I've never been one to blame the manager when things are going poorly for a baseball team. It's such a unique sport, and many studies have tended to show that at least in comparison to other sports, managers have less impact on the game than coaches of other sports.
One can argue about team moral, or motivation, but let's be honest; these are grown men who are either playing for a paycheck or enjoying one they have already earned. No one is going to motivate them but themselves.
It did not matter how great a manager Joe Torre was, when the Yankees loaded up on big money talent the teams chemistry was depleted. Once that Showalter core of Yankees had left the club, the wins kept coming for the Yanks, but the rings were long gone.
Managers will make the textbook call ninety-nine times out of one hundred. They don't teach the players like they do in high school or college, in fact they hardly interact with them at all except in the game. That's what trainers and specialist coaches are for. In all reality, a computer could do the job of calling a game just as well as a manager could.
So then is it really Manny Acta's fault that the Nationals are 0-6? Is it really his fault that after a year which saw them lose more games than anyone else in baseball, 102, they are already six games under .500 just a week into the season? What else could Acta have done in these six games, prayed for the Nats bats to be more consistent, or for a real pitching rotation?
The truth is there isn't much else Acta could have done. Perhaps he could have shown more confidence and started both Dukes and Milledge unconditionally. Perhaps he could have decided to not bat an already slumping Milledge so high in the order. But regardless of these few indiscretions, Acta made all the right calls. The fact of the matter is however, that while the manager may have no effect on the overall outcome of each individual game, he still has one purpose.
The manager of the ball club is a symbol for the team.
The manager is a symbol of the direction of the club, a symbol of its confidence, and a symbol of the kind of professionalism and determination a club is being persuaded to illustrate.
The manager needs to be a rallying point, he needs to be someone who sparks a fire under the belly of the team, or someone who fights for a team, or even someone who crys for the team. The bottom line is the manager needs to embody the teams passion, the teams determination, the teams desire.
This is why its all so upsetting to hear the Manny Acta utter the words, "There's no reason to show panic. I guarantee we'll not go 0-for-April."
So sarcastic, so dismissive. As if our concerns about our team's struggles were unfounded, as if we were out of line to ask the great baseball man Manny Acta about his sport.
Yes Manny, you are right. The wins will come, baseball is a game of probability and even the worst teams win 40 games. But can we see some concern from somebody? Can we see something more than an apathetical jab, an unconcerned smirk.
It seems to me like Mr. Acta is too comfortable with his Job, and too confident in the Nationals low expectations.
Right now Manny Acta is the symbol of unprofessionalism, apathy, and well sloth that plagues the play of the Nats on the field. With Jim Bowden we got rid of the symbol of stupidity out of our front office, it seems very well time for a change of the symbolic nature of our play on the field.