DAN STEINBERG WASHINGTONPOST.COM/D.C. SPORTS BOG

Love Him Or Hate Him, Dibble Is Part of Team

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm well aware that MASN's Rob Dibble isn't everyone's cup of Red Bull, but here's why I like him: because he makes me want to flip on the Nats game, even if it means fighting through occasional glimpses of C-SPAN.

And yeah, you can certainly say the same thing about the radio duo of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler, but for quite different reasons. Charlie and Dave have the melba-toast-dry humor, the self-deprecating asides, the meandering detours into the meaning of IHOP and rally caps and the better-than-Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative chemistry. Dibble's appeal is different, more of the "wowwwww, where's the TiVo, let me rewind that" variety. There's a place for both approaches.

Anyhow, most regional sports network announcers I've heard opt for a tone of slightly removed homerism. They'll side with the good guys on close calls and trivial controversies, present a mildly optimistic view of the future, but do it with a semi-detached veneer of sorta kinda objectivity.

But Dibble veers to both extremes. He's, at times, harshly critical of the Nationals. But he also has aggressively claimed the Curly W as his own. It's impossible to watch a game and not notice his use of "we" and "our" while talking about the good guys.

"A chance for us to win the ballgame here," he said in Wednesday night's extra innings. "We're not getting that pitch," he said a few minutes later.

Dibble said he's just done what comes naturally, and that he's listened to and spoken with other broadcasters to see how they handle the issue. The White Sox's Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, he said, also uses the first-person plural. The Reds' Marty Brennaman does not. Dibble even took the issue to principal owner Mark Lerner.

Lerner "said he'd be offended if I didn't use the word 'we,' " Dibble said. "What am I supposed to say? 'Those guys on the field? . . . It's not really a conscious thought, whether or not I say 'we.' I think everyone that's in this stadium is a we, is a part of this whole thing."

He said losses upset him now as much as when he was a player, which he didn't expect, and said the experience has made him respect the manager's challenge of watching from the dugout even more. I pointed out the obvious -- that he's hardly had time to get a driver's license in NatsTown.

"Yeah, but I'm always a team guy, I've always been a team guy. If I was working at ESPN and somebody asked me about Disney, it would be 'We,' " Dibble said. "For some of the people who might be offended, listen, this team came from Montreal. So unless they were following the Expos, you know, maybe they've got a four- or five-year jump on me, but nobody really holds the rights to whether or not I want to consider myself a part of the organization."

(For the record, Ray Knight also relies on the first-person plural during the MASN postgame show.)

As for Dibble's occasional harsh words for the team's on-field performance, "I've asked Mark Lerner if I've offended them in any way, and they're happy with my work," he said. "So that's really all that matters to me. If the organization and the Lerners and [President] Stan Kasten and [acting general manager Mike] Rizzo are happy with my work, that's all that matters."


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