After four years of being in charge of directing the the Washington Nationals franchise's roster and farm teams, Jim Bowden has finally made the most helpful move of his tenure: resigning as general manager. Bowden's big announcement yesterday comes after a federal investigation into illegal practices by the Nationals organization in the Dominican Republic involving the skimming of bonuses and the revelation that the Nats prized sixteen-year-old prospect "Esmailyn Gonzalez" was actually 20 and had a much longer name. Bowden, of course, denies any wrongdoing and claims that his hasty departure on his trusty Segway was to avoid being a distraction in Nationals camp:
"I've become a distraction, and unless you're [unsigned free agent] Manny Ramirez there's no place for distractions in baseball," he said. "I want to be able to turn the page, and I want this franchise to be able to have everybody from the media and the fans focus on what the game is about. It's about players. It's about what happens on the field."
It's true. General managers should always avoid being a distraction. Let us not forget then-Reds-GM Jim Bowden's totally non-distracting statements in July 2002 regarding a possible work stoppage:
"If players want to strike, they ought to just pick Sept. 11, because that's what it's going to do to the game," Bowden said to a stunned group of reporters before Thursday's Reds-Dodgers game in Cincinnati. "I don't think there's going to be a work stoppage. I don't think anybody's that dumb. If they do walk out, make sure it's Sept. 11. Be symbolic. Let (Players' Association leader) Donald Fehr drive the plane right into the building, if that's what they want to do."
He was fired a year later. The Reds have not quite yet recovered from his mis-management, and the perennially last-place-finishin' Nationals might take a decade before they even catch a whiff of the playoffs. As of now, no interim G.M. has been named by the Nationals, but we should be more concerned about the well-being of another important organization. How are the good people at Fire Jim Bowden handling the sad news?