- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bowden’s acid reign continues

After posting the worst record in baseball last season, things again look gloomy for the Washington Nationals. But never mind that. Isn’t it terrific that the guy who sent in the clouds is having a grand old time soaking up the Southern California sunshine and yukking it up on talk radio?

Having “resigned” in March as the Nationals’ general manager after news surfaced that he was connected to an FBI investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses for Latin American players, Jim Bowden has lots of time on his hands. Bowden recently spent some of it on a Los Angeles radio show. He told tales and bubbled over his new life in Los Angeles, a city that “makes the rest of California seem authentic,” as somebody once said. No wonder Bowden, whose self-promotion skills and oversize ego dwarfed his accomplishments with the Nationals, feels right at home.

One story jumped out. While serving jury duty in Beverly Hills (huh?) last year, Bowden corrected a judge who mistakenly associated him with the Washington Generals — the basketball team that perpetually lost to the Harlem Globetrotters. In setting the judge straight, Bowden, who hopes to apply his special brand of humor to TV and radio, added, “We probably win as many games as the Generals.” Get it? Hilarious. But don’t take my word for it. “The whole place cracked up laughing,” Bowden was pleased to note.

Not laughing, however, is Nationals manager Manny Acta, a smart, dedicated baseball man trying to play a winning hand with a stacked deck, and the fans whose loyalties again are being tested — all a result of Bowden’s acid reign. OK, we all make mistakes. But now he’s using the mess he left behind for comedy purposes. That’s entertainment? Actually, it’s pretty tacky.

The consummate wheeler-dealer in every sense, Bowden crafted a team that lost 102 games in 2008 and seems headed for something similar — or worse — this year. This guy’s a riot, all right. What’s a few cracks in a franchise’s foundation if you can crack up a courtroom?

But in the sizzle-over-steak world of sports talk, his future looks bright. Good luck with that, and thanks for the memories. There certainly are many. Pieces of his legacy are scattered all over the place.

HE SAID WHAT?

“Brad Miller clearly wants to make a big deal about it, so we’ll let him.” — Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers on the Chicago Bulls center complaining about blows to the head

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