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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.


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. 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 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.