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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Consoling?

Some very gracious words from Scott Boras reported in the Nationals Journal:

"I think the Nationals did everything they could do both with their economic commitment, the time and effort that was made in every attempt to bring Mark to Washington," Boras said. "From the ownership level to the baseball level, it was a very concerted and professional approach they took to Mark, he was very impressed with what Washington did. I think the major consideration in the end was that he felt in his career he really needed to be working for a club that would be giving him an opportunity to win now."

It doesn't make me feel better. I'd much rather he said, "They're miserable, rotten s.o.b's but Teix liked them so he signed there."

Well, at least they got involved. Maybe they will improve enough to get the next Teix, though I have no idea right now who that might be. Anyone?

Question No. 2: If they do sign Dunn and Hudson, is that good enough to make you feel better about this miss? How about one or the other? If you can only have one, which one? Does Fuentes interest you at all?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Time to take a break from my bitterness and wish all my friends, my family, heck, everybody in the whole wide world a very happy holiday season.
Except the Yankees. I hope their holidays are miserable.
Not that I'm still bitter or anything.

Happy Holidays - and may 2009 be your best year yet. I plan for it to be mine in many ways. Not losing 100 games again would go a long way toward that. Thanks to all who take time out of their days to check this feeble little blog. Your readership is much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Insert your favorite curse word here

Up until 30 minutes ago, this had been a decent enough day. Then one of my colleagues called to check on my well being. I told him I was OK, my hopes had been up and I believed but I wished no ill will on Teix or the Red Sox. We'll get the next big 'un.

Uh, dude? You near any sharp objects?

I wasn't sure what he meant. Then he told me: THE YANKEES.

I do not know enough curse words to properly express my feelings. Start with F and go from there. I love the Yankees' city. I HATE THE YANKEES.

My office has three full-timers. We don't agree on much. We have a Braves fan, we have an Indians fan, we have this poor, downtrodden Nats fan. We all agree we hate the Yankees. Excessively. With a passion. 0-162 is not good enough. They have to do worse.

I think FireJimBowden wrote earlier that the predictable response would be "eh, who needed him anyway?" or something like that. I won't take that route. The Nationals needed him, I badly wanted it to happen and I'm disappointed it didn't. Had he gone anywhere else, I would have shrugged and tried to move on.

This one? The bitterness is boiling over and may cause my head to explode.

The Yankees? Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Oh, and the consolation prizes of Corey Patterson and Jorge Sosa don't really brighten the mood. Nook Logan II and I can't even think of the guy's name who pitched for about half a season and then got hurt and never resurfaced. Anywhere. I did see Sosa pitch once in Atlanta during his one strong season and left there thinking he was the next big thing. Didn't he get his drugs taken away?

Me, unplugged

Just got back early this a.m. from a wonderful "lightning trip" to New York with my lovely wife and beautiful daughter. We saw In the Heights and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. We shopped, we ate well, we walked all over the place, we froze our asses off. We had a blast.
I basically stayed unplugged. Logged on for about 10 minutes to check some e-mail. Hoped like heck when we returned that the Teix saga would be settled.
I really, really want him to be a Nat. I also really, really just want to know. Sign with Washington. Sign somewhere. Like now. We elected a new President in less time than this is taking.
I found out about the Angels on the scrolling neon thing in Times Square near 42nd. I paused for a few seconds, hoping the next line would say "and signs with Nats."
It did not.
So the waiting continues. The Nats' three additions (Olsen, Willingham, Cabrera) and upgraded deal for Willie "No Relation To Me" Harris are the start of a better offseason than last year. Would Teix be the bow or what?

Saturday, I will make the most important post ever. Has nothing to do with baseball or anything mundane. I will post my wife's Christmas present.

UPDATE, sent by our best former blogging friend: This appears to take care of the quickly part, though I don't much like the rest of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not the signing we've been hoping to see

though I'm willing to give it a chance.
Nats.com says Daniel Cabrera is a Nat.
This is the guy who throws it about 4,394 miles per hour but not usually in the strike zone? A plus-5 ERA doesn't make my heart go pitter-pat.
Maybe Randy St. Claire will find the magic touch and turn him into a star.

Meanwhile, I head up to NY tomorrow - weather and JetBlue willing - and I will spend some time scoping out what the Yankees are thinking about the next big Nats signing.
Teix, come on down.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If This is True

enjoy Boston, Mr. Teixeira.
From the latest Nationals Journal:

Sox Closing In On Teixeira?
Reports out of Boston right now indicate that the Red Sox are trying to put all the Teixeira negotiations to rest, perhaps wrapping up a deal by tonight or Friday morning.

According to WCVB-TV in Boston, the Red Sox top management -- including owner John Henry and General Manager Theo Epstein -- has traveled to Texas to meet with Boras in an attempt to work out a deal. According to the television station, the Red Sox were ready to offer an eight-year, $184-million contract.



8/184 is too high, at least in my feeble mind. I did want the Nats to go 8/180, which is probably too high as well.
You have to draw a line somewhere. For me, the line is 180.
I'll root for the Rays harder next year than I did this year, not that I'm bitter or anything.

Dunn? Hudson? What else can the Nats get for 180? A pitcher, too?

Monday, December 15, 2008

In Search Of

Ho Ho Ho. Happy Holidays. I'm shopping for my own Christmas gift here.

I have a copy of the poster The Post put out of the stadium packed on Opening Night, the first pitch one. That is being framed as one of my gifts.
My son wants to buy me a poster of Zimmerman about to leap on the plate and get pounded after hitting the game winner that same night. Nice gesture of him, considering he's a Braves fan and I called him right away and yelled, "HEY, HOW DID IT LOOK IN HD? BECAUSE IT LOOKED GREAT IN PERSON!!"

He says he's looked on Nationals.com, eBay, some posters site, the Post's site, all to no avail. Anyone know where he can get one? Or I can get one, from him?

Remind me after Christmas to post a picture of my wife's present from me. It's pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Next year, I'll get a poster of Teixeira hitting his first HR in a Curly W.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It is a good thing

*that I don't blog about the Redskins
*that I don't really care about the Redskins
*that there are no sharp objects in reach
*did I say I don't really care about the Redskins?

If Teixeira does sign, can the Nats loan him out to the Redskins in the offseason? The Redskins (not that I care, not a lick) could use somebody who has some "clutch" in them, somebody who needs to wear a jockstrap while playing sports.

It is indeed a good thing I don't care about the Redskins. Not one bit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shocker - the Angels weigh in

Check out Nationals Journal in the cool links to the right. It appears the Angels have made an offer to Mr. Teixeira that is similar to the Nats' offer.
I hear the noise about not wanting to get into a bidding war. I stick to my original thought - do the 8/180 and, if that's not enough, so be it. You're reaching high now. Reach just a bit higher. I truly think 8/180 may get it done and 8/160 will not.
If he does go back to the Angels, I will deal with it better than I will if he goes to the Red Sox, Yankees or Orioles. That doesn't mean I will deal with it very well.
I do not want my ashes spread so Adam Dunn can paw them into the dirt.

Is it just me, or is it awfully quiet on the Orlando Hudson front? Isn't he a pretty good player? If Teix goes elsewhere, can the same 160/180 buy Hudson, Dunn and Fuentes?

As for the tender/non-tender stuff, I'm fine with all the moves. For some unexplainable reason, I still have faith in Shawn Hill. Maybe that's because I saw him one night when he was nigh on unhittable. Of course, Ramon Ortiz was, too, one time and I don't want him back.

Redding? Thanks for the efforts but I agree he's not worth the money they'd have to pay. I'm glad to see Willie in the fold, you can never have too many guys named Harris on your team. And I hope they open it big for Zimmerman. Nail down Teix and Zim as the corners for a long time. Please.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ho-leeeeee (you know)

If this report on Nationals.com is true, I suppose we can take the Nats at their word that they are serious about this.

So let's get even more serious. What the hell, you're going that deep. Take the same money and make it for 10 years. That's right, throw 10 years and 225 million at him.

My son asked me last night if I'd get him a Teix jersey if he signed. A jersey? How 'bout three: Home, Road, Alternate. For me, too.

UPDATE: Now the actual report says 8/160, while the headline says 8/180. Which is it? I like 8/180 a hell of a lot better. 8/180 may actually get it done.

UPDATE AGAIN: Now the subhead says $160, too. A fine offer. I like 180 better. Not sure 160 will get it done. Splurge. Go the 180.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Making me a mumbling fool - and there IS an offer

Here is something on the alleged offer. I'd like to see it higher (years, therefore the money). Ten years and I think he'll sign.



Can it really happen? Can it?
Read down in here, the Nationals will make the high offer - am I reading that right? My eyes get blurry, I lose focus when I think too much about the Teixeira thing.

Lord-a-mighty.

I told my main man Mike Ogunwumi when he took my renewal order to go ahead and add 100 extra per ticket to the credit card charge if the Nats pull this off.

I'm going to be a basket case. Very soon.

Can it really happen?

Call me a foolish December optimist but if it does happen, well, naw, let's wait. I refuse to let my hopes get too high. When it does happen?

Ashes on first base. I'm locking up and checking out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Untouchables

No, I'm not talking about the late, great television show (and pretty good movie).
It's Winter Meetings time! All reports I'm reading say our man JimBow is ready to go out to Vegas and wheel and deal and put the Nats in the winner's circle.
It got me to thinking: Who is an untouchable? After some Thanksgiving conversation with my brother and brother-in-law, I've come to a conclusion:
Nobody. That's right. Nobody.

Now it would positively kill me to see Ryan Zimmerman go somewhere else. A solid citizen and quality player, the perfect face-of-the-franchise guy (though I'm willing to photoshop in someone else and make it faces of the franchise when Teixeira signs).

I would be pained beyond belief to see Jesus Flores go. Flores is JimBow's greatest contribution to the Nats, even if it was just a happy accident.

But if those moves have to be made to speed up the process of making this team good, make them. Do what it takes. When you lose 102 games, shake it up. The changes that should have been made haven't been made and apparently won't be made. And I will repeat: I truly hope the answer doesn't involve a trade of either of those two. I'm just to the point where I'm willing to swallow hard, take a deep breath and deal with it if such a move truly makes a difference.

Unrelated, I'm about to plunk down for my 2009 partial plan. They're offering the 300 section where I really like to sit for a pretty reasonable price, so it looks like 21-game Plan D has my name on it. My wife is still holding out for club seats. I may yet decide to just pick and choose my games this season - I had zero problem getting tickets for any non-plan game I wanted to attend last season. We'll see. Depends a lot on my mood about 2 p.m. (I have to pay by 3 to get the seats being held).

Also, I'm fully on board with anything that gets Frank Howard in a Washington uniform again. I wonder if he can still play first base? Just in case the Teixeira thing doesn't work out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Did Teixeira sign with the Nats yet?

Someone throw something at me when he does. I want to get in a nano-second of celebration before the ticker locks up and I go to the great Nationals Park in the sky.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Still My Heart

Old age sucks, which I'm learning in a painful way this week as I undergo some typical old guy tests. No fun.
I assume my heart remains strong, at least based on recent stress tests.
We're going to find out soon enough.
This whole Tex thing is putting a strain on my ticker. IF the Nats do somehow end up with Mark Teixeira, my heart may just explode. At least I will die a happy man. I have asked my family to take my ashes to Nationals Park and spread them in the approximate area where the first baseman stands on defense. That way when Tex moves the dirt with his cleats, he'll be digging me into the infield.

That said, I have no real faith it will happen even though certain outlets are trying to jam it straight down our throats. Nationals.com couldn't be making more out of this story if it tried, quoting "sources" as saying ol' Tex is indeed interested in playing in Washington. I'd be more confident if I heard it from, say, Teixeira himself or at least Boras.

I'm encouraged that the Nats do appear serious about at least getting in the game. I hope they throw out something ridiculous, like $200 mil over 10 years. Dig deep. This one is worth it. So says the Wall Street Journal. And me. Add $100 to my season tickets. Seriously. I'll pay part of the freight. Well, my estate will.

My son heard on the radio that Teixeira is in attendance at the Miami-Georgia Tech football game tonight. No word on whether he's wearing a Curly W anywhere.

Oh, I'll take Orlando Hudson, too. Nationals.com sez believe that, too!

Can you imagine this lineup?

Hudson, 2b
Guzman, ss
Zimmerman, 3b
Teixeira, 1b (damn near died just typing that)
Dukes, RF
Willingham, LF
Milledge, CF
Flores, C
Olsen/Lannan/Free Agent/Redding/Someone else, P


Lord.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Let the trading begin - new faces coming to town!

Some early word on a trade: Bonifacio and two alleged prospects to the Marlins for Scott Olsen, a lefty pitcher of some repute (good and bad), and outfielder Josh Willingham.

I've been out of the newspaper business for almost a year now but I still know some folks in D.C. and in Florida.

The prospects are P.J. Dean, a right-handed pitcher, and teen-age shortstop Jake Smolinski. Dean is 20 and was 4-1 in 10 starts in the Gulf Coast League. Smolinski hit .306, playing in the New York-Penn League.

Seems a fair price. Losing Bonifacio kind of clears up that middle infield glut, eh?

Have not checked Post, Nationals.com or anywhere else to see if it is up. Not terribly familiar with the principals leaving the Nats save for Bonifacio and it doesn't break my heart to see him go.

ANOTHER update: Just looked up some numbers. Can Willingham play first? If so, I like this. Olsen's numbers don't dazzle me. Didn't he have some legal issue at some point?

I'm full of updates - ESPN has it up now and YES, Willingham can also play first. So even if Olsen is a washout, I like this.

I guess this means no Teixeira?? Color me shocked.

And again with the updates: Marlins.com has it, too, now.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Chief

First, go to the cool links on the right and read Nats320 if you haven't done so already. He has a good interview with Chad Cordero.

One of my earliest posts in the short life of this blog dealt with The Chief and how much I liked him. I still remember going to a 2-1 victory over Seattle the first season, John Patterson pitching, I believe the 9th victory in that marvelous 10-game winning streak. Chief closes it out as the place goes crazy and My Son the Braves Fan turns to me and says, "Now that's closing. That's how you get it done."

Nothing about the Nats, including The Chief, has been as good as it was that first half season. They were absolutely Rays like.

I still liked the guy and would have been happy with him as the team's closer for a long time. As 320 pointed out, he was good off the field, too, and that stuff matters. A lot. At least to some of us.

Now? With a repaired shoulder and lots of question marks, despite his optimism about pitching in the majors next year? Baseball is a business and I'm not sure bringing him back is a good idea. I'd be happy to be wrong but I think it is time to devote the energy into developing Hanrahan and Zech and moving on from there.

I hope The Chief finds great success somewhere, preferably in the American League.

And the calendar on my wall tells me we've moved into November. I'll be curious a month from now to see if the alleged braintrust makes any moves to try and improve this bunch.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The new coaches - whew!

Willie Randolph not among them. That doesn't mean he can't become the Nats next manager. There's no rule that says it has to be someone on staff. But I'm comforted that the brain trust realized it would send a very bad message to put him on the bench now. One seat away and the speculation would start with the first losing streak. Plus, he's not a very good manager.

That said, I think the next manager IS on this staff if the so-called brain trust decides Manny Acta is not the man. I'll repeat that I don't fall in with that line of thinking in any way. I'd rather judge Acta when he's playing with a full deck.

I don't know a lot about any of these new faces. As another blogger wrote yesterday - FireJimBow, I think - do coaches make that much difference? I think a very bad coach or an exceptional coach can make a difference in one direction or the other.

Most don't fall into either category. Most will have their success determined by the quality of the player they are coaching. Leo Mazzone looked like a much better pitching coach in Atlanta when he had Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz than he did in Baltimore when he had *** when he had *** I don't even know who he had. They weren't very good and the best chef can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers.

Pat Corrales, the Post said, will stay with the organization as a consultant. Consulting on what?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jeez - Real Life Intervenes again

Just read this on the Washington Post's site after following the link from Nats320.

I trust everyone joins me in wishing Jim Bowden a full and speedy recovery. Cancer has touched my life and my wife's life many times, through dear friends and family. It is evil.

Forget the whole GM thing and what I think (or anyone thinks) about the state of the Nationals here. Fortunately, I can list just as many success stories among my friends and family when it comes to fighting cancer. It can be done and I'm pulling with all my might for Jim Bowden to become one of those success stories.

As 320 said so well: Best Wishes, Jim.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dear Milwaukee

As a faithful Brewers fan, I have followed the managerial search closely and with interest. I believe without question that Willie Randolph is the man who best meets your criteria.
Pretty please hire him and soon.
Love,
BrewersFanboyLooser


OK, maybe it won't work. But we owe it to ourselves as Nats fans to make sure we do all we can to get Willie Randolph hired - somewhere else.
Willie might be a very nice guy. Those I know who know him say he is indeed. Good baseball man. Not a very good manager.
Yes, the Nationals aren't considering him as manager. Yet. I'm not a guy who is on the anti-Manny wagon. Not at all. I don't believe we've been given a fair chance to judge him based on the talent he's been given. I'm in no rush to see him go. But I pick up a strong vibe that the braintrust (such as it is) wants to have its next manager very close at hand in case it decides to make a change in 2009.
If it is Randolph, they will have gone backward.

The possibility of Don Baylor as a coach is one I like. As a future manager? I'm not terribly sure but I'd be behind that way more than I'd be behind Randolph. Hell, the Mets lost five of six to THE NATIONALS in 2007 to ruin their playoff chances.

Unrelated, check out Nats320 (cool links on the right) for some scoop on 2009 uniforms. Baseball teams have a little NASCAR in them - change the look every now and then to keep fools like me happily shelling out the cash for the latest.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One quick question

When is a key change coming, IS a key change coming? When do we see a change that says the team is taking the disaster of 2008 seriously? OK, I guess that's more than one.

A bunch of coaches, none of them in crucial roles except the hitting coach who was pretty much replaced in September anyway. Video people. The team doctor. Oooohhhh *** I can feel the difference already.

Someone posted in the comments section of the Nationals Journal a rumor about Willie Randolph as bench coach and possible replacement if a managerial change is deemed necessary next season. Ask the Mets how that one worked out.

The Rays, meanwhile, are within a game of the World Series. The Rays. The RAYS.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Paging someone smart, paging someone smart

That leaves me out.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, or just Rays or whatever, are in the playoffs. I know this is true because I turned on the TV last night and there they were, winning ANOTHER playoff game. And it said RAYS right there on their uniforms.

Imagine the uproar if this little blog existed a year ago and I wrote, "A year from now, the nation will watch with jaws on the ground as the Washington Nationals participate in baseball's playoffs."

The laughter would have been loud and long.

But here they are, the Rays. The freaking Rays. About to move one step closer to the WORLD SERIES!

How did this happen? Could anyone have seen this coming? Did all the pieces fall into place all of a sudden? Did they catch lightning in a bottle, pull a Nats of 2005 and just keep it going all year?

HOW IS TAMPA BAY IN THE PLAYOFFS?

What I'm driving at - is there any realistic reason to think this could happen to our favorite team in 2009? Should I be full of hope or just continue to be green with envy?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let's go Phi *** Phi *** Phi ***

I have a hard time typing or saying the word, especially given the tale Nats320 told in his most recent blog entry (see the links to the right). That good people should have to experience something like that is just awful and it pains me to realize what I need to do today.

Sorry, I need to pull for the Phi *** Phi *** Phil *** oh, heck, today's opposition. If Nats Farm Authority is right (and he hasn't ever not been right, so far as I know), a loss today clinches the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

Let's face it, not much good has come out of the season. The team has lost 100. That isn't going to change. Aaron Crow isn't going to suddenly up and sign. There are some pieces in place for the future but more question marks than we can count, too.

If the Nats can at least get a chance to get a kid like Stephen Strasburg into the organization, I'm all for that. Winning the Strasburg Cup is an insult, not an honor. You were worse than everyone else in the game. But there is a tangible reward, at least. It is something to give us some hope (maybe).

So let's go Phi *** Phi *** home team!

UPDATE - that's about the first thing that's gone right for me in a long, long, long time. I still caught myself cursing under my breath at every Phi *** Phi *** hit by those other guys and really cursing at those eighth-inning home runs. But I'm not complaining about this result. The difference between 101 and 102 losses isn't much when defining a bad season. It's dreadful either way. If that 102nd gets Strasburg into Washington, I'll take it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who stays, who goes?

With l00 losses in the books (and two more likely to follow), I sure hope change doesn't begin and end with the coaching staff.

I can't tell you for sure that I know what any of those guys actually do beyond the pitching coach and hitting coach. By that I mean what they do beyond the obvious. Tolman must have other responsibilities beyond standing in the box, flashing signs and sending and holding runners. Right?

St. Claire seems like the always safe guy and I keep reading he's well regarded. I assume that's justified just based on what I've read but I have no real clue. Do any of you? Has he really developed a pitcher since the Nats have been in Washington? Has he had the chance - has there been a serious pitcher to develop?

Who stays? Anyone? Is St. Claire still safe?
Who goes? I think Lenny Harris is an obvious choice.

Thoughts? Would it bother you to see a complete wipe out of the coaching staff?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

While you are reading

Since I am not providing much original content, here's something from The Sporting News to digest. Check out the third item.

I had not heard about the scout. I did hear a lot about Uncle Stan's dissatisfaction that was discussed in the Times story. I also know Gerry Fraley and know he is far from a hack. He doesn't throw stuff against a wall to see what sticks.

I am to the point where I firmly believe Stan Kasten will not return next season.

I hope I am wrong.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An update on updates

Yesterday was an interesting day. For the first time in 30 years, I sat in the stands at a college football game as a ticket-buying fan. My wife and I drove to Chapel Hill to meet our son and his roommate. We took in Virginia Tech's 20-17 victory over North Carolina. We tailgated before the game, had dinner in town afterward. A much-needed fun day.

The last time I went to a game, four tickets sure didn't cost $200.

None of which has anything to do with the Nationals, who seem intent this weekend into turning the Strasburg Cup into a two-team race. Suddenly that sweep over Seattle doesn't look as sweet as I thought when I was there to witness it.

You may have noticed (or may not) that updates have been sparse lately. They will continue to be that way for a variety of reasons that I will explain later - and of course the season only has a week left. I appreciate everyone who has been reading and the contacts I've made through this Web thing. Keep checking back.

In the meantime, if Mr. Strasburg wears a 7 5/8 hat, I have some I can send him.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Next year's schedule

If anyone is interested, is linked right here.

Funny how things work sometimes

This whole three-headed middle infielder thing got me thinking.

I knew Jon Rauch was struggling in Arizona. I didn't know how much until I went to BaseballReference this a.m.

Jeebus.

Through Monday, he'd appeared in exactly half as many games for Arizona (24) as he had for Washington. His innings total was less than half. He's given up one more home run for the D-backs and only one fewer earned run. He's walked more for them. He's 0-6 with an ERA of 6.33.

That's shake your head stuff.

Emilio Bonifacio is going about proving himself to be a AAA player to some people. At least to one (me). I suspect there's more.

I wonder if the GMs called each other and said "bygones," the trade could be undone? I'd still take Rauch back.

Meanwhile, the Mets and Nats play a version of the old college poker game pass the trash. Can you PLEASE take this guy off our hands? Sure, but only if you take THIS guy.
So Anderson Hernandez pretty much takes over at second base (and should be well ahead going into 2009). And Luis Ayala, until his most recent outing, gives the Mets some significant relief. I blame the last outing on the team, not Ayala. During the last two weeks of a season, the Mets apparently stop breathing. A Mets fan buddy of mine is in agony this morning and I am totally loving it. Not throwing any gas on the fire or anything. Naw. I wouldn't do that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

EmilAlbertson BoniGonzaldez revisited

This has been an interesting month what with dog issues, fall seasons getting started and my teaching career beginning (how scary is that?), so I'm the first to admit I haven't been paying attention as much as I did during the summer.

That will not, of course, keep me from throwing out an opinion.

If the final month of the season is indeed a time that could be consider an audition, it seems Bonifacio could become the odd man out.

I am convinced they're only going to keep two of the three-headed monster on the 25-man next season. It seems to me that Anderson Hernandez' performance merits serious consideration. Maybe he ought to be the regular second baseman. Gonzalez offers versatility as a backup middle infielder for both spots (and Harris can do that, too, assuming he's still around).

So is it back to AAA for Bonifacio? And did I actually keep the three of them straight?

Also, I just "loved" this quote in the Post's notebook done by not Chico about Flores (disappointing) and Young (shocker) probably being done for the year.

"If it happens, it happens," Young said of returning to action. "If it doesn't, I'm not going to lose sleep."

I guess not, thanks to that huge and ridiculous contract. Young was a great story - last year. I really hope the team just cuts him his check and moves on next year. He's become a gigantic distraction.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A lost weekend

And I don't mean just because no one stopped by to talk to me after my last post (sniff, sniff. I'll get over it).

Saturday and Sunday were rarities for me, two games back-to-back where I was totally detached and didn't find out what happened until later. I'm still trying to learn my way around our fall sports scene here at VCU. Saturday night, we set a record for attendance and our men's soccer team had a great win over Virginia. That afternoon, I watched my first VCU field hockey game. Yesterday, it was our women's soccer home opener (3-2 Rams over Bucknell!).

I did, however, note two more losses for baseball team of D.C.. Oh the mood swings. The winning streak made the 12-gamer seem so long ago. Now I can barely remember the winning streak.

Yesterday's game, from the sounds of it, was one that was best left unseen. It must have been great to see the bunt hit followed by the bunt hit followed by Langerhans' home run (I want him around next year, by the way). It must have been awful to watch that eighth. I would have imploded worse than the bullpen.

So that brings me to a question that may get answered or may get ignored. Hey, I've had zero comments before! At one point is it OK for the fan base to root for victory in the Strasburg Cup?

I say now. I mean c'mon, what else is there? Chico the Writer talked about it some on Nationals Journal this a.m. and one the comments mentioned something about being a real fan and never rooting for a loss.

A valid sentiment but I'm a real fan and I wonder if, for the future, it isn't better to be in position to draft Strasburg than it is to say, win eight of the remaining games. Or whatever. Is he good enough to be The One? Is he good enough to make a significant difference?

The team can't outwardly tank, of course, and Manny would grow hair only so it could fall back out at the very thought of this. I understand that.

I guess my point is I'm not rooting for losses but they sure aren't going to break my heart over these final two weeks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Offered without (much) comment

I saw this earlier when NFA posted it (see the cool links to the right) and a friend just sent it to me via e-mail:

AP-BBM--Nationals-Prospect Charged
Police: Nationals minor leaguer had sex with teen

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A minor league player in the Washington Nationals organization has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Harrisburg Senators outfielder Garrett Guzman had sex with the girl in late July, police alleged in documents filed in district court Sept. 4. Guzman was charged with a misdemeanor count of corruption of minors.

Guzman hasn't been arraigned and court officials said the 25-year-old doesn't have a lawyer on record.

Senators general manager Randy Whitaker declined to comment. A message with the Nationals wasn't immediately returned.

Guzman hit .247 with nine home runs and 63 RBIs in 124 games overall for Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Harrisburg.




OK, I will offer a little comment. I dealt with all the Marcus Vick nonsense in my earlier life and my kids were in school at Virginia Tech at the time. My son and his friends, after Marcus' flirtation with a 15-year-old, asked me: So, we're all supposed to check IDs now?
I don't have an answer for that. I didn't pull 15-year-olds when I was an adult. I do know the law doesn't give a flip how old they look, it does give a flip how old they ARE when the "incident" occurs.
You have to be smarter than that, fellers.

Guzman - one of the Rule 5 guys, right?

My goal tomorrow is to talk about baseball again. I'm straining against the temptation to comment on Dukes' latest apology. If I did comment, I'd say something along the lines of stop apologizing and stop acting like a clown. You don't do that crap, apologies aren't needed. He will have more HRs than apologies this season, so I guess that's good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good for Mike Pelfrey

Sorry. If that makes me a bad fan, I will live with that. I knew it was coming. You knew it was coming. The ump obviously knew it was coming. My only surprise is it wasn't a foot more inside and a foot or so higher.

The monster home run should have been reward enough for Dukes. That kiss trick was low rent, classless, unnecessary. Ray Knight, to his credit, hammered him on the broadcast.

I'm more convinced with each day that the guy is an incredible player. I'm less convinced that we can stop worrying about some sort of blow up. I don't know what it will take for him to grow up. I don't know if it is even possible.

I suspect they'll throw at him next time, too.

A.M. UPDATE - I fell asleep after the Mets broke the 7-7 tie so I missed Guzman's second home run and the continued Dukes antics. I'm glad I did, I may have broken my TV. What he did last night - the whole ball of wax - is nonsense to the 10th power. I thought the comments in the various media outlets were telling and I suspect more than one Nat is getting tired of the act. Someone in the Nats' hierarchy needs to make it very clear very soon that this kind of horsecrap must stop. Nats.com says Dukes "responded professionally" in the dugout but didn't "take it to heart" when he stepped on the field. I hope he sits tomorrow, maybe all weekend.

FURTHER UPDATE - Read Boswell.

Ayala and FLop

My morning routine doesn't usually include reading the comments section of Chico the Writer's Nationals Journal. It's a time thing. Today, I did venture there and was surprised to see people talking about Luis Ayala and FLop like they were one and the same.

Uh, no. Not close.

Granted, I wanted both of them gone as soon as possible. Neither was doing a good job for the Nationals and there was no indication that was going to change. The major difference is I sincerely wish Ayala well and I couldn't give a rip about FLop.

Ayala, by all accounts, is a good guy. I never had reason to question that. I've seen many cases over the years, in many different sports, where it just stopped working for someone for whatever reason. A change of scenery, a fresh start may be a tired cliche but sometimes it is all that is needed. Reports indicated Ayala was going through a divorce. I haven't had that happen (yet. If I keep acting like the guy in Damn Yankees, I may). I imagine it is difficult. A new city, new faces, a new routine. I can imagine it would help.

Power to him. I hated to see him pitching late in his Nats career because he wasn't effective anymore. I don't hate him. Nats320 did a nice tribute to him when he left and it echoed a lot of what I'd heard. Good guy (and I'll forgive him for his "don't speak english" stuff earlier in the year). I just wish he'd gone somewhere other than the NL East so he wouldn't have as many opportunites to shove it up the Nats' fannies.

FLop? Different story altogether. If he isn't a prick, he sure does a good job acting like one. Everything about him at the end indicated a guy who just didn't give a damn.

Over the years the Nats have existed, I've talked to a number of people who cover the team or are around it for other reasons. I've mentioned many times that it seems like a good group from a media standpoint. I get resounding agreement with a few exceptions. Damian Jackson, I think his name was, didn't endear himself to anyone. One guy told me Ronnie Belliard was basically a good guy who could get prickly sometimes (hey, so can I). By and large, a very good clubhouse to work.

The exception? Take a guess. Mentioned by almost everyone as difficult was FLop.

So I was more than willing to say AMF to FLop. I have no idea what he's done since he's been a Cardinal. I don't care. He may be tearing it up and he may have everybody thinking he's a good guy. I can guarantee it won't last. Eventually, he'll slump, he'll slink and he'll snarl.

In summation: Good luck, Luis. Good riddance, FLop. The only thing they have in common is they're ex-Nats.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sudden and scary thought

Who knows why things pop into my thick head when they do? I'm sitting here getting a lot of honest to goodness work done, being productive and all that. Suddenly, my eyes get big and I gasp.

I'm enjoying this stretch of improved baseball as much as the next person. Other than the has beens known as the Braves, it hasn't come against chumps. All the Dodgers did after whimpering out of D.C. was get hot and take over first in the N.L. West (which is worse than the N.L. East). The Phillies are fighting for a playoff spot. The Nats are equal opportunity spoilers. Maybe they can muck up the Phils like they did the Mets last year.

I make a lot of noise about the Strasburg Cup and how much I'd love to see Stephen Strasburg in Washington. I can accept that not happening in exchange for a little more good baseball.

But *** but *** is a hot stretch going to save JimBow?

Nothing screams failure like a 100-loss season. It is the Mendoza Line of won-lost records. Just like 100 victories is hailed as a smashing success, 100 losses is seen as Prime Time Bad. No way a team that loses 100 can avoid rolling some heads and there's an obvious one with the Nats. El Jefe isn't going to can himself. Uncle Stan would seem safe. Manny? No way. All signs point to JimBow.

That 100-loss mark seemed such a sure thing not long ago. Then the Nats turned into world beaters. Suppose the team gets to 70 victories? Laughable, sure, but are you willing to bet against it the way things have gone lately? It would require a 14-4 finish. Avoiding 100 only requires seven more victories. A final of 63-99 may not save him. What about 66, 67, 68 wins?

I have no personal animosity toward Jim Bowden. I'm sure he's a fine guy. Anyone brave enough to ride a Segway and let someone shoot video certainly has no inhibitions. I hope he won't hold it against me if I show up at the season-ticket holders picnic. Maybe I should get someone to sample my hot dog. I just think this team needs the proverbial "change of direction" and I fear it won't happen if this stretch continues.

But, no, that doesn't mean I'm suddenly rooting against the Nats.

As for Strasburg, the Nats' hot stretch hasn't taken them out of the running. I'm going to go ahead and say it right now. The Sept. 19-21 series against the Padres should be billed as the Strasburg Showdown. The "winner," if you will, goes on to win the Strasburg Cup. We just need Seattle to win a bunch of games and take itself out of consideration.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

EmilAlbertson BoniGonzaldez

My timing was better today. I got to the car in time to hear another bases-clearing double, only this time it was hit by a National. On the flip side, we got beat pretty bad in soccer - a 4-1 loss to Seton Hall. There is no Strasburg Cup in soccer.

But that's not what I want to talk about tonight. I want to talk about this influx of middle infielders. I can't keep any of them straight. I know the Nationals got three non-descript middle infielders in exchange for three pitchers of various renown. I know all have had their good moments. Pardon me while I think aloud:

Emilio Bonifacio - that's who Jon Rauch became.
Alberto Gonzalez - that's who, hell, I'm drawing a blank again. Jhonny Nunez?
Anderson Hernandez - our return for Mr. Ayala (a future closer in the playoffs?)

I think that's right. I get 'em all confused, call one of them Emilio Hernandez and another Alberto Anderson and another one Fred Hernandez. I just lump them all together as EmilAlbertson BoniGonzaldez. They all seem like exactly the same player to me. I know one of them had a home run AND a two-run double today. I couldn't tell you for sure which one without looking it up. Which I just did. Gonzalez. Hernandez led off. Walked five times.

Wasn't Bonifacio supposed to lead off for the rest of the season.

I see no way all three are with the team next season. I'm not terribly sure two are needed but I'm going to bet two are there. You'd think Bonifacio would be one. Maybe not. The only thing I know is two will be a lot easier to keep straight than three.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oh no he didn't!

Perhaps I'm overreacting here. It's been known to happen. Or perhaps not. Whatever, I'm not very happy with Bob Carpenter right now. I thought he took a serious cheap shot on the air last night.

Backstory: By the time soccer finished and I got in the car, the Braves were in the midst of their big third inning. My XM kicked in just in time to hear the bases-clearing double. So I got home and took my book upstairs and turned on the game for background noise. I'm reading Don Felder's account of life in The Eagles, Heaven and Hell. My first real date with my wife was to see The Eagles (Jimmy Buffett opened) and we saw them again for our 25th anniversary. They've aged better.

When Langerhans hit his triple, I put the book down and decided to pay attention.

During the eighth, they went to Debbi Taylor and I can't even remember her subject. I know she used the word "disseminate" and when they went back to the booth, Bob said, "Now, Debbi, do you know what 'disseminate' means?"

I about croaked.

To her credit, she gave a definition and said, "I learned some vocabulary in college." I hope after the game was over she went up and smacked Carpenter. Hard. And then smacked him again. And again. And then said, "Disseminate THAT."

Maybe this is a running joke between them and I've just happened to miss it every other time. Maybe there were references earlier in the game that I missed. It's still weak. To me, it came off as insulting, condescending (I do know what that means) and worse. You can't assume your viewers are going to know your history, if there is any. You have to consider every remark as a stand-alone. Some dude with a blog may be listening.

Suppose Debbi didn't know the definition? How bad does Carpenter make her look with that crack?

I was so mad I turned off the game.

I know Carpenter is a lightning rod. He's never really bothered me. I don't mind that they brought him back. I wouldn't have minded if they didn't. Long as they leave Charlie and Dave alone, I'm OK. I've never met Bob Carpenter, don't know if he's a jokester or a surly SOB or what. He may be the greatest guy on earth. I do know there are certain things you never do on the air, and putting one of your partners in a spot where they can look bad is A-No. 1 on the list. He violated that. With only 9,000 viewers, though, at least the damage is limited.

Unrelated, I admit I did not get 100 percent on the quiz in Chico the Writer's Nationals Journal on the first basemen. I got five right away and could not for the life of me think of the sixth. I'm actually proud of myself for blocking him from my memory.

Only good news out of last night (besides a 3-0 VCU victory in soccer) is the Nats moved a step closer to winning the Strasburg Cup. I'd still rather see Manny field a competitive lineup.

Friday, September 5, 2008

He's kidding, right?

Just checked out the lineup in Nationals Journal and that was my first reaction.

Casto hitting cleanup? Milledge AND Dukes resting?

Manny must be caught up in the Chase for the Strasburg Cup. I'd like the kid in a Curly W, too, but danggggggg.

I'll miss the first few innings again. We're the host team for a soccer tournament this weekend and the second game is underway. They're tough, these soccer kids - they actually play in the rain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My aching arse

Is it just me, or does this team suffer more ass injuries than any other team? How do you partially strain your left glut? I guess when your ass isn't all old and flabby like certain asses I know, this stuff can happen. I'll refrain from the pain in the ass jokes that come so easily here.

I am eager to see tonight's battery, though I have a work obligation that will keep me away from the TV until 8 or so. I hope the pitching half of the battery is still out there then.

Martis is one of the by-products of Mike Stanton. Isn't there another one in the system somewhere?

San Diego has taken the lead in the Strasburg Cup standings, by the way. I must admit I was not full of confidence when I saw last night's lineup. But when you are charmed, you're charmed. I'm feeling even better about the Guzman for two more years thing now. If the new GM answers the 1B question and finds some pitching, I might start getting all warm and fuzzy for 2009. A good final month is like that 18th hole birdie. You can play like crap all day - finish strong and that 110 score doesn't seem so bad.

And the magic number is 9. Nine more Ws to avoid 100 losses.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Well, I did want to see Montz

Not under these circumstances, of course. And I still have hopes for him as a first baseman. But in the "bright side to everything" scheme, here is Mr. Montz.

The question is: Do you use him as the regular for the rest of the season to get an idea of what he can do? We know what Nieves can do as a backup and that will remain his role for the future. This seems like a good time to see if Montz has the goods to be a major league player. Perhaps that increases his trade value. Or makes the new GM say, "Hmmm, I wonder if the kid can play first??"

As for Flores, I'm now convinced it wasn't a cheap play but that doesn't make me feel any better about him being out. My bias is showing - I can do that now that I'm out of the newspaper biz - but you can make a case for him as Nats MVP this year (like that's saying a lot). I was holding out hope he could get to 70 RBI.

I'd hate for last night to be his final memory of a darn good season. I'd also hate for him to come back too soon and make things worse.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

That hurt to watch

If Flores is out for a significant amount of time, I'm really going to be despondent. It didn't look good, that's for sure. Kid showed his toughness just hanging on to the ball.

Was it a cheap shot by Utley? I couldn't tell, it seemed like it was just a hard play but I was watching more to see what happened to Flores. I wonder if he gets a message pitch the next time up?

Harris vs. Kearns

After exhaustive research, I have determined that I am in no way related to Willie Harris. So this post can't be seen as stumping for the family.

Manny Acta may be the only person who scribbles more potential lineups than I do and I'm not even sure about that. I've drawn up a million combinations for 2009. Almost all of them include Dukes, Milledge and Kearns across the outfield. None includes Willie Harris.

Not yet anyway. Harris' play has me wondering if signing him and making him a regular - a regular regular and not an injury-induced regular - wouldn't be a good move.

Could you live with Harris, Milledge and Dukes across the outfield? If you like Harris there, how much do you pay and for how long? Is $5 million for two years too much? Too little? Just tossing that number out there as a discussion starter - I have no clue what's a fair number.

I've never been a Kearns hater. I'd love nothing more than for him to become the player lots of people seem to think he can be. I'm also starting to wonder if we've already seen what he can be. I'm also curious whether Harris can continue anywhere close to this level. He has five more home runs this season than he had in his entire career coming into the year.

Is he playing over his head or was it simply a matter of getting a chance to play?

Unrelated, I refrained from commenting yesterday on the stories about that hack for the Braves, Nunez, griping about Dukes. The fanboy who writes for Braves.com had a line in his game story that went something like "pounding his chest as if he'd actually accomplished something." Well, he did. It wasn't as cool as a hit would have been but his job was to get the winning run home. Down 1-2 in the count, he managed to do that. Not his fault Nunez couldn't find the plate.

I was going to let it go. But my son the Braves fan read the story and said, "Hey, Vladdy, how 'bout you shut the hell up and throw strikes? Get him out and he doesn't have a reason to celebrate."

Nunez and that clown from the Mets share space on the same page in my book. You don't do your job, you don't have a right to gripe.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My son's day

My son likes all sports. He and his roomies have this massive entertainment setup with four TVs and they always have sports going on all of them. He has three significant rooting interests:

*Virginia Tech. Went there, taught there a while, may eventually go back there, still lives and works in Blacksburg.
*The Atlanta Braves. Growing up in Richmond with the Braves' AAA team, he came by this honestly.
*Dale Earnhardt Jr. Don't know where that came from, he certainly didn't get it from me. I only went to auto races when somebody paid me and forced me to do so.

The whole point of this is don't put any money on Earnhardt tonight the way the weekend has gone. To recap:

*Tech loses on a late blocked punt, stunning the many Hokies in attendance including my son.
*He calls later from some bar where he and his pals went to dine and drown their sorrows and bond with ECU fans in their hatred of West Virginia. He knew the Braves were up 4-0 at one point. "Dukes just walked with the bases loaded. Game over," I told him. I think he was out of money so there was no way to further drown the sorrows. He's truly worried the Nats will overtake the Braves in the standings.

As for me, I'd still like to see the Nats win the Strasburg Cup. I'm not convinced The One is in the system and I'm not optimistic that CC will be wearing a Curly W next year.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Positives

or are they?

That's just the way my little mind works. Always has. You could hand me $10 million with no strings attached and I'd look for the string.
Given the week I've had, I have tried to stay relentlessly upbeat and positive. The Nats' hot streak has helped a lot but questions keep popping into my mind. I'm sure it is just me being me.

*Winning is great but *** is it going to cost the Nats a chance at Stephen Strasburg? The only good thing about being terrible is the chance to add someone like that. So far, the Nats remain at the top of the heap. We need San Diego and Seattle to win more than the Nationals win. If the Nats can somehow not lose 100 (need 13 more wins) AND secure the top pick, I'd be about as happy as I can ever be short of a championship.

*Willie Harris and Ronnie Belliard have been quality but are they regulars next season when all is allegedly well (or better)? After such a long stretch as starters, will they accept their previous roles? Of course, it could be moot with Harris since he isn't signed. While sitting in the emergency vet's office last week, I chatted with a young guy who was also waiting. He'd recently moved to the area and was just getting familiar with the Nats. "Is that Ronnie Belliard at first?" he asked. Affirmative. "He's not a first baseman!" Welcome to our world my friend.

*I'm not finding much of a string with Joel Hanrahan. The Moneyball book talked about closers being the most overvalued and that any semi-decent big league reliever could rack up some saves if given enough chances. I'm sure that's true. Luis Ayala has three this week (though he tried to blow one last night). But with a 97 mph fastball and a solid slider, Hanrahan could indeed be a strong closer in time. I'm willing to give him the time. Who is the B closer for those nights when Hanrahan has thrown four innings in the previous two games? I like it that Manny is willing to go to Hanrahan in the eighth.

*Dukes' two home runs the other night were of the shake-your-head variety. As Chico the Writer said about one, all arms. Mind boggling. But we all know my worries with Dukes. Trying to get over that. Not having much success.

*Anyone know how much the Fort Worth team paid Crow to throw three times in the final week of the now-concluded season? He made three scoreless appearances. Couldn't he have returned to Missouri? Yeah, that has nothing to do with the rest of this but that's also the way my little mind works.

Eager to see who gets called up on Monday. Two spaces cleared on the 40-man, who gets them? I'm also putting my reporter hat back on briefly. Heard some interesting stuff this week but I'm trying to be a responsible blogger - though I may give up on that. Hell, it's just a blog. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thank you, from all of us

I'm not arrogant enough to think this blog has a massive readership. I do know there are some very kind people among those who do read. A few made comments on my previous post and more got in touch with me directly with thoughtful and kind words of encouragement. They were all very much appreciated by the entire family.

If there's ever a worse weekend in store for me, I don't want to experience it. Zinger hung tough through Friday night, long enough for the kids to get home. Saturday, we got to spend a little time with her before the vet came over. We could tell she was hurting and being brave for us. Poor thing may have been hurting for a long time and never let us know until there was no choice. She died at 2 p.m.

We got back into our regular routines Monday but it is hardly regular. The new normal ain't the old normal. Zoe, our 9-year-old black Lab, is trying hard to help but she's confused. Where's her buddy? I got her to eat a little something this morning but she keeps looking from side to side, like she's wondering if it is OK to eat without Zinger tearing into some food next to her and then trying to get some of hers.

It is quiet and it is sad when I get home at night. I'm told it will get better. I took Zoe out last night to play some "ballie." She chases and brings back. Zinger would wait, pounce and fight for the ball. Last night, Zoe circled and circled me, waiting for the battle that never came. Three throws in, she took the ballie in her mouth and went inside.

Anyway, I did watch the Nats last night and took some pleasure out of that victory. We're going to try and go to Saturday's game (it is part of our package) but my wife isn't sure she'll feel up to that. Yesterday was her birthday. She begged off celebrating until later.

I'm going to try and post regularly again. You'll know I'm back to normal when I start making snide comments about the Mets' bringing in Ayala in the ninth and wondering later why they didn't win.

Until then, thanks again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Real life intervenes

I hate when that happens but it has in a big way. As I type, my big girl Zinger is in emergency surgery and it doesn't look good. Cancer, the vet thinks. Lots of it and we never had a sign she was sick until last night. She's an 11-year-old chocolate Lab, the sweetest dog going. My kids are on the way home. Looks like we have to make a tough decision.

I watched most of the last two innings last night in the waiting room at the emergency vet center. I got called back with two outs in the last of the ninth and a runner on third. Didn't know until two hours later the Nats indeed won.

I'll be back after a while but I don't know how soon. This one is hard. I know I'm really going to miss her going nuts when Johnny and Ray come on TV. I miss her already.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear Phil (and Johnny)

Not even 7:15 and my stomach has already had a rough evening. Why send Zimmerman on a single to shallow left? Why not bring your RBI leader up with the bases loaded instead of taking a chance like that? It wasn't even a close play. Ball in his hand before Zimmerman was at third. Disgusting. Terrible choice.

But that is not why I come to you tonight.

I don't like jumping on the broadcast talent and I've stated before I enjoy listening to Phil Wood. So this is just an issue with his statements tonight, not with him. He about made my lose my spaghetti dinner.

First, Phil said something about "some fans" just looking to be as negative as possible. Said these players were NOT quitters! Hmmm. How hard does one have to look to be negative with this bunch? And what fans? I read most everything and have yet to come across anyone calling them quitters. I don't think they'll win more than 10-12 games the rest of the way. I don't think they are quitters. They're just not very good.

Next, they tried to make some kind of weak comparison to the Phillies. Said over the past 12 games, the Phillies were only averaging 3 runs and the Nats weren't far behind with 2.9. (How many they giving up? My brother saw the Nats give up 29 in three games last week). Had some other points about the teams being close, the biggest difference being the home runs.

I think they were serious.

Let's see, going into last night's game the Phillies were TWENTY THREE AND A HALF games ahead of the Nationals. They had three players - Howard, Utley, Burrell - who have more home runs than the Nationals. The Nats' RBI leader has about half as many as the Phillies' RBI leader. Flores would be fourth on the Phillies, about 20 RBI behind No. 3.

The Phillies have three pitchers with 10 or more victories. The Nats likely won't have a 10-game winner for the second straight season.

The Phillies are in a pennant race. Midweek games against bad teams are drawing huge crowds. The Nats are headed for 110 or so losses. I don't believe 20,000 were in the house for either of the games I saw last weekend.

If I wasn't sitting here watching them play each other, I would have a hard time believing they were in the same league.

It is not a narrow gap. It is a ginormous gap.

If I'm being a negative nelly, I'm so very sorry. Facts is facts. I love the Nationals. I want badly to cheer for a winner before I die. I realize more with each passing day that I am a long way from that. The winner, I mean. I hope death, too, but who the hell knows? Being a Nats fan is taking years off my life.

While I'm ripping:

*I liked what I saw of Bonifacio when I saw him in AAA. I'm liking less and less of what I'm seeing in the majors.
*I had a good chuckle when I read this on Nationals.com today. I'm thinking, "What the hell is he smoking?" Then I noticed it was written back in April, when the Nats were about to fall to 3-1. Very laughable now and a stretch even then. I've never met Hal Bodley. He has a reputation of being among the very best baseball writers. That piece, though, was a serious stretch.

Not waving the white flag yet ***

*** but I did take it out of the drawer and I have it ready.

My wife puts up with my obsession quite well. Better than she should. She even helps feed it. Last night, I had a late meeting at work. The welcome back thing for all the students here. She called as I was heading home and said she was trying to find the game for me, it wasn't on DirecTV's 626. Try 671, I said. I never know if it is on MASN or MASN2 or MASN360 or MASNU or whatever.

Sweet thing wanted the game to be on when I finally got home. I walked in just in time to see Willie not catch the fly and we all know it turned sour from there.

I now believe that the poster from yesterday who predicted no more wins may be right. If the Nats couldn't win last night, they may indeed not win again this year.

11 and counting. Pardon me for thinking sending Casto out and bringing in yet another weak middle infielder is not going to make a difference.

***
Unrelated, Hendo made a very nice find in this article that he posted in the comments section of a previous post. I wanted to move it out here so it would be easier for the rest of you to find. I'm not talking about the sumbitch no more so I'll leave the comments to others.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guessing games

I could trot out the lame ol' line about the good news being the Nats didn't lose yesterday. But we try to not be terribly lame here at NationalsFanboyLooser so instead we'll play fun with guessing numbers today.

Up first - the final record. I know Svrluga used to do this when he ran Nationals Journal and he did it in preseason. I think we've all accepted the fact that triple-digit losses are unavoidable. The Nats have 37 games left and winning 18 of them will mean a 62-100 record. So to avoid 100, the team must go 19-18 and I see no way that can happen.

My guess is 105 losses. 57-105. I feel foolish thinking even 13 more victories are on the horizon. Before this past weekend, my last visit to Nationals Park was for the Belliard game-winner against the Orioles. In between visits, the team won 11 times. In 42 games.

Up next - the streak. How high will it go, considering the next nine are against the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers? I hope it ends tonight. It better end in Philly because I don't think the Nats win in Chicago. I'm sticking my neck out and saying it ends at 11.

Finally - the injuries. How many days before Flores goes on the DL? If he truly has a sprained knee, I can't believe he's listed days-to-days. A sprained knee is not a major injury. It is also not insignificant, especially for a catcher. If he's going to be out longer than, say, tonight, let's get him on the DL and get Montz up (he can also play first remember). I'm still hacked Flores was sent and still insistent he was safe (though I admit I haven't seen a replay. It might change my mind and I don't want to do that). Given recent history, I saw the Nats futz around until Sunday and then DL him.

UPDATE - Flores is in tonight, sez Nationals Journal and I'm quite happy to be wrong. I stand by my other predictions.

Does Guzman go on the DL when the latest career backup middle infielder shows up tomorrow? Estrada takes Ayala's spot and someone will have to go somewhere to make room for what's his name.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Someone has a sense of humor

I saw losses eight and nine in the current streak with one of my best buds. He's a Rockies fan. I wanted to make sure someone left the stadium happy. Anyway, Lannan finally gets pulled last night and Mock comes in (and was just as bad as Lannan). They're playing the music during Mock's warm up and my pal goes, "Uh, who is in charge of music here?"

It was Korn's "Coming Undone." Apparently it is Mock's theme music because they played a couple of notes when he came to bat. Still seemed like an odd choice on a weekend when it became clear that everything was undone.

The team is playing like crap, Crow is unsigned and my pizza was cold. Oh, and they were out of souvenir cups so I had to drink my Coke Zero out of a regular cup.

And though I am a (partial) season ticket holder and spend gobs of money on this team, I do not qualify for one of those stadium replicas because I signed up during spring training. Too late. I did get an official team yearbook/massive advertising vehicle. It has a different birth date listed for Austin Kearns than the roster on Nationals.com AND what shows up on the video board. Kearns is 28, not 30. I'll edit the thing for them in exchange for full season tickets in the club section. AND a replica. I'm a little ticked that I don't get one. I paid five months ago. Not enough time to make one? My money doesn't count?

I'm trying to find reasons to be happy and upbeat other than all the obvious ones (still alive, it is only baseball, all that rap). I'm not doing very well. I'm tempted to start another laugh to keep from crying thread.

To make my weekend complete, there was this last graph in Chico the Writer's story: Indeed, the tag on Flores at the plate resulted in Washington's latest injury. After the game, the team determined that Flores has a strained right calf. He status was described as day-to-day, but he was scheduled have precautionary X-rays.

Just freaking great. He'll be "days-to-days" for a week or so, forcing Manny to play two men down (Guzman? Hello? What's up with him?). Then he'll go on the DL. We'll see him in the spring. And I thought he was safe, by the way, but I didn't have a good angle. Was it foolish to send him? I vote for yes.

While I'm venting:

*I'm curious whether Ayala is allowed to take his gas can with him on the team plane or if he has to buy a new one in each city? It has gone beyond ridiculous. We were having a fun back-and-forth about a comeback. When Ayala trotted in, I said, "Well, that ends that hope." Shell, at least, continues to look good. Nineteen pitches in two innings last night, 14 of them strikes. Amazing the difference that makes.
UPDATE - AMF Mr. Ayala, enjoy New York. Maybe they'll let you take that gas can on the train to your new team. Now watch him turn into the Ayala of 2005.

*I put in a call to the post-game show on the way home. They took two calls. First guy was raging mad over Crow. I shared the same thoughts I've been sharing here. I'm frustrated, angry, you name it, too. It is particularly important now because us suffering saps need ANYTHING that will provide some glimmer of hope. But I'm sticking to my guns. A $3.5 million offer was plenty fair. I don't buy the what's another 700 large argument. It is 700 large on top of 1.4 million over slot and it would have doubled the slot. It was a fair offer. I'm stunned that an agent would advise a kid to turn down that kind of money with NO guarantee it will appear again in a year. Take it and earn that 700 large and then some later.
Oh wait, didn't I say I wouldn't talk about that anymore?

*Work beckons later this afternoon, so I won't be able to watch the whole game and that may be a good thing. My brother and I were talking about it on the way back to the car - next nine are against the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers? A loss today and this losing streak could become epic.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'll say it ONE more time

and then I'm moving on.

AMF. Enjoy Fort Worth.

For all my complaints about JimBow, I've never accused him of being dishonest. Never heard anyone say he lies when talking to the press. So assuming what he told the Post in the Web-only story Chico filed is true, AMF AGAIN.

If they offered $3.5 million AND a major league contract and Crow's crew still said no, it is clear he didn't want to play here. That's extremely generous for the No. 9 pick. Yes, the Nats need quality pitchers (and quality other things). They don't need prima donnas. I'm stunned that they offered that much and stunned it was turned down. I'm not laying this one on the Nats. They were more than reasonable (again, assuming what we hear from them is true).

Onward.

And, Sam, I'll answer you again in lights (and thanks for the responses). THE No. 1 pick in the draft is a different animal. I still don't like the idea of a major league deal for a pick but concede the top pick has some cred the others don't. Crow is obviously a talent and will probably kick some ass for somebody eventually (assuming he doesn't blow his arm out in Fort Worth). But eight teams DID pass on him.

Onward.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More on Crow

I was going to post a reply to Sam in the comments section of my previous entry but it would be way long and I thought it was a point that merited some more discussion.

Sam's opinion is one I respect but I must disagree here pretty strongly. I think it is very unreasonable to demand a major league contract for a draft pick.

First, let's look at the LoDuca thing. I've been very clear on my feelings about that one. I think it was a very bad signing. It was too much money for a guy who is deep into the fourth quarter of his career. I think we'd all agree that finding and plucking Flores in the Rules 5 draft is JimBow's greatest contribution to the Nats. Bringing in LoDuca would not help Flores' development. It would retard it. Fortunately, things worked out so Flores could be the guy anyway but it was not fortunate that the team wasted so much money on LoDuca.

That said, I'm not going to denegrate what LoDuca did earlier in his career. He made multiple all-star teams and played on winners. He was a legit major leaguer. I just think he was the wrong guy for this team.

Crow? What's he done outside the collegiate ranks? Not a damn thing.

These draft picks get ginormous bonuses because of their potential. That potential gets them drafted high and the reward is in the millions. I think it is excessive but that's the system. I have no issue with them wanting more than slot and I'm OK with the Nats going a bit over that slot.

But a major league contract? No flippin way. The contract has to be earned. Crow hasn't earned it yet. He hasn't done a single thing as a professional, yet we're supposed to accept that he should go to Class A and earn in the same ballpark as Milledge, Dukes, Flores, Zimmerman?

The previous first-rounders in the Nats era have been Zimmerman, Marrero, Willems and Detwiler. Zimmerman is the only one we know for sure is (or will be) a legit big leaguer. What I do know is that none of the four has shown any signs of being a prima donna. They got their big bonuses and now they're trying to earn their big contract.

Crow, through his agents, is being made to look like a prima donna. Might be the finest kid in the world. Who knows? His big-time agents are doing their best to make it look otherwise.

Go above slot. Offer him $2.5 or $2.8 or even $3 million.

Make him prove himself before you give him a big-league contract.
If he balks, his agents know the way to Fort Worth. Like I said before: AMF.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

AMF

The other side has finally been found. Chico (the writer) caught up with one of the Hendricks brothers in the latest Nationals Journal . It is crap like this that makes me ball up my fists and scrunch my face in my best Yosemite Sam imitation and go, "Ooooohhh, I hates agents."

Nice advice you're giving this kid. The Nats want to give him TWO POINT ONE MILLION DOLLARS. No major league contract? Well, he's probably fast tracked to the bigs so that will come soon enough.

It's not enough for these chotch bags. So send him to some independent league, let him risk that valuable arm for chicken feed and hope his value doesn't decrease over the next year. Or that he doesn't get hurt. Meanwhile, it's 2.1 MILLION gone that he will never see again.

"I guarantee you we won't change." Eat a hodgie, you posturing clown.

AMF, Mr. Crow. AMF.

At some point, I gots to get on The Googles and figure out why the Hendricks brothers are sticking with me. They're not at the Boras level but there's something out there that makes them memorable. Not that memorable, clearly.

Zimmerman, Willems, Marrero, Detwiler all managed to get signed. We may never know what's really happened in all this but all signs point to it NOT being the Nats fault. As much as I'd like to rip them for this, I won't.

AMF, Mr. Crow. Something may indeed change in the next 28 hours but I still don't like your advisers.

Ooooohhhhhhhhh. I hates agents.

(Just to make my night complete, Brian "Snyder" just went long. I'm going to bed)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random Thoughts

Hang with me while I babble on about a few things.

*Interesting item in Post story by Zach Berman (another INTERN!) today: Unprompted, Flores tried to bunt Milledge to third -- a play that could either be interpreted as selfless or foolish, considering Flores leads the Nationals in RBI with 52.

No "or" needed. It was both. I love Flo (duh) and love that he was thinking hard about getting Milledge to third. But it was indeed foolish. He had two hits, both of them solid. I'd rather he go up there thinking, "Bring that jank, I'm going to hit a couple of guys in your bullpen on the head." Or, "Hey you in the Red Porch, look out." Or, "Let's put this one in the gap." He's a run producer. He needs to start thinking like one.

*If reports of Crow asking for $8-10 million and a major league contract are true, F him. Have a fine senior season at Mizzou and I hope you don't get hurt. I also don't like that he may have turned down invitations to Nationals Park. Why? It is a common courtesy for you to be invited and a common courtesy for you to attend. Granted, all this is probably an agent's doing and not the kid's but it does reflect on the kid and not well. I'd love to see him in Washington with his ability but I'm also not big on prima donnas. Make him a bottom line offer. If he doesn't take it, the new GM will enjoy having two of the top 10 picks.

*JimBow took some shots at unnamed sources in the Nationals Journal done by The Intern last night, immediately leading the skeptic in me to believe JimBow may have been one of the sources.

Unnamed sources are a hot topic still for me. I have no idea what the Post's rules are about them. We had some very stringent rules. For instance, the GM or athletic director or coach is often a source. We were not allowed to say said person was not available for comment and then quote that person anonymously. You can't say Bowden, for example, wasn't available when you are quoting him. He WAS available. He just didn't want his name used.
We also had to have two sources saying something, not just one. We weren't supposed to agree to not use the name unless termination or death was a possibility.
We were pretty good about following those rules. Sometimes, if it was really important to get something in, we'd bend them a bit.
They should be used VERY sparingly and should be treated with a skeptical eye by the reader.

A couple of quick "anonymous" stories.

I am reluctant to say anything negative about my old paper. I love the paper, love the people there. It was a very good job for a long time. I honestly believe the paper is doing its best to stay viable in an age where a newspaper is a relic. I hope with all my heart it succeeds.
But.
Last night on the paper's Web site, they had an item about the latest teen-aged NASCAR hot shot maybe making his Cup debut in Richmond. It said, "according to a variety of Internet blog sites."

Love it. My new goal in life is to get some mainstream publication to write, "NationalsFanboyLooser.com is reporting ***" Hmmmm. Maybe us Nats bloggers can band together. I'll write that JimBow has been fired. Everyone else can do the same thing and maybe we'll see "Numerous blog sites are reporting ****"

One more and then I'll shut up (for now): Years ago, I'm working a story about William and Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock flirting with a job at Boston College. The WM football secretary finds me and says, "You have a phone call."

It was a reporter from the Boston Globe. We chatted for a while about the situation.

The next day's Globe quotes "a source inside the William and Mary football office." I'm thinking, this guy has never been to W&M. How does he have sources there? Then I read it again. He's quoted ME. And, yes, I was INSIDE THE WILLIAM AND MARY FOOTBALL OFFICE when we talked. Yeesh.

Bottom line, coming from a former journalist: Anonymous sources are best avoided.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An interesting stat

A good friend who follows baseball closely sent me this tidbit today:

From Phil Rogers' (Chi Tribune) baseball rankings

32. Nationals (30): The players on Washington’s current 25-man roster earn a combined $23.3 million. The six on the disabled list and four they have released (Paul Lo Duca, Felipe Lopez, Johnny Estrada and Rob Mackowiak) cost them a combined $26.9 million. It’s no wonder they have the worst run differential in the majors.

(He had 32 spots because he ranked World Baseball Classic and Olympics baseball this week)

Me again.
Ranked 32nd when there's only 30 teams is, um, interesting. I'm more curious about the money management. You can't help the injuries but putting about 12.5 million into players you toss to the curb doesn't speak highly for those who manage the cash. Plus, Dmitri's getting $5 mil to be out of shape and not play. Yeah, he has diabetes to deal with but didn't he have that last year, too? That contract still makes me shake my head. That's a ton of money for a DH in a league that doesn't use the DH.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Signings?

Day baseball makes for great background noise. Unfortunately, sometimes work gets in the way. Did I just hear something about lots of draft picks signing?
I know only 9,000 people watch and it is probably fewer during the work day. I'm hoping one of them is a reader and can fill us in. I just did a quick check of some Web sites and didn't see anything.

UPDATE: Just found this at NatsFarmAuthority and this at Nats320. So Crow is the only one among the top 5 not yet signed. Does he get signed? And, as I noted in the comments, can some of these guys play this week? Not that today's game is frustrating me or anything.

I did take a break from some writing I'm doing to watch the Nats not score with the bases loaded and nobody out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Will this game please end? I swear this team is determined to kill me before my 55th birthday. Or my 53rd. The buzz is about gone, the NewNationals are too much like the old Nationals. That's not terribly fair, I know. The NewNationals included Gonzalez, now apparently bound (shocker!) for the DL.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ay-yi-yi-yi-ala

We left Blacksburg a little later than I wanted. Moms just can't say good-bye quickly. I wanted to leave right at two and let the Nats game take me through the 220-mile drive.
It was the third inning by the time we got going. I would have been fine to let it end in nine, up 4-1, and get through the last portion of the drive somehow. But nooooooo.
Anyway, as it goes on, I realize I could get home in time to watch some. I'm sick like that. I thought my wife was asleep. She's listening to the game with her eyes closed. She hears Ayala is warming up and says, "If you want to get home in time to see any of this, you better drive like that Kyle Busch character. If they put him in, it is over."

Oh, yes, it was over and quick. We'd just turned into the neighborhood. At least, my wife said, you can get the car unloaded without worrying about the game. You can cuss like you usually do dragging in my suitcase. (I got the car unloaded just in time, too. We're having a very nasty storm).

Then I get online and see Isaac Hayes died. In the grand scheme, I guess that's a bigger deal than just one more of 103 or so losses. Shaft. Chef. The man was the bomb. Can you dig it? I think I'm going to have Salisbury Steak for dinner.

So the question of the night: How much longer do we have to put up with Ayala?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How high do you go

for this guy?

$20 million a year? Higher?

I'm starting to be of the opinion that you go as high as it takes to get a guy like that. Still young. Very sturdy. Eight straight seasons now with at least 10 victories.

You want a mentor for all those young studs that we're told are coming along for the rotation? There's your guy.

Pay to play. Open the wallets. You may not get him. You won't if you don't take a shot.

Build from within. Supplement from the outside.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bad news on the blogging front

I have a hurt thumb and I don't thnk it is too bad but typing with ninne fingerss is a bitch so excuse teh typos pleas. I should be OKay tomorrow. I'm day-to-day which mean my next blog entry will come in October.

Someone, I can't remember who, had a great line about day-to-day: Aren't we all? Maybe the Nats are just confused and mean to say days-to-days.

Nats320 (see links on right) touched on this nicely earlier. This has happened so many times it is no longer funny. Dukes' "charley horse," which happened only seven at-bats into his return from knee surgery, has turned into another 4-6 weeks deal. (What IS a charley horse anyway?). Days-to-days again.

I can't imagine Manny Acta intentionally means to mislead anyone. He doesn't strike me as that type of guy. I'm sure he's following the party line. I also can't believe the medical staff is so worthless that guys get hurt and they do the "holy shit, he really IS hurt bad" routine so many times.

So what is up? Is it money? No way they can be THAT cheap? Or way?

Whatever, I have to go to Blacksburg AGAIN. I'm pretty much eligible to vote there. My son is moving. At least my bad thumb will get me out of the heavy lifting. I am looking forward to a return visit to Nationals Park next weekend. The 15th in fact. I'll be there to applaud when they announce the Crow signing. It will probably hurt like crazy but I'll suck it up for the team.

UPDATE - See you in October, Tim. He's days-to-days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A 'sign' of the times?

Well now. I woke up this a.m. hoping to get a little good news and instead got kicked in the chops by a double dose of bad news.

First, of course, is the NewNationals are no longer perfect. I fell asleep at 2-0 good guys and that became 8-2 thanks to the bullpen finally reverting to form. Seriously, did anyone expect it to last? You can spray some perfume on a pile of shit and it will smell OK for a while but it is still shit and will smell again soon enough. With Rauch gone, does anyone feel truly comfortable with any of the relievers? Is Shell now the head of the class? I'm OK with Shell in the game, with Hanrahan and, usually, Rivera. I have zippy confidence in Ayala and Manning, even if does own Ken Griffey.

Why isn't Guzman on the DL?

The news of one game wasn't as bad as the news I found on Nationals.com - Uncle Stan casting doubt on the possibility of signing the top tier among JimBow's draft picks.
The obvious reaction is to go crazy and start throwing things. I thought we were no longer a part of www.cheapfuckers.com? What the hell?

But before I go that route, I'd like to hear some things from the other side. Are they being unreasonable? Are the Nats being ridiculous? The answer is probably a little of both.
So far, I've seen JimBow and Uncle Stan talk about it. Heard nothing from Aaron Crow or any of the others (please send me a link if you've seen anything). I suspect they've all 'agented up,' which is even worse than being lawyered up. The agents won't let them talk and - shocker - the agents won't exactly present an unbiased side of things. I still want to read/hear what they have to say.

Crow is the most puzzling. With the slotting that goes on, first-round picks should be the easiest to sign, unless I'm missing something obvious.

It is going to be an interesting 10 days. The recent roster changes gave us long-suffering bastards a reason for a little hope. Signing your picks is a bigger part of that whole future thing and signing just one of the top five would count as a major disappointment.

On the other hand *** if it hastens the departure of the GM, maybe it is a worthwhile sacrifice.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Maybe it can last forever

That's 4-0 for the NewNationals. My wife and I turned on the radio after leaving an Applebee's and it was 3-0 Rocks in the first. "Oh lord," she said. "Not so fast," I said. "These are the NewNationals."

50 games to go, 28 wins to reach my goal. Feeling more optimistic by the minute.

Speaking of minutes, has Crow signed yet?

Also, couldn't help but shake my head when I read this story on Nationals.com - the last guy who went out with an ass injury hasn't been the same since he got back. I would think a "glute contusion" hurts.

One more question before I get my morning officially started: Nationals.com also reports Clippard is a likely call-up for bullpen help. Uh, why not call up a reliever and let Clippard continue to work on starting. Unless, of course, the plan is to move him to the bullpen.

Does Guzman get traded now? I guess that's two questions but the NewNats have me so damn excited I can't think straight.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What would it take?

So the NewNationals are 2-0 and we're all beginning to feel a little fog lifting off our heads. I think every one of us sick bastards who wear the Curly W on our sleeves was tired, frustrated, pick your word through July. It is amazing how a little new blood and two good games can suddenly make things a little better.

It can't last forever, of course. The NewNats are eventually going to lose a game, probably more than one. They may lose several in a row at some point. Today's question - what would it take the rest of the way to make you feel postive, upbeat, encouraged going into the offseason?

There's 52 games remaining. I would absolutely love to see 30 victories and I don't think it is out of the question. I also don't think it is likely. I'd be happy with 26 wins - a .500 record over the final 52 would give me a bit of a buzz heading into 2009.

What we are seeing now is a reasonable facsimile of the 2009 lineup. Put Guzman in at short and TBA at first and I can live with everything else. I would be fine with the bench being close to what it is now, though there are too many of them.
Flores/Nieves at catcher again? I'm OK with that.
Four bench players left. Harris/Belliard/Langerhans/Casto/Gonzalez/Boone/Orr. Gonzalez clearly stays, as does Belliard if he isn't traded. I don't see Boone or Orr coming back. Harris may opt to go elsewhere, though I can still see him playing a lot in D.C. Are Casto and/or Langerhans worth keeping? I'd like to see both but I don't see room. Casto is more versatile and better with the bat. Are we OK with Harris/Belliard/Casto/Gonzalez as our non-catching bench?

I'm sure some decent bench type players will be available in the offseason but I'd rather see the brass - the new GM and his staff - go after front-liners since the bench guys they have now can do the job.

Add a first baseman somehow and sign a pitcher or two (not to mention Crow, 12 days to go) and let's get 2009 started.

But back to the original question - what would it take over the final 52?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bobby's back

Offered without comment, this item from Nationals.com about the return of Bob Carpenter to the broadcast booth.

OK, a little comment: Not a huge fan, not a huge hater. I can live with most any announcer as long as he/she isn't a raging, screaming homer. I prefer the Nats radio crew to the TV crew.

I will comment on one thing in that story (something that I sure hope is fixed soon): If you are going to give a massive hummer to the sideline reporter, spell the name correctly. It took me less than 20 seconds to look it up on MASN's site. It is Debbi, without the e. And where is she known for her great interviews and feature stories on the club? Within the walls of MASN? I have no gripe with Debbi Taylor. She does what sideline reporters are supposed to do and you can argue whether that adds anything to the broadcast (I don't think it does).

What I really hate - and this isn't a knock on Debbi either because she does what she's told - are the silly interviews with sponsors or fans or some such DURING PLAY. I'm listening to some yahoo prattle on about the Marines trash drive while Langerhans hits a double over somebody's head.

I probably had my best broadcasting experience last night. We're in Blacksburg for some street fair my wife likes - HippieFest, my son calls it - and we detour into a hangout for a beer and a sandwich. A bar, as it turns out, with DirecTV. So I was able to watch the debut of the NewNationals without any sound. I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It wasn't a dream - thankfully

I feel awful, one of those summer colds. Head hurts, eyes hurt, nose is running. So I fell asleep early last night, not long after Zimmerman got hit on the hand. I did see his very clear F bomb on TV, sentiments that pretty much matched mine at the time.
When I got up to let the dogs out at about 1:30 this a.m., I could have sworn I'd heard something about LoDuca and FLop being released. The TV was still on. Did they discuss it postgame when I tossed and turned? No clue.
Downstairs, I heard my cell phone beeping. I had two text messages with that information. I ran to the computer. Sure enough - it wasn't a dream!!

I'm curious to see who goes today to make room for the new shortstop. I have no idea why the Nationals acquired him unless something else is in the works. Guzman is signed for two more years, Bonifacio is the man forever at 2B and backups are in place. But I'm not going to quibble. The roster cloggers are gone so it is a good day, no matter how crappy I feel. Oh, and I'm shocked the new guy has Arizona connections.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the four offseason signings were the DynamicDudDuo, Mackowiak and Willie Harris (no relation). Hmmm. One out of four ain't bad. Nice work there, JimBow.

I hope the new general manager, after getting a Zimmerman deal done, makes better use of whatever free agent dollars are available for next year.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"No he's not dead yet!"

Pardon me because half my brain remains in New York and fellow Broadway aficionados will recognize the headline as a line from the great play Spamalot.
It came to me last night while I was in the restroom after watching the Richmond Braves absolutely hammer Columbus starter Craig Stammen. I mean, HAMMER him. Even the outs were blasted. So they're making a pitching change while I'm in the head and I hear the PA announcer go, "Now pitching for Columbus *** Levale Speigner."
So he's not dead yet. I had forgotten all about him. He actually looked pretty good.

But enough of that. Levale Speigner is not why so many have flocked to this blog today. Levale Speigner is not the answer, not the key to life as a Nationals fan.

People want to know what I think after watching Emilio Bonifacio. He was the main reason for my visit to the decrepit Diamond. He did not disappoint.

Here's what I think: JimBow, as soon as you finish reading all the blogs (and we know you do read them), get on the phone. Punch in Emilio's digits. Tell him to get in a car and get on 95 north. Stay with it through the change to 395 and to look for the ol' ballpark on the right soon after you cross the bridge into D.C.

Get his ass up to the bigs. Now.

This is not a declaration that we've all been wrong about JimBow. This is not me saying I want him to get a big money deal. I still hope JimBow has to buy a ticket to get in next season. I am, however, willing to concede that this might - just might - work out. And we're not going to find out with him in AAA.

I stopped in the press box to see some old friends before the game. They know all about my Curly W tattoos and they all said, "You must be here to see Bonifacio."
Yep.
"Wow, he can fly."
"OH MY, he is fast."
"Run, run, run like the wind."

Yeah, yeah I got that. Lots of guys are fast. Can he play? I didn't get an answer from any of them but I did when the game started. He can play.

I didn't get much chance to judge his defense so I'm going to take it on faith he's OK there. I did get lots of chances to judge his speed and we were not sold fool's gold there. He has jaw-dropper speed. In bed before the room is dark speed. Shake your head and wonder speed. Serious, serious, win games for you speed. His stolen base numbers aren't great and that has me concerned. Bad jumps? He was 3-5 in AAA before last night. The one I saw him steal last night was ridiculous. He went in head first and was in the process of standing up when the ball got to second. I have no idea how anybody throws him out.

I like him at the plate, too. He got two hits, scored a run, drove in a run, stole that base. He wasn't just flailing away and getting lucky. He seems to have a plan when he goes up there, knows what he is looking for and jumps on it when it comes. He also has what I have always called a powerful bat but probably should call a fast bat because I don't mean there's power as in home runs. I mean it gets through there quickly and he hits it hard. You don't want those gappers sitting up for the likes of Willie Harris to run down. You want them down on the ground and rolling fast (like my golf shots!). Bonifacio's do that. If he gets it into the gap, it is a sure double. If it gets through, he's on third. He hit a double last night and I could not believe how fast he got to second.

Granted, I saw him against AAA pitching and bad AAA pitching at that. It could mean nothing. That's why he has to get to the Nats now and get a real look. If he makes any kind of consistent contact, he'll be a delight to watch.

Oh, JimBow? While you're on the phone get Dukes the hell out of my town, too, and back in the bigs. Get his body guard to drive the two of them up there. Today. He's going full speed, playing as hard as we saw him play in June. Is it somehow less risky for him to do that in AAA than it is in the majors? Uh, no. So get him to Washington. He was by far the best player on the field last night. If the players all wore plain jerseys with no numbers, even a novice would have been able to pick out the big leaguer. That's how much he stood out.

He laid down a bunt early in the game that was close to remarkable. No one had a clue he was bunting until the ball was down and he beat it out easily. When a pickoff throw went awry, he was on third before the Braves chased down the ball. Later, he drove in Bonifacio with one of those explode-off-his-bat doubles.

Bonifacio and Dukes at the top of the lineup is something to finally get excited about in a season that's gone downhill since the opener. Tell FLop thanks for, well, nothing and to take his snarky ass down the road. Tell Pete Orr thanks for the hustle and that, if he hurries, he can catch the plane to China. Activate Dukes and promote Bonifacio. Now.

Here's the lineup I want to see tonight and for the final two months:

Bonifacio, 2B
Dukes, LF
Zimmerman, 3B
Kearns, RF (did I just type that?)
Guzman, SS
Milledge, CF
Flores, C
Belliard/LoDuca, 1B
Pitcher, P

You have knee, groin and elbow injuries across the outfield (sing it with me now: Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes). So work Willie in out there 2-3 times a week, plus once somewhere in the infield. He can get 15-20 at bats a week that way. Willie, Belliard and Casto give the bench three versatile players. Langerhans has been a good pinch-hitter lately. And, you know, that lineup for next year may be OK with a real answer at first. We won't know until we get a look at Bonifacio.

JimBow, you still here? GET ON THE PHONE!

A few other observations:

*No one else really jumped out at me but I really wasn't looking at anybody else.
*The Nationals can't bunt. The Clippers can't play bunt defense. They screwed up easy outs on three bunts last night. I left in the seventh so there may have been more.
*Montz hit an impressive home run. He also screwed up one of the bunts, probably the worst of the bunch when he threw to the wrong base. Hell, he's the future first baseman anyway (you knew that was coming).
*My man Zech got the win in a crazy game and he's proof that stat lines are misleading. He gave up two runs in his first inning. He gave up a sharp single to open the inning. A screwed up bunt followed by another screwed up bunt loaded the bases with nobody out. A grounder through a drawn-in infield scored one. Larry Broadway, in right field, sees the runner has stopped at third. Instead of throwing it in anyway, Broadway makes a lazy lob to second and the runner scores. I know Broadway is a first baseman by trade but that's a fundamental. Outfield gets it into the infield ASAP. Always.
*Jimenez at first is a big ol' guy and he hit a home run after I left. He also was responsible for one of the screwed up bunts. Speigner flew off the mound to pick one up on the third base line and made a great throw to first. Safe. Everyone is wondering why for a moment - then everybody sees Jimenez' foot is about a foot off the bag. Oops.
*If Stammen ever makes it to Washington, remind me to buy a seat in the Red Porch so I can get a ball. Two innings, seven hits and seven runs - not a one of them cheap. It was ugly.