Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Have No Soul

T(h)om Loverro says that people who ridicule Frank Robinson "have no soul." Since he vaguely speaks of reading this ridicule on the internet and because most bloggers are inherently egotistical, I'm going to assume that that's partially a shot at me. Lord knows I've certainly been one of Frank's biggest critics.
But you know what? No matter how it went down, Frank Robinson gets a pass as far as I'm concerned. He's Frank Robinson, baseball royalty, and I am stunned at the lack of respect by some Nationals fans on the net for this man. It's one thing to be critical, but to read some of the comments of people who couldn't get a sniff of the greatness that was Frank Robinson -- breaking into baseball just nine years after Jackie Robinson and playing in a racially-charged city like Cincinnati -- is absurd.

Is not being as great as Frank Robinson really an insult? Loverro couldn't get a sniff of the greatness that it Tom Boswell or Shirley Povich, but so?

If anyone reading this doesn't think that I have respect for Frank Robinson, then they're only reading selectively. (And given how many words I churn out, I can see why!) I've written before that if you consider the totality of his career, there's likely nobody, to include Jackie Robinson, who's done as much for and made as many contributions to the game of baseball. From his inner-circle HOF playing career, to his role as the first black manager, to his long run in the league office, and then as caretaker for the red-headed stepchild of MLB. He's done it all, and done it mostly well.

Thom goes on to make the case that Robinson is a better manager than most think by citing a few seasons in isolation, but mostly by bizarrely comparing Frank's performance last year with what Joe Girardi did with the Marlins. Sure, the Marlins had better pitching, but does Thom really think that Frank got max effort from the team? Wasn't it about mid-August where it seemed like it was everyone for themselves, with the team pretty much in disarray?

Frank's managing is reasonably OK if you look at it at a macro level. From a telescope, 2005 was good, and maybe 2006 wasn't as bad as it felt at the time. But Loverro's there most games. He's seen Frank run relievers into the ground from overuse. He's seen Frank send relievers up to pinch hit. He saw Frank not DH Daryle Ward, letting Marlon Anderson bat cleanup. He saw all those feckin' bunts in 2005. He saw Frank run Vinny Castilla out there game after game after game on knees that were hamburger while Ryan Zimmerman sat on the bench. He saw Frank give Preston Wilson playing time in CF, despite having zero defensive ability, in a drive to get a mercenary veteran 90 RBI. He saw Frank screw up the pitching staff by dicking over John Halama (not to mention a number of other pitchers) perhaps precipitating John Patterson's arm injury thanks to overuse. He likely heard a few more juicy quotes and grumblings from Frank Robinson other than the near-daily criticisms of various players that made the paper.

Thom should know that those things count, too.

Pointing out that Frank Robinson is a poor strategic manager isn't the sign of someone soulless, Thom. Pointing out that Frank Robinson's attitude and the way he handles some off-field stuff isn't the best (even if it can help spur a team in short burts) isn't done out of malice, Thom.

Frank Robinson definitely is baseball royalty, but royalty is not immunity.

The criticism of Frank is directed at him as a manager. Not as a person. Not as a hall of famer. Not as a trailblazer. Thom doesn't want to view it that way. He prefers the macro approach, looking at the big Frank Robinson statue way high up on a pedestal. That's fine, I guess. But to suggest that those who don't choose to elevate mortal men to a near Godlike status are "soulless"? You can do better, Thom.

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