Acta the Aggressor or Manny the Mild?
So with yesterday's homer-argument-conference-foul ball off the bat of Dmitri Young, a topic that some of you have asked me about in the past has come to the surface: Should Manny Acta argue more?
Some background: In spring training, while I was trying to find out what kind of manager Acta would be in his first turn in the big leagues, I asked him whether he argued a lot. He said that when he first was managing in Class A in the New York-Penn League in Auburn, N.Y., he was getting thrown out "like every other game."
"But then I got a call from the farm director," he said. "They told me, 'We're paying you to manage the team. You can't teach them if you're back in the clubhouse.'"
So he toned it down.
Come to Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome against the Twins. Dmitri Young hits a towering shot to right that was called a homer, and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. It's all explained here in the gamer. (And here's the notes on Felipe Lopez's struggles and the podcast as well.)
Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire runs out, gets the umpires to confer, and the call is overturned. Acta walked out to talk to Ron Kulpa, the first base umpire. He then conferred with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. The conversation was long, but it wasn't the least bit animated. At the end, Acta walked back to the Nationals dugout, Cristian Guzman returned to second base and Young went back to the plate. He lined out hard to first base to end the inning.
Some of you have commented in the Journal that you'd like to see Acta argue more, that it represents sticking up for his team. The incomparable Dave Sheinin wrote about Acta's thoughts on this in a piece on his MLB page on Sunday (which, if you're not reading every week, you're missing out) that was talking about Bobby Cox's impending record for ejections.
"I found out it doesn't matter how much you argue, the call is never changed," Acta told Sheinin. "And then you're thrown out, and you're not doing your job. It takes something I really believe in strongly to go out there and make a scene."
In other words, don't expect this from Acta. (And if you haven't seen that, make sure you watch it. It's unbelievable.)
Different managers obviously have different styles. We're watching Acta's develop. He's not going to change, I don't think, because he's doing what he's done in the minors for years. But we haven't seen it on display before, and it's interesting to see how he handles himself. He told me in spring training, "You guys see me now, smiling and laughing and all charismatic and outgoing. But you haven't seen me manage a game. You'll be surprised."
It's true. In traveling with Acta back to the Dominican Republic last winter, I would have guessed he would've been the kind of manager who's out there on the field a lot. Really, the most vociferous argument I've seen him have was in that Saturday night game in St. Louis when the rains were pouring down and the Nationals were trailing by four runs and the home plate ump called Zimmerman out on strikes on a pitch that was a good foot outside. Acta was jawing at the ump from the dugout, and I was told he was yelling, "Be a professional!"
Anyway, I guess my question to you is: What would you prefer? A calm, reasoned manager who doesn't fly off the handle? Or an Earl Weaver-Lou Piniella-Phil Wellman guy who might lose it?
And the other part of it is this: Does it matter?
Some bits of news. Mike "You Forgot About Me Didn't You" O'Connor pitched three innings for Harrisburg on Sunday, allowing two hits (including a solo homer) and striking out three. No idea whether he'll ever return to the majors, but it's good to see his elbow is getting stronger.
Nationals also signed 15 of their draft picks over the weekend, though the highest one was seventh-round pick Philip Dean, a high school right-hander from Texas.
Day off today. I'm working on a Guzman story for the $.35 edition tomorrow. Great stuff from the Twins' clubhouse. We'll have notes and all that as well. I'm tellin' ya, it's worth $.35 - and I believe the Nationals' coverage comes with coverage of the, um, world too. So there's that.
Went to 112 Eatery last night. Really solid. I have a day game in Toronto on Saturday, so I'll take solicitations for restaurants there all week.
Have a great Monday.
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