To say you didn't see Rob Dibble coming is to say Danny Snyder has never ever interfered. Someone had dubious intentions of selling controversy when hiring Dibble as the "color voice" of the Washington Nationals for MASN. I can’t think of too many ways to describe the guy. He’s like an alternative Poochie from The Simpsons, and excuse me if that much too easy comparison has been made before.
When the former "Nasty Boy" was hired to replace Don Sutton in early 2009, the DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg wrote:
Rob Dibble might not have Don Sutton's hair, but he has like 15 billion tattoos and a history of being provocative, so I'm all for it.
And polarizing, provocative characters are what feed a blogger's delight. (I should know.) The Bog's fan approval poll on Dibble's hiring was pretty split: 39 percent approved, 40 percent disapproved and 20 percent had no idea.
It wasn't long before more bloggers feasted on the perceived inept tendencies of Dibble ... and he wasn't making friends either. By June 2009, Dibble was getting into Twitter fights with ESPN's Rob Neyer. In August, Dibble was blocking the famed Miss Chatter on Twitter. And in September, Kevin Reiss wrote on Past A Diving Vidro:
Dibble is a real-life Kenny Powers, viewing every baseball interaction through the tiny pinhole of his years as a late-innings reliever with a fastball in the high 90s and a penchant for throwing at people. What do the viewers get? Meaningless cliches like "Let them beat you with your best stuff," endless whining about hitters standing too close to the plate, and suggestions that the pitcher's best move might just be to throw at the batter.
Time passed, and Dibble was what Dibble does. Chris Needham (full disclosure: he contributes to SB Nation DC) put forth this FJM-worthy "Fire Rob Dibble" piece on Capitol Punishment in April 2010. In May, Dibble drew ire from Mr. Irrelevant for his "propensity for vehemently disagreeing with borderline calls only to be disproved by his own telecast’s Pitch Track strike zone thing-y." In late June, Dibble was in a classic, blog-worthy sparing session with MASN colleague Ray Knight. More recently, he was found to be mocking Twitter ... did I mention that Dibs is also on Twitter? (@rdibs49). Great.
Steven of Fire Jim Bowden e-mails:
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Rob Dibble as the Nationals' color commentator. I watch a lot of out of town games on MLB.tv, and personally I would rate Dibble in the bottom tier of commentators across baseball. I don't actually mind that he's such a homer, which is the most common critique I hear. But I find him arrogant and dismissive of people he disagrees with. And I find his "old school" schtick predictable and boring. (For the record, Rex Hudler and Mark Grace are two of my other least-favorites, and Mike Krukow and Steve Stone are probably the two I like best, off the top of my head.)
Even Dibble's tattoos get attention. There is, of course, the name and number of Ichiro Suzuki in Japanese tattooed on his rear. Classy. And not long after the Washington City Paper's Dave McKenna took Dibble to task for covering up his forearm tattoos, Dibs unsheathed his ink for all to see, which is the picture you see above.
There is a certain charm about Rob Dibble, but his stand-off-ish nature overshadows the good qualities of his style. Sure, he may spout out the same passion as a fan, ironically keeping Dibble more in touch ... sort of like a blogger. But there should be a balance of genuine likability, where Dibble seems to fall short.
Admittedly I don't pay much attention to him. The times I do, all I can think of is a tired, slow bull filled with swords and just waiting to die at the hands of the matador. The bull, if it could talk while dying, wouldn't always sound like it knows what its talking about, delirious with the blood loss, and would likely be oozing fecal matter from both ends. Either that, or the scene in Old School when Frank Ricard took cat tranquilizer to the jugular. Hence, Nats games usually ride on mute in my household.
These are my brief impressions of Dribble, fair or not. He certainly seems insightful when it comes to the pitching genre. He's been there, done that ... seems like it'd be easy. But the rest leaves a lot to be desired. And it makes some flat-out angry ... or at least cringe at a quote of Dibble when he was hired:
"I'd like to be here for 10 to 15 years and ride off into the sunset. I don't plan on having another job after this."
So how do you feel? When he was hired, two-fifths disapproved. And don't let my comparing of Dibble to Poochie, Frank the Tank and a dying bull sway your opinion or anything.