Friday, June 24, 2011

Bixler's dream is over -- Riggleman resigns

Well, perhaps Jim Riggleman's just been overcome with guilt for continuing as a manager after I excoriated him <A HREF=>here</A>, or maybe Jim Riggleman's resignation is just another sign of the Nationals trying desperately to get their plot to move the team to Las Vegas back on track. In any event, it's one of the most fascinating train wrecks I've experienced, definitely one of the weirdest managerial situations. Edwin Rodriguez resigned earlier this week, to be sure, but he resigned on a day when I looked at the standings, saw the Marlins had fallen to last and wondered how he hadn't been fired already.  Mike Hargrove suddenly quitting on the Mariners was odd, but the team's only real player didn't like Hargrove and was vowing to leave if Hargrove remained as manager (leading to articles like <A HREF=>this</A>. 

But the Riggleman situation is a real black eye for everyone associated with it. Mike Rizzo looks like a jerk for not offering to have a conversation (at which point he'd have refused to exercise the option, triggering Riggleman's resignation then) and the franchise looks cheap because they could have bought peace for the remainder of the season by coughing up $600,000.  For a team that signed Jayson Werth to an average annual value contract of $18 million, that's really stingy.

Then there's Jim Riggleman.  The Nationals job has already lasted longer than two of his three managerial stints even though his winning percentage hasn't shown much reason to keep him around. The 2011 Nationals are a team that's managed to win a lot of games without ever looking particularly good. They've got some solid pieces and have recovered well from losing two players who were supposed to serve as the heart of the lineup with Zimmerman out for nearly two months and Adam LaRoche out for the season. Despite his truly mind-boggling moves and the complete lack of depth on the team, the Nationals were respectable and seemed to be actually drawing some interest from fans (the attendance numbers don't reflect this, though the Nationals have been hampered because they haven't had any of their big draw promotional games yet, any weekend series against the Phillies, and haven't had the sellouts that came from Stephen Strasburg showing up to pitch.)  In any event, the team was at least looking likely to survive and still have a few fans in the seats in September.  So, despite the fact that he's been a questionable manager, he deserved to get the lame duck option picked up, because he hadn't done anything fire-able in the standings (again, tactically, I don't see how he could possibly have held his job in the first instance and a manager who didn't make such moves might well have had this team three or four games over .500 -- the Giants game would have been firmly in the win column).  But insisting that the conversations had to happen in June is, as Mike Rizzo said, not what baseball is about. He had a contract. He wasn't getting fired. If he was going to get fired at the end of the season, he'd have lost nothing -- he's not going to generate any interest as a Major League manager ever again now, and that would make him an unlikely bench coach as well.  If things really work out for Riggleman, he'll be managing the Camden Riversharks next year.

I don't think the Nationals will finish at .500. They wouldn't have with Riggleman, they won't under McLaren. I don't know what effect it will have on the team or their performance. I don't know how McLaren's performance will compare to Riggleman's. But I do know this much -- everyone in the scenario looks like they weren't suited for the jobs they held, and that doesn't bode well for the future of baseball in D.C.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome to run-down San Salvador!

Combining the presence of half of El Salvador's population with the
fact that RFK looks a lot like it's a stadium in a third-world
country, I think I've really got the real feel today (hopefully minus
the people throwing bags of urine).

When they said the game was sold out, I just figured they'd not sold
all the seats and were treating this like a DC United match. Nope.
This place is going to be full by 6 pm, when the El Salvador-Panama
match starts.

What's stunning is the complete absence of Panama fans here. When I
was at the Gold Cup semifinals in 2009, Panama had at least 2/3 of the
fans in Lincoln Financial Field. Today, I saw three on the Metro, no
one in the stadium. Even Jamaica's six fans outnumber Panama thus far.

Sent from my mobile device

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Top 5 Interrogative Songs

posted from The Top 5 - the longest-lasting of any of the blogs after the livejournal venture had disappeared for a couple years, but I am so swamped with things to do that I am unmotivated to do any of them before midnight, since I'll be doing them after midnight anyway. So it led me to resurrect the top five blog, so long as I can convince Ryan, who's not teaching in the summer, and Dan, who should have limitless time, as I understand that is what happens in grad school -- to follow suit.

Tim's Top 5:
I blame Dan. He posted a reference to this blog today. So I'm posting, because I came up with something that I think would make for a good sporcle quiz -- providing answers to songs ending in question marks. So that's what this is for me -- you could choose to pick songs that are phrased in the form of a question if you prefer, but I'm sticking to something easy to search for in Itunes -- and the only other songs I can think of are "Are you gonna go my way", "Are you gonna be my girl," and "Do you want to know a secret" none of which would make my list anyway. The fascinating thing is that this is a list where the Jimi Hendrix Experience, CCR, Elliott Smith, John Lennon, R.E.M. and The Clash would have qualifiers, and I didn't pick any of those.

1. Life on Mars? - David Bowie - This is far and away the winner here, although if I'd gone with songs phrased in the form of a question, I wouldn't be able to count it. It's one of my favorite Bowie songs, which means it's one of my favorite songs period. The vocal jumps are matched perfectly by the mostly nonsensical lyrics and the music is just soaring. I can't think of a whole lot of songs that do so much with vocal dynamics, but it's fantastic here.

Answer: possibly, frozen under the water.

2. What Do You Want Me To Say? - Dismemberment Plan - I had actually stumbled onto listening to this album (Emergency and I) today and never once thought to connect this song to the list until I ran the ITunes search. It has a similar sort of emphasis on explosions of sound, but ties in some occasional spoken-word sort of lyrics. I've never listened to anything but this album, but this album is fantastic enough to deserve the hype it gets.

Answer: that you're coming back to DC and will be playing the Black Cat on a Saturday or Sunday night.

3. Isn't it a Pity? - George Harrison - This is a very simple song that goes on for a very very long time, but it doesn't feel that way at all. Another masterpiece from what is far and away the best solo album any Beatle ever released. Yes, I said that. Suck it, Imagine (which had a song that narrow missed this list). This song is also noteworthy because IT includes a question mark in the title, even though the next track (What Is Life) does not. Get with the program, Harrison!

Answer: Yes. 'Tis. You're missed, George.

4. What Difference Does It Make? - Sensefield (cover of The Smiths) - I'm sorry, but I just really don't think that highly of the Smiths song (like most Smiths songs, I can see how someone who is not me would like it, but that person is not me). Jon Bunch's vocaqls are meant for this sort of thing, and Morrissey's spoken-word vocal here doesn't carry the same force. This is a pretty good straight rocker, and I am a sucker for Sensefield.

5. What do you do with a B.A. in English? - Cast of Avenue Q - this is the perfect start to a fantastic show that was even better than I had ever figured possible when I saw it live in London. RIP, Sir Gary Coleman.

Answer: Good luck figuring that out. That's why the song is so perfect.

Honorable mention - there'd be plenty, including the only Alice in Chains song that I like (Would?), but how about: CCR - Have You Ever Seen the Rain?; Elliott Smith - Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?; R.E.M. - What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Just a thought...

I find it amusing that there are 19 copies of Final Exit available used on Either Amazon's running estate sales now or that book's not all it's cracked up to be.