Admirable Frankess

Robinson's crankiness is now viewed in a new light as it was aimed in the proper direction.

¡Livan! may not have avenged us last night, but he didn't need to. Frank Robinson was all over it. When the Nats left town after their wildly successful, 11-win homestand, our manager's reputation was at a low point, at least in my eyes. His inability to get along with Tomo Ohka had forced us into an ill-advised trade and put his worst attributes on display. Now that he's stomping his way through L.A. like some rubber-clad Toei Studio stagehand, though, we get to see the awesome results possible when Frank's crankiness is directed outward.

In case you missed it, here are the particulars: in the 7th with a 3-1 lead, the Angels brought in Brendan Donnelly to pitch. Operating on some extremely clever advance scouting, crime-fighter Frank immediately called for the ump to check Brendan's glove, a check that revealed significant quantities of pine tar. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, no doubt suffering from some severly bunched panties, flipped out and started yelling at Frank, who responded in kind. The benches cleared and no blows were landed, but only because several strong men managed to stop Jose Guillen before he was too far into his HULK SMASH routine. Guillen proceeded to tie it up in the 8th with a two-run homer, the Nats scored three more times, and the Angels were grievously humiliated in front of their monkey-obsessed fans. After the game, Robinson and Scioscia talked trash like a couple of publicity-hungry rappers. Frank: "I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight -- as a person and as a manager. And there's nothing he can say to me now, nothing. I don't even want him to approach me, I don't even want him to apologize to me. I would not accept it or have anything to do with it." Mike: "I told Frank we were going to undress his pitchers when they were on the mound to see if they had any pine tar in their glove. He obviously wasn't happy. He was screaming. We weren't making a lunch date."

So Frank's doing a great job, and here's how you can tell: look at who's mad at him. A few days ago, it was me and Tomo Ohka. That's bad, because me and Tomo Ohka rule. But now, it's jackass sports writers and the other team. Frank has the Angels and their supporters furious. He's got the generally well-regarded Mike Scioscia freaking out like he's Lou Piniella or something, and Angels fans are so mad they're not even trying to make any sense. Check this out:
Baseball's former director of discipline was curious about Donnelly's glove? Great job, Frank. Where were you when all the steroid use was going on when you were supposed to be concerned about matters on the field? On the golf course?
Huh? That makes my puzzler hurt, so I'll let Basil field it. Then there's this address to Frank:
. . . you know your move was a classless, bogus witch hunt, and you need the mantle of respectability in a hurry.
Yeah, it was totally bogus! Mike Scioscia says lots of guys use pine tar on the their gloves. No one else seems to have heard of it, but who are we to question him? (To be fair, not all or even most of the Angels bloggers are this silly. This guy makes sense, and so does this other guy too.)

One more aspect to Frank's brilliance: Jose Guillen proved that he would gladly, ferociously murder anyone who slighted his new favorite manager. He's done a complete turn-around: last year, he was trying to kill his boss. This year, he's trying to kill for his boss. Still not an ideal situation, but an improvement. And for Frank, it's a fantastic career move. Do you think anyone's going to want to tell him he's fired and risk the helmet-throwing wrath of Jose? Not without hiring a team of burly, Mossad-trained bodyguards, and those guys aren't cheap.

Frank has established himself as the Dennis Rodman of managers, a guy who gets under the other guy's skin and goads him into doing something stupid. What does that do for us? I'm not willing to attribute last night's comeback to the blowup. That would imply that Jose Guillen can park a slider in the seats only when enraged, and I think more of him as a ballplayer than that. But that doesn't mean the incident didn't have less tangible benefits. I can't say what the feeling in the Nats' clubhouse has been like recently, but you have to figure there was at least a little grumbling. Getting everyone focused on an external enemy, even if it is a team of little consequence to the Nats, is an entirely good thing. And it helps that Frank was completely in the right, which is kind of a new position for him to be in. So keep it up, Frank! Remember that it's the guys in other hats you want mad at you.

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