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Should Rob Dibble be fired for his comments about Stephen Strasburg?

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By Leonard Shapiro
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 10:30 AM

Should Rob Dibble stay or should he go after his thoroughly inappropriate and totally misguided comments about Stephen Strasburg last week?

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Readers of this space may recall some critical comments we've offered in the past concerning Dibble's choice of homer-ish language over the nearly two seasons he's been doing color analysis on the Washington Nationals telecasts on the MASN regional cable network.

Mostly we've hammered him for constantly using words like "we" and "our" and "us," as if he actually once played for this team. It's been "we need a hit right now" or "our middle infield play stinks" or "they got the best of us in that trade."

That criticism also has come from other quarters, and Dibble essentially has ignored it, which is certainly his prerogative. But that's not what may get him fired with another season left on his three-year deal with MASN. And, believe it or not, despite our previous quibbles with Dibble, here's hoping that doesn't happen.

Dibble made a huge mistake going on his Sirius satellite radio show last week and saying that Strasburg ought to "suck it up," implying that the kid ought to play hurt the way players of Dibble's generation often did. His comments were made, of course, before he or anyone else knew the full story - that Stasburg had, indeed, suffered a serious injury in his throwing arm and now needs dicey Tommy John surgery to fix it.

"Throw a pitch, it bothers your arm, and you immediately call out the manager and the trainer," Dibble said on the radio. "Suck it up kid. This is your profession. You chose to be a baseball player. You can't have the cavalry come in and save your butt every time you feel a little stiff shoulder, sore elbow. Stop crying. Get out there and pitch. Period."

Dibble is hardly the first sports broadcaster to open up his yap and put his big fat foot in it. But aside from questioning Strasburg's so-called toughness, was this really a firing offense?

The Nationals are pondering that question even as these words are being typed. They also seem more than content to let Dibble twist in the wind for awhile, a tactic the organization has fine tuned before with Frank Robinson, Manny Acta, Adam Dunn and even Dibble's broadcast partner, Bob Carpenter.

Though neither the team nor MASN is commenting on the Dibble debacle, it seems obvious the club is considering what action, if any, to take. There are published reports that Dibble won't be making the club's current six-game road trip, almost certainly at the suggestion of the team, and that will allow plenty of time to let him dangle for a while until a final decision is made on future employment.

Here's our suggestion:

A sharp reprimand, perhaps even a suspension issued from the very top of the Nationals organization - as in owner Ted Lerner or team president Stan Kasten - is clearly in order. Maybe the suspension should run through the next two weeks, with a proviso that Dibble goes on the air in his first game back and issues an on-camera apology to Strasburg for his own moronic remarks. And then, make this a teachable moment and let him come back for another year, knowing full well that there will be no reprieve the next time.

Here's a question the Nats' hierarchy needs to ponder:


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