The Washington Nationals don’t really get a lot of attention for their baseball play. So scandals involving general manager Jim Bowden are pretty much the only time the Nationals get into the baseball spotlight. It’s hard to say whether investigations into Jim Bowden are providing worse exposure for the Nationals than their baseball play, and their status in Washington. But now Jim Bowden is taking himself out of the running, as he resigned as Nationals general manager this morning.
Jim Bowden is currently under investigation, as part of an FBI look into the skimming of signing bonuses for Dominican Republic players. Additional scandal has come from a Dominican Republic prospect who signed with the Nationals, but turned out to lie about both his name and his age.
Bowden had already fired his longtime assistant, Jose Rijo, who is also under investigation. Rijo ran the Nationals’ business in the Dominican Republic, and helped the team sign the now-discredited prospect.
Bowden was interviewed last year by the feds on the issue of skimming bonuses. Reports are that Bowden’s actions as far back as 1994, when he was general manager for the Reds, are being looked at.
Bowden helped run the Reds back when they were a consistently winning team, and when he was the youngest general manager in the game. However, Bowden never had the same luck with the Nationals. Bowden has been the club’s only general manager, at least since they moved from Montreal and rechristened themselves as the Washington Nationals.
Bowden started as the interim vice president and GM in 2004, then was made permanent in 2006 and became senior vice president in 2008.
In their four seasons in Washington, the Nationals haven’t made much of a dent under Bowden. The team finished with the worst record in baseball last season, and had the misfortune of being the losing team in each of the Philadelphia Phillies’ last two division-clinching wins. A new stadium hasn’t done much to improve attendance, as baseball in Washington is still far behind football, and even hockey at this point.
Bowden’s scandals were a distraction that, nonetheless, overshadowed the runup to another season likely to finish in last place. The Nationals are usually the odd team out in the ultra-competitive NL East.
The end of Bowden’s tenure is yet another black mark on of the most unlucky franchises in baseball history. Ever since the strike of 1994, the former Montreal Expos had to sell off some very famous players, leading to diminished quality and record-low attendance, which caused them to move to Washington in the first place. The franchise’s fortunes haven’t changed much since.
No successor or interim replacement has been named for Bowden.
Associated Press- “National general manager Jim Bowden resigning” www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jNLuk5-NYJprYeaeD2xgJsixYIxgD96LB1T80
Washington Post- “Bowden Resigns as General Manager of Nationals” www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/01/AR2009030100660.html
Washington Times- “Nats sources say GM’s job in jeopardy” www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/27/the-final-countdown-for-bowden/