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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.