- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jim Bowden is a general manager to the end.

“If you have to spend a day in jail, at least it’s an off-day so you don’t miss a game,” Bowden said yesterday of his arrest early Monday morning on DUI charges in Miami Beach. “There were some pretty good athletes in there. If they get out, we might be able to work a couple out.”

That may be what Bowden’s baseball future is — scouting prison teams. He probably doesn’t have much of a future left here in Washington as general manager of the Nationals, or anywhere else in baseball, after this embarrassment. And, even if he is not found guilty of the charges, the arrest and the furor surrounding it already qualifies as an embarrassment.

Yesterday, speaking to reporters in the Nationals dugout just as his team had completed batting practice, Bowden acknowledged as much.

“Under the advice of counsel, I need to let them handle the situation,” Bowden said. “From my perspective, it was a difficult time for me. I feel really bad about the incident and the embarrassment I caused my family, my friends, the Washington Nationals, Major League Baseball, all of our fans. It’s been a tough week, and it’s unfortunate.”

It is unfortunate for Bowden — particularly the timing, so close to an owner being selected. Bowden came to Washington last year to do what so many who come to this organization do — repair and rehabilitate their records and reputations.

This is baseball’s 12-step program, and, for the most part, Bowden had been following his program — to change the image of the reckless, loose cannon who made as much news in Cincinnati as general manager of the Reds for his colorful and sometimes controversial comments and antics as he did for his baseball decisions.

Last year, Bowden handled himself professionally, and even if you don’t agree with his moves, to have fielded a team that finished with a .500 record under the conditions this franchise operated under was an achievement worth noting.

But the old Bowden surfaced this winter when he traded for Alfonso Soriano, setting the stage for the battle that took place this spring when Soriano initially refused to move from second base to left field. It embarrassed the player, and damaged Bowden’s credibility, so much so that I believed he could not be kept on by any of the bidders seeking to buy the franchise once they took over.

Still, it was a baseball move. And the nature of the general manager’s job has its share of hits and misses. It is conceivable that one of the ownership groups, such as the Lerners, who have developed a relationship with Bowden, still could have kept him on.

Not now. This is the one area where Bowden couldn’t miss. When a new owner has to answer questions early about the court dates for his general manager, it is not the ideal way to start off a relationship with the fans and the community.

A new ownership group looking over franchise documents as it takes over the team doesn’t want to read police reports that say the general manager, after being pulled over the second time in Miami Beach early Monday morning, had “bloodshot eyes, glassy eyes, a flush red face and slurred speech.”

A new owner doesn’t want to read that the general manager refused to take a breath-alcohol test and failed field sobriety tests.

A new owner doesn’t want to hear that the general manager had scratches on his left cheek and a cut on his right ear, which resulted in police arresting his financee, Joy Browning, on charges of domestic violence. The owner doesn’t want to hear that the general manager’s fiancee, according to police, refused to exit the car or put down her cell phone, and when one of the officers took the phone, Browning tried to get it back and hit the officer twice.

Guilty or innocent, an owner doesn’t want his general manager in this sort of situation.

Bowden was defiant — almost Clintonesque — when asked about the incident involving his fiancee.

“Look, there was no incident there,” he said. “I’m going to let my attorney handle that whole situation. There was no incident at all. Zero, zero, zero, zero. The attorney spoke on our behalf. We’ve denied the allegations. Never happened. Zero. Zero. Where that comes from, I can’t answer that.”

The odds of Jim Bowden keeping his job as Washington Nationals general manager after a new owner is named?

Zero, zero, zero, zero.

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