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Time's running out for Rob Dibble

9/1/2010

Media criticism isn't one of my assignments, but I believe this qualifies as a straight news item, considering the subject's professional history:

    In the wake of controversial comments Rob Dibble made about Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals announced today Dibble will no longer broadcast their games. The separation will be permanent. The Nationals offered no further comment on the matter.

    --snip--

    Dibble, who became MASN's analyst at the beginning of last season, has not broadcast a Nationals since Sept. 25. At the time, Nationals President Stan Kasten told the Post that Dibble volunteered to take a leave.

    "Rob asked for some time off," Kasten said at the time. "Perhaps he's not feeling well. But I'm not a doctor, nor have I seen his records. So I shouldn't say anything more about it."

    Kasten's comment referenced the comments Dibble made about Strasburg on his Sirius XM radio show when, in the days between Strasburg's elbow injury and the revelation he would need Tommy John surgery, Dibble questioned Strasburg leaving the game.

Dibble's comments? Here's just a sample (more if you RTWA):

    "I mean, excuse me. There's guys I played with that had screws holding their elbows together. Chris Sabo played two weeks on a broken ankle. I put a steel plate in my wrist so I could be back in five weeks instead of three months. So, this is your choice. You can either suck it up and be a man at 22 making $2 million a year [with] a $15 million contract, or every time you get an ache and pain you can go out of the game and say I'm gonna let down the other 24 guys right here and possibly end up forfeiting the game."

This was before Strasburg was actually diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament that's going to cost him roughly a year of his professional life.

This was after Dibble made some on-air comments that a fair number of distaff baseball fans -- and some non-distaff fans, too -- found at least moderately offensive.

This is merely rank speculation, but I'm guessing that Dibble was put on double-secret probation after the earlier transgression. All he had to do was keep his nose clean for a few more months, and he'd have been solid for 2011. Keep it clean for a few more years, and he might have enjoyed a career like Hawk Harrelson has enjoyed with the White Sox.

Maybe he will, still. Harrelson didn't become firmly established in Chicago until nearly 20 years after his playing career ended. By that standard, anyway, Dibble's still got a few years to figure things out.

You do have to wonder, though. The big guy will turn 47 this winter. You have to wonder ... If Dibble was ever going to figure out that the franchise's face of the future outranked him on the organizational depth chart, he probably would have already.