Washington Post columnist defends Rob Dibble using the Howard Stern argument

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Washington Post columnist Leonard Shapiro wrote about Rob Dibble today and more or less agreed that he’s a poor announcer and deserves criticism for his recent remarks about female baseball fans and Stephen Strasburg.
Despite that Shapiro also argues that Dibble shouldn’t be fired because … well, I’ll let you read his words for yourself:

Those who love him praise Dibble for his passion for the game and the team. Those who hate him wonder what sort of outrageous comment he might unload next. But they all tune in.

There’s a scene in Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts where his bosses at the radio station are going over the ratings and find that the average Stern fan listens for about an hour per day while the average Stern hater listens for about three hours per day. The idea in the movie and the idea in Shapiro’s column about Dibble is that being outrageous and controversial and often disliked can lead to big ratings.
And there’s really no arguing that, but here’s the problem with making the Stern argument for Dibble. Stern was merely one of several dozen morning shows available to someone with a radio, so the “if you don’t like it, turn it off” argument was perfectly reasonable. That is hardly the case with Dibble, because if a Nationals fan wants to watch the team on television he’s their only choice for an announcer. The alternative is muting the television or turning it off, not simply changing the station to a different broadcast of the same game.
I don’t think Dibble should be fired for his comments about female baseball fans or Strasburg. I think he should be fired because he’s not good at being a baseball announcer and without exception every Nationals fan I know dreads having to listen to him as part of watching their favorite team. Shapiro says “they all tune in” regardless of whether they love or hate Dibble. I say “they all tune in” because they don’t have a choice.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?