I exchanged brief emails with Manny Acta last evening, and I'm convinced he will be fine as he pursues his next baseball endeavor, or as someone else pursues him.
He is a confident, classy and spiritual man who answers to a higher power and isn't afraid to admit it. In his mind, it's not all about him, and he's okay with that.
He will do well wherever he goes, and we thank him for his service to the Nationals and to MASN.
Manny allowed MASN's Executive VP of Programming, Affiliate Relations and Marketing, Jim Cuddihy, and myself to address the players in Viera during spring training, and he introduced us by telling the guys that MASN was "part of the team." That meant a lot to us! Jim updated them on programming and production, and I talked of our view from the booth and how we would support them but, at the same time, point out to our fans the things that weren't going so well.
Ozzie Smith once told me after he retired and announced his first game from upstairs, "Partner, this game sure looks easy from up here!" I've tried to never forget that, and that's what I told the players that March morning.
Manny spoke again after we finished, and it was obvious to me that he "gets it" when it comes to a relationship between a major league team, its broadcasters and the fans. He was always available to me, Rob, Debbi and our MASN crew and we will always appreciate that.
He also spent time with you fans on his blog, something many managers would have no time, or interest, in doing.
One of the toughest things about being involved with a team on a daily basis is saying goodbye to young men I've come to know and respect, when their time comes to depart. It's part of the business of baseball, but you never get used to it or like it.
So, it's with sadness and respect that we bid farewell to Manny, but as I said before, I'm sure there are great things ahead for him. I've never met a classier man in this great game.
As for the Nats, let's hope the players come back refreshed and ready to battle after the break. With 75 games left, they could reach last year's 59 wins by going just 33-42, and I'm sure they can do that or more.
However, their record against the NL East will have to improve dramatically from the present 8-31 for the "second half" to be successful.
We have a good, solid baseball man at the helm in Jim Riggleman, and it's time for all of us to get behind him, look in the mirror and do better.
A quality club in the Cubs is coming in Thursday - time to get it going!