Washington Nationals Dilemma: On Manny Acta, and Passion

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IJune 15, 2009

WASHINGTON - APRIL 16:  Manager Manny Acta of the Washington Nationals watches batting practice before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on April 16, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)


Some people think that just because Manny Acta doesn’t scream and yell that he doesn’t have passion for the game and his team.
There is a very vocal segment of the fan base that is calling for Acta's head simply because he isn't jumping up and down screaming his fool head off (in other words, acting like MASN color commentator Rob Dibble).
Acta (any MLB manager, for that matter) has more passion for what he’s doing than any of us making commentary about it. For us, baseball—this awful team—is a diversion from the mundane serial boredom of our everyday lives.

You think we have the right to be frustrated and disappointed about what's going on? Sure we do. But as a typical fan, we can't do anything about it other than voice our opinion and scream at the TV every time something goes wrong.
But for Acta, it is his life.
Acta is a very thoughtful person, contemplative by nature. It has not been his style to jump out of the dugout and argue with the umpires on bad calls.
Should he argue more? That point is debatable. How effective is the manager of a last place team arguing?
Is some of it causal? Do the umpires know that Acta won't show them up, so they aren't on their toes as much, leading to missed calls?
What about "protecting his players"? You see that thrown around a lot. But how many Nationals players have been ejected this season?
Imagine, for a moment, having your perfect dream job. Now imagine that your company was owned by the Lerners, continually doing things with the short-term in focus instead of forward thinking long-term goals.
Or if your direct boss had the word “acting” in front of his title and he/she always had to go over their own heads to get a decision made, as "acting" GM Mike Rizzo does.
Or if someone you managed consistently wouldn’t listen to how you wanted things done and did things their own way, as Lastings Milledge and Daniel Cabrera did earlier this season.

How about if you're a widget maker, and personnel gives you three left widget makers when you need a left, center and right widget maker?  The Nationals have three natural left fielders in Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Elijah Dukes.
Think you could succeed in a job like that? Regardless of how much passion you had for that job?
Passion is a very personal thing. It's not fair to tell anyone how to be passionate about something. Because a person is contemplative by nature, should he be forced to display his emotion for our sake? Should it be a requisite for the job?
Acta is well-respected in baseball. He'll have another job very quickly after this one ends. He knows this.
But more than that, Acta is well-respected as a human being. He is a tireless worker, generous to a fault, and respectful to everyone he comes in contact with.
If the ownership group has already made the decision to make a change at manager as has been reported by multiple sources, they should show Acta the same respect he shows others in his daily life. Allowing a good man to twist in the wind is just the latest indignation of this ownership group, and unfortunately, par for the course.
Remember, they couldn't even fire Jim Bowden. In his last, self-serving act, Bowden fell on his own sword.


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