Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dear God… it all makes sense now!

One recent story I posted on The Good Phight addresses the question of whether Phils manager Charlie Manuel deserves credit for the team’s surprising push back into the playoff picture. My contention is that he does, and that in fact if they win the wild card, Manuel has a strong chance to take home Manager of the Year honors. (Not that I'd necessarily vote for him, mind you, but I think he could win based on how the BBWAA seems to handle that award.) In the comments to the article, favorably comparing Manuel to Larry Bowa, one poster added that:

Dall[a]s Green liked Bowa and I'm rapid[ly] realizing, to my dismay, Green is not the just hero/manager of the 1980 team but a big gas bag who thinks every problem with players is to solved with more practice and louder volume--a graduate of the Gen. Patton school of management.

It's hard to argue with this. Over the last few years as a "Special Adviser to the GM", Green has helped push out the door Scott Rolen, one of the most talented players in club history, and he's publicly sniped at other players and team personnel--most recently, Charlie Manuel himself. Beyond that, Green has been notorious in his career for wrecking the careers of talented young pitchers through overuse in an effort to teach them toughness. (His most famous victims were the Mets' Big Three of the mid-1990s, Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher. Also, as Yankees skipper a few years earlier, he kept Al Leiter out for over 150 pitches on a cold night in April; Leiter didn't fully recover for three seasons.) He comes off as both clueless and mean-spirited.

This comment about Green, which I entirely agree with, popped back into my head when I read the following today in an article about the Iraq War:

Convinced of his own brilliance, Rumsfeld freely substituted his often hastily formed opinions for the considered judgments of his military professionals. He placed in the most senior positions compliant yes-men, like Myers, and punished those who questioned his casually formed judgments. He enjoyed belittling his subordinates. ...His aides followed the same approach: Steve Cambone, Rumsfeld's closest aide, "jested that Rumsfeld thought the Army's problems could be solved by lining up fifty of its generals in the Pentagon and gunning them down."

Bullying, dismissive, arrogant, convinced of their own brilliance. Yes, Donald Rumsfeld is America's Dallas Green. (I suppose it follows that "missile defense" is the nation's "Big pitcher who throws high 90s but doesn't know where it's going"--you keep trying to perfect it and spending money on it until you get it right. But again, while the Phils have blown some dough over the years on bad pitchers, it's not $92 billion and counting.)

Unfortunately for the country--though I guess fortunately for the Phillies--there are two differences. Unlike Rumsfeld's weak and ignorant boss, Green's boss brings his own expertise to the question and has the stature and experience to blow off Green's bad advice and perhaps even keep a muzzle on him. (It seems likely enough to me that Gillick let his "special adviser" know to shut the fuck up after the altercation with Manuel made the papers.) And, of course, Dallas Green was involved (regardless of his contributions or lack thereof--he was most definitely there) in the greatest triumph in the history of the franchise. Rumsfeld was just there for Nixon, Ford, and of course this guy.

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