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The Good, the Bad, and Frank Robinson

Chris Needham had a few things to say about the harsh commentary by Montreal fans on the Nationals' manager, and the mud-brained response by MLB.com pimp reporter Bill Ladson. Needham and I have been very critical of Robinson's managerial tenure for a number of reasons, the main ones being that he has no patience with young players and seems terminally inept at in-game decision making.

Ladson's opinion of this criticism is the typically dismissive MSM attitude that since Frank is a Hall of Fame player, questioning his decisions as a manager is just flat-out wrong and disrespectful besides. Well, I and thousands of other Nationals fans (and Expo fans before us) call bullshit on that. Chris sarcastically notes that Robinson's gut has been in 4000 games and therefore is more experienced than any of us critics out here in the cheap seats. Personally, I would have said asshole, since most of Frank's decisions have stunk horribly, but then I'm not a nice guy.

One of the things you notice when you start looking at the history of baseball is how few star players actually work out well as managers; I'm tempted to say that the last one to do a halfway decent job was Lou Boudreau of the 1948 Indians, who managed the Tribe to victory that year while also doing a commendable job as starting shortstop - another thing you don't see these days. Since then, we've seen guys like Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Frank Howard, Tony Pena, Hal McRae, and other players of note trying to manage ball clubs and usually not doing real well. Sometimes that's because they simply don't have the players, but much of the time it's more a matter of them just not having the skills that a successful manager needs. In contrast, stud managers like Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog, Tom Kelly, Tony LaRussa (well, he has the rep, anyway) and Bobby Cox had pretty miserable careers as players before they moved into the manager's office. They spent a lot of time watching the game, seeing what worked and what didn't, and when they got a shot at managing, did a fabulous job.

This is not to say that all bad players will become good managers, or that there haven't been good players who managed good teams. (Ozzie Guillen and Mike Hargrove. Maybe.) On balance, though, the star players tend to do a worse job than the scrubs, and someday when I get a chance to pore through the numbers, I'll do a better job of backing up my assertions.

Meanwhile, my fantasy team is still lingering in seventh place, though the sixth-place team is slowly slipping down the standings point by point. At this rate all I need to do is tread water and wait for them to fall past me into seventh place.

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