The Washington Nationals made a big statement when they fired Rob Dibble from their telecasts, unfortunately it was the wrong one. After Dibble made critical statements about the team’s prized possession, Stephen Strasburg, Dibbs was removed from the broadcast booth by the team. At the time the MASN network claimed that Dibble had requested a few days off and that was the reason for his absence.
Obviously that was a lie.
The most egregious offense is that Dibble wasn’t fired for cause. When he appeared on XM Radio and said “you can’t have the cavalry come in and save your butt every time you feel a little stiff shoulder, sore elbow,” only to have Strasburg diagnosed with needing Tommy John surgery a few days later, it was embarrassing but not a fireable offense. The team SHOULD have fired Dibbes long ago because he is an absolutely abysmal broadcaster.
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By removing him solely because he questioned the toughness of a player, even a special cash-cow one like Strasburg, the team has set an unfortunate precedent; the broadcasters, employees of the team, cannot be critical of anyone or anything to do with the team or they will be giving their walking papers.
If announcers are unable to be objective and call out when players are under-performing or not giving their all then there is no reason to even HAVE the announcers. Just play the sounds of the game itself.
The Boston Red Sox’ home network, NESN, is OWNED by the team and they still regularly criticize the team and retain objectivity. The Yankees’ YES Network has never said a word wrong about the team and because of that has no cache as a news source and have consistently driven away any casual fans of the game. The Nationals need to decide which road they wish to walk.
After six years in Washington the Nationals have endured only losing seasons, their fan-base is almost completely non-existent and adding shills in the booth who are scared to say anything negative — when the team is almost COMPLETELY negative — will only serve to keep fans away from their TVs, radios and most importantly, the stadium.
Had the team just announced they were sacking Dibble because he sucked as an announcer that’d have been fine, but they didn’t. It was clear that his statements about the golden boy were his downfall. That’s just wrong. Even worse, the MASN network lost more credibility when they announced that Dibble’s absence following his comments was by his request.
This entire situation was not handed well. Dibble needed to go, so that’s a win for Washington fans and baseball in general, but the organization handled this entire situation terribly.
Let’s take solace that we’re free of Dibble, hopefully he will remain off the airwaves, but knowing the buddy-buddy nature of baseball he’ll probably pop up somewhere else next season. Next up, someone get Hawk Harrelson to say something stupid too.
Oh wait. He does that every single game he calls.