When Mid-Atlantic Sports Network offered Rob Dibble a two-year contract to be an analyst on Washington Nationals television broadcasts, he insisted the network add a third year. In part, it was because he and his wife would be relocating from across the country, but he also saw the job as one he could enjoy for a long time.
"I'd like to be here for 10 to 15 years and ride off into the sunset," the former Cincinnati Reds reliever said. "I don't plan on having another job after this."
That is good news for Nationals fans, who have endured a game of musical chairs in the broadcast booth since the team came to the District in 2005. It's also a welcome statement for play-by-play man Bob Carpenter, who will be working with his third partner since joining the Nationals in 2006 after 10 years with the St. Louis Cardinals and ESPN.
The two have spent the past few weeks working a handful of Nationals spring training and exhibition games. They claim to have a comfort level and rapport that can work for the long haul.
"It's been kind of a strange situation for me because my entire time in St. Louis I pretty much worked with one guy and then I had my network job with ESPN where I worked with a lot of different analysts," said Carpenter, who partnered with Tom Paciorek in 2006 and Don Sutton in 2007 and 2008 on Nationals broadcasts. "But I am very psyched about having Rob in the booth. I think we've got a good thing going."
Dibble earned a reputation as a fiery personality during his playing career, gaining notice as a member of the Reds' relief corps known as the "Nasty Boys." And he never shied away from offering opinions as a commentator on ESPN and Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period." But he said he had no plans to be deliberately controversial in the MASN booth.
"My playing days ended in 1996, and I left it on the field," Dibble said. "On the air, with some of my jobs if I'm asked to be a goof, that was my job. When I'm asked to be a color guy doing baseball, the story is not about me. It's about the players on the field. It's their time. There's no 'nasty boy'; there's not going to be an 'edgy guy.' You're just going to get honest and fair opinions from me."
Dibble likely will spend considerable time analyzing the Nationals' young arms, particularly Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis. The team is asking for patience as the young players try to prove their worth, and Dibble is happy to oblige.
"I've heard guys that think, once they retire, they never got out as a hitter and struck out everyone as a pitcher," he said. "I'm not that way. I know I had my faults as a player, and I put that into the equation. These kids may not have the experience or the knowledge, but I give them the benefit of the doubt."
Dibble said 80 wins could be possible for the Nationals, especially if established starters John Lannan and Scott Olsen stay healthy and Daniel Cabrera harnesses his talent. The key, Dibble said, is for the young pitchers to act like they belong in the big leagues.
"When I came up, they said, 'You have two weeks, and we're sending you back down.' And I stayed seven and a half years," he said. "You have to have that attitude when you're someone like Jordan Zimmermann."