shared dream.
Washington Nationals Baseball Club
STATEMENT FROM MANNY ACTA
First, I would like to thank GOD for putting me in this position. I want to thank the Washington Nationals for giving me the opportunity to be a Major League manager. It was a great learning experience, I have no regrets.
As I move forward, I wish the Nationals all the best. I was very fortunate to work with and meet a lot of wonderful people while here.
I’d like to extend a special thank you to the fans for being so patient and supportive over the last two and a half years.
Last but not least, to the media, thank you for being fair and respectful toward my family and I.