July 15, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Open letter to Nationals fans

The front office of the Washington Nationals released a letter to their fans, explaining why Manny Acta was replaced by Jim Riggleman as manager of the team. They insist that they are just as disappointed as anyone by the team's failures this year, though they do look at some of the silver linings as well. Appropriately, they have "the highest respect for Manny Acta," but finally concluded that "a fresh attitude and approach" are needed to get back on track to winning. Fine. One element is missing from the letter, however: any sense of responsibility for the debacle on the part of the owners themselves. Unless they start laying out enough salary money to create a first class team, they should be part of the shakeup in team leadership! But how can the owners be fired? Well, that's one way to look at the lousy attendance figures at Nationals Park this year: Baseball fans are voting with their pocketbooks, collectively telling the Lerner family: "You're fired."

What's more, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the investment in rebuilding the franchise's farm club system is already paying off. Over the past two years, the Nationals have built a deep pool of young talent, pitchers and position players alike. They are bound to improve soon, and there is no reason to keep talking about "long-term" improvements, as the Lerners have been doing. As British economist John Maynard Keynes said, "In the long run, we are all dead."

MLB controversies

As expected, the St. Petersburg-based civic group "A Baseball Community" recommended that a new ballpark be built, because it would cost too much to bring Tropicana Field up to desired standards, with a retractable roof, etc. Not surprisingly, Commissioner Bud Selig heartily concurs that the local taxpayers should pay for a new ballpark. See ESPN. Selig also denied recent accusations that MLB franchises colluded to not offer big salaries to free agents after the 2008 season. See ESPN. So that's why Adam Dunn is playing for Washington?