When the Nationals spat the bit in gruesome fashion, Emily and Joshua and I were wandering Coney Island. I had Howie and Tom in one ear, the cacophony of Astro-Land in the other. And while that meant I couldn't see Frank Robinson, I could certainly imagine what he must look like. I assume it was something like this.
Frank Robinson is up there with Larry Bowa and Dallas Green in my personal pantheon of Managers Without Poker Faces. The beauty of this pantheon? It's that each of those three men gets catastrophically angry in his own unique way. (Willie, on the other hand, is a graduate of Headmaster Torre's Great Stone Face Academy. Kyle Farnsworth could give up a grand slam to a blindfolded relief pitcher who was holding the bat upside down and it's possible Torre might blink.)
Larry Bowa: Primordial rage, with the tics and head twists giving way to square eyes, purple face and bulging neck. The limits of mere human form couldn't contain Bowa's fury — properly capturing it would demand a master cartoonist, a Tex Avery or a Chuck Jones. Man, I miss watching Bowa in the Phillies dugout, particularly with Keith Hernandez gleefully narrating. Those nights were like performance art.
Dallas Green: His trademark was combining rage with astonishment at whatever numbnuts thing the Mets were doing. His signature face was the mouth hanging open while the rest of the body was absolutely still. Like he knew as well as everybody that he was going to lose it in spectacular fashion (with the shotgun mikes picking up every word), but the explosion was delayed while he processed how mindbogglingly awful whatever had just happened truly was.
Frank Robinson: Frank incensed is a dish served very, very cold. When things go bad, for a while he exudes ice and a certain lofty disgust, as if he's thinking, “I've got a half-century in this game, 586 home runs, nearly 3,000 hits and have dealt with more bullshit than any man should have endure, and you are going to subject me to this?” If you'd been kind enough to hand poor Ryan Zimmerman a shovel when he crossed the white lines after brainlocking on the number of outs, I'm sure Zimmerman would have gratefully used it to tunnel his way out of RFK rather than go anywhere near Frank.
As long as it doesn't come excessively at our expense, I'd be happy to see Frank Robinson get some payback for having to endure the cynical dismantling of the Expos, their shameful forced march into nomadism and their relocation without money. (Now that they have a new owner and a new park on the way, money would certainly help.) Watching the Nats, you're reminded that hey, this is what bad teams do — not all the time, but often enough to be out of it by late July. Tony Armas was rolling along impressively and then boom! A throwing error, a bobble and a wild throw erase a lead, and then a horrid mental mistake keeps them down. If you're a Nats fan, you can moan that a couple of bad breaks doomed them, but that misses the point — bad teams take the field having buried landmines for themselves, step on them more often than not, and good teams ensure they don't crawl away. (We know — we've been those bad teams more years than I care to remember.)
Anyway, Michael Tucker officially regained the use of his given name as we were leisurely oscillating far above the city on the Wonder Wheel, and Delgado bailed out Billy Wagner as Joshua was feeding his newfound rollercoaster addiction. Then it was off to Keyspan to see the Cyclones do very little against the horrendously named Batavia Muckdogs. Afterwards, Joshua did a fine job of running the bases despite being tired to the point of hallucination, with me trotting behind him reminding myself not to stop and gaze in rapture at the Real Professional Baseball Field I was on. At home plate Joshua (who'd been forbidden multiple times from sliding) even got in a low-five with Sandy the Seagull, an exchange Emily wanted broken down with a Zapruder film level of detail. Our assessment: It was a lame, perfunctory low-five. No, Sandy the Seagull is not off the family shit list 13 months after his infuriating brush-off of our kid.
(Yeah, I know it might not even be the same person in the smelly mascot suit. Don't come around here with your logic.)
Michael Tucker, on the other hand, is most definitely in the clear.