MASN's Rob Dibble, who is in his first season behind the mic calling Nationals' games, started an interview today on XM's Inside Pitch, (which was hosted today by Dibble's old "The Show" co-host Kevin Kennedy and XM's (I think it was) Holden Kushner, who was filling in for Mr. Kennedy's usual "Inside Pitch" partner, Jeff Joyce), by saying that each day he arrives at Nationals Park he receives more and more dirty looks as Mr. Dibble's outspoken nature becomes a reality in DC, in support of the rumors that preceded his arrival. One thing is for sure, at least from what i've heard of the games simulcast on MLB.tv, Rob Dibble speaks his mind and does so freely. What follows are what I thought were the highlights of today's interview with Mr. Dibble, which I'm afraid I must paraphrase since I didn't have a recording device handy when the interview aired...
Dibble on DC's Nationals:
• Justin Maxwell was overmatched at the major league level. Without Maxwell or Elijah Dukes (ed. note - "Who's supposed to be back tomorrow."), the outfield that the Nationals are putting out there, (Josh Willingham, Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn) (l to r) is a "softball team".
• A lot of the Nationals' mistakes are "common sense stuff", if they did a little homework, instead of hoping it gets better, they would improve.
• It's not that they don't work hard, but they don't practice as a unit, don't practice throwing to bases, and as an example, Mr. Dibble offers up Wil Nieves, and says if you don't throw in practice when it's time to throw in a game you won't be successful, citing Nieves' having thrown out just 2 of 21 base stealers.
• Mentions how Anderson Hernandez has non-chalanted some plays in the infield.
• And it's not the coaches that are the problem, but the players he speaks to, who think they don't need infield practice on, what Mr. Dibble calls the worst defensive team he's ever seen.
• (Mr. Dibble is asked what he thought of DC GM Mike Rizzo's comments about Daniel Cabrera, as quoted in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Cabrera Designated For Assignment", where Mr. Rizzo said, "I was tired of watching him." Mr. Dibble's response was to first compare Cabrera (jokingly, of course) to Robby the Robot, (1950-60's sci-fi reference), in that Cabrera was mechanical and stiff...Dibble says that DC Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire thought someone else was coaching Cabrera, that the right-hander was "on his own program", and not listening to anyone. Also says Cabrera wanted nothing to do with the bullpen, wouldn't even run with them...
- "Robby the Robot" (laughs)...
- ? For The DC Faithful...Who drops out of starting lineup when Dukes returns? Kearns? Hammer? You know it won't be Dunn's big bat, and I think Dunn's better off with Dukes in the 5-spot? Ready to play right yet, Hammer?
- Every time I hear something new about Daniel Cabrera he becomes more of a mystery...the comments about "someone else" coaching Cabrera also included remarks about it being an old coach or trainer, but I really didn't catch what was said...
- I also heard Dibble on his own XM show criticizing DC Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire's stubborn refusal to alter his approach, especially when dealing to Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, who are a combined - 36 for 99, for a .363 AVG, with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 12 HR's and 36 RBI's between them in 12 games against the Nationals. (Howard - 12 G, 14 for 49, .286 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI's, Ibanez - 12 G, 22 for 50, .440 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI's).
- All the talk about the Nationals taking infield practice was addressed yesterday in a great article by the Washington Post's Chico Harlan, entitled, "Measuring The Worth/Myth Of Infield Practice", in which "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo admitted that when the current roster was assembled, the focus was on, "...trying to score more runs and becoming a more potent offensive team," but, "the unexpectedness or the degree of defensive decline is surprising and frustrating."
- The Face of the Franchise© Ryan Zimmerman's quoted in an article by Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman entitled, "Offensive work on defense sinks Nats", providing his take on the Nationals' defensive struggles:
"'If you want to be a good team and you want to win games, you have to do stuff right,' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. 'Turning double plays and things like that, making plays when they're hit to you. John (Lannan) threw real well today, and it should have been less than what he gave up.'"
Not Sure If This Is Dibble's Doing, But...
Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg had an article an the D.C. Sports Bog entitled, "Nats TV Audience: Up 56 Percent", in which Mr. Steinberg reacts to a recent article on MLB's tv ratings by Sports Business Journal staff writer John Ourand entitled, "MLB's overall ratings mostly steady at the start", which had reported that, as Mr. Ourand wrote:
"The beleaguered Washington Nationals logged the second-biggest increase in the majors, rebounding from last year’s dismal ratings. Though the team has the league’s worst record, lowest local TV ratings and lowest average number of homes watching each game, ratings for its games on MASN and MASN2 have increased 56 percent in the first two months of the season."
Mr. Steinberg, in the Washington Post article, provides evidence to support my initial reaction, which was that the drop in attendance at Nationals Park could probably explain the ratings jump on the MASN broadcasts, as Mr. Steinberg writes that, "In-game attendance has plummeted, down 35 percent through the first 3 games, for example, which covers most of this tv survey."
Who's Watching The Nationals? Why Are You Watching Instead Of Attending? Will You Continue To Watch?