Sitting here in the cheap seats it's sometimes difficult to ascertain a method to the madness around us. In the curious case of the Washington Nationals, we could be sitting on Ted Lerner's lap (and don't think Teejay hasn't thought about it) and still not catch a whiff of logic's gently sweet smell.
In the midst of an offseason of near-misses and false starts flavored with a generous dollop of public inactivity, the Nats topped themselves yesterday, tapping meathead extraordinaire Rob Dibble to do color on the team's television broadcasts. The outspoken (read: loud and frequently loud wrong) Dibble, who made his bones on the field as a meaner Nuke Laloosh, fills a glaring gap in the Nats' television profile. The team, admittedly, has gone years without an aggressive dick in the booth.
I have no objection whatsover to former athletes manning a broadcast post. They bring a distinct perspective - one that's impossible for a non-player to replicate. Legions of former pros in every sport do terrific work. Legions are boring cliche-spouters, too, but that's not really the point. Dibble, though, represents the worst of the modern athlete, his loud, bullying, close-minded and arrogant braying masking any particular insight earned during his playing career.
Nationals General Manager Stan Kasten embraced Dibble, saying, "We are thrilled to have a talent like Rob Dibble join our broadcast crew. His enthusiasm and knowledge will quickly make him very popular among Nationals viewers. Rob and I talked today about the three things we know he will be: honest, informative and fun." That, and an intemperate, loutish boor, so we've got that going for us. (For the record, loutish boor may be redundantly repetitive, but it's early, I'm only on my first cup of coffee, and Dibble's so overqualified in this area that it may still fit.)
We have to hand it to the Nats' brain trust, though. After weeks of public pummelling from the likes of The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell over the team's inability to meaningfully improve their on-field product, the Nats took a bold step in reframing their overall entertainment image. Not one we agree with, clearly, but a bold step nonetheless. The mind's eye wanders forward now to a hazy, sweat-soaked mid-August evening, when the 34-71 Nats host the 41-64 Pirates in front of 12,458 in the Nation's Capital. The ballpark isn't full, and the fans are restless, but the dozens of viewers on MASN are locked in, rapt in anticipation of Rob Dibble's insightfully nuanced offerings.
As a wiser scribe than I once said (way more than once, actually): What you're doing, Mr. Lerner, I'm not seeing it.