Chico Harlan of the Washington Post reports
that Manny Acta was fired by the Nationals in large part because he was
too easygoing, particularly when it came to disciplining players like
As the season dragged on and the losses accumulated, players
appreciated Acta’s even temperament and easygoing nature. But all the
while, they wondered if a more demanding presence might benefit them.
Acta, fired late Sunday night with a 26-61 record this season, left
behind a clubhouse of players who almost universally enjoyed playing
for him. Every so often, however, they wanted more from him. They
wanted him to reprimand, to punish, to call out those who needed it.
They wanted him to push. …
“There were situations where it was like, ‘Oh man, I hope Manny says
something.’ And it never got said,” said one player, who spoke on
condition of anonymity. “If one person steps out and is not
reprimanded, eventually everybody is saying, ‘Is it okay to do that or
what?’ We kind of police ourselves, but at the same time we’re trying
to build with each other. We just wanted him to say something one time
to reaffirm everything.”
Acta believed that players didn’t generally respond well to public
forms of discipline; embarrassment wasn’t his teaching tool of choice.
He reached out to players, recommending self-help books, always making
himself available to talk about family. Yes, he could get angry — but
the fewer who saw it, the better.
I’ve been an Acta fan since speaking to him at the winter meetings
shortly after he was hired three years ago. He was thoughtful and
interesting and, yes, easygoing. Unfortunately, as Harlan points out
those traits won him more friends than games in Washington. Given more
talent to work with it wouldn’t surprise me if Acta was a successful
manager, but easygoing tends to be a bad fit when you’re losing 100
times a season.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.
The Red Sox defeated the Rays 3-2 on Sunday afternoon thanks to some nifty base running by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The win marks their 11th in a row, inching them closer to a division title.
With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the tenth, Pedroia led off with a single off of reliever Eddie Gamboa. After Xander Bogaerts lined out, David Ortiz ripped a double into the right-center field gap. Pedroia, running hard the whole way, rounded third and motored towards home plate, but the relay throw home — from center fielder Jaff Decker to second baseman Logan Forsythe to catcher Luke Maile — beat Pedroia by a good 10 feet. He was a dead duck.
Pedroia danced around Maile’s glove, avoiding the tag. Maile, on his side, continued to attempt to apply the tag on Pedroia. When he finally did, the ball was knocked loose and Pedroia scored the go-ahead run. The play was reviewed but the call was upheld.
Joe Kelly kept the Rays off the board in the bottom of the 10th, securing the 3-2 victory for the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays also won on Sunday, meaning the Red Sox still have a 5.5-game lead in the AL East. Any combination of two Red Sox wins and Blue Jays losses will seal up the division for the Red Sox. The two clubs round out the regular season with a three-game set against each other in Boston.