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Frank & Earnest


Rocket Bill concludes his Duology of Off-Season Hate with a rather spartan interview of Frank Robinson. (This interview comes on the heels of a nearly-as-contentious one with Tony Tavares in mid-October.)

Frobby starts off slowly, assuming an Admiral Stockdale posture to Rocket Bill's first question: What is your status with the Nationals and do you want to be back with them?

Robinson: I'm [still] here. I don't know if I'm going to be back or not. No one has talked to me about next year. . . . Where am I? Why am I here?

Actually, I made up those two concluding questions. In reality, he's just as clueless, though. He's still waiting for Bodes to call him, and Bodes is ostensibly waiting on an owner.

Henceforth, however, Frank was alternately assertive and cranky. He was most feisty in defending himself against Tavares' claim that he lost control of the team: Team president Tony Tavares said the team did not work hard before games. What was your reaction to that comment?

Robinson: He is way off base with that comment. It's not true. One thing my coaching staff did was they worked their tails off. They worked harder the second half of the season. But they can't make people perform. . . . A manager and a coaching staff is only as good as the players perform. When I put on the hit and run, I can't make them hit the ball. When I put the sacrifice on, I can't make them [bunt the ball]. . . . We would give it back and we didn't overcome them like we did in the first half. It looks like something is not happening. But it had nothing, not one little thing, to do with the coaching staff.

It had nothing to do with not taking batting practice on the field. We hit, but we hit in the cages. This is where no one took the time to come ask why we sometimes didn't hit on the field. I was trying to conserve the energy of this ballclub -- to try to get them through the second half. Also, we had a lot of injured players. We had to try and keep them as healthy as possible. I wanted to take as much wear and tear off them.

As long as I've been with this ballclub, that's the way we have done things. All of sudden, we don't play well in the second half, not taking batting practice during a day game is the reason why. No way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Furthermore, while he denied any specific instructions emanated from Bodes with respect to the lineup card, Robinson strongly implied the scent of some What the hell do you want me to do with those guys? confrontations:

As far as Watson is concerned, we had a surplus of outfielders. Then all of a sudden we are going to throw Watson in there in front of [Ryan] Church, [Marlon] Byrd and [Brad] Wilkerson? I didn't think it was fair. When Watson came back, he didn't get off to a good start. I didn't think it was right to keep running him out there in front of those people, who got us to the point where we were.

With Zimmerman, you have Vinny signed for two years, and it wasn't right to sit him down and put the kid in there.

Otherwise, Frank spent the balance of the interview defending his coaching staff and not quite fingering that the team was ridiculously lucky in the first half. He also added the politically-astute observation that it would have been better for him had the team traded some first half wins for second half wins. All told, he's right: 81-81 isn't exactly bad.

Needless to say, this is a fascinating interview. Frank is obviously bitter in some respects, and one can only surmise it has to do with Tavares and Bodes partnering up to leave him twisting in the mind. In a way, I can't say I'd blame him. Robinson's stubborn and could practically hit-and-run the '27 Yankees into league-average offensive production, but he's not the guy who signed Castilla and Guzman. Further, while he's the guy who ran off Ohka and Day, he's not the guy who replaced them with Drese and Stanton and Halama and Rasner (of whom Robinson obviously has little regard, anyway). Yesterday, Brick posed a rather interesting question:

There's been a shift in the Natosphere away from from Robinson and towards Bowden. I don't know if this is acceptance of JimBow's inevitability, at least for the next six months, or some other reason.

Hmmm. That's a good point. We're not exactly consistent, are we? Rasslin' Moore didn't even hate Jimbo's six-month extension, for teh love of teh internets!

Well, I can only speak for myself, and I'd reckon Brick's explanation is sufficient for me: it's rather inevitable Bowden will be back, so why sweat it? Actually, it might be even more elemental than that; perhaps Bodes has convinced me that having a GM right now is more important than having a manager right now, as you can't make decisions without a decision-maker. (This is what Chris would apparently call the "Eh?" rationale.)

At any rate, I've got to acknowledge that Brick makes some good sense here. I don't want either Bowden or Robinson back, to be honest, but I decided I didn't want Bodes back first. By default, that means I'd rather have Frobby back.

But maybe it doesn't make any difference. Awhile ago, I predicted Robinson would be invited back by the new ownership, then fired in June of '06 with the team 10 games under .500. It looks now like Frank's a goner. I suppose it's no big deal---just a matter of 60-70 games.