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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bring Back Scruffy!

Jayson Werth is a good-looking guy! Who knew? He cleans up so well.

My wife watched part of the press conference with me and didn't believe it was actually the same guy she saw bouncing up and down with his (former) teammates after that late-season blast off Drew Storen.

That linked video message shows just how good he looks.

That said, BRING BACK SCRUFFY! This Jayson Werth looks like he would simply abhor getting dirty. I want the Jayson Werth who looks mean enough to make me cower in fear.

So there's my New Year's wish list. The return of Scruffy.

Unrelated, my ornament came today. Yeah, I bought one of those three-packs that offered the Nats ornament as a "bonus" gift. And the tickets are a gift. I haven't made up my mind yet about returning in 2011. Will Jayson Werth be enough or do I need to see more? Stay tuned on that because I just know everyone is on the edge of their seats.

But back to the ornament. It broke coming out of the box.

I sure hope that's not an omen. I have a clean Jayson Werth and a mess of an ornament. That needs to be reversed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Opening Day Starter for the Viera Invisible All-Stars

Welcome back Chien-Ming, be good to see you at Nationals Park agai *** oh wait. It will be good to see you at Nationals Park.

We'll see.

Wonder if Brandon Webb will join him on the VIA-S.

This is their hat:

This is their uniform:

And this is the release, courtesy of the Nationals:


The Washington Nationals tonight signed free-agent right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year Major League contract. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Wang, 30, returns for a second season with the Nationals organization. He did not pitch in 2010 while working with the Nationals’ training staff on a rehab program designed to regain full health from July 2009 right shoulder surgery.

Wang is 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 109 career games/104 starts spanning five seasons with the Yankees. An extreme ground-ball pitcher, Wang’s career ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 2.73/1 ranks third among active pitchers with 100-plus starts, trailing only Brandon Webb (3.63/1) and Derek Lowe (3.09/1). His .679 career winning percentage ranks second among active pitchers with 100 or more starts.

Perhaps best known for posting consecutive 19-win seasons for the Yankees in 2006 and ‘07, Wang’s consistency afforded him the honor of starting the Yankees’ first post-season contest in 2007 vs. Cleveland. During the same two-year span, Wang led MLB with 38 wins and a .745 winning percentage while pacing the American League with 864 ground balls induced and a 2.9/1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio.

Wang originally signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on May 5, 2000.

See Ya Hammer

Props to Mark Zuckerman on the scoop on this one - Josh Willingham to the As for two as-yet-unidentified "young" players.

If one of them is Gio Gonzalez, I'm really jacked. I would have thought Willingham would have been part of a package to bring in a major-league player. Preferably a pitcher.

I wonder if the Nats know something we don't?

Moving Willingham doesn't bother me as much as it might have before. At least last year he had an excuse for not doing anything in the second half of the season. I seem to remember a significant dropoff in 2009.

That said, he served the Nats well. I still can't believe it took the Nats so long to finally start playing him.

I wish him well.

Now, who are these two "young" players?

UPDATE: More on the players coming the Nats way. At first glance, I'm not overwhelmed. Anybody who actually knows something about these guys, please share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE 2: The Nats' release on the trade --


The Washington Nationals today acquired right-handed pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for left fielder Josh Willingham. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances last season with Oakland in just his second season as a full-time reliever. He posted 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (33 K/27.2 IP) and a .240 batting average against, including a stingy .207 mark against right-handed batters. Rodriguez recorded 11 saves and a 1.69 ERA in 20 appearances with Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2010, posting 13.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (31 K/21.1 IP) and a 3.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio (31 K/9 BB) with the River Cats.

The hard-throwing right-hander ranked fourth in the big leagues last season with an average fastball velocity of 98.45 miles per hour, after his 98.96 mph average in 2009 trailed only Detroit’s Joel Zumaya (99.19 mph). Rodriguez touched 103.2 mph on the gun in 2010, a high that was topped only by Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (105.1 mph) and Texas’ Neftali Feliz (103.4 mph).

Rodriguez, 23, is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 32 career relief appearances in the major leagues. A member of the World Team in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, he is currently pitching for Leones in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he has five saves and a 1.77 ERA (27 K/20.1 IP) in 17 appearances.

Brown batted .283 with 18 doubles, 11 triples, 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 131 games last season with Midland of the Double-A Texas League and Sacramento. He earned citations as a Texas League All-Star and Topps Double-A All-Star for his 90 games with Midland. Brown batted .320 with 14 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers, 49 RBI, 19 stolen bases and a .415 on-base percentage with the RockHounds, ranking among Double-A leaders for on-base percentage (third), batting average (fifth) and triples (tied for eighth).

Brown dominated the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League in 2009, hitting .333 and finishing among AFL leaders with 28 RBI (first), six home runs (tied for second), 65 total bases (second), 15 extra-base hits (tied for third) and 35 hits (fourth).

Selected by Oakland in the compensation round (59th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the 25-year-old has batted .272 with 83 doubles, 21 triples, 65 home runs, 243 RBI and 48 stolen bases in 390 games over four minor-league seasons.

Willingham, 31, batted .268 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI in 114 games last season with the Nationals.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Matt Stairs is a Nat

Strike up the band, another member of the Senior League All-Stars!

Release courtesy of the Washington Nationals and I'm sure everyone feels better about things now. Did anyone have a whiff of this one coming?

Bold has been added by me, not the Nats. Take that Phils! You got Cliff Lee? The Nats got Matt Stairs!


The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with outfielder/first baseman Matt Stairs on a non-guaranteed minor league contract, which includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Stairs is an 18-year big league veteran who has competed in four post-seasons and won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. He owns the all-time Major League mark with 23 pinch-hit home runs (Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload rank second among active players with eight pinch-homers). Stairs enters 2011 having played for a record-tying 12 different Major League teams and having homered for a record-tying 11 different clubs.

The 42-year-old tied for the Major League lead with four pinch-hit home runs last season, after leading all big league pinch hitters with five homers and 15 RBI (tied) in 2009. Overall in 2010, Stairs clubbed six home runs, six doubles and 16 RBI in 78 contests with the San Diego Padres.

Stairs has reached the 20-homer plateau six times en route to hitting 265 home runs and posting 897 RBI during his career.

And the Nats Can't Find ONE No. 1 Starter

Depending on your view of Cole Hamels (and I think highly of him), the Phillies now have FOUR No. 1 starters with the news that Cliff Lee is returning to Philadelphia. Surprise news, everyone is saying. Really? A true surprise or just something no one knew anything about until it actually happened? Kind of like Jayson Werth?

Pretty strong rotation there, though, eh? I think the pecking order is clear: Halladay (the best pitcher in baseball), Lee (not the second best as long as The Freak is around), Oswalt and Hamels. You could throw Ramon Ortiz in the fifth spot and still have the best rotation in the game (or second best if you are a Giants fan).

While it is an impressive collection, here's why I think Phils fans shouldn't get but so excited and why fans of the Nats and other NL East teams don't need to get too freaked out: It is an aging rotation.

My prediction? Enjoy 2011, Philadelphia. I predict 100 victories and a pennant and probably a World Series crown.

But Hamels is the only youngster of the group and he's running out of young (he'll be 27 two days after Christmas). Oswalt and Lee turn 33 next season. Halladay turns 34.

Which one breaks down first? I'd never wish ill or injury on anyone, seriously, not even my worst enemy or a Phillie. But is there any way that trio makes it through 2012 unscathed?

Let's also note the Big Four combined to lose 43 games in 2010. So the idea when playing the Phils is to catch them in a "back-end" series. Take your chances with Hamels, Joe Blanton (until he's traded to the Red Sox) and Halladay. Beat No. 5 and catch one of the other two on one of their infrequent but not unheard of off days. Win the series.

Chin up people, it can be done.

So where does this leave the Nats? No change. Did anyone really expect Cliff Lee to come to Washington? Did anyone really expect to win the division in 2011? No. So there's no reason for us to fret.

I'm still not in favor of Carl Pavano and I still would like to see the team take a chance on Brandon Webb. I still wouldn't cry if Norris/Ramos, Desmond and a pitcher not named Zimmermann went to the Royals for Zack Greinke. I also wouldn't cry if the Nats didn't add a pitcher. Take your chances with Zimmermann, post-injury Marquis, post-demotion Lannan, Livo and any one of countless other options.

My main concern is first base and that the Nats will somehow end up with their own Senior Tour ready first baseman, the other available Lee (Derrek). I'd rather see Adam LaRoche, who will never hit 50 doubles and 46 home runs like Derrek Lee did in 2005 but looks (to me anyway) to be a better fit for this team right now.

Of course, they had a pretty good fit already (you think a Zimmerman/Dunn/Werth/Willingham 3-6 would have been OK) and he's with the White Sox now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Speaking of MASN

The release from our favorite sports network just came in and I'll copy it below. But first, I have a question:

Speaking of MASN, do we know who is in the booth next year? I hadn't even thought about it until I got this release. Was Bob Carpenter given multiple years last time? Is Ray Knight going back to pre- and post-game?

Inquiring minds want to know. Does anyone have the answer?

Anyhoo, here is MASN's release to hold us until another huge offseason move happens (if it does). was full of maybe news today I didn't like. Cliff Lee not happening (no shock). Derrek Lee maybe happening (Really, he's like my age). Carl Pavano still a possibility (The Senior Tour comes to Nats Park with Derrek Lee and Carl Pavano). Brandon Webb excited to go pitch for the Viera Invisible All-Stars.

Oh, yeah, here's the release:

MASN to Televise Jayson Werth Press Conference Live

Nationals press conference scheduled for Wednesday, December 15th at 1 p.m.

(Washington D.C.) --- MASN will provide live coverage of the Nationals news conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon introducing outfielder Jayson Werth to local media.

The news conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and will be televised live on MASN hosted by Nats Xtra broadcaster Johnny Holliday.

The Nationals signed Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal during the annual Winter Meetings. Werth, 31, batted .296 with an NL-leading 46 doubles, 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games in 2010 for the Philadelphia Phillies, establishing career highs in hits, doubles, extra-base hits and runs. Werth's career includes seasons in Philadelphia (2007-10), Los Angeles (2004-05) and Toronto (2002-03).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thank You Cubs

If you believe the Chicago Sun-Times (and I do), Carlos Pena is off the market.

(and if you don't believe the Sun-Times, believe Mark Zuckerman who just posted on the topic)

A trillion thank yous to the Cubs. Had I known, I would have spent more money on my visit to Wrigley.

All signs point to Pena being a very fine guy and I hope he has a monster year. As the linked article points out, his numbers have dropped each of the past three seasons. Yet he got $10 mil - albeit only for one year - after failing to even reach the Mendoza Line.

I sleep better knowing he won't be batting between Zimmerman and Werth.

Is there any question any more that Adam LaRoche is the right answer at first? Left bat, solid player who won't cost a fortune, a good fit in that he doesn't have to be the big bopper?

I still say the Nats make one more significant splash before the party breaks up in Florida, though I make it clear that's just me talking at this stage. I don't know how serious they are about Cliff Lee, though I wouldn't object to another crazy contract if he's on the other end of it. Some people say they're very much in it, some people say they're very much not. Rizzo keeps using the term longshot. I've seen longshots win before.

Adrian Beltre? That won't be the big name, thankfully. No knock on him, I don't feel the same way about Beltre as I do about Pena. It just isn't a fit. He's a fine 3B and the Nats have a better one. Why make anyone play out of position (and add another right-handed bat) when Adam LaRoche is out there?

The shindig in Florida breaks up tomorrow, I think. I'm very eager to see what, if anything, happens in the next 24 hours.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two More L's

And I'm not talking about losses. This is my wish list for the rest of the winter. If this happens (and it likely won't), no need to get me anything for Christmas but one of the new Nats hats. I'll be happy. And I'll be back.

With the addition of Jayson Werth, I want two things to happen. L guys.

*Cliff Lee. Call it my pipedream. As I'll note when I finally put my Werth thoughts on virtual paper, you really only ought to do one blowout, crazy contact. I'll waive that rule here. If it takes seven years and 140 mil, do it. Think about 2012: Lee, Jee-SUS, Zimmermann (assuming the development we all expect). There's the Nats answer to the Roy-Roy-Hamels triumverate in Philadelphia.

*Adam LaRoche. Good, solid answer at 1B. Another strong bat, doesn't have to be THE big bat with Werth around. Certainly makes much more sense than Adrian Beltre. Bats left. Doesn't have to change positions.

Oh, and keep Willingham unless the return is someone like Greinke.

I could live with a rotation of Lee, Zimmermann, Livo, post-demotion Lannan and, hell, just about anyone for 2011. I'd much rather see Bernadina in center than Morgan but I won't quibble.

Lee. LaRoche. Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 6, 2010

OK, This One IS Just A Rumor - Now

Sometimes I forgot that I'm nothing more than a mere blogger, posting from my home (not in a basement) with whatever I want to say being fair game.

I need to give up these standards from my previous life.

Nope, can't do it. But I CAN post stuff that I wouldn't write in the old days, I'm just going to make it clear what is and what isn't rock solid.

The Josh Willingham trade? That was rock solid and I wrote it that way. The Jayson Werth signing? That was very close to rock solid (well, it was rock solid - I just didn't know it at the time) and I wrote it that way.

I hinted at more yesterday and some of the regulars have done so since they got wind of Werth and expanded on that.

First, everyone expects Brandon Webb to get done. No shocker there. Low pay, high incentives, limited expectations. The Viera Invisible All-Stars need someone now that Wang has been non-tendered. Unless he signed elsewhere while I was sleeping.

But that's not the potential big one that has the world ready to buzz again. One more time - a mere rumor to this point. May not pan out at all. I know that and you need to know that before reading the next line.

Adrian Beltre.

Yeah, the guy whose bobblehead I lucked into when I saw the Nats play in Seattle in 2008 is something of a target.

Say what?

I asked my source to place it on the scale: pipedream or possibility or close to being done? Somewhere above pipedream and somewhere below close to being done. My guess is "being seriously explored by both sides" would work.

We'll see. As noted yesterday, keep your ears open.

The big question would become, where's he going to play? Although there's nothing in the rules that says you can't have two guys standing near 3B, it's not good baseball strategy. Someone has to play 1B. Can Beltre do that? Or, uh, ah, does the best third baseman in the game make a move? No way, right? Laughable, right?

One thing I have learned over the years is never say no way. Never laugh. Because you never know. You'd have laughed at me Saturday if I told you the Nats were about to drop seven years and 126 mill-yun on Jayson Werth. Some of you laughed yesterday when I swore "werth"while news was coming.

Again, RUMOR. Take it as such. But make sure all your alerts from blogs, Facebook and Twitter are set on high. Whether it's this or something else, the Nats are NOT done. Far from it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Release courtesy of the Nationals and, yes, I am patting myself on the back. HARD

The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with free-agent right fielder Jayson Werth on a seven-year contract. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Werth, 31, is a career .272 (684-for-2519) hitter with 138 doubles, 15 triples, 120 home runs, 406 RBI, 77 stolen bases and 433 runs scored in 775 games spanning eight seasons with Philadelphia (2007-10), Los Angeles-NL (2004-05) and Toronto (2002-03). For his career, Werth also owns .367 on-base and .481 slugging percentages, as well as an .848 OPS.

In 2010, his final season with the Phillies, Werth batted .296 (164-for-554) with an NL-leading 46 doubles, 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games. He established career highs in hits, doubles, extra-base hits (75) and runs (106). He also notched a career-best .532 slugging percentage in ‘10, and thus, increased his slugging mark for the fourth straight season.

An NL All-Star in ‘09, Werth burst upon the scene as a premium middle-of-the-lineup bat in 2008, and in three seasons since, he has batted .279 with 88 doubles, 87 home runs, 251 RBI and 53 stolen bases in 449 games. In the same three-year span, Werth has paced MLB having seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. In the two-season stretch from 2009-10, Werth’s 204 runs scored, 173 walks and 63 home runs ranked third, fifth and eighth, respectively in the NL.

An excellent baserunner, Werth has twice posted 20-stolen base seasons (2008, ‘09), and in 2010 his speed and senses helped him to score 100-plus runs for the first time in his career.

Drafted in the first round by the Orioles as a catcher in 1997, Werth has proven durable, as he is one of only 12 National Leaguers to have played in 155-plus games each of the last two seasons.

A proven post-season performer, Werth’s .607 slugging percentage and .987 OPS rank third and fifth, respectively, among active players who have played in at least 20 playoff games.

Ears Open People - Big News Coming

I still have a source or two in this world and I'm told the Nats are about to make a very big splash in the free agent world. Very big splash. Losing Dunn? Mike Rizzo has to be grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

This one will be werth waiting for, I'm told. Not sure when it will become official and how much work remains to be done. Not 100 percent sure it will happen - but pretty darn close to that.

Other moves are in the works, too. A quiet offseason, at least in terms of good news, is about to get noisy. It could be a fun week.

If my favorite soon-to-be former Phillie does indeed end up in D.C., I may have to forget all about my promise to stay away. It will be werth it.

Ears open people.

(and if you are wondering how seriously to take this, ask yourself if you laughed when I wrote about the Willingham trade - of that I was rock-solid 100 percent certain. Here I'm only 99.999999999999 percent)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thank You Adam Dunn

I held off on posting. I reached for the computer yesterday intent on letting it all spill out. Instead, I decided to wait until I calmed down. Then it occurred to me I might never post again since I might never calm down. So I reached for the computer again.

My wife's reaction was priceless. When she heard the very loud F BOMB I uttered after hearing the news - she was in the same room but could have heard it from her classroom 20 miles away - she asked what was wrong. I told her. And she said:

"Idiots. We're not going back, right?"

Correct. We are not. The Nats won't notice. The Nats won't care. But a family has to take a stand.

Eventually, maybe even tonight, I'll let that anger out. I have plenty to say. I had an e-mail exchange with a colleague who is a Nats fan today. Turns out I'm definitely not alone in my thoughts. I may just cut and paste his e-mail because he said it better than I could.

But, until then, I want to make sure my appreciation for Adam Dunn doesn't get lost in this disgust that is eating away at me from the inside out.


Dear Adam Dunn,

Thank you. Having been a Nats fan since the team landed in Washington, I can assure you moments of joy have been few. I could list some, sure. I'd be lying if I said there weren't any. Cripes, I've seen five walk-off home runs (one of them by you).

But by and large they've been rare and you were responsible for many of them.

Sure, you drove me nuts now and then looking at strike three (except you were right on the Randy Johnson pitch). Sure you drove me nuts sometimes watching you play defense (but you were getting better).

Overall? You made it fun to be there and you're one of the few guys who made me inch up and lean forward in my seat every time you came up.

Specific moments? I could go on forever but here are a few I was present for and for which I give you a rousing and heartfelt thanks:

*No. 300. Against the Braves no less, with my Son The Braves Fan right next to me. Even he had to give it up for that one. "That was cool," he said, standing and applauding with the rest of us. Yes, yes it was.

*The one against St. Louis in 2009 when Martis pitched that gem. Landed way in the upper deck and made my wife go "HOLY SHIT" really loud.

*The one off the warehouse (on the bounce) in Baltimore that made my wife use another word after HOLY but just as loud.

*The walk-off slam against the Mets in early July that was called a double after review. But, hey, everyone in the joint knew it was out. Even K-Rod, which is why he laid that fattie in for Pudge to drive in the winner.

*The two against the Braves late this season, with aforementioned son next to me saying, "Sure, great idea Nats, let this guy go because you have SO many others who can do that."

*The last one, the walk-off against the Phillies. I laughed, I cheered and I cried a little, too, because I knew. I think everyone in the stadium knew. That was it.

There's more but you have contracts to sign and more money to spend and I have to get back to work and then figure out which team I'll go see next year because I don't want to give up on live baseball. Just the Nats. I wish you'd picked the cool team in Chicago but whatever. Your call. I don't blame you for any of this.

Meanwhile, I await the signing of Carlos Pena so I can get disgusted all over again. I await the crap the Nats try to shove down our throats about how this is the right baseball decision. I do not await the end of 2013, when Ryan Zimmerman follows you out the door. Probably just a coincidence that he won Silver Sluggers both years you were in the lineup with him, eh?

You were a joy to watch and I enjoyed watching you.

Thank you,


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trade Talk

If I accomplished nothing else this weekend, it was a success for one reason. I managed to talk My Son the Braves Fan off the ledge.

He was distraught because the Braves acquired Dan Uggla. Really. They gave up a reliever and a utility guy (yes, a good one) to get a 30-HR machine. Very much a plus deal for the Braves.

But my son like Omar Infante a lot, didn't want to see him gone. I get that, I said, but you have to give to get. The key is to make sure you get more than you give. I think the Braves did here. I had crazy dreams of Uggla in Washington.

As fans, you're supposed to have favorite players. The lesson in today's free agent and wheeling-and-dealing times: Don't get too attached.

It got me to thinking. If the Nats do make trades, will any departures make me screams "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo?" Only a couple.

*Jee-SUS: Obvious, and there's no way it happens.

*Zimmerman: See above.

That may be it. There are a couple of others I'd be a bit distraught to see traded.

*Zimmermann. Jee-SUS he isn't but I remained convinced for now he's going to be pretty good so I'd like to see him stay.

*Ramos. I'm not sold on the guy yet. I don't think any of us saw enough last season to really tell either way. Jury's still out and all that. But if this cat is such a hot prospect that the Nats gave up a young and proven closer for him, well, he damn sure ought to be worth keeping.

*Danny Espinosa. See Zimmermann, above.

But if the price is right?

There many other players I don't want to see guy but I won't lose sleep if the return is right. Ian Desmond? I like him a lot and wouldn't mind seeing him stay for a long time. But suppose the return is along the lines of a Zach Greinke (yes, I know it would cost more than Desmond)?

I just hope if the Nats do trade proven they get more than one piece of potential for it. We'll see soon enough, I guess.

Finally, I have to give it up for Ben Goessling at MASN. He got me this morning. I saw the headline "Why You Should Want the Nationals to Sign Carl Pavano" and I'm thinking, "Wow, this better be good." Because I don't want the Nationals to sign Carl Pavano.

It's good. I still don't want him signed but it's good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moves, Signings, Ramblings

A buddy is, for reasons I've been unable to ascertain, a huge Florida Marlins fan. Makes no sense given his background but it's a free world and he's otherwise OK.

He sent me a Facebook note yesterday: Heard you guys were interested in Uggla.

You guys? I told him if I was really one of those guys, Adam Dunn would be signed by now. I'm just a detached fan. But as a fan, yeah, I'd be interested in Uggla.

I'm curious what it would cost. If it could be done for Derek Norris and some other "prospects," I'd be all for it. Because then you could move Danny Espinosa to short and use Ian Desmond as the chip to maybe, maybe, just maybe land Zach Greinke.

I see all these stories out there saying how teams are going to ask for Jordan Zimmermann and/or Ian Desmond for any deal involving a real player. I would very much not like it if the Nats send Jordan Zimmermann somewhere else. And while I have no issue at all with Ian Desmond remaining a Nat, I also have no issue with him going somewhere else if the return is good.

Zach Greinke is good.

Yes, I realize this is all pointless meandering of the mind. None of it will happen. Still, it's nice to dream.

I'm also left wondering this: the Nats won't give four years to a player who is pretty much in his prime but the Redskins can give about a zillion years and a kajillion dollars to a player who is past his prime and maybe, just maybe, past the days of being reasonably effective?

No wonder I'm always confused and mumbling.

Monday, November 15, 2010

HEY!! What about Jee-SUS!??!?

I've been asked three or four times already: No votes for Stephen Strasburg for rookie of the year? Suppose he'd stayed healthy?

Second one first: He didn't.

IF he had and had posted 10 wins and lots of strikeouts with a low-2 ERA, then, yeah, you bring him into the conversation. Again, as we all know painfully well by now: He didn't. Not in the conversation. It's not rookie of the 10-week period in the middle of the season. It's rookie of the year. Or most of the year at least, in the winner's case.

Crowded class of quality rookies this year in the NL and while some of the ballots were odd, they got it right.

Buster Posey deserved to win. Jason Heyward had a great year and would have been a quality choice, too. But like our man Zim (my twin), he was runner-up to an excellent player who had an excellent year. No shame there.

Voters only had three spots. With those two and Garcia in St. Louis (not to mention Sanchez in Florida and some others I'm sure I'm forgetting now), could you really give one of those slots to a guy who threw for 10 weeks, no matter how well he threw?


Jee-SUS did not get screwed. He'll win his share of awards. I already have bets down on 2012 Cy Young, 2012 All-Star starter (yes, I know it isn't an award), 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, 2012 Gold Glove, 2012 MVP.

I may even go back to the stadium to see some of those 2012 games.

Unrelated, the Braves have to be really loving that deal they made to get Mark Teixeira a few years back. All Texas got out of the deal was the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year and an all-star shortstop.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ryan Zimmerman - My Twin

Think about it. We could be the same guy.

We're from Virginia. We're dashingly handsome. We have four letters in our first names. OK, that's a reach. His is the real name, mine is a nickname. I'm still counting it.

Sure, there are some differences. He's younger, richer, stronger and a much, much better baseball player (he should be, he's less than half my age). His opinion also matters, or at least should.

As reported by Mark Zuckerman and others from last night's uniform show, Zimmerman reiterated his point about wanting Adam Dunn to remain a teammate. He makes very good points, particularly about the consistency. This is partly stumping for one of his buddies, sure. But it doesn't detract from his main point - you lose more out of the middle of your lineup than you're sure you'll be able to replace. So sign the man.

Back to the differences: Zimmerman can't stay away from Nats Park if the Nats don't sign Dunn. I can. Zimmerman is under contract. That's where he gets his money, so he has to show up.

Through 2013 anyway. Afterward, he can go wherever he'd like.

If I never show up at Nats Park again, it will matter not a twit to anyone other than me. The show will go on and no one will notice my absence. It won't have any bearing on the Nationals in any way.

If Zim doesn't show up anymore after 2013, it will matter.

My opinion on Dunn is just that, worth about as much as the hot air I expend repeating it so often. Nothing.

Zim's opinion ought to matter. I won't be missed. He will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Those Uniforms

I'm not going to lie - I like them. A lot in fact.

If it works out that I do attend a few games at Nats Park next season, I think you can "expect" I will buy one of each.

Who am I kidding? If it doesn't work out that I attend a few games next year, I think you can "expect" I will buy one of each (or beg for them for birthday/Father's Day, etc.). I never said I was going to stop being a fan, I just said I was going to stop going to games. I can wear them here while I watch on TV (who will broadcast?) and cry in my beer and wait for Jee-SUS to come back.

As I noted earlier, I have no problems with any of the Nats' previous uniforms. I own a replica of all of them. I liked the original road jersey better the current road jersey. I always really liked the home whites. Still do. That would be my only quibble with the new set - is the name "Nationals" nowhere to be found on any of them? I think it should be prominent on at least one set. After all, "Nationals" is the name of the team.

A wiseguy might say there's no chance of an "o" being left out when there's only a Curly W on the jersey. I'm not going to take that easy cheap shot. I'm sure that's not the reason the jersies don't say "Nationals."

Are they trying to distance themselves from the name? I hope that's not the case either. It's a nice name.

I saw a picture of a new hat somewhere earlier, a red had with a blue brim? I like that, too.

Now if they'd just sign Dunn *** I'd be one really happy guy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Expect What Exactly?

I guess since I'm no longer a season-ticket holder and not one of the elite, I won't getting this thing Dan Steinberg describes in his bog (the best newspaper online column going, by the way).

I am curious to know what I'm supposed to expect.

More bad baseball? More overmanaging? More closed concession stands upstairs? No more Adam Dunn?

I've been "expecting it" every year for six years now and "it" really only happened in the first half of the first year.

As noted in a previous post or two, the Nats aren't the only team with good young talent. You can make strong cases that numerous teams have more good young talent and better young talent.

So someone read that thing and tell me what I'm supposed to expect. Or are non-season-ticket holders not supposted to expect anything at all?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Day of Life in Nats A.D.

I woke up at 7:30 like I do most Sundays and I could tell it was just a stunningly beautiful day in the making. Then it hit me. It was 6:30 and I could go back to bed and I did. For TWO hours! I'm such a slacker.

It was even more beautiful when I got up for good. Perhaps a sign from above that on this the first day of Nats A.D. (after Dunn), the sun does indeed rise and shine again.

I still don't like it. I still won't go back to the park and give them any more of my money. I could save enough to buy Cliff Lee for 26 seconds or so.

Today's game: Let's try to guess a few things.

1. Where will Adam Dunn sign - and for how much and how long? I say Cubs, four years, 60 million

2. Who will play first base next season for the Nats? My brother says Aubrey Huff. I'm convinced my nightmare scenario comes true. Carlos Pena comes to D.C. and convinces everybody he's just a wonderful guy. And hits about .177 - like I noted in an earlier post, just keep Willie and put him at first.

3. What other players might sign? I'd excrete enough bricks to build a new stadium if Cliff Lee actually comes to D.C. (to play, not wearing someone else's uniform). Same with Jayson Werth, as much as I'd like to see that. I boldly predict Brandon Webb becomes a Nat and spends next year pitching in whatever league Wang and Flores played in during 2010. They'll sign some Adam Kennedy type. They'll sign some ho-hum outfielder.

What say you?

I have to find a way to enjoy this brilliant day. The Caps play at 5 and it'll be dark by then so I won't feel guilty about parking myself in front of the TV then.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I didn't see this anywhere in the Natsmosphere except for our friends at Nationals Enquirer and I wanted to make sure my handful of exclusive readers didn't miss this sad, sad story.

Yes, I'm fully aware that Elijah Dukes' situation is almost totally of his own making. Some will argue the circumstances of his upbringing are to blame, but I've covered way too many athletes who have come from bad backgrounds and become top-notch and productive citizens.

Yes, I'm fully aware that I was never completely comfortable with Dukes in a Nationals uniform. Like many, I kept waiting for the proverbial shoes to drop. He had some definite "wow you" skills as well as so many holes in his game that those skills could be worked around by the opposition.

I still wish it had worked out. I heard enough interviews with the guy to come away with the conviction that he's far from stupid.

And I still find the Elijah Dukes story very, very sad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dunn With Dunn - The Countdown

OK, I'm not real clear on the rules.

The World Series ended last night, before midnight. There's that five-day window thing.

Is it today (1), tomorrow (2), Thursday (3), Friday (4) and Saturday (5)? Or is it a business-day thing where the weekend doesn't count and Monday becomes the fifth day - even though phones work on the weekends?

Just curious. I don't think it matters. I'm convinced the Nats will offer the arbitration (be a hoot if he accepts), take their two picks and sign someone else to be part of next year's 65-win team. I'm not certain the braintrust was ever really serious about signing Dunn to any kind of extension.

A friend, aware of my severe opposition to Carlos Pena as the replacement, noted that Pena has at least played on a winner and Dunn has never done that. He doesn't think Dunn ever will play on a winner. I had to remind my pal that if the Nats sign Pena, that's all they get. He's not bringing Evan Longoria and David Price with him. Little easier to play for a winner when you're surrounded by better players.

The World Series was just depressing, though that's nothing against the Giants. Hard to not like the Giants. But you look at the Lincecum-Cain-Bumgardner trifecta. All 26 or younger.

Next season, will the Nats have even one pitcher in that class? In 2012, will they have another one along with Jee-SUS?

I just don't see it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Let me go on record right here and now as being heavily in favor of "against" and I haven't even seen the new uniforms yet. Given my current status as NOT a season-ticket holder, I doubt I'll get an invite to the unveiling.

The one thing I've always liked about the Nats is their uniforms. I don't want this to become like NASCAR where colors change and drivers change and sponsors change every 20 minutes or so and they make their fans into their personal ATM machines.

I don't have the red alternate uniform jersey but I have all the others. Just found a "37" road jerset with the script Washington on eBay for about 25 bucks.

I will not be suckered into buying these new unis. I hear the white home unis are going to a script Nationals. I'm going to nose around some more and see if I can find out anything before the select few (rich suckers) get to witness the unveiling.

Besides, if the Nats don't re-sign Dunn -- and it sure looks like that's not going to happen -- I won't have a need for a new jersey to wear to the stadium. Because I won't be going.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cliff Lee

Ben Goessling asks the question, Could the Nationals Land Cliff Lee?

Could they?

The first impulse is no way. Why on Earth would Cliff Lee want to pitch for the Nats? Would the Nats actually pay that kind of money? And is it a good investment?

My next impulse is oh my. Oh my oh my. I've seen this guy live a few times, most recently in July. He's really, really, really good. Really good. Exceptionally good.

I do hope if the Nats are serious, they take some time to find out what happened in Philadelphia and if those reports of Charlie Manuel calling him a "cancer" are true. The level of assholeness you can tolerate goes up, way up, as the ability goes up and Lee has built up quite an account.

Still, you have to be careful with that kind thing. Even an asshole account can be overdrawn.

Would Cliff Lee in a Curly W make me change my stance on Adam Dunn? Nope. But it would assure I'd set the DVR every fifth day.

Lee, Dunn, Werth - could El Jefe tie up about $60 million in three players? I'd buy season tickets for that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Youth vs. Their Youth

One of the few redeeming things about the offseason when you follow a crap-o-la team is you can watch the postseason and think, "Yeah, that's us next year."

I'm trying and I'm convinced I must be drunk.

I really want to be optimistic for once in my life but it isn't working and here's why: Let's for the sake of discussion buy the Nats argument that the team and system is just bursting with quality young talent. OK, we believe.

Is that young talent any better, or even as good as, the young talent on other teams? I don't think so.

The negativity began creeping in yesterday when I looked at my Page-A-Day Calendar (Sports Facts) and I saw that it was Troy Tulowitzki's birthday. Happy Birthday Troy, a day late.

He's 26. He's 11 months older than Ian Desmond. Eleven whole months. I love Desie and all, but which player would you rather have?

It hit me between the eyes again tonight when I saw the Giants were throwing Madison Bumgarner in the game that could get them into the NL championship series. This kid is barely 21 (8/1/1989) and he won seven games this season with an ERA of 3.00.

My guess is other than a healthy Jee-SUS (who isn't healthy), he'd probably be the Nats best pitcher.

Add to it the fact that Lincecum and Cain are just 26 (and Cain just barely) and you aren't going to convince me the Nats' staff will be any better than this staff, maybe ever, even after Jee-SUS returns.

Jason Heyward is like 21. The Braves have some stud pitching prospect whose name escapes me, used as a comparison point about Bryce Harper's development in one of his instructional games, who will give them three really damn good pitchers under 25 if this kid makes the team next season (Jurrjens and Hanson are both 24).

Found the story on the Braves guy - Julio Teheran.

Hell, Brian McCann is a FIVE-TIME all-star and he's only 26! Maybe my The Son the Braves Fan is on to something.

I could go on and on and on but I think the point is clear.

The Nats' kids do indeed look to be all right. I fear the rest of the league has kids who are more all right.

So here I sit, all depressed again. Maybe there's some hockey on tonight. Hey, their is - and the Caps are winning! At least with the Caps, I can stay happy until the playoffs start.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They're Not Serious About Pena?

So I'm waiting on some stories and the playoffs have started. The TV is on and I'm watching.

Here's what I've seen out of the Nats' next first baseman:

*He struck out looking in the first inning with the bases loaded.

*He just struck out looking again.

*Mr. Gold Glove failed to pick up a one-hopper from Evan Longoria. Didn't save the E - isn't that the main reason the Nats' "brain" trust allegedly wants this guy over Dunn?

Carlos Pena hit .196 in 144 games.

Why not just keep Willie Harris and play him at first base?

Dude hit .282 in 2007 and has fallen off dramatically every year since.

Are the Nats really thinking of signing him and then trying to sell us on it being best for the team's "long-term interests?"

Please. Do we look stupid? Don't answer that because with those Curly W's on our head year after year, we probably do.

I can't believe there's a "baseball person" around who thinks this guy is a better option.

Plus, he's older than Dunn.

I've made it clear I won't go back if the Nats don't re-sign Adam Dunn. I will remain a fan but the team won't get any more of my money.

If the Nats sign Carlos Pena, I may give up the whole fan thing altogether. There's another team about 40 miles further up the road. I already have a couple of hats and shirts and I really like their ballpark.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Internet Writers Awards

Here's a link to the awards given out in balloting among members of the DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association.

Proud to be a member. Much love to Dave Nichols for spearheading the organization and the voting.

I'll have a full post on it later and reveal my votes - the good ones and the poor ones. I mostly agree with the list, with one or two questions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Walkin' Off With A Smile - OK, A Grin

Oh snap. Hell yeah. Bang zoom and all that. Just got home from one of my more enjoyable nights at the ol' yard and what a way to go out this season - and maybe ever.

I've now seen five walk-offs there by five different players - Ryan Zimmerman, Wil Nieves (Who?), Ronnie Belliard, Josh Willingham and **** yes, indeed - ADAM DUNN! Couldn't have asked for a better script.

Walk offs NEVER get old. Daggone that's fun. Having Dunn do it while the Nats braintrust apparently decides he isn't worth signing makes it all the more sweet. Or bittersweet.

My only regret is he didn't come out for a curtain call.

My final two visits of the season - Friday's 8-3 victory over the Braves and last night's 2-1 victory over the Phillies. That's at least one and probably two playoff teams.

In those two games, I saw Adam Dunn hit three home runs and drive in seven of the 10 runs. They won both games for one reason - Adam Dunn is in the lineup.

But go ahead, don't sign him because he's not the Big Cat over at first. That's real smart.

I said this earlier and I'll say it again. They don't sign Adam Dunn, I won't be back. I'll have more on that later and I'm sure my meager opinion won't mean squat to the Nats.

But I get the sense being at the park tonight, listening to the radio on the way home, just a vibe -- way way way more fans agree with me than don't.

If you agree, let the Nats know. I will. I'll stay the hell away. And I mean that.

Don't mean to be a buzzkill. This was a great day/night/early morning. I want more of them. I want Adam Dunn on this team for at least four more years.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Hope Dunn Drills One Tonight

since it looks like it will be the last time I see him live in a Nats uniform.

Making my final visit of the season tonight to scoop up a long-sleeve T-shirt I'm too fat to wear. Seeing this report from MASN's Ben Goessling doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I get the defense thing, I really do. Dunn's foibles over there drive me nuts quite a bit, too.

But the man has power and will hit lots of home runs and drive in lots of runs. If the Nats think replacing him is going to cure a lot of ills, they're mistaken.

Ian Desmond is flashy and fun but a defensive liability to what seems like a higher degree than Dunn. Anyone in the OF other than Bernadina have a real arm that can scare opposing runners?

Shore up some other areas, find a couple of real pitchers to go along with the couple you have now (the list is nowhere near as long as the Nats would like us to believe) and Dunn's defense becomes less glaring and more of a problem that can be lived with as opposed to one that is a killer.

Adam Dunn isn't perfect. He's also not this team's problem. What was Boswell's line a few weeks ago? The list of guys who hit 40 and drive in 100 AND want to be a National is very, very short. You have one in the clubhouse already. Sign him.

I'm down with the Jayson Werth thing, too. Very down. Give them both 60 mil for four years, sign a couple of pitchers and maybe actually become good? Is that too much to ask? When Jee-SUS returns in 2012 and Harper arrives on the scene, get even better? Do I need to slap myself awake here and quit dreaming?

If they let Dunn walk, this may be my last visit for a long, long, long time. I've supported a very bad team long enough. Lots and lots of money. Been to see them play in 10 different cities besides Washington. Set my body clock around their games.

Bad I can tolerate (not that it is all that enjoyable). Stupid I can't.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Seriously Dad?"

If I had a buck for every time My Son the Braves Fan said that last night, I'd buy the team from the Lerners and guarantee Uncle Stan one vote in his bid to become the next Commish (and I think I'm going to start calling him Commissioner Stan from now on).

Seriously Dad?

The subject of all this talk was one Adam Dunn. My Son the Braves Fan, as I've noted before, is a closet Nats fan. He'll never admit it, but he does pull for them 144 times a year and he knows a good bit about the Nats just because he hangs out with his father the expert (cough, hack, cough, wheeze) so much.

Seriously Dad?

First time it came up was when Mr. Dunn parked one of Tim Hudson's pitches onto that patch of grass next to the bar in center field.

Do they really not want to sign this guy?

Seriously Dad?

The next time came in the third, when Mr. Dunn placed a Hudson pitch in the Braves' bullpen.

You know, Dad, this guy hits a lot of home runs. Drives in a lot of runs. Doesn't sound like he's looking to break the bank. Why isn't this Dunn?

We had pretty good seats, having used the coupons I got when I bought my Strasburg Mini-Plan. Front row. Lower bowl. We could actually see Mike Rizzo. "See that guy right there?" I told the kid. "Go ask him."

When Dunn botched the grounder on a play a reasonably adept first baseman would have made, I told my son that those were the kinds of plays that led some to think the Nats had no interest in bringing Dunn back.

So he said it again.

"Seriously Dad? OK so he's not a great first baseman. He's better than he was and it's something you just need to live with - the plusses are much bigger than the minuses."

Another point it the direction of Rizzo.

Then came the Dunn v. Dunn battle. Oh how I was hoping for a grand slam. Had it happened, I might still be in the stands um, ah, making a mess of myself.

As it was I had to settle for a two-run single. Two more RBI for Mr. No Defense, giving him five on the night and putting him over 100 for the year.

But he's old and broken dow *** oh, wait, he's still young and still healthy. But he'll cost too muc *** oh, wait, he's not trying to break the bank.

I wanted to start a "four more years, four more years" chant.

Instead, my son asked a question.

"Seriously Dad?"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feel Better About Jee-SUS Night

Back at the park for the first time in a while tonight (and maybe the final time of the season if rain ruins T-Shirt Tuesday). Taking My Son the Braves Fan, who is relieved to know he won't have to dance and sing the U.Va. fight song with Zimmerman out (if Zimmermann hits one out, he doesn't have to sing).

Son, there's always a ninth-inning pinch HR lingering as a possibility.

I can't see the lineup the Nats are throwing out there tonight scoring a run off Tim Hudson. I'm calling 4-0 Braves right now and we're all home by 9:30.

What I hope to gain tonight is a better feeling about Jee-SUS and his elbow. The matchup tonight is Old Tommy John Survivor vs. Young Tommy John Survivor.

Of course, I've been sure all along young Stephen would be just fine. I just wish we didn't have to wait so long.

One day, I'll make a list of all the current TJs pitching in the minors. It's happening more and more and the results are getting better and better. I wonder how many years it will be until there are more pitchers in the majors who have had the surgery than there are who haven't?

I also hope to see Uncle Stan tonight so I can say thanks in person. And tell him to yell at Rizzo to re-sign Dunn before he leaves. And find out why I can't get any flippin' Flippin Pizza after the sixth inning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thank You Uncle Stan

Dang. Done already? Well, he said he'd do five years and it has been five years. He's always been a man of his word.

I have no idea if I'm in the minority or the majority here. I've never been able to get an accurate gauge of how the general public feels about ol' Uncle Stan. But I'm going to miss the guy. I think he's good for the franchise beyond the supposed "credibility" he brought to the team. Yes, the results have been putrid. Part of that has to be on him - he IS the team president. Somehow, though, I think it would be even worse without Uncle Stan than it has been with him.

No question Uncle Stan can drop some arrogance on you. He has that smartest guy in the room air about him. Unlike most who have that air, though, Uncle Stan usually is the smartest guy in the room. I'd trust him with my business.

Being the president of a bad ballclub has to be a miserable task. You're not responsible for the product on the field but you're "the boss" of those who are responsible. You're also responsible for the business side, the fan experience, the whole works. I have no idea what he made. I sure hope it was a ton.

In short, if I see Rizzo in the concourse, I might yell, "Hey, RE-SIGN DUNN." I wouldn't do that but you get my point.

If I see Uncle Stan, I might yell, "Hey, why can't I get any flippin' Flippin Pizza after the sixth inning? Why is the bathroom a mess? And tell Rizzo to RE-SIGN DUNN."

He ran the show. He didn't sign the checks. I suspect that limited him. I would love for him to do a tell-all at some point, somewhere. I suspect we'd learn an awful lot.

Judging from what I've come to know about the man, I don't see it happening. Too bad.

I dealt with him periodically on a professional basis when he was in Atlanta and I was working as a sports writer here. He didn't know me from Adam (not talking 'bout Kilgore), but I got a return call every single time I left a message. Can you imagine how many calls someone in his position gets? He didn't always tell me what I wanted to know or hear. He always called. Always. Always thanked me for calling, too.

Good man, good businessman, good for the Nats. Maybe I'm just a voice in the wilderness with all that. Maybe I'm biased because I saw what he did in Atlanta and had some positive dealings with him. Could well be the case.

But that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm curious if we'll see him again in baseball. The "pursue other interests" line that was in one of the releases was interesting. I don't know how old he is, I'm going to guess early 60s. My guess he's pretty well set financially. One of the comments on Mark Zuckerman's site said something about his wife's health. I sure as heck hope if Mrs. Kasten is sick, Uncle Stan is able to spend a lot of time with her and she's able to recover.

Mrs. Kasten is at the heart of one of the stories I love best about Uncle Stan. Remember when Nats Park opened? He asked her to park at RFK and ride the Nats Express and let him know how it worked.

She's Mrs. President of the Nats. I'm going to guess there's prime parking available and most Mrs. Presidents would probably get a limo to the park. Mrs. Kasten parked at RFK and rode the bus.

Uncle Stan cared. A lot. It may not have always shown up, but trust me. He cared.

Here's a question unrelated to Uncle Stan himself but related to his departure. Does Mike Rizzo need to be worried? I know if a GM comes in, a new manager usually isn't far behind. "My own guy" and all that. Does it work that way with the President/GM relationship?

You know what else? I'm not sure I can name another team president. It's a hectic, pulled-in-all-directions, thankless-if-you're-losing job.

Good luck to you Uncle Stan. Don't be a stranger.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


So I'm sitting at the Quaker Steak and Lube in Richmond last night, killing a ton of all you can eat wings with my young friend Michael, also my frequent travel partner to Nats Park.

We're having a grand time. We discussed the future of the Nats (both of us very pessimistic), how the team could be near the end of year six and offer maybe less hope than it did five years ago, upcoming trips to New York and things to do there, some old man's reluctance (cough cough) to try anything testier than mild sauce and much, much more.

We have Phils-Braves on one of the TVs, Yankees-Rays on another and of course, we're the only people in there who ask for a Nats-Astros broadcast. Pennant fever all around us and we're watching this game?

But the eighth inning was fun and Pudge hit a home run and the Nats won and it dawned on me. That's No. 63!! Yee-haa. High fives all around. The team can't lose 100 again (well, not this year. It darn sure can and probably will lose 100 again).

This is what makes me happy these days. I'm looking at four teams on two other TVs that are going to the playoffs, four teams with brighter presents and probably brighter futures than our beloved Nats. And I'm wet-my-pants thrilled that my team isn't going to lose 100 for the third year in a row.

I am one sick man and I am in need of serious help.

I should have asked for a side of glass with those wings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Someone Check on Me, Please

Days like today make me want to eat a lot of glass. Seriously. Over the past few months, life has been really good. My kids are doing great, my dogs love me, my wife is happy with her new Kindle. I love my job.

But this whole sports fan thing? Gotta go. Eliminate the negatives, someone said at some seminar I attended years ago. A shrink-y kind of thing that had "wellness" in the title, which should have been a tip-off right there.

Dude was right on that, though. Eliminate the negatives.

Getting my heart ripped out twice in one day is two more times than I should ever tolerate. I realize the Skins don't matter to me on the same level as the Nats but still. After the ninth-inning epic implosion, I needed something to cheer me up. The Skins moving to 2-0 (with one of them over the Cowboys) would do the trick.

So how did that work out for me? Can you grind glass in a blender? My coffee grinder? Should I chew it or swallow it whole?

I knew the Nats were in trouble when the booth kept raving about the great job the bullpen had been doing. It's true, sure, but let's not do the SI cover thing on it.

Three outs to get, three runs ahead, I thought this was gold even in the Phillies' junior-sized ballpark. Save for The Chief's magic in Anaheim that night during the magical first half of 2005, Sean Burnett's escape act today ranks as one of the better relief efforts in Nats' history. Clippard is back on his game, so it seems.

One inning, three outs to go. Turn it over to the new, young closer.

Still three outs to go. Maybe I should just take out the hammer and beat down the glass that way?

My wife put down her Kindle long enough to watch the last couple of innings. She had a couple of good questions:

*If Clippard really does have his act together again, why not let him go one more and finish? Well that's why you have closers. The whole Clip and Save thing that was so much fun (was that really THIS season)? Now you have Clip and Store. Have to let your closer finish. Maybe I could just eat one of the wine glasses. They're fine crystal, very thin.

*Is Storen really the closer of the future? As much as Zimmermann and Maya (who was OK today, I'll give him that) are the anchors of the rotation until Jee-SUS gets back. Maybe I should mix the glass into some mashed potatoes.

*Is Jayson Werth one of the GEICO cavemen? I swear, when he was jumping around after hitting that thing out, with that beard and that hair, you could make a damn good case for this one. His uniform didn't say "Rounders" - maybe he got traded. I shouldn't mock the guy. I think he's a hell of a player and I have this fleeting hope he'll be the Nats' right fielder next year. I'll call him Mr. Pretty then.

OK, off to fix "dinner." Maybe a little Glass Under Glass, with a side of Asparaglass.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Someone Check on Bob Watson Please

He may be sick. Or injured. Or off somewhere in the South Pacific.

Nyjer is STILL in the lineup? Seriously? When will his suspension start? The same day Jee-SUS returns?

How long does this take?

Off the top of my head, here are a few things that happen faster than Watson issuing a ruling on this:

*Presidential campaigns

*A caterpillar turning into a cocoon and then into a moth.

*Elephant pregnancies

*Adam Dunn going from first to third

I assume if this thing isn't decided by the end of the 2010 season, Nyjer's team next year will have to do without him for a few games?

How cool would it be if he ended up with the Marlins?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some Monday Night Thoughts

while I sit here and try to figure how long I'm going to continue watching this nonsense:

*How on earth is Nyjer Morgan still in the lineup? Does he have pictures of the somebody? Everybody else has served suspensions from that mess and Florida and he's in his fourth game since the hearing. Seriously, Bob Watson, time to get off the pot.

*Has Danny Espinosa had a hit since I wrote that I was in love?

*Is anyone else convinced Yunesky Maya maybe ain't all that? OK, I'm not convinced yet but I'm far from convinced he IS any good. I'm going to hold off learning how to say Jee-SUS in Cuban. He has a nice curveball but I'm not real impressed with his command or overall arsenal.

*Wilson Ramos is growing on me some, though I'll hold off saying that for fear of turning him into Danny Espinosa. I plan to write more on catchers later in the week but I'm guessing we'll see Rodriguez transition to Ramos next year while Flores spends the year in AAA (assuming he can still play and I'm not real sure of that). My hope in 2012, when Jee-SUS returns to start the opener, is that Ramos and Flores are the two catchers. I hope someone gives Pudge a chance to get that 3,000th hit but I think his time in D.C. is done after next year.

*My official bookie has raised the odds on Adam Dunn being back next season from even to 100-1 against. I think he's right. They'll move Morse to 1B and sign a right fielder.

*Will anyone else exhale when (if?) this team wins its 63rd game? I'm still not convinced it is going to happen.

*That's five called Ks in six total for Derek Lowe tonight. Does anyone still give a damn? Swing the bat. See? As soon as I type that, Zimmerman swings the bat and gets a hit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm in Love

At the risk of inflicting the kid with the Curse of Harris - I'll go ahead and say it anyway.







Mark it down right now: Danny Espinosa, the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year. Let's just hope someone keeps track and he doesn't get that 131st at-bat this year.

Of course, at his current pace he'll have about 110 RBI this month so maybe he could win it in 2010.

So 2B for next year is solved. Figure out 1B and figure out RF (Jayson Morse?) and I'll feel good again. Until I think about what the Curse of Harris did to Jee-SUS.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Buh-Bye Scott

Relaxing a bit as a busy opening weekend of college football winds down, and I'm catching up with the professional media crew.

I found this edition of Adam Kilgore's Nationals Journal to be very interesting.

The key part in my mind: Asked if the move surprised him, Olsen said, "No. Not with this team."

Good night, Scott, been nice knowing you. You come back from the DL with a 1-6 record and ERA that roughly matches the current year and you dump on "this team?" Somehow it's the team's fault you can't get anybody out?

Oh wait. I stand corrected. Olsen faced 15 batters in his start the other night and only 10 of them reached base. So he did get five batters out.

I was fairly excited when the Nats got Olsen and he's sure shown some flashes. He had that near no-hitter earlier this year and I watched from section 317 last year as he dominated the Braves. There's clearly some ability there.

But even before the injury, the consistency was never there. I don't know that he's healthy yet. I'm just starting to really wonder if he'll ever be anything other than what we've seen in his Nationals tenure, even at full strength. Check that, I'm no longer wondering. I don't think he will be.

Throw in his sullenness and, well, let him become someone else's problem.

Here's how his situation should be handled when quizzed by those pesky media folks:

"What should I expect? I've been bloody awful lately and I should be grateful to still have a job with a major league team. I wouldn't send me out there anymore so I can't expect them to send me out there until I figure it out. I'll go down to the bullpen and work hard and do everything I can to regain my form and regain their trust."

And I still say, even with only Willingham left standing, that trade worked out OK for the Nats.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rookie Limits

I'd go look this up myself but work is a smidge busy on the first Saturday of college football. But a baseball thought popped into my head so I slipped over here to ask a question.

How much can a position player play before he loses rookie status?

I'm hoping the Nats just go with Danny Espinosa the rest of the way at second, but I'd also like to see him be a rookie of the year candidate next year. Not sure if he'd exceed the number if plays the rest of the games.

Anyhoo, back to work. With football season starting, I won't be watching quite as much baseball this month but he does seem like one to keep an eye on.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Good-Bys: One Good, One Not Good

Well, that game got out of control in a hurry. With the game securely in hand by the third inning, the Marlins can pick their spot to drill Nyjer Morgan. Only reason I still have it on here.

But the butt-whippin' in progress and eventual retatiation against Morgan aren't the news of the day for us weary citizens of Nats Town.

Nope. We're saying good-by to two people. One is more good riddance. The other almost brings a tear to my eye.

We'll do the sad good-by first. Brian Oliver, the outstanding owner/editor of Nationals Farm Authority, is giving it up. Brian is about to embark on a new career as a high school math teacher, a very admirable calling and one he will do exceptionally well. Something had to give and the labor of love over his paying job was a clear call - though not an easy one.

Those who follow the Natmosphere as it has come to be known are aware there's all kinds of blogs out there. You can find things to read on the Nats pretty much all day long. We come in all shapes, styles and sizes. I'm more of the stereotypical "Mom's Basement" blogger. Just someone who throws his thoughts out there and welcomes all to read, agree or disagree. If someone enjoys what I write, so much the better. But let's be honest. There's no real value here beyond the pleasure anyone may get from reading.

Brian? He found a niche and became damn good at it. Exceptionally good. Authority-level good! He knew the system and its people inside and out. His site provided tons of value, probably more than any other Nats blog out there including those done by the media pros (and that's not a knock on them at all). Brian did what no one else was doing.

To do it as well as he did is incredibly time-consuming, so Brian's decision is understandable.

On top of all that, I had the pleasure of getting to know Brian over the past couple of years. I've been to Bloggers Days with him (even though he's now credentialed, he'll always be one of us). I've watched games like a regular Joe with him. I've tipped one or two with him. Just a supremely nice man and I trust he'll still be around the park so we can continue to enjoy his company.

His future students are lucky people. Best wishes to you, Mr. Oliver.

As for that other good by, uh, good riddance. Everyone has heard by now. Rob Dibble is done. He finally spewed some venom - suck it up, kid - that poisoned his standing with the team. His "requested vacation" has turned into a permanent absence.

Did anyone really believe that requested vacation stuff? That's some knee-deep bullshit right there, folks.

Here's the thing: I'm glad he's gone from the booth. He'd become a caricature up there. Listening to him grunt, groan and cheer over Bob Carpenter's calls made listening to the broadcasts painful rather than pleasurable. It's disappointing because he was quite capable of quality analysis. In between the horsecrap, he would come up with some good insight. And, for all his cheering, he'd bring the heat when necessary.

I don't think Rob's a bad guy. Truly. One of the nights I spent with the aforementioned Brian was at a restaurant in Crystal City with Rob and some other bloggers (I love you all but you're not leaving so only Brian gets a by-name shoutout). MASN set it up and it was like two games into Rob's tenure. So of course he's going to schmooze and make nice with us. But it didn't seem forced. He seemed to be enjoying himself. If not, he's one hell of an actor.

What he couldn't hide forever, though, was a case of insufferable arrogance. Lord. You saw it in so many places. How dare anybody challenge the great Rob Dibble - did you know he used to play the game?

He got into it with a blogging colleague at one of the blogger days. He got into it with Ray Knight - ON THE AIR - one night. Differences of opinion are fine and they can spice up a broadcast. Dismissive gesutres, eye rolls and being genuinely disrespectful are not fine and Rob was all three in that debate (besides being wrong).

After his Strasburg cracks, he later made some snide comments about Knight on his radio show. That may have been just as egregious as the Strasburg stuff. Hey, Rob, you PLAYED THE GAME. You don't rip teammates in public.

(And I still say Ray could kick his ass 10 ways to Sunday and not have to roll up his sleeves. Don't let Ray's southern charm fool you - I get in a row, he's who I want on my side)

Rob also didn't like to be criticized. Who does? So I get that. But it is part of the turf for broadcasters (and writers and, heck, even us bloggers). For such a tough guy, he had really, really thin skin. You could hear the blood boiling under that thin skin every time he said the word "bloggers." I kept thinking of Yosemite Sam and his "ooooh, I hates rabbits" every time Dibble said "bloggers."

Again, I don't think he's a bad guy at heart. I wish him no ill will at all. I'm just glad he's off "my" broadcasts. For all my kvetching and whining, I still love this team. I still love few things more than sitting down to watch and I'm glad I will be able to do that in relative quiet.

So good luck to you both, Brian and Rob. One of you, I'd welcome back in a heartbeat.

(and let me add right here that if things happen in threes, is a good-bye for Scott Olsen coming soon? Have we seen his last start? Will the Marlins score 50 tonight?)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Combining My Previous Two Posts

What would happen if Frank Robinson managed Nyjer Morgan?

The fireworks could be fun. Frank might have snapped skinny young Nyjer in half after tonight.

No problem with him running there. Don't you have to slide?

Did postgame really not ask Rigs about that? Surely they did and I just missed it. Right?

Pudge didn't make himself look like a Hall of Famer on that last play either. Keep the glove low. Right? But I'm not about to bust on Pudge. Despite his penchant for making two outs in a single at bat, he's been a better addition than I thought he'd be.

Him, I'll forgive. Besides, I just got his bobblehead in the mail today courtest of eBay.

The other guy? Not so much.

Bring Frank back, please, for just one day. Problem will be solved.

Happy Birthday Frank

According to my Page-A-Day e-calendar that is delivered to my inbox every morning, one of my favorite sports figures ever has a birthday today.

Happy 75th, Frank Robinson. I bow to your overall greatness.

Yeah, I agree, the time was right to make a change when the Nationals made it - thought with the way things worked out maybe they should have left well enough alone. As expected given that JimBow was still in charge, that change was handled poorly. Frank deserved a lot better.

Even though he played for the hated Orioles, I loved watching Robinson play baseball. The man had some skills.

Say what you will about him as a manager, he will forever be responsible for one of the Nats greatest moments. When you rank your top five, don't forget the night he offered to replace several of Mike Scioscia's body parts.

One of my best afternoons as a sports writer came many years ago, when a relatively young Frank Robinson visited Richmond as part of some sort of promotional tour. I can't even remember what he was doing at the time - managing someone somewhere, I think. The local newspaper for retired people sent me out to do a story on a freelance basis.

I introduced myself, told him what I was doing and he gave me that Frank stare and said, "So what the hell do you want to talk to me for then? Do I LOOK retired? Do I act retired?"

Uh, no, but I think that's the point.

He laughed, patted me on the shoulder and we sat down and talked for about an hour. Speaking of top fives, I'd put it in my top five interviews of all time. He was very open, very frank (or Frank, pun intended).

He closed with, "Trust me, son, people my age aren't old. I have lots of life left, lots of things to do."

He's gone through his 60s since then and halfway through his 70s and you can darn sure say he was telling the truth.

I wish he was more involved with the Nationals. Not sure in what capacity he'd fit, but if Mike Rizzo can hire 97 assistants surely the Nats could have found some spot for him.

He's 75 now but trust me, he's still not old.

Happy Birthday Frank. Here's hoping you're good for about 50 more.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nyjer (Again)

When Nyjer Morgan got called out for missing the plate last night, I was, uh, indisposed. My wife relayed the news to me when I got back in, leaving out the part about him seemingly missing the plate on purpose so he could plow into the Cardinals' catcher.

Having seen it several times now, I have no doubt that's exactly what happened. I applaud Jim Riggleman for yanking him today, though part of me wishes he'd put Nyjer in long enough for Adam Wainwright to blast him but good and THEN yank him.

As Mark Zuckerman at Nats Insider and Dave Nichols at Nats News Network wrote, Nyjer was having a pissy fit because he was dropped from first to eighth in the order. Great quote from Riggleman about Nyjer maybe thinking that was Rigs back there in the catcher's gear. He takes his frustrations out on the opposing catcher. How nice.

Two things, Nyjer: 1. Grow up. 2. How's batting eighth compared to batting nowhere, which is where you are today?

And I'm wonder if maybe that's where he ought to stay.

Nyjer won a lot of us over last year, and I fell as hard as anybody. I was so in love. He brought much needed speed to the offense and defense along with an infectious personality that had the whole world smiling.

It might not have been a complete mirage. He has been playing better since the all-star break and he's still really fast. But, and this is important, he also plays brain dead way too much (we either didn't see that last year or chose not to see it) and that infectious personality turns into spoiled brat when he's not happy.

As an old football coach friend says, he's nowhere near good enough to be an asshole.

I'm quite fine with Willingham, Bernadina and Morse as next season's outfield. I'm fine with SeptemberCallup, Bernadina and Morse as the rest of this year's outfield (though I suspect Morse is next year's 1B when the brass blows it with Dunn).

Bernadina may not be quite as fast as Morgan but where else is Morgan better? Bernadina will hit just as well and knock it out of there 10-15 times if he plays a full season. You want a little more pop in your corners, so maybe that's not Bernadina. Heck, he may not even be the ideal answer in CF. But if the debate is Bernadina or Morgan, given what we've seen this season, is there really any debate?

Does Morgan fit in as any part of the team? It's been years since the A's used what's his name as their regular pinch runner. You can't waste a roster spot for that nonsense and, besides, who trusts Nyjer on the bases anymore? You can't have him as your fourth outfielder because you need your fourth outfielder to pinch hit here and there and have a shot at knocking it out of there. Morgan would have to hit it twice to get it out of the park.

Riggleman says he doesn't want to disrespect the game by playing callups too much in September and he doesn't want to rip off the paying public by playing a Triple A team for major-league ticket prices. Let me reassure you, Jim, that if I do come to the park anymore this year, I won't demand a refund if Nyjer is on the bench and some AAA (or AA or A or Rookie League) callup is in the outfield in his sted.

You could even put Bryce Harper out there and I'd be fine.

The Nats Nation seems to be getting over Nyjer like our nation got past that disco phase many years ago. Good job sitting him today. Consider making it permanent.

Friday, August 27, 2010

On Jee-SUS and Elbows and Stuff

I was going to post this earlier but thought I'd wait until I was a little less disappointed. As much as I like to vent, I truly try not to do too much of it when emotions are high. So I thought I'd try to calm down first.

That could take a while. Might as well spew now.

My wife, fortunately for her, was at work all day and is going to hear a speaker tonight. The poor dogs won't come near me. They think I'm mad at them, the way I've been stomping around and contributing (heavily) to the swear jar all day. Some guy stopped by the house and said he'd been told to come remove all sharp objects and my shoe laces.

I tried to drown myself in the shower. Didn't work. I put on my Strasburg t-shirt in his honor and will later burn a candle in honor of his elbow.

Then I will head plant the melted wax. Can't hurt any worse.

Let me try to organize all that is going through my head right now. It's more of a mess than usual so work with me here.

*First, and most important, I feel awful for the kid. Yeah, I'll admit it. I cried just a bit. For him, truly, not for my own disappointment (and new conviction that being a Nats fan means being cursed).

Yes, I know Stephen Strasburg has more ability, more poise and, yes, more money than most of us will know in a lifetime. He's still a kid. He's barely 22. He's younger by a several years than both my kids. I hurt for him.

Adam Kilgore is one of many who has material up from his meeting with the press. As expected from such a poised young man, he handled it well and is going into it with the right attitude. Whining and moaning and giving it the "why me?" treatment won't change a thing. Ligament is still torn, still needs the surgery. So good for him there, not that I'm surprised.

But it still has to be a terrible feeling for him, because despite the success rate (more on that later) there is some uncertainty. My bet is he'd give back all the money he's made to date to have this thing not be happening. Pitching a baseball better than most everyone in the world is his gift, his blessing, and that's been taken away. Probably only temporary but, right now, 12-18 months seems like forever.

I know how I'd feel if it was my kid, so I feel for his folks, too. And his wife. Mostly for him. I almost want to give him a hug.

I vented earlier this week about some dissatisfactions and I don't know when I'll be back at the stadium this year. I'll promise you this: I saw Jee-SUS' first game and I'll damn sure see his first game back. Stay strong, young man. Bust your ass and the days will fly by.

*My Mr. Brightsides attitude isn't working very well today but there's no denying this: The success rate for this surgery is very high and it is a long, long, long list of pitchers who have had it and returned and done very well. You almost wonder if it wasn't inevitable at some point with him anyway, so let's get it over with now. Even if he misses all of next year, he'll be only 23 when he pitches on Opening Day in 2012.

He doesn't have to look hard or far for examples. Kilgore noted in another update that 10 pitchers on this year's All-Star teams were Tommy Johns. Dang. Great tidbit there. I didn't know that.

Just off the top of my head last night, I came up with a sweet start to the All-TJ rotation of Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Josh Johnson and Jordan Zimmermann. Throw in Ryan Dempster, too. You could bring Billy Wagner and Joakim Soria out of the pen.

Johnson made it back in 11 months, with some nice numbers since. Nice story here.

Kilgore also noted that the rookie pitching for the Cardinals tonight, Jaime Garcia, is a TJ guy, too. He's won 11 games and has a 2.42 ERA. He may be rookie of the year.

Didn't Sean Burnett have this, too? And Luis Atilano? Not in the same class as the others but still.

I'm convinced, totally convinced, he'll be fine. But, yeah, 12-18 months right now seems like for-fricking-ever.

*But, uh, ah, what if he's in the 8-15 percent group of non-successes? I read that the success rate is 85-92 percent. It doesn't work for everyone. OK, I'll stop now.

*I'm on record as being an Uncle Stan fan, as much as he drives me nuts sometimes. I loved his "I'm not a doctor" quote about Ramblin' Rob Dibble as much as any quote I've ever seen. I can hear him delivering it with that great sarcastic touch he has. So maybe this is another bright side. Does it speed up the departure from the booth? The broadcast just came on as I was typing this so I don't know if he's back tonight. Phil Wood is still on pregame, so maybe not. Maybe he's done already??

The more I think about his comments earlier in the week, the angrier I get. He basically called the kid a pussy - suck it up and all that.

Can you imagine how much it must hurt to throw a pitch and have your ligament tear?

*Didn't some Phillies doctor check him out Saturday and say Strasburg would be fine and could pitch Thursday? Yeesh. Do the Phillies let this dude within 10 miles of Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins?

Stunning. About 11 weeks ago, I was in a packed Nats Park with a whole lot of others (including my kids) watching one of the finest sports performances I've seen in a life spent watching them (thank gosh I got that DVD). We floated out of the stadium that night, just floated. Legitimate, honest-to-goodness hope filled the air.

And now?

I guess my poll is kind of moot. I'll leave it up over the weekend and come up with something good next week. Maybe I'll feel better by then. Right now, I still feel like I'm sure most of the Nats Nation feels. Like I've been kicked hard somewhere you don't want to be kicked at all.

We'll Know Soon

UPDATE - Sadly, I'm not wrong. DAMN. Signifcant tear, Rizzo says. TJ surgery likely. DAMN. DAMN.

The conference call is at 10:30, just around the corner. I'm sure there are a million reasons to do it this way rather than just wait until everybody gets to the park, but I can't think of one that doesn't involve bad news.

I'm a pessimist by nature and I'd love to be wrong here. But I suspect we're going to hear the dreaded words "Dr. Andrews" on this call and not in a "he doesn't need to go see Dr. Andrews" kind of way.

If it's good news, no need to do it away from the park. If it is bad news, get the "WHAM" aspect out of the way early, although the ballpark scene will still be a zoo as my media buddies scramble to get reaction.

If it's THE bad news, we can take heart in knowing TJ surgery isn't the death sentence many used to think. Tim Hudson. Chris Carpenter. Josh Johnson. Jordan Zimmermann. I could go on and on and on and on.

It's just a lost year but there's no reason to think a pitcher can't come back and be just as good. The Nats won't be champions until 2012 anyway, right?

Ain't working. My stomach still hurts. Who wants to lose a year of this kid? No one.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Maybe - please please please - I'm wrong.

We'll know soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The End of the Road?

Who says I can't find good news in bad times? I'm The Good News King.

Take last night for instance. LOTS of good news to be had:

*My friend Michael and I got up there early enough to enjoy a meal at Five Guys, the cheaper one outside the park. I need to stop doing that because it won't help my ever-expanding waistline. But dang it's good.

*The t-shirts are pretty cool. And a friend didn't want it, so I got an extra one for my wife. I have a nice collection of freebie t-shirts now. I'm too fat to actually wear them but my goal is to lose enough weight so's I can. I won't need to buy new clothes.

*I ran into my brother Jim and sister-in-law Carolyn and was able to have a brief visit with them. I ran into one of my students from the spring, Lizi, and was able to have a nice conversation with her. I ran into my friend Dave Nichols, who along with his wife Cheryl runs the Nats News Network (more on Dave later). It was like old home week.

*Traffic was cake. As noted, made it up there early. I was home before midnight - though there's a caveat to that one. I was in the car for the bottom of the ninth, though not yet to the interstate. Note to Charlie: I truly love you and Dave but a fly ball that doesn't make the warning track is not WAY BACK! WAY BACK! Way to give me a stress test there, pal.

*The thought-to-be-dead Nats showed a little life in the ninth, not that I saw it and not that it changed the outcome. But at least they rewarded those who stayed (and it didn't seem to be too many, judging from the crowd ahead of me out the gate).

Despite all that good news, I'm not sure how often I'll be back. Besides the t-shirts, I can do most everything above without going to the park. And the actual games and team are starting to flusterate me more than my health can stand.

It has little to do with the fact that Flippin Pizza on the upper concourse is always closed too flippin early. My previous visit, it wasn't open at all. Last night, it was closed by the sixth. Good thing those Five Guys burgers are filling.

My flusteration has more to do with what I'm continually watching. Michael, wise beyond his years, noted on the way to the car that it is well beyond time to expect to see a really good, competitive team. The novelty of baseball being back is gone. The novelty of the new stadium is gone. It's no longer cute to suck every year.

And watching this team, I'm no longer convinced greatness is just a step or two away - unless your steps are ginormously large. I'm not really convinced this team is all that much closer than it was in 2006.

The 20-15 start was a mirage that, as it turns out, is only going to serve to muck up the Nats' draft position next year. Mark Zuckerman noted in his blog this week that the Nats have played at a 59-win pace since then. Hmmmm. Isn't that what the team won the past two years?

Are we SURE this team isn't going to lose 100 games again? Especially if you-know-who doesn't pitch again this year (and he probably shouldn't).

Right before we left, Michael and I spent some time chatting with the aforementioned Dave Nichols. Always a pleasure (more good news!), he knows his stuff. The aggravation I mentioned to him is that I could look out on the field as the Nats played defense and not be terribly certain about who would be out there next year.

Mark this much down: Ryan Zimmerman will be the third baseman. Pudge will be the catcher, but the team best be transitioning to Wilson Ramos.

Let's go around the rest of the diamond:

Do we know who is the 2011 first baseman? Not a clue. Dunn? Pena? Someone else? Second base? Not close to a clue. Espinosa? Is the team truly committed to Ian Desmond as the future shortstop?

Who's in left? You'd think Willingham. Are you sure? Will the team pony up what he's going to cost in arbitration or try to trade him? Is Nyjer the CF of the future? And who, pray tell, will settle in right? Has Roger Bernadina answered that question? (Jayson Werth is a free agent, just saying).

You can probably say five spots are certain: Pudge/Ramos, Zim, Desmond, Willingham, Morgan (though I'm still not sold). That's still a whole lot of question marks (1B, 2B, RF) going into year SEVEN. Too many.

While we're at it, are we SURE who is going to manage the team next year? Yeah, I know Rizzo said Jimmy Rigs would be back. If this fade continues, is that certain? I really like the guy and want him to succeed but he overmanages like no one I've ever seen. When you feel like you have to pinch-hit for your No. 5 hitter with the bases-loaded in the seventh, well, there's a problem somewhere (maybe with the No. 5 hitter). Of course the always important left-right matchups come into play. I'd like to burn that book.

Here's another unsolicited tip: When your bench includes a group of Mendoza Line failures like Kevin Mench (.083), Willie Harris (.177), Justin Maxwell (.102) and Wil Nieves (he's upgraded to .203!), you might want to stay the hell away from it as much as humanly possible.

More good news! Michael found our tickets on StubHub in the 300-level where we usually sit. 30 bones for two and one usually costs that much when you add in the ridiculous fees. So we each paid 20 for tickets and parking. Much more reasonable.

But there's gas to get up there and back and time when you live in Richmond. It's an investment I'm not sure I'm willing to make that much longer. I can still be a fan. Right here. I can still blog. Right here. I can just save myself a lot of time, money and aggravation by limiting my D.C. trips to visits with the family and staying away from Nats Park until the Nats give me a real reason to come back.

All that said, I'll probably be back on Saturday. It is bobblehead night, you know? This is a freaking sickness and there's no known cure. Not even heavy doses of bad baseball year after year after year seem to do the trick.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jee-SUS is Hurt

and I don't feel so good myself.

Strained flexor tendon. Tells me little of anything I know anything about, but Ray Knight has said several times it isn't terrible news. IF, he noted, it didn't pull off the bone.

Which we won't know until that MRI.

Somebody tweeted that one of the Marlins has been out with this injury since May?

Odds of us seeing Jee-SUS again this season? My guess is no chance. J-Zimm takes his turn in the rotation and we'll see Jee-SUS in Viera in February.

Every time this kid throws a pitch, I'm going to cross my fingers and clench. I'm way too old for this.

Roger Bernadina sure had a hell of a night. Very impressive home run, looked like the ball was in on his hands and he powered it out of there anyway. Super catch in the ninth. I thought Dibble was going to have the big one afterward trying to encourage the double play.

Bernadina becomes a footnote tonight, however. Always good to beat the Phils and My Son the Braves Fan and all his cohorts are thrilled. But I'd trade it for a 100 percent Jee-SUS.

Did I say I'm way too old for this? If he's seriously injured (like it IS off the bone), I'm done with this game.

Friday, August 20, 2010

WTF Lineups

About 11 yesterday morning, I sent My Son the Braves Fan a note: Congrats on the sweep.

I had seen the Nats' lineup moments before. Hammer done for the year. Dunn taking a day off (didn't they just have one Monday?). Roger Bernadina batting third. No dis on Roger, who has grown on me this season. But third? A bottom four of Kennedy-Ramos-Harris (not me)-Lannan?

Yeah, right.

So of course the Nats win. Pretty easily in fact. Harris (not me) hit one so far it actually cleared the wall at Nats Park as well as Turner Field.

I'd have to do some actual research on this to see if I'm right, but I'm willing to bet I am. Now and then, a few times a month, Jimmy Rigs throws what I call a WTF lineup out there. As in, "WTF is he thinking?" I whine and moan and try to find something to do other than watch the game because I know, just know, the Nats are going to get creamed that day.

Most of the time, they not only don't get creamed - they win.

So consider this a vote for a WTF lineup every single day.

As for tonight, I wonder what kind of odds you can get on Jason Marquis vs. Roy Halladay? Astronomical, I'd assume. You can even say it is a WTF pitching matchup.

So bet on Jason and the Nats.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No Complaints With Mr. Dibble on THAT One

"That is awful."

Dead on, Rob (albeit pretty obvious).

He was talking about the mile-high popup that an (alleged) major-league second baseball and (alleged) major-league right fielder left fall between them, each a couple of feet away.


This team will be the death of me long before Bryce Harper rides in to save the day.

Dibble could have added a couple of words that begin with "f" before awful and I would not have complained.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

YEE-HA (but quieter)

I'll never forget sitting at the computer a year ago, hitting refresh refresh refresh refresh a million times, waiting on the big news.

I don't know who reported it first. I saw it first on my bud Brian Oliver's great site, Nationals Farm Authority. I immediately went upstairs and started jumping up and down on my trying-to-sleep Son (the Braves Fan), yelling as loud as I could, "YOUR NIGHTMARE IS HERE," over and over again. And I'm pretty loud even when I whisper.

This year, I didn't do that. The main reason is my son no longer lives here and I didn't feel like driving 130 miles at midnight just to mess with him, fun as it would have been.

The other reason is I don't feel nearly as jacked as I did a year ago.

That's not a rip on young Bryce Harper. I'm glad he agreed to terms (has he actually signed anything yet?). But the differences between Harper and Jee-SUS go well beyond their position and the eventual money and all that.

Strasburg was about as sure a thing as has come along in ages, and he's done nothing to disprove that. You knew, knew he was going to be part of the Nationals very soon. You could see it, could see him playing with the same core of players. You could feel it. Jee-SUS was coming (though we didn't know that was his name just yet) and coming soon.

Harper? I have t-shirts older than Harper. He's a ways away from the majors, so we're told (though the major-league part of his deal is intriguing). It's just hard to get excited about something you can't readily see. Never mind that he's not as much of a sure thing. Even if he IS a sure thing, there's that when question.

Who will be the manager of the Nats when he finally arrives, probably in 2013?

How many of the current 25 will be on the team then? Six? Fewer?

Who will be President of the United States?

Will the Redskins be on their first or second quarterback since McNabb?

The Capitals will win 210 regular season games between now and Harper's arrival but how many Stanley Cups?

I'm not getting any younger. Will I still have all my faculties when Harper arrives? Will I still be alive?

Assuming I'm still here, I'll get more excited as the time draws closer. While I still need a telescope to see that time, I'll be a bit more subdued.

Of course, I'm the guy who wrote that he should have been in right field June 9. But no one ever listens to me.