In Defense of Jim Bowden: Hypocritical Contradiction in the DC Media

Thomas CoglianoCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009


In my book, that is the most heinous crime for any person to commit—particularly in journalism. 

Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden resigned on Sunday Mar. 1, 2009 from his position which he held since the Expos had finished their final season in Montreal prior to their move to DC in November of 2004.

But from what a baseball fan gathered from the articles covering Bowden's decision to step down from local sportswriters from various newspaper outlets in the Washington area, one would think that Bowden was a stumbling, bumbling, crooked moron.

The recent allegations against Jim Bowden dealing with the signing of young pre-18 aged prospects in the Dominican Republic are serious...however, they are unproven and unsubstantiated. 

There are no indications that federal investigators are even considering referring Bowden to a grand jury probe. 

Who knows? Maybe they will pursue charges...or, maybe they will not pursue charges. However, the allegations which surfaced in late February by Sports Illustrated after the "Smiley" Gonzalez scandal had absolutely nothing concrete to stick to Bowden other than the quite typical circumstantial 'guilt by association' junk.

Years ago, these  sportswriters in the DC area praised the merits of Jim Bowden's leadership, especially since he remained until Sunday the only member of the organization that pre-dated team ownership. 

Now, these writers reinterpret the Bowden they loved and praised! No mention of his accolades! No mention of his character!

How about the second chance stories? Bowden signed players who were outcasts with other ballclubs and rejuvenated what appeared to be dead careers. 

Players like Jose Guillen, Dmitri Young, and Elijah Dukes found redemption with the Nationals after being released from their previous ballclubs for disciplinary reasons.

Jose Guillen was kicked off the Angels in 2004 after a fight in the dugout between him and Manager Mike Sciosia. He was even removed from the postseason roster for the Angels that year despite the fact only Vladimir Guerrero, who would become the the American League's MVP, had more home runs for Anaheim than Guillen. 

The Nationals signed Guillen in 2005 where he led the team in home runs en route to a surprising 81-81 season. He even signed a one-year extension after that season due to the amount of respect he had for the organization.

Dmitri Young became an All-Star in 2007 in his first season as a National, the year after he was kicked off the Detroit Tigers with more than a month remaining on their pennant-winning regular season. 

Elijah Dukes remains a prominent feature for the Nationals. Tamp Bay had kicked him off the team in 2007 for a series of disciplinary issues...and despite a shaky start to his 2008 season as a National, he actually finished the season as one of the team's hottest hitters.

Bowden's tenure as a General Manager is not marked with postseason glories.  In fact, in the 15 years he served as a General Manager for the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals, there was only one postseason appearance total for any of those teams. 

However, Bowden's tenure is marked with rejuvenated careers. Jose Guillen remains a prominent star. Young and Dukes remain Nationals. 

Bowden worked to give outcasted players a second chance. And instead, the perception of Bowden if we believe the rants of the Washington Post and the Washington Times, is of a whimsical, maniacal, idiot. 

Such a profile for a great mind of the game of baseball is an insult. 

In 2005, Bowden drafted Ryan Zimmerman from the University of Virginia.  Zimmerman was robbed of Rookie of the Year honors in 2006. Most sportswriters nationwide felt Zimmerman was the rightful winner of that honor with his magnificent season. 

The DC media lauded Bowden back in 2005 and 2006 as a 'Golden Boy' or a 'Boy Wonder.'

His midseason 2006 trade acquiring Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns from the Reds for Royce Clayton was deemed by many DC sportswriters as one of the best trades of the season. 

His trade of Brad Wilkerson to the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano was highly praised and well rewarded with Soriano smashing 46 home runs despite the fact that he played half of his games in hitter unfriendly RFK Stadium. 

It was Bowden who reformed the farm system for the Expos/Nationals. 

Last year in 2008, the Washington Nationals, while they lost 102 games in MLB, had the second best farm system in all of to the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, the Potomac Nationals won the Carolina League Championship in Class A. 

Jordan Zimmermann, one of Bowden's prospects drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft, might end up with a starting spot in the Nats pitching rotation this year! 

These accolades were missing in the pages of the Washington Post and the Washington Times

DC sportswriters such as Thomas Boswell and Tom Knott desired to spend more time reflecting on unsubstantiated and hazy allegations against a man who apparently, if one reads their columns closely, lost his constitutional right to be presumed innocent. 

In addition, in a spirit of overkill, these writers proceeded to reflect on Bowden's miscues by reinterpreting all the events of the last four years as GM where he had been previously praised. 

Oh, please! Fool me once, shame on me!

However, it is not surprising when one profiles the city of Washington. After all, it seems Washington is a city renowned for its contradictions and hypocrisies.

Only in DC does it seem that contradictions of this variety are allowed.  After all, 24 hours after news of Bowden's resignation was made public, DC sustained the biggest snowstorm in March since 1999. 

And while six inches of snow were falling over DC city streets, a protest of global warming alarmists was occurring with the objective of warning the city public, although snow-drenched at the time, that the Earth was warming rapidly (hahaha). 

Only in DC can a public official swindle billions of taxpayer dollars in the name of "progress" and, in the worst of circumstances, receive a slap on the wrist.  Meanwhile, the citizen who commits petty larceny could be sent away for multiple years in a correction facility.  

Only in DC can a city council determine that spending only a small handful of dollars for the building of a much needed new soccer stadium for one of MLS's most historic franchises would be wasteful...even though DC pays its own School Chancellor an annual salary of $275,000. 

As a direct result, the historic DC United team chose last week to vacate the city for Prince Georges County, Maryland in 2011.   

Only in DC, if history serves us well, can a mayor be elected even though he is legally unable to even vote for himself because of his criminal record (*cough* Marion Barry *cough* 1994 *cough*). 

Pathetic. Utterly pathetic.

What does this have to do with Jim Bowden?  Nothing!

What does all this have to do with the Washington media's reaction to Jim Bowden?  Everything!

The Washington media's reaction to Jim Bowden's resignation is as hypocritically contradictory as the city's internal and external political history. 

I am not arguing that Bowden was the greatest GM in baseball history.  He likely may be one of the lesser successful GMs of all time.

However, unlike Boswell and Knott, a hypocrite he was very not!


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