Can Manny Acta keep his job?
After the Washington Nationals were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend, speculation is mounting that Manny Acta will get fired in a matter of days. When the MLB.com Web site is part of the rumor mill, you know the guy's in trouble. At the Nationals Journal (blog) on washingtonpost.com, there was a flood of fan input, and here is what I posted:
Acta seems like he knows what he's doing, and he is well liked by the team, so I'd really like to give him more of a chance. However, the team's record is worse than anyone could have imagined, and it's not just bad luck. All the evidence points to Acta's extreme ineffectiveness in terms of motivating the players. His laid-back style is just not suited for getting out of the team's current predicament. The "hand he was dealt" is not really that bad; the Nats have some very good hitters, and even the young starting pitchers are decent. They just don't play well as a team, but rather keep wasting run-scoring opportunities. Unless he changes his attitude and his players' attitudes immediately, which is unlikely, there is no point in postponing the inevitable. Fans in Washington deserve better, and since you can't fire the team, I'm afraid Manny will have to take the fall.
Nats head to The Bronx
The Nationals are currently 16-45, an abysmal .262 in percentage terms, and are now so far behind the rest of the MLB that it's not even funny. They had an awful start to the season, losing 10 of their first 11 games, but from late April through early May they played respectably, winning 9 and losing 8, thus giving us hope. Since May 10, however, they have lost 27 games while winning only 6, and now are on track to out-do the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who went 43-119 for the season (.265). (Hey, three years later they were in the World Series!) Tomorrow they head to New Yankee Stadium, where the visiting Mets were clobbered yesterday, 15-0. I shudder to think what will happen to the "D.C. 9," but at least those are my two favorite teams, so I'll be happy whoever wins. Besides, the Yankees need to catch up to the Red Sox!
Historic hockey arenas
One interesting aspect of the recent Stanley Cup playoff is that the "home ices" of both teams are rather old. The Pittsburgh Penguins' Mellon Arena is currently the oldest hockey arena, built in 1961. I saw it once, and wondered what the heck that igloo-shaped thing was. The "Civic Center" was originally built with the stipulation that it serve as a venue for symphony concerts, but the acoustics were lousy, so they built something better a few years later.
Two especially historic hockey arenas were abandoned in the 1990s: Maple Leaf Gardens (in Toronto) was built in 1931 and closed in 1999, replaced by Air Canada Centre, and Boston Garden (home of the Bruins since 1928) was closed in 1995, replaced by the Fleet Center, soon to be renamed TD Garden. Maple Leaf Gardens is still standing, whereas Boston Garden was demolished in 1997. Those arenas both held dear places in fans' hearts, and in that respect there is a nostalgic parallel between baseball and hockey that does not really exist with either football or basketball. [OK, maybe Celtics fans had a strong attachment to Boston Garden, but I don't know of other examples.] Here are the oldest hockey arenas that remain in NHL use:
|Madison Square Garden (IV)||New York||Rangers||1968|
|Joe Louis Arena||Detroit||Red Wings||1979|
* Name changed. Am I presenting this information as a way to make it up to hockey fans for my factual goof about the Detroit Red Wings? Quite possibly.
Cavs are still alive
In an upset, the U.Va. Cavaliers beat California State at Fullerton (#2 seed) this afternoon, 7-5, thereby remaining in contention for the 2009 College World Series championship. The Cavs lost 9-5 to the LSU Tigers on Saturday in the double-elimination tournament. See ncaa.com.