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Southern comfort

This is sort of like high school math class, because very few people are likely to care and it might be important but probably isn't, except to only the very few people who will care:

First, there was this---

ESPN Radio 950 to Air Washington Nationals

ESPN Radio 950 WXGI announced today they will air approximately twenty five Washington National broadcasts during the 2006 season. . . . The partnership will be for a minimum of two years with ESPN Radio 950 committing to a minimum of 130 games during the 2007 season. WXGI will serve as one of five stations consisting of the Nationals Radio Network.

---and now there is this---

The Richmond Braves announced today that Clear Channel?s WRNL, Sportsradio 910 will serve as the club?s flagship radio station for the 2007 and 2008 seasons For the next two seasons, Sportsradio 910 will broadcast each of the Richmond Braves? 144 games, the post-season should Richmond advance, and the Triple-A All-Star Game. . . . For the past two seasons Sportsradio 910 carried Atlanta Braves baseball.

Let's add this up. There are two sports radio stations in Richmond: WRNL-910, which is owned by Clear Channel, and WXGI-950, which was recently purchased by Dan Snyder's Red Zebra thingy. Last season, 910 carried the Atlanta Braves, and 950 carried the Richmond Braves (and a little bit of the Nats). This season, 910 will carry the Richmond Braves, and 950 will carry the Nats. Significantly, this means: The Washington Nationals will be the only major league team broadcast on Richmond radio for 2007.

Is that actually significant? I don't know; maybe.

Prior to the 2005 season, I noted the strange coincidence that the A-Braves became available on Richmond radio (for the first time in at least a generation) at the same time the Nats arrived just up the road. And now, at about the time the Nats are starting to establish a foot-hold here in Richmond (the arrival of MASN to Comcast sets will certainly help!), the A-Braves are leaving.

I don't know what this means, and I won't begin to say. I guess WRNL preferred that the R-Braves, the city's home team, buy the time. Maybe it noticed no one was listening to the A-Braves; I don't know if that's a fact, but I can say with some confidence that the big Braves put on one of the most boring radio broadcasts around. I do know that.

But I do suspect the Nats will be on Richmond radio into the future. As noted, Danny Boy bought WXGI, and its local programming is---outside of the Richmond Spiders and a mid-day show---only "local" in the sense that it comes from DC: 'Skins, "Redskins Lunch," Riggo Show, etc. The station seems rather DC-centric into the foreseeable future.

A region's loyalty does not shift overnight. In these days of teh internets and XM Radio and DirecTV, perhaps there's no such thing anymore. But I do know the Nats' presence will be more strongly felt here in 2007, and that certainly won't hurt the effort of establishing Richmond as a reliable secondary market.

* * * *

Carolina Panthers' placekicker, John Kasay, just attempted a 65-yard field goal. If good, it would have broken a longstanding NFL record. One might conclude Kasay's on the right team for that sort of thing, given its history with teh roids. Missed it, though---not enough leg.

See, the NFL's policy works!

* * * *

Of considerably more consequence, Alfonso Soriano (oh, and Tony Armas) filed for free agency today. The linked article serves to reinforce the perception that the Nats will present something resembling a good-faith offer to Soriano but are willing to forsake him for the draft picks. (Of course, of more import is what Soriano is wiling to do.) To the extent it matters, the new CBA eliminates a deadline for the Nats to sign (or agree to arbitration) with Soriano and the corresponding May 1 limitation for thereafter signing him if that deadline was not met. To state that more plainly, Soriano could theoretically agree to remain with the Nats up to Opening Day 2007, if he were so inclined.

* * * *

Managerial Update:

Nothing much to update except pleasantries, I suppose.

  • Manny Acta was pleased after his Nats interview:
    "That franchise has a great future ahead of them. They are getting a new stadium," Acta said. "I was impressed by the process. They made me feel very comfortable. It was just a great day overall. The presence of Stan Kasten, who had so much to do with the success of the Atlanta Braves and all their sports teams in Atlanta, makes it very attractive. I felt really good over there." . . .

    "It would be huge [if I get the job]," Acta said. "It would be great for me because I would get to go back where I started. I would have a comfort level with those players. They know me and I know them. If we execute the plan that they have, it could turn out to be a very exciting franchise for years to come."

    It should be noted that Acta was similarly effusive after his interviews with the Giants and Rangers. But it seems Acta was really, really effusive after his chat with the Nats. For what it's worth, it seems Rangers fan thinks Acta's hot for the Nats.

  • John Russell is also pleased to have the old red targeting laser of interest pointed at his forehead. While no interview has been scheduled as of yet, the Nats did receive permission from the Phillies (for whom Russell managed in Triple-A this past season) to speak with the guy. And he's sort of giddy:
    "Washington would be an outstanding opportunity for me as well," Russell said. "It seems like an up-and-coming organization, and it's heading in the right direction. When I coached with the Pirates ... we went to Washington, and the excitement in the stands was great. They truly like having baseball in the area."

    Yay, baseball.

    At the least, Russell seems adept at saying the right things for a managerial candidate to say: focuses on the fundamentals, tries to get the most out of his players, earns their respect, is unwilling to be too dependent on power hitting, he's earned his chance, etc. But here's a curious quote from a former boss:

    [Russell] managed at every level, from rookie ball through Class AAA, before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates' staff under former manager Lloyd McLendon in 2002.

    "He did okay," McLendon, a coach for the Detroit Tigers, said yesterday.

    Either the writer lopped off the ". . . and I think he'll make a great manager" ending to that quote, or there are better options to write a letter of recommendation in support of John Russell than Lloyd McClendon.

    One more thing: Russell managed Cristian Guzman in the minor leagues, which has to be considered bad luck.

  • Behind Russell in the parade of candidates---maybe---is Jose Oquendo:
    In other news, as of Sunday afternoon, sources say the Nationals have not formally asked the Cardinals for permission to speak to third-base coach Jose Oquendo about their managerial vacancy. However, the Padres are expected to interview Oquendo for the position.

    Maybe I'm reading the article incorrectly, but the "However" seems to be one of those "Better hurry up" howevers.

  • Looking for signs indicating you might not be in such hot demand? How about not receiving a call-back two weeks after being interviewed? That's Tony Pena's current plight. Maybe that was Tony Siegle's responsibility. (In all seriousness, Siegle seemed like a reliable soldier in the front office, and I hope he lands somewhere nice, like San Fran.)
Dime-store musings:

(1) I'm surprised (though not necessarily displeased) that Pena's candidacy has apparently stalled, given his history with Jim Bowden. The team has reportedly considered quite a few candidates already (with at least four---Girardi, Pendleton, Cooper, and Cora---either dropped or withdrawn, and Dusty Baker's status dormant), and I'm beginning to think the Nats are half-waiting to see what the Rangers, who have interviewed both Acta and Russell, do.

(2) Maybe I'm reading too much into McClendon's seemingly terse assessment of Russell. Not that McClendon himself was any great shakes as a manager---while Pittsburgh's organization was a mess, McClendon didn't seem to distinguish himself , other than in swiping bases---but I'm not sure what to say about Russell.

(3) At this point, it seems the job could be Acta's, if he wants it. He's young, intriguing, an up-and-comer . . . the skeptic in me wonders how much there is to support the hype. But I suppose that's the nature of being a young, intriguing, up-and-comer: You're unproven until you become proven, and you can't become proven until someone gives you the chance.

If the Nats were the team to give Acta that chance, I'd certainly be interested. He seems the most palatable candidate at the moment.