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A conversation with Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson has done a lot in baseball, maybe as much as anyone else, but yesterday he did something new in the game: He walked through the basement of Nationals Park.

Robinson attended a Nationals game yesterday for only the second time since he departed from his job as Nationals manager on contentious terms after the 2006 season. He came back in 2008 when the Nationals had their new park, but he had not been down in the bowels of the place before yesterday.

Robinson was at the game in his role with the commissioner's office. Yesterday, he stopped to chat for a few minutes about his job, the Nationals and his feelings toward the organization:

NJ: What's it like to be back?
Well, it feels good to come to this ballpark, because I saw only the blueprints of it. It was very exciting seeing it on paper, and now to see it in person underneath. I came here in person the first year and I saw it upstairs and in the boxes, and I saw the field. It's very exciting to be down here and see the clubhouse. It's impressive, very impressive.

NJ: What brings you here today?
I'm visiting the club. I'm spearheading the commissioner's office on diversity on the baseball side. We handled it on the business side. Now he wants it to be overall with the baseball side of it, the front office and throughout the system for baseball.

Can you describe what that entails?
It entails looking at the numbers of minorities in the organization and what positions they hold and the authority they have, decision-making, things like that. The numbers in certain areas. If you have 25 people on your staff in the minor leagues and only have one or two minorities, that's not a good number. It's just to remind them and to point it out to them that they have to do better. I'm not here to tell them who to hire and who to fire. I just want to remind that the commissioner would like an even playing field, and over time they should do better at their hiring of minorities in the organization.

From a baseball standpoint, as you watch this Nationals team, what do you think about how they've developed?
Well, they have come a long way. I think they're headed in the right direction. They talked about it for a long time, going with young players, the youth, building from within, and I think they're finally on the right track doing that. From what I see, there's a lot of good talent here. Having the No. 1 draft choice two years in a row is going to help. The main thing is, they also signed them. They shied away from them before. With that kind of talent in the organization, you're going to have a chance in time.

This ballclub is an exciting ballclub right now. They mix in speed, power. Fundamentally sound defensively. A couple young pitchers there. And also the old man out there, Livan, he's amazing. He's always been that way. I think he's in the best shape he's ever been in his career, maybe other than the first year he came over. He's got a rubber arm. I can excited when I see him in the condition that he's in right now. I just think this ballclub is going to play a lot of good, exciting baseball.

How do you feel about your relationship with the Nationals at this point?
I don't have any animosity toward the Nationals. I'm a person, I played the game one way. I gave my all. I felt like I was wronged even as a player. I just felt I was not treated the right way leaving here -- not being fired, but not treated the right way here. I was upset about it, bitter about it. But over the few years that have passed now, that's gone. I have no animosity toward the Nationals. It's going to be a good organization. A very good organization. I hold no grudges.


The Nationals weren't happy about losing two straight, and they used that to focus and make sure they didn't lose a third straight game for the first time this year. With Livan Hernandez doing just enough and Ian Desmond driving in clutch runs, the Nats beat the Braves 6-3.

Stephen Strasburg finished Phase I of his development, to no one's surprise.

Since the Nationals are winning, their scoreboard malfunction doesn't count as proof of organizational incompetence, Dan Steingberg writes. But it's still pretty funny.


Columbus 7, Syracuse 5: Jason Bergmann allowed two hits in two scoreless innings. Ron Villone allowed three earned runs on four hits and a walk. Josh Whitesell went 2 for 2 with two walks and a home run.

Bowie 9, Harrisburg 0: Mike Daniel and Danny Espinosa both singled, two of just three hits by the Senators. Jeff Mandel allowed four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.

Myrtle Beach 9, Potomac 1: Jose Lozada went 2 for 4.

Hagerstown 11, Rome 5: Steven Souza went 2 for 3 with a triple and a walk. Justin Bloxom went 2 for 5 with a triple. Paul Demny allowed one run on two hits and three walks while striking out five in 5 2/3 innings.


Bryce Harper's college coach may become a bird-dog scout for the Nationals, Jon Heyman writes.

The Nationals keep finding ways to win, Nats Insider says.

Stan Kasten was on hand as some U.S. Senators honored Braves Manager Bobby Cox, writes Bill Ladson.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 5, 2010; 9:35 AM ET
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Next: Nationals minor league report


I don't know about everyone else, but I think some blogger should keep track of who gets to wear the Silver Elvis wig. Maybe even have a live poll during games.

Meanwhile, would loved to have seen Frank Robinson in that wig.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | May 5, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"Ron Villone allowed three earned runs on four hits and a walk."

Why is this guy stil taking up a spot on ANY roster, let alone in Syracuse where they have a shortage of position players? To use my favorite term from my grandfather; "he's a bag of cement." Nothing but dead weight.

Posted by: jedd_narsavage | May 5, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Nats Enquirer has generally been putting the photos up. The Bog had archived a few.

And they give the wig to the Player of the Game, as chosen by MASN, I believe.

Posted by: cassander | May 5, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Thanks much for the update, Adam.

You want F-Robby in a wig, GNT? Here you go:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 5, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

As cassander notes, Nats Enquirer has followed the wig's progress, and the Bog had a photo gallery at one point. I saw a AP piece at one point indicating Zimmerman was among the players who made wig decisions.

Speaking of wigs, I guess I should give the context for the F-Robby pic:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 5, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The MASN broadcast last night reported that the player that gets the wig is usually a consensus pick, but Pudge has final say if they need someone to break a tie.

Posted by: grantmulkey | May 5, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure most of you have seen ESPN's Sport Century; the piece on Frank Robinson was excellent, probably one of the biggest robbery's in baseball(trade wise) was Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas. Frank came from Cincy to Balt. and instlilled a winning attitude and a hard nosed edge to the O'and led them to the 66 WS and he is one of the few people to be MVP in both the american & national league, unbelievable that this orginization couldn't or wouldn't find a place for F.Robby after he was fired Frank has forgotten more baseball than anyone on this team will ever know but when you have an arrogant know it all el presidente(Stan Kasten) who has the Lerners' snowballed and openly court's fan's of the opposing team to come to National's park why would the fan's of this franchise think we would have the common sense to use the baseball wisdom of a Hall of Famer like Frank Robinson which could be immeasurable to young player's comming through our minor league system.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 5, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Serious question on F-Robby's current work: does anyone know how baseball (the commissioner's office) defines "minority"?

Are they promoting opportunities and advancement for "traditional" minorities per US businesses (all people of color and women) or is it more like the NFL, where they want the FO's and coaching staffs to look more like the player rosters and less, well... white?

I'm really curious about baseball's attitudes about the surge in the last few generations of Latin American players and wonder if this effort is to make sure those players get baseball opportunities after their playing careers end, or if baseball is doing what it can to promote the groups in the minority of the game (African- and Asian-Americans) to maintain a base in those fan communities? Anyone have thoughts?

Posted by: natinbeantown | May 5, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Always good to hear from Frank. There were times he was the best thing about the team. Not as a manger per se but as a man.

Posted by: markfromark | May 5, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Always good to hear from Frank. There were times he was the best thing about the team. Not as a manger per se but as a man.

Posted by: markfromark | May 5, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Anyone heard any updates on Wang? How is he doing and when is he expected up?

Posted by: dovelevine | May 5, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rg019571 | May 5, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"I'm really curious about baseball's attitudes about the surge in the last few generations of Latin American players and wonder if this effort is to make sure those players get baseball opportunities after their playing careers end, or if baseball is doing what it can to promote the groups in the minority of the game (African- and Asian-Americans) to maintain a base in those fan communities? Anyone have thoughts?"

Thoughts, but no facts. But, hey, why let it stop us now, right?

It seems to me that there's still a "old (white) boys club" in baseball, both in the business side and in the baseball decision-making side. I think we're finally seeing progress in managers and coaches (35 years after F-Robby broke the color barrier), but in terms of everything from there up to GMs, there needs to be much more thought done.

In that sense, I think Frank keeping tabs is a wonderful solution for self-monitoring. The Latin explosion has really forced Americans to rethink baseball as a global game instead of just our own. I think, unlike many other sectors of our economy, baseball is one that will be very open to self-policing.

Posted by: Section506 | May 5, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Frank Robinson. A man of "convicted aggression," as our Yogi team of Dibble and Riggleman would put it.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | May 5, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

NatsInsider has a few updates on Wang in his last few posts. Short answer: not even throwing BP yet, probably not ready until after the All Star break.

Posted by: natinbeantown | May 5, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang....yea, darg...F. Robbie was my favorite as a kid (and as a native of DC and ..gasp! O's fan). For the NL it was Gibson and Orlando C.(Cards). Now, of course,it's our beloved Nats....and I suppose the Slow Lerners are better than Angelos. I'm STILL waiting for StanK to live up to his billing-seems to me it was Scheurholz who was the real architect of the Braves....and I'm thinking that The Wiz just might be the right man for that role. But for all the talk of how poorly Robbie was treated HERE (which he was-and IS-his ties aren't all that deep. How about the O's!!?? Much as I loved Cal as a player....all the hubbub about him not being with 'em....what about Frank? Or Brooks? Or Eddie, for that matter Sigh...the cult of modernity.(I digress, but it's like Gene Wang the other day calling Floyd Mayweather maybe the "greatest fighter pound for pound of all time)
SO....looks like we got a team that Frank would look good with-from "The Wiz" on down! And the O's? Well, after a few years of boycotting them due to Peter the Wolfs' attempts to keep MLB outta DC....I have too many great memories of them to root against(like coming up from New Orleans to watch a doubleheader, both games won by Eddie Murray walk-off homers).If we could just trade StanK for Andy....see you all at the park, and
Go Nats!!!!

Posted by: zendo | May 5, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

To the reader who wanted to see Frank Robinson in the Elvis wig, go to where he is depicted as the chief judge in the old Oriole's postgame kangaroo court.

Posted by: IraRAllen | May 5, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

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