SBD/Issue 205/Franchises

Nationals Send Letter To Fans Addressing Team's On-Field Woes

Nationals' Letter To Fans Says Baseball
Operations Will Reevaluate All Players
In announcing the firing of manager Manny Acta after having MLB’s worst record at 26-61, the Nationals yesterday in a letter to their fans said the "status quo is unacceptable," and baseball operations will be "reevaluating all our players and our options for improvement." The lettter: "We will be determining the viability of trades or roster upgrades that can be made without doing damage to the farm system or the developing talent we expect to blossom within the next two years." The letter continued, "When we bought the Washington Nationals in the middle of the 2006 season -- just under three years ago -- we committed to a patient, long-term approach, building a strong farm system and core foundation that would deliver a perennial and consistent contender; to provide a second-to-none family entertainment value at Nationals Park; and to investment and involvement in the metropolitan Washington DC community. Today, we remain steadfastly committed to each component of that mission" (Nationals).

A LEARNING PROCESS: In DC, Thom Loverro notes Nationals Owner the Lerner family with the letter "chose to make this pledge from a distance." No members of the Lerner family appeared at yesterday's press conference announcing Acta's firing to "answer questions about the results of the Lerner tenure." That the Lerners "deemed their presence unnecessary shows how clueless they are when it comes to public perception." The Lerners believe that this "hollow statement" of a letter "should suffice." But the letter "isn't worth the paper it's printed on if the people behind it are not willing to accept questions and explain their actions." Nationals President Stan Kasten at yesterday's press conference, when asked about the Lerners' absence, said, "I am the team president, and this is my responsibility. I am ultimately responsible for everything that goes on here, and I accept all of the blame." But Loverro notes the Lerners, not Kasten, are "responsible for turning the Nationals into a baseball industry joke." Kasten is "paying the price for their mistakes," and it is his "credibility and his legacy as one of the most successful sports executives of his time that is on the line" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/14).

Writers Differ On Opinions Of
Nationals' Firing Of Acta
TURNING THINGS AROUND? In DC, Tom Boswell writes in firing Acta, the Nationals have "finally done something the way a normal baseball team would do it." Boswell: "They did it right by the book, just like a major league outfit. What a switch." In a season in which the Nationals have been "embarrassed on every front, a fired manager has been added to their meal of crow," as the "numbers in the league standings won the battle." Kasten has "always been Acta's biggest booster," but perhaps he "didn't want another failure on his Nats watch" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/14). But Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal said, "The whole thing was just handled so oddly." Rosenthal: "I don't know if A knows what B is doing and vice versa. Until they get it straightened out and that means a permanent manager, a permanent general manager, and a Stan Kasten who has actual power, they're going to struggle" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 7/13). SI.com's Ted Keith wrote for "anyone who has been to the brand-new but still mostly empty Nationals Park, where the residents are beating a slow march to what may wind up being the worst season in the modern-day history of the game, it seems especially ludicrous to suggest that this team is building anything other than a case as the worst team baseball has seen in years" (SI.com, 7/13).

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