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Why the Rizzo Thing Rankles

The smart opinion on the news that Mike Rizzo seems to be out as Interim GM in favor of Arizona Diamondbacks director of player personnel Jerry Dipoto is that all's fair in love and UZR. Rizzo's done some things well, and other things less well (there are complaints about the trade deadline in particular), and the fact that he hasn't been a disaster doesn't necessarily mean he's the best man for the job. (See, for example, Chris Needham at NBC Washington.)

Impossible to argue with that, but I'd like to offer a word in favor of the doubters. The party line coming from Half Street is that this year has not been the disaster it seemed, that behind the curtain things have continued to trend in a positive direction, and that the wins are on the horizon. Here, for example, was Stan Kasten on the LaVar and Dukes show yesterday afternoon, when he called the signing a "credibility builder with our fans" and insisted that "the lion's share of this work goes to Mike Rizzo."

"You know, there's no question we've been down on our luck the last couple years," Kasten said. "Some things were just bad luck and some things have been our own missteps, no question about it, and we needed to reverse that trend and we have been reversing it kind of quietly....We have been taking bad things and turning them into good ones and this is just one more really, really good one....I want people to take a step back and look realistically at what we've been accomplishing this year. Don't look at just the record, because there are reasons for the record being what it is. Look at the progress that is being made, look at the strides that have happened."

If you grant any legitimacy at all to what Kasten is saying, you want to enjoy this Strasburg signing for a moment while considering a future that includes four actual walls, without a tear-down in between. You want to believe that optimism is acceptable. You want to buy the argument that this season wasn't a total waste. And you want the team president's words to mean something, when he says this, for example, about Rizzo and Riggleman:

"We have guys in place who are doing an excellent job, we're proud of both of them, and I'm sure everything else will take care of itself."

So if you then immediately summon the wrecking crew, the "progress that is being made" is essentially acknowledged to be a fraud, the man credited with the "credibility builder" is judged to lack credibility, and the buzz from Strasburg gets drowned out by national catcalls. The logic behind such a reaction doesn't matter--just check out the sentiments here. Bad PR is bad PR; logic has nothing to do with it. The Strasburg Bounce would have lasted less than 48 hours.

No, you don't want to make your front-office decisions based on the will of the mob, but when an optimism-challenged franchise is riding its biggest wave of positive publicity in months, it seems a funny time to jump. If you need to move on, give it a week or two, and let the Bounce keep bouncing until then.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 19, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Next: Kasten on Strasburg-Ovechkin


If it looks like horse puckee, and smells like horse puckee, it's horse puckee.

Posted by: 4-12 | August 19, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Placing "the smart opinion on the news" and Chris Needham next to each other is like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp. A total oxymoron.

Draw your own conclusion about Chris Needham and morons of the non-oxy kind.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 19, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

this is ridiculous. dipoto is not getting the job!!! i know for a fact that these stories r all wrong

Posted by: firestan | August 19, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I hope firestan is right! Dan you have hit the nail on the head in terms of my feelings on the matter. Rizzo should get this job especially when you consider the conditions that he had to work under.

Posted by: mjwies11 | August 19, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

There are thousands of out of town fans (or tens of thousands at Red Sox, Phillies, and Mets games) who are more than happy to see the Nats stink. Since these people seem to make up the bulk of the paying customers in Nats Town, it only makes sense to pander to them.

I think it's high time we started giving the Lerners some credit for taking care of the customers they really care about.

Posted by: bryc3 | August 19, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing - Needham's 100% right - the decision shouldn't be "He's been here a while, and he doesn't wear leather pants or ride a Segway, so ok, he can stay." But so is Cheeseboy 100% right - if they're going to let him go, they need to let him ride out the wave of having signed Strasburg. At this point, why not let him finish out the season and make the change during the playoffs?

I don't really understand what's driving this story now - it seems, based on what Y! and CBS are reporting that DiPoto's offhand comments got taken out of context - the quote I read from DiPoto says something like "I'd take the job if they offered." Well, sure, who wouldn't? Not sure how that translates into "the Nats are ready to offer the job to Dipoto.

Echo chamber stuff, and sad that it broke the day after the signing. The Nats deserve to catch a PR break after the never-ending "fails" (self-inflicted and otherwise)

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 19, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

A well-reasoned argument.

It would be a shame if Rizzo were to leave this organization as a result. Even if he's not GM, he's an asset to the FO.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 19, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Chad Dukes is a pathetic excuse for a sports talk personality he sucks azz

Posted by: jonthefisherman | August 19, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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