- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

Rob Dibble will tell you that he is just an “observer” when he does the color analysis on Washington Nationals telecasts. He is “just a guy sitting up [in the booth] watching it like everybody else.”

Well, then, if he’s just like everybody else, what the heck is MASN paying him for? They could pull a guy out of the stands to sit up there and watch “like everybody else.”

Do you really want the guy sitting next to you as your baseball analyst?

In his outspoken criticism at various points in his first season in the Nationals’ booth, Dibble has won over a segment of Nationals fans because he comes off like one of them - an angry guy sitting at home, yelling at his television, wondering why the worst team in baseball can’t catch the ball, why it doesn’t practice more, why it can’t pitch better.

The answers, however frustrating they are for fans, are never as simple as they appear. And that is one of the roles of the analyst - to offer some perspective, some insight, into the team’s struggles.

That, as we know with this organization, would require some tough criticism to be directed at the top of the organization. We haven’t heard much of that on Nationals telecasts, nor would I expect to, frankly, on any team’s telecasts.

What we have heard, though, is tough criticism on a much lower level - toward the manager and coaches and particularly at former Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire and the way he worked with the young pitching staff. It has been uninformed criticism, if we want to be as frank and honest as Dibble claims he is trying to be.

Dibble never spoke to St. Claire - who was fired June 2 - about anything to do with pitching, according to the former Washington coach.

“He has never talked to me about anything about pitching,” St. Claire said in a telephone interview. “He has never asked what we do for prep work. I’ve never talked to him about pitching.”

In other words, Dibble never did what I did last week when I sat down with him to talk about his work.

When I asked Dibble whether he ever spoke to St. Claire - who was Bobby Cox’s first choice in Atlanta to replace Leo Mazzone at the end of the 2005 season but couldn’t make a deal with the Nationals - about the pitching, he said yes and no. You figure out it:

“Why would I need to? … That’s not true because I had a discussion with almost every pitcher. If they were No. 1 in pitching, I don’t think I would need to have a conversation with him, either. But they weren’t. They were the worst pitching staff in baseball. I think this is a moot point. Steve McCatty is the pitching coach now. They moved in a different direction. He had been here seven years, and the fact that I am even involved in this discussion is kind of ridiculous. … Because I have an opinion, people think that I am critical. I am just stating the obvious.

“I’ve gone to Mark Lerner, and I’ve asked him, ‘Have I done anything to offend the organization?’ ” he said. “From the top, they said no.”

Well, as long as the owners of the team are not offended, then what’s the problem?

Dibble is not getting paid to be “stating the obvious.” Anyone can do that. The guy sitting on the bar stool next to you can do that. The analyst should be stating what is not obvious.

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