Nationals Put the Blame in the Wrong Place

Manny Acta lost many more games than he won while he was manager of the Nationals, but the team's poor record wasn't all his fault. The Nats don't have enough talented players.
Manny Acta lost many more games than he won while he was manager of the Nationals, but the team's poor record wasn't all his fault. The Nats don't have enough talented players. (By Nati Harnik -- Associated Press)
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By Fred Bowen
Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Washington Nationals fired manager Manny Acta this week. It seems that Acta is taking the blame for the Nationals' terrible season.

That's too bad. It's always a shame when someone gets blamed for something that's not his fault.

I'm not saying that Acta was a great manager. During the 2 1/2 seasons that he managed the Nats, the team's record was 158 wins and 252 losses. That's pretty bad. But I doubt even a future Hall of Fame manager such as Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals or Joe Torre of the Los Angeles Dodgers could have made this Washington team into a winner.

If you don't believe me, ask yourself this simple question: What Nationals player has proven himself to be better than the average major league starter at his position?

I'd say Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' only all-star, is better than the average starter at third base. But who is there after that? Cristian Guzmán at shortstop or Adam Dunn in left field or Nick Johnson at first base?

Well, Guzmán almost never gets a walk (only seven bases on balls in 72 games), Dunn can't field and Johnson gets hurt nearly every season. In addition, the Nats' pitching is awful. So Acta didn't have a lot of talent on this team.

Too often in sports, whether it's the pros or kids, players and fans make excuses when things don't go well for their team. They claim that their team was unlucky or that the referee was against them. Or sometimes they say it was the coach's fault.

It's hard to stop making excuses and be honest about why the team is losing. The truth is that the Nationals are losing because they have almost no players who could start for a winning team.

The Nationals fired Acta not because he was a bad manager, but because they couldn't fire all the players.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is an author of sports novels for kids.


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