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Can anybody find a 1999 Cobras throwback jersey?

You know those golfer types who can somehow remember every shot they've ever taken? (I never understood this; for me, every three-putt... and five-putt... is immediately sent to the part of my brain that specializes in repression.) Anyway, Manny Acta is like this when it comes to baseball. Today, a little discussion about the Potomac Nationals -- who yesterday won the Class A Carolina League championship -- meandered into a discussion about the 1999 Kissimmee Cobras.

Yes, a Class A team managed by Manny Acta.

They won a championship against the Dunedin Blue Jays.

And Acta still remembers much of the play-by-play from that series.

When Acta wants, he can spin a great story. In rehashing the events, he made Dunedin's team seem like a dynamo -- like the 1927 Yankees, but with more household names. They had Jay Gibbons and Michael Young and Cesar Izturis. Nobody could beat Dunedin. In fact, once the Cobras slipped into the championship series and waited to learn their opponent, Acta was silently hoping that Dunedin could be upset in the semifinal round. Didn't happen. So before Game 1, he gave a speech to his players -- rah rah, arms waving -- and hoped they didn't realize what they were in for.

But then, those pesky Cobras scored six runs in the first inning of Game One. Morgan Ensburg, Acta's best player, was hobbled, but gave his best Kirk Gibson performance. It was huge. Kissimmee won the best-of-5 series in four games, and everybody got big rings. The one thing I took for the whole retelling was this: Sure, it's Class A ball, but when you're in it, it's your life. And the things you're committed to always feel big.

That's why it made sense, just a bit, when Nats' farm director Bobby Williams told me today about what happened when Potomac won the championship last night. The players rushed the field. They splashed in champagne. "They celebrated," Williams said, "like it was the World Series."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 13, 2008; 7:02 PM ET
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I think Hill is arbitration eligible too. He should be cheap considering his injury history.

Posted by: Kyle H. | September 13, 2008 6:46 PM

Hill has just over a year of ML service? Can he then be arbitration-eligible? Could smeone check it out for me? Check Harris too.

Perhaps I'll ask Stan or that other guy. I need some contract remedial study. I know that. Don't hate. Anybody hear from the FBI lately?

Posted by: Jim B | September 13, 2008 7:13 PM

Posted by: Jim B | September 13, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

silence -- Elijah up with men on base. watch. enjoy

Posted by: PTBNL | September 13, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Guz. never make the 3d out going into 3d when you have your best rbi guy up. who are you? Steve Lyons?

Posted by: ptbnl | September 13, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Hendo--re: your comment on the other thread. What you're saying is what Boz was getting at, I'm sure. But it's just a silly way of stating it, that Kasten's position is that the team should take a long time to get good and Bowden's is that they should do it fast.

Kasten of course also believes that he's building a winner the fastest way possible. Boz can disagree with Kasten's approach, but to characterize the difference the way he did is just kinda dim.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 13, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

What a great story about the Kissimmee Cobras and the Dunedin Blue Jays: "like the 1927 Yankees, but with more household names" totally cracked me up. Stories like this are what make baseball history.

Posted by: Traveler | September 13, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I said sit down Dukes for blowing a kiss to the Mets dugout before he spends the whole game embarrassing himself and the Nats organization.

I said don't make excuses for players who have not bothered to learn fundamental baseball in several years of being paid to play. Send a clear message to the organization with your comments in the media, a message that contributes to a solution, not a message that compounds the problem. "that is why he is here, to learn how to......fill in your fundamental here (bunt, hold runners, work a run down, hit a cut off man, call a pop up, not swing at the first pitch after a walk.......just goes on and on.....thanks to Acta's belief that it is fine to come to the MLB level without ever learning baseball, because it is not the players fault. My belief is, that it is the players fault and Acta's comments just perpetuates the problem.

Don't confuse the two issues.

Posted by: JayB | September 13, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's a 2000 jersey, but it's already sold. Jesse Joyce had a cup of coffee with the '99 club as a utility player.

Posted by: The Best Is Yet To Come -- hey, I think I'll keep that | September 13, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey JayB, they play over 100 games! Youngest team in baseball. Crap happens sometimes. Whine whine whine.

Posted by: anti-JayB | September 13, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

JayB -- you say Manny should say "learn the game, be a professional and study the game now and when you get to the MLB level I will play you, if you come up the MLB level without working on your will have a problem with me and getting playing time" --

If the players come to the major league and have a problem with Manny and getting playing time, (or if the "day to day" population in the dugout explodes), does Manny play with fewer players?

Does he have the authority to call Columbus, Harrisburg, Potomac, etc. and ask for different players?

What means does he have the means to make sure that the players that come from Columbus, Harrisburg, Potomac, etc. have learned the fundamentals that will keep them from having a problem with him? How does he compensate for instruction players have not had in the minors because they have been called up to the major league because of injuries to the major league roster, or because they are taking over for others who are not getting playing time because they "haven't learned their fundamentals and are having a problem with Manny"?

What are the implications for the options and long term career paths of the players who haven't "learned their fundamentals and have a problem with Manny"?

Posted by: "day to day" again | September 13, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

When did a rundown play become fundamental for a pitcher? Pitchers are expected to pitch, obviously, and have a pick off move to keep runners honest. For batting, they should be able to execute a sac bunt, and I think that's one of the things St. Clair may be working on in their pepper games. But for a pitcher fielding the position, isn't that ordinarily getting the ball to an infielder, backing up an infielder (including relays), or covering a base (usually first) on a throw?

I'm having trouble remembering how often our infielders have had to execute a rundown play, let alone how often a pitcher has been involved with a runner on the basepath.

Posted by: 422 | September 13, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Someone call JayB a waaaaaaaambulance. Who knows what Dukes might do next, like mutter to himself after he makes an out, or pump his fist after hitting another home run. Don't need anyone showing emotion on this team!

Posted by: sid bluntley | September 14, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

From Chico's gamer:

"When Ramírez touched home, he punctuated the moment by raising both hands to the sky."

OK, so "raising both hands to the sky" after hitting a home run is acceptable under the "unwritten" rules of baseball, but beating one's chest after getting a game-winning walk or putting one's fingers to one's lips after hitting a homer ISN'T?!?

As much as I love to watch this game, there's a lotta stuff I still don't get about it...

Posted by: Juan-John | September 14, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse

I remember some of the old Oriole players from the glory days of Baltimore baseball talk about the "Oriole Way". The Orioles stressed training their minor leaguers in all matters of baseball with a philosophy that was infused throughout the system. A certain set of "what to do's" and "how to do's" was emphasized and repeated at every level so that the finished product melded beautifully at the top level. All of the minor league managers were in synch so that an "Oriole culture" was produced. This process took years and years to develop and many players who went through it lament its deterioration into irrelevancy during the current stewardship of the club. The Nats should make this one their top priorities in the farm system so that the major league team is not stuck with remedial school candidates.

Posted by: Dale | September 14, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

As much as I love to watch this game, there's a lotta stuff I still don't get about it...

Posted by: Juan-John

Well - it seems you can:
gesture to the heavens, pump your fist going around the bases (Kirk Gibson),
have your team rush the field on what they now call "walk offs" (but in gentler days they called "game winners"),
stand and admire your work (Duke's double that could have been a triple last night had he run hard, or any Manny Ramierez homer),
take a football style handoff rounding the bases,
flip your bat,
make two hops couming out of the box (Sammy Sosa)...
What else is deemed "acceptable" where beating your chest is no?

Posted by: Pitch Inside | September 14, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think I went to one Dunedin Blue Jays game that season. They were much more exciting than the 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Posted by: ALC | September 14, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Dale....well said, just what I am trying to convey. Acta's comments are so counter to creating that high expectation....It does take years to create this culture....Let's get started...Acta has wasting 2 years in a 10 year process.

It is amazing how some have forgot or never new the difference between celebrating a home run where you beat the pitcher with your bat and celebrating a walk where the pitcher beat himself........ walking in a run is a pitcher's failure in the game of baseball. Hitting a homerun is a batters success. Blowing a kiss to the opposition dugout is bush league and never acceptable.

Posted by: JayB | September 14, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Dale....well said, just what I am trying to convey. Acta's comments are so counter to creating that high expectation....It does take years to create this culture....Let's get started...Acta has wasting 2 years in a 10 year process."

Why do you continue to judge Manny Acta based on the few comments he gives to the press that they then choose to print in their newspaper or show on their broadcast? Do you think this is the only means Acta has of conveying his desires to his players or to the organization? Do you think they read the paper every morning to see what Manny Acta thinks of them since there's no other way for them to know?

Remember, JayB, it was the Oriole Way, not the Earl Weaver way. The organization built it as a whole over the course of years. If the Nationals are ever able to duplicate that, it will be because of the efforts of the entire organization, not just Manny Acta. Acta is doing his part. Lay off him.

Posted by: i think your problem is that you just hate Manny Acta | September 14, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Been engrossed in other matters lately; just caught up on some old reading here.

A belated thanks to 1a, and others as applicable, for contributing your cheeks to the P-Nats' cause. I wish my cheeks could have joined y'all; the Dukes looked really good this year.

Speaking of Dukes, Elijah is now one of the few players for whom I almost always stop what I'm doing to watch him bat.

Posted by: Scooter | September 14, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

New post, yo.

Posted by: Scooter | September 14, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Our pleasure, Scooter. :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 14, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Also, still catching up with Journal entries as we were out much of yesterday and this a.m. Thanks for sharing the Acta memories here, Chico, and for the notebook item (also good to see MLB Sunday back). To me, such a victory is exciting at any level, and it's something in which all of the players involved can take pride. Added bonus for those who make it to the bigs some day - they've got some championship experience under their belts.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 14, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Acta's comments in a post game press conference are counter to creating a culture of high expectations -- really? I thought they were Acta's comments to the press in a post game press conference. Since I am not a fly on the wall in the club house, I don't sit within earshot of the dugout during games, and I'm not on the sidelines during practice, I don't know whether that's what he says to the players.

During the Saturday game after the Martiss mistake, (but during the same half inning) Charlie and Dave commented that Manny was talking to Shairon in the dugout, and speculated that he might have been discussing the run down play. We don't know what Manny said to the batters who were something like 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, and left 11 men on base.

But since Manny seems to be able to talk to players in the dugout and find them in the clubhouse, I'm not sure why he would need to use the media to send them a message.

Posted by: Maybe Manny should just send smoke signals? | September 14, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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