Sunday, March 8, 2009

HOF Reporter Hal McCoy on Bowden

Pretty soon the Jim post-mortems will end, but this morning I spotted this from Hall of Fame Dayton Daily News reporter Hal McCoy, who was probably the top reporter covering the Red during Jim's time there. McCoy, like so many, pulled few if any punches:
Hal: Bowden always had trouble with the truth
By Hal McCoy
Staff Writer
Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pokey Reese said it: "You know Jim Bowden is lying when his lips are moving."

Asked if he really wanted to be quoted on that, the former Cincinnati Reds infielder said, "Yes, because it's the truth."

He was quoted, and shortly thereafter he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

One year during the all-star break, Bowden — then the Reds general manager — addressed the team at a meeting and told players not to talk to me. The meeting wasn't over two minutes before five players rushed out to tell me what Bowden said.

I confronted Bowden in the media dining room and he denied saying it. I told him, "Five players couldn't wait to tell me you said it. Am I to believe you or five of your players?"

Said Bowden, without hesitation, "Me."

That's why it is difficult for me to believe Bowden, who last week professed his innocence after being linked to a federal investigation looking into skimmed bonus money from young Latin players.

It appears that Bowden fears something or he wouldn't have resigned. Ever. He loves being a baseball general manager too much to just walk away from the Washington Nationals job without a fight.

Bowden said he resigned not because he is guilty of anything, but because he became a "distraction." That never bothered him before. He always was a distraction — from the time he undercut GM Bob Quinn to get the Reds job in 1994. He was the team's minor-league director at the time, but he spent most of his time buttering his dark rye toast with owner Marge Schott by walking her St. Bernard, Schottzie, around the ballpark on a leash.

I've always called him the Teflon GM. Bad stuff ran off his back like soapy shower water. His sideshow antics were designed to focus attention on him, from the day he traded for Ken Griffey Jr. in 2000 and said, "Baseball is back in Cincinnati."

Huh? Where had it been? And it wasn't back, it went down, down, down. Bowden had hoped that obtaining the prodigal superstar would be his Cincinnati legacy, but the Reds haven't had a winning season since 2000.

At a point when Bowden was the youngest GM in baseball, he and pitcher Tom Browning were embroiled in a controversy and Browning sneeringly called him, "Boy Wonder," a name that stuck — and it wasn't complimentary.

There was the time at the winter meetings in Boston that Bowden, wearing a pair of leather pants, walked into the suite of the Los Angeles Dodgers to talk trade. But when former manager Tommy Lasorda wasn't there, even though Lasorda was a figurehead at the time, Bowden said, "I don't talk to anybody on the Dodgers if Tommy Lasorda isn't in the room," and walked out. Embarrassing.

The first time the Reds went to Dallas for an interleague game against the Texas Rangers, Bowden bought cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat, then wore the garb to the first game. He was laughed at so much he never came out of the clubhouse during the game. Embarrassing.

Many GMs simply wouldn't deal with him because they didn't trust him and there were a couple of teams with which Bowden had to have assistants call in order to talk trades.

One GM, hearing what Reese said about Bowden's lips moving, smiled the other day and said, "That's the honest truth, something Bowden never knew about."


Positively Half St. said...

Good stuff. No matter what anyone might say about whether it was fair to get rid of Bowden, I think articles like this are independent reminders of how he was holding the team back. I wonder how long Stan's loss of his mom set back the GM search.

Jennifer said...

This is the most awesome article ever. Leather pants? A ten-gallon hat? The man must have some kind of psychological disorder. I continue to be baffled as to how he got TWO interviews with the Red Sox in 2005. Going from Theo Epstein to that? Oy gevalt.