Friday, August 01, 2008

Rapidz: Was Ed Nottle in Canada long enough to learn Rush's 'Fly By Night'?

Ottawa Rapidz co-owner Rob Hall's claim that they decided to fire Ed Nottle before he went on a family leave didn't just set off the B.S. detector.

It broke the damn thing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a technician to come to your house on the Friday before a long weekend?

Anderson and Hall's damage control has revived a few local baseball nuts' worst fears about the Zipperheads, Hall and Rick Anderson. The guardians of pro baseball in this "fickle" sports town (Hall's word) have to know the media and optics inside and out.

There is patience over the club's 20-44 overall record, but not for the Zipperheads' series of stumbles. First there was the clumsily handled name change and the firing of a long-time Lynx employee right before the season. Axing a popular manager for bogus reasons adds to the uneasiness over whether we'll have pro baseball in Ottawa beyond 2009.

Firing Nottle wasn't about wins and losses. It's about a couple control freaks who have shown they don't get it with a running a baseball team. Of course, they would probably say we don't get it.

Hall claimed the owners had "already decided before Nottle took his leave that he didn't figure in next season's plans and they wouldn't wait to replace him," claiming that "it's strictly wins and losses at this point." Baloney. Oh, only now have Anderson/Hall got in touch with into their inner Jerry Jones, when the Rapidz were roughly one-third of the way through the second half of the schedule where they must finish first to make the playoffs?

Talking to fellow fans over the past 48 hours, who in turn have been talking with their acquaintances all boils down to one prevailing sentiment. People not only disagree with firing Nottle, but they feel it's dishonest, opportunistic -- the kind of stuff you can get away with in business, in politics, but not in sports. People are funny that way. Thing is, if they don't buy tickets, there's no team.

Anderson/Hall's "wins and losses" justification doesn't hold water. Most fans at an indie-league game are there to eat, soak up the ballpark atmosphere and see a well-played game. No one gets too bent out of shape over the home team losing.

Do it when everyone's tied for first ...

An ownership which is so worried about winning should have made the change at the end of the first half, when each team's record was reset to 0-0.

The way it works in the Can-Am League is that the winner of each half makes the playoffs. Two more teams get in by virtue of their overall record. The Rapidz gave up so much ground in the first half (they were eight games behind the seventh-place team in an eight-team league), they would have to win the second. If they needed to get Nottle out of the dugout so badly -- even though the owners admit the players had no beefs with him -- they should have done it then.

Nottle, the team's best ambassador (jealous much?), could have stayed on in an advisory capacity. That would have afforded him a dignified exit at the end of the season. The Singing Manager was owed that much, considering that by force of Nottle's personality, the Rapidz got coverage from major media outlets that wouldn't have cared about the team otherwise. Instead, he was discarded like an old newspaper, because he was hired by Miles Wolff and might happen to have prior knowledge about how a baseball team should operate.

Nottle could have stayed on, worked the phones to try to recruit players, visited with fans in the stands during the games, sat in for a couple innings on the Internet broadcast, promoted the team around town -- point being, you do anything to keep a true baseball character like him around. (This is a man who, even though he's been fired, still plans on coming back on Sept. 7 for a benefit at Liam Maguire's, bar-restaurant near the ballpark, he's helped organize on behalf of a terminally ill child. Could you believe his ex-bosses don't want him to come back? Talk about no good deed going unpunished.)

You don't develop a man-crush on the interim manager on the basis of a five-game win streak.

The point is that in any city, any town, people buy tickets somewhat out of sentiment and do so with the expectation that team is committed to the city and the paying public (leaving aside whether the city is committed to it).

Firing Nottle is completely lacking in sentiment. It gives the appearance of a fly-by-night operation, which is something you can't have in a market that's been scorched by so many sports teams that have come (and gone) before.

It looks really bad. Anderson and Hall, with their backgrounds in business and politics, ought to know appearances can often be more damaging than how things actually are.

On Sept. 2, when the season ends, the bottom line will show:
  • They didn't produce a playoff team;
  • They gave the outward appearance of treating the team like a toy;
  • They fired the Rapidz' best "ambassador";
  • They alienated their base;
  • They needlessly pissed-off potential customers;
  • They demonstrated, very publicly, that they have little sound judgment.
Well-done, gentlemen. Enjoy the long weekend.

(Incidentally, if you want to take this up with Rapidz, the contact on their website is

'No good time' to dump Nottle; Owner defends firing manager while he's out of town, caring for ailing wife (Shane Ross, Sun Media)
High praise follows Nottle low note; Timing sours Rapidz managerial move (Chris Yzerman, Ottawa Citizen)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


Anonymous said...

And how about this howler?

"I spoke with a lot of baseball people, people I trust, and we felt this was something we had to do."

Which "baseball people" is he referring to we wonder? Give us a little credit please. You guys decided you could win with someone else so you dumped Nottle. At least have the sac to come out and admit it.

And when the team doesn't make the post-season, or improve it's winning percentage - what "new direction" did you take the team in?

What a pathetic joke this has become.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't too impressed with the name change, and the Nottle firing seemed like something Monty Burns would do. That being said, I still have a good level of baseball in my backyard. And for me, that's the bottom line.

I've been to four games so far, and I've enjoyed every one. Better calibre of ball than I expected, best sports-venue hot dogs in the region, and I love the photos of Ottawa baseball history they've put up on the concourse.

The Zip guys are learning on the job. They've made some mistakes, but I love going to that park too much to give up on them yet.


sager said...

Well, this is Management 101 stuff they're messing up. Also, without Nottle, they are no "baseball people" in the organization outside of the on-field personnel.

That said, yes, the hot dogs are awesome.

sager said...

A couple of letters to the editor in one Ottawa paper today ... both pro-Ed.

Von Allan said...

My wife and I are pretty sickened by this, too. Very poorly handled.

What I've never understood with sports is this: why do owners (and other execs) treat people in a way they, themselves, would not like to be treated? The callousness is pretty numbing. It certainly doesn't give us much of a desire to go to the ballpark.

sager said...

Good question, Von ... it must be the old absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely ... Anderson and Hall like to surround themselves with yes-people who tell things that they want to hear.

Bottom line, they're giving the impression of a couple spoiled kids with a shiny new toy.

Anonymous said...

I think the firing of The Bottle(Ed's nickname throughout baseball) was too late and if you are an insider with the team then you would know that Bottle was the seventh or eighth choice for manager. The team was thrown together in three weeks and the win loss record shows that. Bottle was a dictator that would not stop polluting his players lungs with toxic fumes on a daily basis and even on the road bus. The smoking police were notified and Bottle was given a choice. It sounds like some of Bottles Alcoholic friends from Liam's are upset to loose their drinking buddy. I've got news for all of you pro Bottle people. The guy was a self proclaimed alcoholic that only cared about how much attention he could get. But no one cared about him in Ottawa just like every other place he has ever coached. Bottle has one of the worst reputations in the "Bush leagues" as he calls them. He is only negative and a proven looser. His wife probably has cancer from all of his second hand smoke and just the basic stress of living with a control freak. Baseball was a Bottle had left in life and all he cared about but not for any positive reasons. His reasons for loving baseball were and are purely selfish because the only reason he is involved is to control people and feel as though his life and opinions matter which they clearly do not. This was Bottle's last job in baseball and no one else wants anything to do with him. He has burned every bridge he has ever crossed and now even a bridge to Canada. He insulted Canadian beer on a regular basis because he said it was too expensive. I think it was because he could'nt handle the punch compared to his watered down American crap beer. Just another reason why Bottle is a looser. I personally hope he lives the rest of his days a sorry old man who blew every chance in life he was ever given. If he did'nt loose his mortgage trying to finance his singing career maybe he would have a house to live in but now I think he may be checking into the cheapest old folks home the U.S. has to offer. I hope his liver shrivles up and fails. I hate the Bottle!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was at a game and I sat behind the dugout because I wanted to be as close to the Rapidz players as possible. Unfortunatley for my family all we could smell was smoke and it was coming from the dugout. We later learned that the Coach was smoking in the dugout. We were so shocked and appauled that we left the ballpark and for the first time since the firing of the Coach, I brought my family back to the stadium and we did'nt smell a thing. I am happy to hear that this law breaking American bafoon is out of Ottawa. Maybe this type of behavior is acceptable in America but in Canada we have laws to protect our people from this kind of abuse. I also saw Mr. Nottle staggering around and I heard him slurring his words to the players. No wonder we lost so many games this season. I hope next year we will see more Canadian players and a Coach that sets a good example for my children. Shame on you Mr. Nottle, Shame on you!!! And his language was very offensive too.

sager said...

You want to insult and defame someone on this site, at least have the couth to put your name to it, sir or madam.

Anonymous said...

I would never leave my name because I don't want you to know which player I am. You can know that I along with many of the Rapidz team feel that the best thing that has happened all year is Ed the Bottle Nottle being canned like the piece of garbage he is. All he ever did is smoke, drink and bull**** people. He's the kind of guy you would buy a used car from. Then when you leave the lot you realize it's a lemon. That's what Nottle is. A lemon! Looks good until you see the truth. And the truth of Nottle is that the best description of his character is BOTTLE! and smoke which happens to be one of the many reasons Nottle was Released. Why don't you post you're name Madam.

Anonymous said...

Hey sager, You must be a regular at Liam's to like the Bottle. Have another one! If there are no baseball people left in the organization what do you call Kus. He was in AAA with Oakland and on the Canadian Nat. Team countless times. Don't say things just to sound like you know ball cause you don't know anything of the sort.

sager said...

To the first guy: I find it hard to believe that a pro baseball player who has the confidence to stand in against a 90-mph fastball is too scared to leave his name.

My e-mail address is neatesager AT If you're a player and a person of character like you say you are, send me a message there and you'll have my word that it goes no farther. I won't hold my breath, sir.

To the second coward: If you knew how to read a blog, you'll notice that one of the commenters made the reference to "which baseball people?"

Mike Kusiewicz had an exceptional playing career and I hope he does make a fine pitching coach or manager at some level of baseball. That said, he's just getting started on the front-office side of the game. I would hold off on comparing him to some of the best managers in indie ball.

Oh, and I wouldn't even know where Liam's was it wasn't right by the ballpark that I haven't visited much lately.

Anonymous said...

It just shows how narrow minded you are to assume that I ever have to stand in against 90mph fastballs because I never have and never will. I am a pitcher! If you think Nottle is one of the best coaches in Indie ball you are on drugs. Or maybe the booze just like Bottle. Why do you need to know who I am? To accept my points as valid? Just judge me by my accuracy. You will never know who I am because I will never tell you or anyone else because I do not have to. I am a person who thinks that what you are saying about Nottle is false. He was not a good manager and is not a good person. I know this because I played for him and saw his loosing ways. Then I did some research asking players that played under him in other places that were on the Rapidz this season. They said the same things regarding his alcoholism and smoking habits. He is a big baby and if he does'nt get his way he quits and thinks he is bigger than the team that hired him. The only problem is that he is running out of places to coach and that is a fact. He is a known wash up in Indy ball not one of the "best" as you say. Nottle ruined the season for the Rapidz because of his coaching decisions and especially because of the way he abuses pitchers arms and at the same time does not use the right pitchers in the right situations. Kus would make a better coach in the Rapidz situation because he is from Ottawa and he already recruits the players and knows a lot of guys so when they get released he can have them come to Ottawa and be able to promise things. Nottle was a dictator and only did things one way. His way. And his way got him fired like it should have a lot sooner. That's a fact!!!!

sager said...

If you're a Rapidz pitcher, past or current, all the luck to you. With your attitude and impulse to be quick to blame others, you're sure to a go a long way in baseball.

Your opinion means nothing unless you're willing to stand behind it.

This was not about Nottle. It was about how poorly the owners, including the one no longer here, handled firing him, and then half-ass justified it to the same fans who pay your salary, assuming you are who you say you are.

(Oh, and with the stress that throwing a baseball puts on an elbow and shoulder, I believe pitchers are even braver than hitters -- even the ones who are too chickenshit to say who they are after they've talked a lot of smack about people.)

Anonymous said...

Fuck you buddy your site is gay just like you! The Rapidz are'nt a team any more and Ottawa does'nt have any baseball any more. So fuck you and your site bitch! Have fun sitting in the parking lot formerly known as jetform park. P.S. I predicted the team would fold and everyone just shunned me well, now whose laughing. Fuckin bitches!

Anonymous said...

You are right...The Rapidz are no longer a team...But the Ottawa Rapids are... Now who's laughing???