I wanted to save this post subject until June when the fourth anniversary of it comes around. But, the Nationals are off to an awful start and I'm thinking reminiscing about one of the true highlights in Nationals history may help change the mojo.
On Monday, June 13, 2005, the Washington Nationals rolled into Anaheim for a three game series with the Angels. And, I do mean the Nationals rolled in to Angels Stadium. The Nats had a ten game winning streak going and had won 13 of 15. The Angels walloped the Nats in the first game of the series, 11-1. But, the Nats returned to their winning ways the following night in a game where manager Frank Robinson showed he was afraid of nothing.
The Nationals were down 3-1 in the top of the 7th when Angels manager Mike Scioscia called in pitcher Brendan Donnelly from the bullpen. Before Donnelly ever fired off his first pitch, Nationals manager Frank Robinson asked the umpires to check Donnelly's glove for a foreign substance. The umpires ejected Donnelly after finding pine tar on the heel of Donnelly's glove.
Immediately after the ejection, Angels manager Mike Scioscia began jawing at Robinson and a fierce arguement ensued with Robinson being restrained several times by the umpires. Robinson was quoted in USA Today as saying:
He took me by surprise when he came over to me and I took it as a threat. He told me that he was going to have every one of my pitchers undressed when they came out there to the mound — no matter who it was.
If you've ever seen a replay of the incident, you can plainly see Scioscia didn't want to tangle with the then 69 year old Robinson. But, Scioscia was talking a big game while the umpires were between him and Robinson. Robinson went on to say:
I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight — as a person and as a manager. And there's nothing he can say to me now, nothing. I don't even want him to approach me, I don't even want him to apologize to me. I would not accept it or have anything to do with it.
If you're wondering how all this started, it wasn't because Frank Robinson was a mind reader. Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen had played for the Angels in 2004. As that season wound down, Guillen was suspended by the Angels for the remainder of the season, thus leading to his departure from Anaheim. After the Nationals-Angels game, it was widely assumed Guillen tipped Robinson off to the pine tar in Donnelly's glove. During the melee that followed Donnelly's ejection, Guillen had to be restrained and forcibly taken back to the Nationals dugout. But after the resumption of play, Guillen hit a two run homer to tie the game. The Nationals went on to score three more runs before the game was over en route to a 6-3 victory.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find video of the incident anywhere on the internet because I would have loved to email it to Manny Acta as a reminder that a manager needs to show a little fire now and then.