Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Nats Manager -- Let's Get Acta-vated!
The Nationals had a press conference today to announce Manny Acta as new manager. Since it was right around the corner from my office, I went.

I had camped out at the bottom of an escalator, figuring that I could get a nice pic (for a camera phone, at least) of Nats brass and Manny descending to the meeting. Then I happened to look through a glass door that was right behind me, and who was standing there talking to a bunch of guys in suits --Screwed Out of Rookie of the Year Ryan Zimmerman. I spotted Manny in there, too. He's a big guy, too bad he apparently can't hit.

The pic is of Zim and GM Stan Kasten, walking to the podium. I'm not sure what's going on with Zim's left leg there, it looks a little whithered and also like he's trying to step on his bosses' foot. Weird. I thought it was Nick Johnson with the bad leg.

The conference began with Stan Kasten uttering the usual, uh, utterances about the process, and the plan, and how great DC is. He introduced a sober-seeming Jim Bowden, who said that Manny was the most prepared for the interview of the pool of potential managers, he knew the Nats well (which makes sense, as the Nats and Mets played 50 times last season). He talked about what a great job Manny had done with the Dominican team in the World Baseball Classic (not to be cynical -- it's hard -- but they had some pretty good players, and they didn't win the thing). Bowden, never one to miss a chance at self-promotion, said that this hiring reminded him of when he was with Pittsburgh and he announced the hiring of someone nobody had heard of -- Jim Leyland.

Bowden then introduced Manny, by announcing that it was time to Acta-vate! They did that awkward thing where they put a jersey (#14) on Manny, over his suit (he kept the jacket on), which signaled to me that the Nats will still have the same boring uniforms next season. Manny seemed cool, he was very gracious. He talked about how proud he was, an immigrant who is now the manager of the team in the nation's capital. He's now a citizen, so at least he doesn't have to worry about Bush running out and building a fence around him or something.

Manny said that Alph called him two days ago to congratulate him on taking the job. That's interesting, since Manny benched Alph in the WBC, and since we suppose that Alph won't be in Washington more than a couple of times next season. He said that the two enjoy an "outstanding relationship," and later said that the Alph situation was a financial issue, beyond him.

Manny took some questions, none of them were particularly interesting or revealing. I was a little distracted by how the Nats p.r. woman kept calling Manny "Skipper." It just seemed awkward, much like all of the Nats' p.r. efforts. So we'll see what happens. I expect free agent signings to start soon. Please let us get some pitchers...

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