Monday, July 13, 2009

The Most Charismatic Of Men

Manny Acta is a very thoughtful person, full of depth and character. Not a one-dimensional baseball man, Manny can hold his own in conversation about news worthy events off the field of play with anyone. A complete person who will now not finish what he was hired for--to make DC Major League Baseball a success.

The "Most Charismatic Of Men" fired today by Our Washington Nationals.

The African Queen and I quite saddened to hear the news. A loss came early this off-day, one greater than the 61 already witnessed so far this year.

You can argue that Manny fielded a team of mismatched parts. You can argue he threw out a defensive lineup that continually couldn't make the routine play. And you can argue that Our Bullpen was harboring on becoming one of the worst relief corps of all time. And you would right on all counts.

But you can't say it's all Manny Acta's fault.

You can question some of his managerial moves. You can question some of his lineups. You can prefer to see a more fiery temper shown out on the field of play by Our Field Manager. You can argue he should have protected his players more in any game. That's all fair game too.

But you could never convince us that Former General Manager Jim Bowden gave Manny the proper tools to work with. Nor that Interim GM Mike Rizzo has had enough time to correct many of those mistakes. A Franchise still in it's infancy, is now rebooting, changing direction, looking for a new compass setting.

Work now commencing without one of the most respected young men in baseball--Manny Acta. From the very first day of his hiring, Manny was a class act. He never put himself above the team, nor even Our Fans. Has there ever been a manager more in tune with listening and getting to know the fan base? We doubt it.

Always friendly, always willing to talk, Manny's profoundness was always refreshing--honesty that will be missed. So will his wonderful smile.

A well-rounded man, Manny always held his head up high and never publicly disparaged anyone. In this day and time--that type of bold restraint should be appreciated--not ridiculed and run out of town. Nasty words written about him just to hurt--"Get lost, Go Away, We Don't Need You Any More" (and that's just the more kind stuff).

Embarrassing is the way Manny Acta has been treated in the public eye of late. Shame brought forth by those that just like to hurt--not realizing, or caring about, the human being behind the uniform.

Our Washington Nationals have let go their manager this day for the second time in the five years since baseball returned to Washington, DC. This firing more heart-wrenching than when Frank Robinson was let go in 2006. Sorrowful, because Manny Acta was brought on board to be The New Face Of Our Fresh Franchise in 2007. He quickly became the Standard Bearer for all that was to be good about Major League Baseball finding it's home in Washington, DC.

Instead, many a moves not of his own doing, has led to his downfall.

Our Washington Nationals are lesser today because a good person was relieved of his job. A dignified man that was deserving of better took the fall. All of Manny's insight and accumulated intelligence could not save him from all that is wrong with Our Washington Nationals. Our Number 14 is no longer our manager, but we would bet, Manny Acta walks away this day a better person than when he arrived--someone whom all of us should learn from.

Classy until the very end--Sohna and I will miss Manny Acta. "The Most Charismatic Of Men" briefly entered our lives these past few years and we are better for it. Sohna and I will always love him for his compassion, his knowledge, his depth of life itself.

Good character means a lot to us. Few we respect more than you--Manny Acta.

Good Luck Manny. Never ones to toss aside friendships lightly, we will always be by your side.


paul said...

Manny seems like a really nice guy, but I would like someone smarter and not as nice in the job. Sometimes niceness can be a hindrance.

Having said that, the way the Lerners via their proxy, Stan Kasten, have treated Manny has been appalling. To not extend his contract this year emasculated Manny as an authority figure and doomed the team.

I wonder how long the Lerners will take to learn their lessons.

John R. said...

Thank you for giving a different perspective on Manny Acta. No one could deny that he carried himself with class and dignity these last three years.

But manages and coaches get fired. They may not be to blame, but still they lose their jobs when the team loses. Eddie Jordan succeeded greatly as Wizards coach yet he was let go last year when the team struggled without the injured Gilbert Arenas. The Colorado Rockies did well under Clint Hurdle until recently and then he was fired. It happens.

Unless the Nationals were ready to give Acta new contract for next year, there is no downside to letting him go now. It just didn't work out.

Keith said...

A lot of us thought Manny was a great guy, and that this disastrous first half was not entirely his fault. HOWEVER: One could also argue that Manny failed to show up for the fight. Players, coaches, and even management should all be vaguely intimidated in the presence of the skipper, and they clearly were not. It's not fair that he's fired, but it's right. When the patient is unresponsive and blue, bad CPR is better than no CPR.

Record digger said...

Manny should have never been hired- the Nats needed someone experienced- and he should have been fired after last season's debacle.

Those who continue to talk about what a classy and respected guy he is -repeating it as mantra miss the point: he is not a good manager; he makes poor decisions!

If Manny had been fired after two weeks this season (as should have been the case) who knows where we would be today? I think its impossible to say we'd be any worse.

Honestly Manny Acta for some reason has the best PR machine in the business.. every move he does- no matter how poor (Milledge, the constant screwing over of Dukes, the constant sticking it out with useless players like Hanrahan or Kearns, etc.) is pretty much ignored or is defended and then we hear "The losses are not his fault he has terrible players.."; this loser mentality of accepting that the losses are inevitable and that our team is so awful it can never win is Manny Acta's great legacy and he has to own up and so do his supporters.

Bryan said...

The Nats obviously still have some work to do, but I do find the time of this somewhat curious. Ever since the rumors originally emerged on Fox that Manny was about to be replaced by Riggleman, it seemed as though the team was able to put together some good spurts -- even putting together a few winning streaks, which doesn't happen too much when your record is 26 - 61. When you combine that with the fact that the organization was outright denying the rumors that changes were going to be made, I thought they’d be giving Manny a chance to manage for the rest of the season.

Now I can understand the reasoning for the timing that was announced at the press conference (the all-star break gives them some time for adjustment), but there still seems to be a feeling of how the move was delayed because they didn’t want the rumors reported on Fox to turn out to be 100% correct. I don’t think that helps with the fans or the club house atmosphere, but I hope I’m proven wrong on that account. Either way, I’ll still be there to support our Nats.

SenatorNat said...

I concur with most of the wonderfully expressed sentiments by SBF, but I do think that the buck does stop with the manager, and I think that had his record this year thus far been equal to last year's horrendous record, he would have been able to ride out the year. The fact is that Manny comports himself with dignity and intelligence, and that actually is why he has survived this long, considering 2008 and half of 2009. When a team is on pace to have 160 errors, and about 60 more unofficial errors, one tends to look at the manager and question whether fundamentals are emphasized and/or enforced: Z-Man and Nick Johnson have over 20 combined together thus far, and they are purportedly excellent fielders.

Manny angling to get the NY Mets job next year - he has been prepared for the anvil to fall since the week-end before the New York Yankees series. He has friends there, of course, and may wind up with the job he really wants, after all.

I am disappointed in his performance, not his manner, which was the one he preferred to use in the Majors - a sort-of "Ozzie/Not!" But, like Norv Turner, he gave the fans the sense, fair or not, that the players, umpires and other teams perceived him as a bit of a push-over. "Nice guys finish last" - unless they are like Gil Hodges. And, while he wore his number, Manny did not manage a collection of misfitting parts like friend Gil...

Riggleman is going to assume the reins for the second year in a row in the middle of a lost season. He is free to fiddle with the line-up, of course. I project Johnson and Guz and Kearns gone - the first two via trade, and the latter DFA (bringing Dukes back up.)

Riggle may then slot Willingham at first with Dukes in right; Gonzalez at short:

1. Morgan CF
2. Gonzalez SS
3. Zimmerman 3b
4. Dunn LF
5. Willingham 1B
6. Dukes RF
7. Bard C
8. Hernandez 2B

Trust in old white Nice Guys to manage the Nats. And press the re-set button, again. All interim.

natsfan1a said...

I wish Acta well and hope he lands on his feet somewhere in baseball. He was doomed to fail with the "resources" that he was given.

Also, I can understand not agreeing with his strategies but I don't understand the ad hominem attacks by some. It says more about the attackers than about the attacked, for sure.

Staci said...

Beautifully written.

Tom said...

First of all, congratulations on another beautifully written piece.
I am in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed therein.
It's something we discussed earlier in the midst of our many late inning meltdowns versus the Marlins to open the season.
Second, I can see the rationale behind the more logical comments calling for his dismissal. I don't think we will be better off just for changing managers. We all know the old adage "You can't fire the players,..." But we can chop off 5 or so pieces of roster deadwood (ie., Belliard, Kearns, and some bullpen arms).
It will be interesting to see how much roster change unfolds to enable Riggelman to have better pieces to manuever with.
I hope Manny is afforded another chance to manage in the majors sometime soon. This year will certainly be a black mark held against him. But I for one will be rooting hard for him to succeed.
I don't think anyone on the roster the last couple years can say that they weren't given multiple chances to establish themselves in the big leagues.
Go Nats, and good luck Manny.

Laurie said...

Jeff, Well written tribute to Manny. He didnt deserve to be the fall guy for the bad Bowden decisions of the past. Dealing with the likes of Dukes and such. Manny is a class act and the Nats need more classy people like him. I was disappointed at how they rid of Frank and now of Manny. Seems the ownership needs lessons on handling the people. Make no sense to do this in the middle of the season. Like the new guy is going to right the ship..haha...I wish Manny well and this is a sad say. Signed, Laurie from Section 218 (your neighbor)

Record digger said...

There are plenty of examples of teams that changed managers and turned around their entire season (some even making the world series).. Why are people so pessimistic? Again, its that loser mentality: Manny Acta's legacy. Everyone in DC laughs about how pathetic the team is and believes no matter what happens the team will continue being losers.. AND THAT is the main reason Acta had to go.. When it becomes acceptable to lose its time for someone else to be brought in.

Now I don't see the Nats making the playoffs (because of the huge whole dug by Acta and the team for us) but at least we won't be challenging for worst record in MLB history and with a new skipper maybe things improve! Why not??

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I just want to elaborate on one game which shows what is wrong with the Nats. How on earth can any team get 11 hits in a ballgame and not score any runs? For me, it's almost impossible NOT to blame the manager in this situation. I like Manny Acta as a person, but I can't argue against his firing.

Could Joe McCarthy (I mean the manager, not the notorious senator) win the pennant with this club? No, but I think he would get them playing better and kick out the players who don't, no matter how much money the Nats have tied up in their contracts.

In other words, I think the Nats need the type of manager that Chet Baker is talking about. Unfortunately, I don't think Mike Riggleman is that manager, but hopefully the Nats will hire him before spring training of 2010.

Steve Walker said...


I'm sorry to see Manny go. Earlier this year, I wanted him to be fired, but, the more I pondered, the more I felt he was given a broken product to work with from the start. I hoped he would survive because his character, perspective and caring are all things in short supply in sports -- and, sadly, in the organizational culture of the Washington Nationals.

I want to wish Manny the best, but I'm quite certain the Mets will hire him, spend lots of money to field a talented, veteran team, and surge to multiple division titles under his leadership. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear we may have let a 21st century version of Casey Stengel walk out the door.

In any case, I appreciated your kind, thoughtful post.

J. Fletcher said...

Wish Manny well in the future. He will be just fine going forward...this will be a stepping stone to great things to come for him in the coming years.

The real focus that never seems to be discussed in the manner it deserves deals with the Slow Lerners.

First, the team has falling off the map since the Lerners DISRESPECTED Frank Robinson. One of the all-time baseball men of alltime to include player, manager, and MLB management. The Lerners just don't know how to treat people. Now they don't show up for the announcing of firing Manny and the press conference. The lack of respect and to represent the team is weak. In fact it sucks.

MLB picked the wrong people to bring back to Washington DC after so many years. As long as the Lerners are the owners, then baseball in Washington DC will not reach the level that so many fans are waiting for.

The Lerners are bad for baseball and terrible for the Nationals.

Good luck to you will be fine going forward. Learn from the experience and put those Lerners behind you. Maybe the Lerners need to attend Baseball 101 camp before making any more decisions to help the Nats.

CHessler said...

It seems that those who believe firing Manny was wise (and it appears they are in the majority) suffer from the same limitations as the Lerners and Mr. Kasten. It does not require much careful observation to