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Davey Johnson to Nats GM Mike Rizzo: ‘You come down and manage the team’

During the seventh inning of a 4-1 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, Washington’s Adam LaRoche hit a ball to right field that looked like it had a chance to leave the ballpark.  Jayson Werth, who was standing on second base, thought it was a homer so he began jogging to third. LaRoche thought the same and was also jogging around the bases. The ball remained in play and as a result of the mental miscues Werth had to stop at second and LaRoche was thrown out between second and third. Had they been running hard, the Phillies’ lead could have been cut to 4-2 with nobody out and a man on second.

The end result was the Nationals fourth straight loss. Washington currently has the best record in baseball and is in tremendous position to reach the postseason, but losing has a way of making life difficult around the clubhouse. According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo had it out after the loss.

After the final pitch, Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo conversed behind the closed door of Johnson’s office for nearly 20 minutes, Johnson’s shouts audible from the hallway outside.

The yelling appeared to be the release of frustration after a dispiriting loss, not the start of a rift. Although it was not clear what the argument centered on, Johnson could be heard shouting, “You come down and manage the team.”

When asked about the argument, Johnson simply told reporters he had a discussion with his boss. These things happen all the time — especially after a frustrating series. However, the Nationals are going to have enough to worry about in dealing with the Stephen Strasburg situation going forward. If they want to succeed in the postseason, mental errors like the ones we saw on Sunday can’t become a habit.

Fist pound to SI Tracking Blog

Mike Rizzo calls Cole Hamels ‘gutless’ and ‘fake tough’ for hitting Bryce Harper

When Cole Hamels hit Bryce Harper with a 93-mph fastball on Sunday night, the rookie jogged down to first and later stole home. To Harper’s credit, that was a great way to respond to a maneuver that Hamels later admitted was completely intentional. It may not have bothered Harper all that much, but it certainly got under the skin of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. Here is what Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post on Monday morning:

“Players take care of themselves. I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken s*** act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.

“He thinks he’s sending a message to us of being a tough guy. He’s sending the polar opposite message. He says he’s being honest; well, I’m being honest. It was a gutless chicken s*** (expletive) act. That was a fake-tough act. No one has ever accused Cole Hamels of being old school.

“This goes beyond rivalry and all that stuff. This points to, you take the youngest guy in baseball. He’s never done a thing. And then Hamels patted himself on the back. Harper’s old school. Hitting him on the back, that ain’t old school. That’s (expletive) chicken s***.”

Rizzo also said that he hopes the league does something about it, especially given the bounty scandal that is currently going on in the NFL. While hitting a player in the small of their back isn’t exactly targeting an opponent’s ACL, I see his point. Intentionally doing something that you know could harm someone has to lead to some sort of punishment. I smell a rivalry brewing.

H/T Hardball Talk

Nats GM Mike Rizzo boycotts ‘Moneyball,’ says it makes baseball people look stupid

Since the movie “Moneyball” first came out, reviews have been very mixed. Some casual viewers like it while others thought it was nothing special. Former A’s manager Art Howe was unhappy with the way the movie depicted him, and other baseball people find it to be inaccurate. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is one of those people.

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Rizzo gave the following reason for boycotting the movie: “It depicts baseball people as dummies who sit in a room and spit tobacco and say stupid things.”

L.B. already gave you his take on the Best Picture-nominated film, and I agree with most of his analysis. The movie intentionally neglects to talk about superstars like Miguel Tejada and Barry Zito and has some factual inaccuracies. That being said, I disagree with Rizzo that it makes baseball people look stupid. If anything, I thought it was the exact opposite.

To a general audience, Billy Beane is depicted as a badass who defied the odds and put together a winning team when everyone told him he was insane. Not only was he depicted as a visionary, but scenes like the one where he puts Jeremy Giambi in his place make him look like the man. By leaving out names like Tejada, Zito, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson, the makers of the film made it look like Beane put together a playoff team with literally no stars. So he spit some tobacco — big deal.

What Beane was able to accomplish in 2002 was truly remarkable, and I think the movie did a good job — perhaps even too good — of showing that. Sure, it made trades and transactions sound a lot more simple than they actually are, but those things are a must for cinema value. I’m not really sure how Rizzo got the impression that it makes baseball people look like idiots.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Nats GM: Bryce Harper is cocky and egotistical, but not malicious

He compares himself to Joe Namath and blows kisses to opposing pitchers after home runs, all before he’s seen a single pitch in the Majors. Bryce Harper‘s arrogance is tremendous and undeniable. Much so, in fact, that even his own GM won’t deny it. But Mike Rizzo wants you to know that Harper means well even though the Nationals’ budding phenom has episodes of douchiness.

“There’s not a malicious bone in his body,” the Nats GM said to The Washington Post on Tuesday. “Now, there’s a cocky bone in there. And there’s an ego bone. And there are other bones … but there’s not a malicious bone in his body.”

Rizzo also said that the club is working closely with Harper on how to improve his public relations. But even though Harper is still only a teenager, Rizzo expects the outfielder to hold himself to a higher standard.

“We’re not just saying that he’s a 19-year-old kid and that he’s making typical 19-year-old mistakes,” Rizzo said. “He’s a different case. He’s a special-case scenario. This guy is in the public eye. … When this guy tweets it out, or says something, it can go viral. There’s a difference here. We recognize it.”

Harper, who was drafted first overall in 2010, has a chance to make the Nationals out of Spring Training this year despite never playing higher than Class AA. So, some advice to him: Don’t be a headache for D.C. sports fans; Leave that to Daniel Snyder.

Photo credit: US Presswire