When Manny Acta rolls out of bed this morning and stares at the Successories poster he tacked to the hotel wall last night, it could be the last time he does it as manager of the Washington Nationals.
His team dropped three straight to the Rays. His team is now 16-45. His team is on pace for a 42-120 season. His team is now 75-147 over the last two seasons. His team... isn't very good.
When the rumors of his demise were first floated over the weekend, there were two reactions.
If you're a Nats fan, it's probably "Hallelujah!"
If you're not a Nats fan (and that's most people!), it's probably "it's not Manny's fault."
Two different opinions about the same move. Yet they're both right.
It's clearly time for Manny to go. If not now, then after the coming bloodbath at the hands of the Yankees and Jays (before next Monday's off-day). His team doesn't win. He doesn't seem to motivate the players. They're certainly not afraid of him.
It's telling how few "we love playing for Manny and we hope he stays" quotes there've been from the clubhouse. Manny's a likable enough guy, and they probably enjoy playing for him, but nobody seems to love him -- at least enough to talk to the press about it.
But those who say that it's not entirely Manny's fault are partially right, too. Manny didn't sign up to have Kip Wells be a valuable reliever. Manny didn't trade for Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. Manny didn't think that Danny Cabrera was the missing piece.
Most of those errors do lay at the feet of Jim Bowden. He's primarily responsible for this mess.
But that's not to excuse this mess. Acta's shown an inability to motivate the players, who continue to make terrible decisions all around the diamond. And he's never quite figured out how to make a bullpen work when he hasn't had "his" guys. They're not good, but they're not this bad either.
If it comes today, great. If they string him along for a few more days so that the interim guy doesn't start out with a bloodbath against the AL East powers, great, too.
But it's coming soon. And it's both a good and a bad thing.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He enjoyed his vacation.