The Washington Times - July 19, 2009, 04:57PM

One week ago, acting general manager Mike Rizzo sat in front of a room full of reporters after firing the guy who managed to get the Washington Nationals to somehow win 26 games this season, and declared, “We feel we have a better ballclub than what we have shown on the field.”

No, Mike, you do not. It is worse — much, much worse.

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The Washington Misfits are now 0-4 since firing Manny Acta and replacing him with acting manager Jim Riggleman. The Chicago Cubs came to Nationals Park a struggling club and have left full of life after a four-game sweep of the Misfits, culminating with Sunday’s 11-3 beating that had all the ingredients of a Misfits game — bad pitching, bad fielding and bad hitting.

“We feel that the team has underachieved,” Rizzo said.

No it hasn’t, Mike. The team has played like the team of misfits that they are. If anything, with each passing day since Acta was fired, it is a wonder that he managed to get this team to win 26 games without any blood spilled in the clubhouse.

Acta’s detractors said he was too soft, but Riggleman has done nothing but sing the praises of Acta since he took over the team.

So who’s the next acting manager in line if Riggleman’s tenure mirrors Acta’s, or become even worse?

There are no fire breathers in sight on the major league coaching roster, if you are looking for the second coming of Larry Bowa. Not Pat Listach, not Marquis Grissom, both nice men who may be very good baseball managers somebody, but not what the mob wants.

The mob wants Billy Martin.

The mobs wants the illusion of their no-nonsense Little League or high school baseball coach who in their faded memories would make them run laps until they dropped for every missed ground ball.

This manager — the fire breather — does not work, of course, with young untalented teams. It didn’t work for Lou Piniella in Tampa Bay, and it did not work for Jim Leyland in Colorado.

But please, by all means, I hope they bring Attila the Hun in to manage this team. That wiii result in twice the material to write about.

Then the Jim Bowden poison will have finished its work.

By the way, I think it is time for another letter from the Misfits owners declaring the future is bright.

Radio

I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM Washington on Tuesday, July 21, from 4 to 7 p.m.

To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com