Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Touched By An Angel

Just like the Orioles Beat Writer does when he starts one of his WaPo chats, lets lay out some ground rules. (or at least facts)

1) Brendan Donnelly was cheating. Mike Scioscia can spin it any way he wants, calling it an 'accepted practice', but having a gob of pine tar in your glove is a pretty clear violation of major league rules.

2) Jose Guillen does still have some anger issues.

3) Frank did nothing wrong by having the umpires check out Donnelly. They had reason to suspect he was up to something, and were proved right. Even if they were proved wrong, it was acceptable for Frank to try it.

4) Frank certainly seems batshit crazy sometimes.

In the 7th inning of last night's game, Brendan Donnelly was brought in to relieve the starting pitcher. Before Donnelly, who has struggled of late, could fire a pitch, Frank was out of the dugout asking the umps to inspect BD's glove, where they found 'quite a bit' of pine tar. He was ejected.

Then Mike Scioscia (not an easy name to spell), got in Frank's face and started yelling at him. Frank, who isn't going to be disrespected like that by no youngin', got right back in Robinson's face and unsheathed a deadly weapon, his pointing finger.

A few animated points, and a few shouts later, the benches started to empty, and the bullpens stormed the field. It was the typical group hug disguised as a baseball brawl, except for one thing. Jose Guillen had to be dragged off the field. It was like a scene out of a bad horror movie where a patient needs to be held down by five or six people. They managed to get him in the dugout, but still his veins bulged, and still he shouted. Thankfully, he channelled his anger on that Scott Shields slider.

A lot of the Angels blogs are ripping Frank and Guillen. The Guillen anger is still an offshoot of last year's problems, but the Frank anger is completely undeserved.

Was Frank just supposed to sit by while BD had a foreign substance on his glove? If we can't agree that Frank was right to protest, then we're incapable of having a rational discussion about anything.

Some of the anger is aimed at how Frank 'escalated' the argument by unsheathing his pointy finger.

But, if you watch the replay, it's Mike Scioscia who walks over to Frank and starts yelling at him in the first place.

Once Scioscia starts defending the indefensible (and probably throwing in a few choice words) Frank gave it right back to him. Certainly Scioscia was frustrated, but he needs to channel his anger at his player for doing something dumb, not at the opposing manager for pointing out something that's illegal by baseball's rules.

Some of their anger is aimed at how Frank wouldn't allow the media full access to Jose Guillen. (See my post yesterday for the details)

In acting as a shield between the media, some of whom are there just to pick fights, Frank was able to deflect some of the attention to himself, instead of letting the full brunt come down on Guillen. He was protecting his players, which is one of the primary jobs of a manager.

And for the idiots who are asking 'who the hell is Frank to not let the media do their job', they need to learn a little more about how the baseball media works. There are frequently ground rules to these sorts of press conferences. The journalists loathe it, but it's the way things work. Questions about last year's incident were off limits. Yeah, it'd be nice if they had full and open access and honest answers all the time, but that's not the way it works. And you can't blame Frank for that.


what we've seen over the last few weeks is a consolidation of power in Frank as the leader of the team. Problem children, like Ohka, Day and Endy, have been cast to the hinterlands. It's pretty clear that Bowden has Frank's back; if you create problems, you'll be gone.

That's not to say that I think they have an authoritarian clubhouse. It's just that they want a professional atmosphere with the goals of the team first. Ohka wanted to start more, and to be allowed to work deeper into games. Rightly or wrongly (I'm leaning towards wrongly), Frank didn't feel that that was the best interest of the team. When Ohka raised a stink, he was traded to the land of Wurst.

As Jose Guillen said, there aren't many people in that clubhouse that like Frank. But, there probably isn't a man in that clubhouse who doesn't respect Frank. And there's not a man in that clubhouse who doesn't believe that Frank's busting his 70-year-old ass to win for them.

Things like that can really bring a team together. This isn't a team that needs a ton of management. It's a surprisingly veteran team. But, Frank is helping to focus the team on BEING a team.

You can disparage things like chemistry. And I certainly don't like how far too many people take the easy route and using chemistry as a catch-all for things they can't ordinarily account for. But, it is an important factor.

Have you ever worked at a place where you didn't like your boss, or like the people you worked with? Did you feel motivated to do your best? Did your concentration wane at all?

People crave leadership. We all want to work for a boss who has clear directions and some sort of vision, even if we may not personally like the guy.

And that's what Frank is asserting. He's letting his guys know that he'll stand up for them, and that if they play hard, they can succeed.

This is a team with many things going against it, playing in the toughest division in baseball. There is no margin for error. Frank realizes this and is trying to extract every advantage he can.

Now about those bunts, Frank....


  • Here's one example.

    There are others. Check the links off his, and the links off those. Most are pretty enraged.

    I didn't see anything about the sandpaper, but I wasn't looking for it at the time either.

    Based on the strict denial of that from Scioscia and Donnelly, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/15/2005 11:13 AM  

  • Ah yes, Brendan Donnelly -- the strikebreaker. This is a guy who played as a replacement player during the players' strike in 1994-5, and is thus barred from MLBPA membership. If he's not interested in solidarity with his fellow ballplayers, why would we expect that he'd adhere to the rules of the game?

    I was at the game with the disputed home run call back on 30 May; I was impressed with Frank's demeanor then, too. He's the real deal: stands up for his guys, presses issues that need pressing, and so forth. That's what I like to see in a manager, myself.

    By Blogger ProfPTJ, at 6/15/2005 11:25 AM  

  • Said of Frank and the media: "He was protecting his players, which is one of the primary jobs of a manager."

    Which is precisely what Scioscia was doing making the argument about him and Frank rather than Donnelly's obvious cheating. What's the focus on SportsCenter? The ejection or the argument?

    Everything here was typical baseball, only Donnelly deserves to feel shamed. (though not for strike-breaking, the MLBPA has long since passed the "just trying to get a fair deal" stage of a union and is now just the bully on the other side of the bargaining table. Break their strikes all you want.)

    By Blogger Harper, at 6/15/2005 11:42 AM  

  • I hope I didn't come across as going after Scioscia. He certainly needs to stand up for his player, too.

    But, he does it coming across as a whiner, just as Frank probably does it coming across as unhinged.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/15/2005 11:45 AM  

  • Definitely agreed on Guillen... his comments last night were over the line.

    I'm reserving comment on those, because I know two of the other Nats blogs are going to rip him. I'll let their word stand.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/16/2005 11:15 AM  

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