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Monday, May 31, 2010

Call Me Crazy, Part 1

My brain is filling with crazy thoughts - well, two stand out now and one is much more crazy than the other. To avoid a craziness overload (and pad my post total), I'll break them out one at a time this week.

We'll go less crazy first, particularly in light of posting this story that THE debut will be June 8. Sweet, because I already own a ticket.

Let's take crazy back a couple of months first. Let's suppose when I did my poll about which pitcher would lead the team in victories I'd included some cat named Luis Atilano.

How loud would the laughter have been? How crazy would I have been to even think about that? Man, that's just NUTS. Who?

So here we are two months into the season. One-third done. A .500 record and as many victories as the team had when Manny Acta got the ziggy last year at the All-Star break.

Luis Atilano isn't leading the team in victories and he won't lead the team in victories.

He is leading the starters in victories. With five. In six decisions. Talk about a nice week - who had ol' Luis going 2-0 in back-to-back starts with Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt as the opposition? Sure, he had some help today with Roy throwing a (minor) hissy fit that did (but shouldn't have) get him ejected. The runs explosion didn't come until late.

Look, I know exactly what the numbers say. Chris at Capitol Punishment had a good note or two about Luis in his post today. The guy has been pitching, it seems, with a horseshoe further up his fanny than Nyjer's head is up Nyjer's fanny. He strikes out barely more people than I would.

Still, he's 5-1. The Nats win when he starts. Is he the guy you take out of the rotation when Jee-SUS finally arrives?

Call me nuts. I wouldn't. Ugly may be ugly (not you Luis, your numbers) but 5-1 is 5-1. Do Stammen and Lannan have five wins combined? Throw in J.D. Martin and you're still two short. Stammen has started 10 times, has one win and an ERA a run or so higher than Atilano. Does he deserve to stay in the rotation?

Lannan has pitched pretty well lately, much better than he was earlier. Right now, I rank the five starters this way: Livo, Lannan, Luis, Martin, Stammen. You start from the back when making changes, right?

Good Lord I cannot wait until June 8. That's draft night, right? Wow and more wow.

Weak Sauce

I'm as happy as anybody to have Roy Oswalt out of the game, but that was some weak sauce. C'mon. A good umpire lets players vent quickly and it doesn't look like Oswalt made any move toward the man in blue. Well, not at first anyway. Just saw the replay but it looks to me like it would have been over right away if the umpire hadn't said anything.

Can't recall the guys name - isn't that the slow-calling umpire who continually hacks people off with his delayed strike calls?

I go from watching Roy Oswalt to Gustavo Chacin, the guy I was pulling for to make the team - was that last year or this year? Lord, an old mind is a terrible thing.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

No Cause for Concern, Right?

The plan was to go to bed early and read all about the game this morning. Just for yuks, I set the auto shutoff on my XM and settled in for some sleep. Two and a half hours later, I was white-knuckling as Matt Capps worked his way through a very interesting ninth.

San Diego's radio crew is an interesting listen. A little goofy, but they were prepared and knew a good bit about the Nationals. They were raving about Capps' stuff and the year he's having, etc.

And the pitch that struck out Stairs? Oh my. To hear their call, it might have been the best pitch in the history of baseball.

They even said he got squeezed on a couple of pitches in the inning. "How was that not a strike?" one asked. I can only imagine what Rob was saying. "The pitch track shows *** well, never mind the pitch track, the umps aren't doing their jobs."

That Capps got out of a bases-loaded situation with little damage is pretty impressive. That he got into it is what kept me awake a little longer than I wanted. I wanted to look up a few things.

Capps is 17-18 in save situations this year. I'll take it, every time. He's been a Godsend on a team that needed someone like him in the worst way. I have friends who are Pirates fans and they call me and curse every time Capps saves a game.

Here's my worry: Capps has only given up eight earned runs this season. Six have come in the past five outings, including two in his lone blown save last week against Baltimore.

Just one of those things, right? That's the only time it's done any real damage and the Nats won the game anyway.

No reason for concern, right?

On the other side, looks like Tyler Clippard is over whatever was ailing him. That's five in a row now without giving up a run. Only two hits and he's struck out seven in that stretch.

Of course, last time I wrote about Clippard is when the trouble started. So I'll stop now.

Clippard and Capps, by the way, are not pitching in Richmond next week. I checked before I got too excited.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Are A Idiot

In case you had any doubt, here's some proof. I suppose I ought to just keep quiet about this but what kind of be-open, be-honest outfit would I be running if I didn't rip myself when it was merited?

Trust me, it is merited here. I may never recover from my shame. Sadly, what follows is a true story. I'll be burning my MENSA card in a public ceremony later.

Yesterday was an odd and busy day. I had the ballgame on in the afternoon (less said about that the better). Finished up some more work and then left the house about eight to go run some errands. Target and the grocery store are open late.

While driving around, I'm thinking about the Nats (I do that a lot) and this delayed (maybe) Strasburg debut. One more start in the minors after Saturday.

Then it hits me. THEY'RE COMING HERE! THEY'RE COMING HERE! That last start will be in Richmond. I can see that AND his debut in Washington!!!

I'm so excited I about wreck. I immediately call a friend and fellow fan, who shall remain nameless. One idiot is enough for one blog post. He checked my math that Jee-SUS' next start would be indeed be Thursday June 3.

Better yet, HE WAS AT HIS COMPUTER! He went online, found four great seats for only 10 bucks a pop. Deal! We're on it. Yippeee! Yes! Hooray for us!

It took, oh, about two-tenths of a second after hanging up for it to sink in.

Strasburg is no longer with Harrisburg. Richmond is no longer a AAA town. Harrisburg is coming here, not Syracuse. I don't know who the hell we're going to see from our great seats but it isn't going to be Strasburg.

You can't spell dumbass without M-i-k-e.

Oh well, we'll enjoy some AA baseball at a bargain price. Anybody interested in joining us, let me know. I guarantee you you'll be the smartest guy in the group.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Keep It In Your Pants, Folks

Your wallet, your wallet! What did you think I was talking about here? Get your minds out of the gutter.

Today's simple lesson - never bet on baseball.

Levale Speigner vs. Johan Santana? A lock, for sure. Except the Nats won.

Luis Atilano vs. Tim Lincecum? Easy call on that one. I didn't bet (I don't bet on baseball) but I didn't even try to stay up. Went to bed before 10. The Nats won.

But my education goes back a long way before those games and this was the game that cemented it for me.

I had a colleague who bet baseball pretty heavily and, generally, pretty well. He kept all kinds of complicated charts. Haven't worked with him in 30 years but my guess is he's into the sabermetrics now.

We had a talk one day about baseball being too unpredictable for me to bet on with any confidence and he pointed out all the ways his charts helped (and mentioned all the money he made).

I told him he could pick any game he wanted. No matter how big a mismatch on paper, I'd take the non-favored side at 2-1 odds. Any game.

He picked the one I linked to above. Ron Guidry won 25 of 28 decisions that year. His ERA was under 2. Who the heck is and was Mike Willis? As bad a mismatch as you could want, it seemed.

So of course Guidry was knocked out in 1.2 innings and the Blue Jays (only two years old, I think) won the game 8-1. Willis went the distance.

That's why they play them. Keep it in your pants and expect the unexpected.

New poll coming tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If This Rumor Is True


Poached from the fine folks at Federal Baseball:

MLBTR suggests that a possible trade for Roy Oswalt would revolve around Brad Meyers, Chris Marrero and Tyler Clippard, though the Astros are not currently in talks with anyone.

Really? Yes, NOW. Love you still, Clip, but you ain't Strasburg, Storen or Zimmerman. Storen can do what you've been doing and no one currently on staff is Roy Oswalt.

Of course, as I noted earlier, all trade rumors are a lot of hoo-hah. So take this one for what it may worth.

I'm just saying. IF it is true, DO IT NOW.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

OK, Who's Bidding?

I swear it isn't me. Honest. I'll fess up. I went on eBay. Ordered a Strasburg t-shirt with the 37 on it and everything. It should be here by the time he makes his debut.

The high bigger on this item is NOT me. I mean, are they serious about this stuff?

I'm not so sure I'd pay that kind of money for a Stephen Strasburg signed car.

Monday, May 24, 2010

OK, Who's Watching?

Me! Me! Me! Wearing my bib as I drool all over myself.

If the idea was to temper my eagerness and make me more patient as I wait for Jee-SUS to arrive in the major leagues, it isn't working. I'm even more on the NOW NOW NOW train. That curveball to Scott Sizemore in the first inning left me mumbling.

Would love to see some numbers, I suspect this game will rank pretty high on the MASN rating list. No cheering or clapping out of the booth that I've heard, not yet anyway.

Seriously, we have to wait longer? Doesn't the team need someone to start Saturday in Strasburg's home town?

Cheap-o run, by the way. Unearned.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The limo never came and I demand an explanation. We did manage to get up there in record time. Less than two hours door to door and it has never taken us less than 2:20 before. Ate a wonderful restaurant called Belga after the game, on 8th a couple blocks on the other side of the highway. Made it back home in about two hours. For once, a smooth trip two ways.

Still would have preferred a town car.

Walk offs never get old, though I hated to see Capps' streak end. Oh well, it couldn't last forever. We saw three walk offs in 2008 - Zimmerman, Nieves (who?) and Belliard - but none last year.

Love a walk off.

I thought I noticed something as Willingham rounded the bases and I checked the video when I got home. Check for yourself here. Who is that Oriole and why is he kicking dirt on Willingham. It's about 17 seconds in.

This was a little bit, just a smidge, of a bittersweet walk off. I think I mentioned on here before that I know Cla Meredith. He's from Richmond (still lives here), went to VCU. His father used to teach My Son The Braves Fan in middle school. Great family and Cla is about as fine a young man as you could want to meet and I felt for him as he walked off.

I still love that winning record going onto the road trip.

One question - when did Mike Morse become Michael Morse? OK, another queston - why was he batting in place of Roger (only three RBI to that point) Bernadina? OK, ANOTHER question - is he really going to be the backup catcher or just an emergency catcher seeing as how Pudge isn't on the flight?

We'll talk more about all that later. I have a lot to say this week but right now I want to go celebrate perfection. And figure out why my ride never arrived.

What is up with Nyjer?

Our friends over at Past A Diving Vidro (love that name) had an interesting post the other day about Nyjer Morgan and Nook Logan.

They're right in that the first reaction is to go, "What? You're nuts!"

Until you take another look. Throw in yesterday's misadventure, which made the front page of FanHouse, and it becomes even less outrageous.

As I prepare to head north for my second visit of the homestand (hoping to keep my perfect record intact), I'll just say that I'll still take Nyjer over Nook - at his best, the argument seems to be clearly in Morgan's favor though I can't say that with any statistical certainty.

The question: Is what we saw out of Nyjer last year his best and will he ever reach that again? I don't recall sitting here saying, "Boy, he needs to get his head out of his ass" once last year. I seem to say it pretty much daily now.

OK, the car service (Thanks Uncle Stan!) will be here soon. See you at the park.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Are The Rules?

There's been a lot of discussion recently on baseball's "unwritten" rules, thanks to the Dallas Braden-Alex Rodriguez dustup a while back. Stay off my mound and all that.

My question - what are the unwritten rules within a single-team framework?

I watched Scott Olsen look like hell last night and figured it was just one of those nights. It goes back to my theory that every starter, even the Roy Halladays and Ubaldo Jimenezs of the world, are going to have a handful of starts where it just isn't there.

Olsen had been so good for a long stretch. Last night, it just wasn't there. I'm not going to curse on Scott Olsen because he's been a lot better this season than anyone had a right to expect.

Then we learn he left with shoulder tightness, in a shoulder that was surgically repaired no less. Then I do my morning reading and learn from various outlets that Steve McCatty and Ivan Rodriguez could tell in the bullpen Olsen wasn't right.

So why in the name of Dr. Andrews was he on the mound to start the game? At what point does someone say, "Sorry, son. You ain't going tonight." Is it Rodriguez's job to tell Riggleman to go to plan B (Batista, we assume)? Is it McCatty's? Is it Olsen's?

Or do those "unwritten" rules say you just keep your mouth shut? Rub some dirt on it and go out and suck it up?

If so, someone needs to take an eraser and rewrite the unwritten rules.

It isn't so much about one game. Yeah, sure, the team is in a tailspin. That 20-15 thing seems like ages ago. It would indeed be nice to string a few wins together again.

This is more about the player, a still-young pitcher who should have convinced people by now he does have a little upside. He's less than a year removed from shoulder surgery.

If something isn't right, DON'T SEND HIM OUT THERE.

Unrelated, a friend put this on my Facebook page yesterday. It's pretty much a must-have. I just hope the past tense thing remains accurate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Sorry for the Braves jack here, this post is in honor of My Son The Braves Fan - going ballistic as we speak because the greatest Brave in history just helped his team complete a comeback from 9-3 down in the last of the ninth.

It is also a reminder that we were the first to recognize the greatness that is Brooks Conrad.

He's the man, the myth, the legend.

I wonder if he can play right field?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Sneak attack on the ballyard tonight. I came up to the area early and worked at my brother's so my daughter and I could do something tonight to celebrate our birthdays (both long past but what the heck?).

Turned out that something was the Nats game. She had tickets, two friends joined us and we had a blast.

And, yeah, let's note 4-0 with me in the house. Took until August to see four wins last season.

What's a brother gotta do to get a ride? I said I didn't need a limo but I may issue a demand for one now. We're coming back Sunday. Have that ride in front of the house on time.

Good to see history with Storen getting his first win. Always good to see Livo. He's started three of the four games I've seen. Good to see Clippard return to form, let's hope not briefly.

Not so good to see that inside-the-parker or that daggone triple play. Someone needs to get his head out of his can. That could have hurt.

Eager to see history again. I guess there's no way that's Sunday now, right?

Doesn't matter. I'll be there. The Nats will win. I will enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Perhaps I Should Re-Do My Poll?

If I did, the new question might be:

What will happen first? June will arrive? Or Tyler Clippard will have a sub .500 record?

Jeez, Louise. My bad. I write about the guy and it all turns to poo. He think he's Brian Bruney all of a sudden? Three walks in the eighth tonight?

Let's hope it is temporary. Let me also try to rationalize rather than cry myself to sleep. I would have taken 20-20 at this point.

Just not after starting 20-15.

At What Price?

The reports showing up here and there that the Nats may - emphasis on MAY - be interested in Roy Oswalt are very interesting.

Now I learned a long time ago that Internet/printed/whatever trade rumors are most of the time nothing more than space fillers. Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. Make up your own trade and see if it happens (bonus points if it does). So it is all likely a crock.

Let's say, just for fun, it isn't.

I love it, only because Oswalt is one of my favorites. A big-time pitcher and I think he'd be a plus addition even if he isn't quite what he used to be.

The question - at what price? He isn't going to come cheap.

Prospects? Is there anyone other than the S&S twins you wouldn't be willing to see go in exchange? Derek Norris? Espinosa? Anyone else? As long as it isn't a pitcher drafted in 2009 whose last name begins with S, I'm OK with that. Brian Oliver and others who know the system better than I do may disagree. Side with them, not me.

Young mound hopefuls? Suppose the price includes Jordan Zimmermann? Worth it? (NO). Ross Detwiler (YES). Luis Atilano (YES). They can pretty much have any current Nats pitcher other than Livan (a personal thing), J-Zimm, Capps and S/S. I'd go so far as to say any two. Or three.

A current regular and a prospect? Obviously, R-Zim is off the table. Probably Dunn, too. Anyone else you wouldn't give up for an Oswalt? Suppose they say Oswalt for Desmond, straight up?

It's a big risk/reward thing. Will the addition of Strasburg and Oswalt be enough to push the Nats into the playoffs? If so, pretty much any price that doesn't begin with S or Z may be worth it.

Fun to talk about, that's for sure. My guess on the chances of it happening? About zero percent.

Last week's poll, by the way, drew a weak 69 votes. I'll blame the weak question. Anyway, 49 of the voters have take a dive into the Kool-Aid pond and say they'd pick a higher win total (including me). Twenty are taking a more realistic approach and indicated they would not change their predictions.

New poll coming soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Context Is Everything, Part 2

During the class I taught at VCU this spring, we talked a lot about Twitter and how it has changed the way we get our news. Life in 140-character snippets.

Twitter, we concluded, has its uses. It is a terrific tool to drive traffic to Web sites and get information out there quickly. It is not, however, a be-all, end-all for news and insight. Sometimes, you need more than 140 characters to get the job done.

This is not a knock on any of the people covering the Nats as much as it is a little frustration with my (and our) growing reliance on new media. Call it a knock on Twitter if you will.

I can't even remember where the "tweet" came from (new word added to our lives, thanks to Twitter). I follow pretty much everything that moves related to the Nats and it's often funny to see up to a dozen tweets come in pretty much at the same time, detailing every move. Just wait until you-know-who gets called up. It will be a regular Tweet fest. Jee-SUS has toed the rubber. Jee-SUS has the sign. Jee-SUS is in his windup. Jee-SUS throws. WOW. JESUS. ANOTHER K.

Anyway, I saw Bruney's "I don't feel I'm a minor-league pitcher" come across on Twitter and my first reaction was not good. Yeah? Well, you're hardly a major-league pitcher. And so on and so forth.

Seeing the complete quote in the full story changes things. Context is indeed everything. Taken as part of his overall, very solid commentary on the situation, it isn't bad. It's the kind of attitude you want a pitcher to have.

He knows he didn't get the job done. He firmly believes he's better than he's shown but that didn't show up. So he'll see what happens and go from there. Nothing wrong with those comments at all.

I wish him well and hope it works out somewhere for him, even in Washington if he gets a map to the strike zone and figures out how to follow it.

I also promise to try and wait to react when I see a snippet of something on Twitter. At least until the multiple "You Know Who is On the Way" comes in.

Then I will go completely crazy. My own tweet at that moment will read YESSSSS(as many S's as I can fit in the allowed space. I guess that will be 138 of them).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday

A terrific gift, thank you Nats. I trust Scoop Zuckerman's sources so I'm taking this to the bank.

Welcome, Drew Storen.

I can't imagine the corresponding move being anything other than a Ziggy for Bruney.

(Debbi Taylor just interviewed the Rizz-o-nator, who said it was all conjecture until the club makes it official. Which, to my mind, he just did. If it isn't true, he says "No." Anyway, welcome Drew. I'd fly to St. Louis to see your debut if I could)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Let's Go Fishing!

This doubleheader today messed with my plans of leaving Tennessee in time to drive home and watch the night game (which I am doing now). No XM in the car, what am I going to do about the afternoon game?

I do have a BlackBerry but I was also behind the wheel. I asked my wife to "watch" and tell me when something happened. She suggested where I could put the BlackBerry. Wow. They're small and all but I really don't think it would fit.

So I pressed the Nationals logo every 15 minutes for a quick score update and then put the phone down. Oprah would be proud of me.

I see it is 3-2 Rox after the top of the eighth. OK, that's doable. Hold them, Zimmerman ties it up in the ninth, Nats win in extras. I'm feeling good.

I check back later and it is 6-2 Rox. Hope is gone. And I said one single word out loud: Bruney.

No doubt in my mind that's who was responsible. I didn't have to look, though I did check to be sure once I got home. Sure enough.

Now I shouldn't have to say this every time I rip a player's performance. I do anyway. Nothing personal. I'm sure Brian Bruney is a fine guy. Actually, I'm not so sure. I have no idea He could be a jerk. He could be Mother Teresa. It doesn't matter in this case. This is a performance thing and Brian Bruney isn't getting people out.

Let's see here. He has a 7.64 ERA and he's walked TWENTY in 17.2 innings. No slide rule needed - that's better than one an inning. A fluke? Not really. Career-wise he's not THAT bad but he does have 173 walks in 239 innings. That's way too close to one an inning.

His ERA in 47 games with Arizona in 2005 was 7.43. He's done this before.

Is there any compelling evidence to suggest he won't continue to do this? No, there isn't. This is what Brian Bruney is, a reliever who walks a ton of people and then gets hit.

So back to the fishing. I think I played this game once before, maybe with the Nats starters. It's late and I'm tired so I won't go back and look. Anyway, it is a game drawn upon the BASS Masters fishermen, who have a limit of five fish a day. They try to catch five as quickly as they can and then spend the rest of the day working for bigger fish and tossing the little one's back.

There's currently seven "reliever fish" in the Nats' live well: Capps, Clippard, Burnett, Bruney, Walker, Batista and Slaten.

Capps and Clippard are our "lunkers," the big fish we're counting on to win us the prize. They stay. At this point, I'm also inclined to keep Burnett and Slaten (at least for now, until we learn more about him).

Odd as it feels to say this, I'd keep Batista for a while, too. Soft spot. Sue me. Heck, Jason Marquis is going to return eventually so someone will be needed to pitch innings 2-6.

Until I looked up at the TV, I was going to ask if Tyler Walker was still on the team. Either he is, or someone is wearing his uniform. I don't really care if he stays or goes.

This whole fishing thing is a ruse. I only want to get rid of one bass. As I noted earlier today, we're about out of early. Isn't there a Storen fish out there somewhere they can toss into that live well? Is there a reason to wait?

If there is, go down and get someone, please. As long as his name isn't Colome, Ayala, Kensing *** oh, this can so go on forever. You get my point.

Get someone else in there. Please. The comments from Jim Riggleman in the story indicate he's getting a bit tired of it, too. So there's hope. Please, Jim. There's bigger bass in the pond.

About Out of Early

I just want to make this clear before I jump in the car and drive eight hours back to the big city: It's almost not early.

The Nats bandwagon is growing. I no longer get sneers when I wear my hats everywhere. More often than not, someone has something nice to say about the progress the team has made.

Not that there aren't some a-holes out there still who refuse to recognize. I've heard a lot "it's early, get back to me in September."

Long way to go, sure, but it really isn't early. I did some google searching to find an exact definition and couldn't find one so I'm just going to make one up on my own and declare it official.

The Nats have five more games and then it's not early. First 40 are early. Next 80 at midseason. Final 42 are the end game.

I'm enjoying the fine "early" start but trying to keep it all in perspective. If the Nats are in a similar position when the end game starts, my excitement might be out of control.

Would I take 20 wins every 35 games? Simple math tells me that's 80-60 with 22 to play. I'd take my chances with that. Doable? Who knows? Who thought 20-15 was doable to this point?

Yeah, I know. It's early.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Touched down in Tennessee, where tomorrow I will watch the marvelous and talented Christie Weaver graduate from UT Law. I'm biased - she is the girlfriend of My Son The Braves Fan. Though she has brutal taste in men, she is not a Braves fan. Another point in her favor.

The key point? I had eight hours of driving today, most of them with my wife asleep. So I had plenty of time to think. Never good.

Guess what I've been thinking about, pretty much since I saw Jee-SUS' line from last night's start for Syracuse?

I'm now firmly in the why wait camp. Let's do it. Sunday a week, against the Orioles.

Go to my blog roll on the right and there's lots and lots of guys who are smarter than I am and closer to the team, etc., who have written about this today. All make excellent points.

Here's mine - do we really need more proof he's ready? And screw the economics of it all. I never really understood the specifics but I understood they were there and they were important and I was all behind the Nats' decision from a business standpoint. I was willing to wait until June.

Now, let's look at the standings. Yes, that's the Nats at 19-15. It is so early, you will say. Is it? The season is darn near a quarter over. We're about out of early (40 games) and into midseason (the next 80). And the whole thing could blow up in our faces and the Nats could lose 100 again.

Or? They could keep this up, be staring at 90 wins and a wild card spot. What was once laughable is now not such a joke.

Could 2-3 extra starts by Strasburg mean 2-3 extra victories? Given what he's done thus far, it is reasonable. Is it also reasonable the Nats could be within a game or two of the wild card in late September? Ho ho ho, you say? Not so fast. While you laugh, would you have thought 19-15 at this point given the early schedule? If your hand is in the air, you are a stew-mouthed liar (or an actual National).

The decision that was made was right in March. This is May and it is a changed ballgame. Get him up here after his next start and let the Orioles be the first major-league team (in a real game) to see what Jee-SUS is all about.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Really? I'm SHOCKED!

Jason Marquis is probably going to have surgery?? So says Mark Zuckerman (and others, I'm sure. I only saw Mark's this a.m.).

Show of hands, please. This surprises how many people?

The following is cribbed straight from Mark's post, a comment made by someone with the great name of Natsochist. It isn't me, honest, but ol' Natsochist said it better than I could:

Will someone please fire our entire (expletive-deleted) medical staff? This happens far too frequently, and there were plenty of people in the comments here originally saying avoiding surgery was probably a boneheaded move. Identify problems, FIX them, and get the player ready to play well again ASAP.

This level of amateur-hour crap has to stop. I'm beyond fed-up with it, and I'm just a fan. I can't imagine how the players themselves must feel.

OK, back to me now. What he said. Marquis' elbow locked up because, I suspect without any medical training, one of those loose bodies worked its way into a bad place. That's what they DO. That's why you REMOVE them. Was there some hope they'd dissolve or change location? Maybe slide over to his other arm so there was no trouble with his pitching?

The long, long list of injury missteps makes me want to claw my eyes out. If I did that and I was a Nat, the team would say, "His vision is just a little blurry. He'll be fine in a few days and probably won't miss more than one start."

Jordan Zimmermann's elbow is just a little sore. He'll be back in September. Jesus Flores will play again in Philadelphia. Ryan Zimmerman is day to day to day, well, OK, month-to-month.

Mike Rizzo's hair should be falling out over this kind of thing (oh wait! - and we bald guys can make those kind of cracks). At some point, maybe El Jefe stands up and demands an explanation. Let me ask the question for you, boss: Why does it ALWAYS take this team FOREVER to get a realistic read on injuries? How many days have been wasted with treatment that wasn't really proper?

Ten Years in One Night

Happy Birthday to me. Let's get that out of the way first. At this stage of life, birthdays aren't as much a celebration as they are a relief. Whew. Made it another one. Now let's start the clock and see if I can steal one more.

It's supposed to be No. 54 but, after sitting through the eighth inning last night, I awoke to find out I was really 64. I can't imagine how Jim Riggleman feels.

My family tried hard to calm me down, reminding me that it was May 11 and it was the first major implosion of the season. The Nats were in double figures at this point last season. They've won six series already, something they didn't do until early July last year (against the Braves no less, with me in the house for all three).

I get that. I get that this is not last year, that this is a seemingly better team and crap-o-la nights are the exception now (we hope) and not the rule.

It's just, well, it's just so hard to relive a nightmare. Make it stop! Make it stop! I don't ever want to go back there.

It happens to the best now and then, we all know that. My bigger worry? Is it one of those nights or the start of a regression (doesn't take me long, does it)? Between my screams of agony last night, I did hear Mr. Dibble give a telling stat - more than half of Tyler Clippard's inherited runners have scored. That's not good, he said. No it isn't. And I admit to being ignorant of that fact, though I'm sure the numbers were skewed with his recent performances.

The Nats managed to ruin about six months last season. Well, four and a half or so. The last six weeks were kind of fun. The first six weeks this year have been a lot of fun, too. So for now I'm going to steal a line from the Atlanta Rhythm Section and I'm not going to let it bother me tonight. Tomorrow? Maybe a different story.

I do very much appreciate the Mets scheduling a day game in honor of my birthday - the Nats can do their part by easing my mind and winning the daggone thing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poaching Those Ws

For the record, Baseball Almanac says Elroy "Roy" Face has the record for relief wins in a season in the National League with 18 in 1959 (I was alive but don't remember).

Mr. Face made 57 appearances that season, none of them starts. He posted an 18-1 record.

Without further research, I'm just going to guess some of them were wins that he let get away from others and ended up with his own self.

Wonder if they called him The Vulture, too? He doesn't look very Vulture-ish in the picture on the baseball card in the link I provided. With his cool glasses, Tyler Clippard has some Vulture thing going on - but I suspect the nickname he's doing a good job of earning has a bit more of a negative connotation.

That's OK, Peaches. We still love you here. They trot you out 10 times a week, they have to expect you to get hit once in a while. I still have nightmares over guys named Ayala, Colome, Shell (or was it Shelled) and others giving up a lot more than a run or two. They took games and put them out of reach. Better to be a Vulture than an Arsonist.

The real issue here is the six-person bullpen (can't count Slaten yet because we haven't seen him) contains only two players who inspire any sort of confidence when they get called into the game. Is Tyler Walker still on the team? Will Slaten be the answer or part of the answer? Where's that other six-letter-starts-with-S-and-ends-with-n reliever? He coming up in a package deal with Jee-sus?

The back end of the Nats bullpen is so much better than it was a year ago that maybe we're looking past the fact that the rest of it doesn't seem to be much better. When the arms of Capps and Clippard fall off, that could be problematic. Here's hoping the problem gets fixed sooner rather than later because I'd hate to see all this warm and fuzzy optimism starting to build inside me get burned in a series of bad relief appearances.

I'm not ready to say so long to Sean Burnett. I still think he's useful. Maybe the others will get that way, too, but how long do the Nats wait? Other than Jee-SUS' running mate, are there answers in the system who may be close?

Too much has gone right this season (sure it's early but it really isn't anymore) for a small crack in the foundation to cause major problems. Get it fixed now, please.

I do wonder how much poaching another guy's win costs in Kangaroo Court? Whatever times three could add up for Clip. But whatever times three a year ago would have added up to 0-3.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ten Things I Think I Think

A nod to Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who uses that as a subhead in his always-entertaining Monday Morning Quarterback. Nothing original about the headline. But I'm just sitting here doing odds and ends and thinking and killing time until today's broadcast and things keep popping into my head.

In no particular order (and it may not even be 10):

1. What is it with WTOP? I was in the D.C. area yesterday, doing some learnin' for FanHouse. Left for home about 7 p.m. The XM in the car is broken, thanks to a repairman who ripped a wire. I couldn't pick up WTOP as I drove from 28 to the Prince William Parkway to 234 to 95. Since when? I used to be able to pick it up HERE. Very disappointing. Must get XM fixed.

2. Over/under on the number of times Ray Knight says "Matty" Chico on the pregame today? I'm on record as liking Ray a lot in his role. He's folksy, he generally knows his stuff, he says "we" a lot but doesn't clap or cheer while his partner is trying to speak. His man love for "Matty" is a little offputting but maybe that's because I never saw a lot of upside in "Matty." I hope he prove me way wrong today but I'm not a big fan of a Josh Johnson-"Matty" Chico matchup.

3. To which I wonder, what match up would I be a fan of with a Marlins-Nats matchup? The Nats could have Halladay and the Marlins could have, well, me and the Marlins would still win. Marlins>Nats, despite all the improvements.

4. Reset your calendars. I'm not sure of the economics of it all but I'm revising my guess for Jee-SUS' real debut from the Reds series in June to the O's series in two weeks. I'm also hoping he brings his buddy Storen along with him. This three-person bullpen isn't going to cut it much longer and three is assuming Sean Burnett is dependable.

5. Speaking of bullpens, Chris at Capitol Punishment has an interesting post about Tyler Clippard and Brian Bruney. I don't understand the stat side of it so I'll assume it is all on the up and up because Chris knows that stuff very well (and may be the one person who could drag me into that world, though I'll kick and scream the whole way). I also wonder if we need quantitative proof that Clippard is good and Bruney isn't? Visual proof makes it quite clear, but the numbers do make it clear how vivid.

6. US Air called. It has renamed its DCA to Syracuse route "the Maxwell" in honor of a guy who's been on it so smuch he could fly the plane blindfolded. I feel for the guy, he seems like a decent kid. But I'm becoming more and more convinced he is not a long-term answer. Nor is Roger Bernadina. Morse is 8-29 in Syracuse? How about bringing him back, sending Willy T. up the road and installing someone, anyone in right for more than a game or two? So Dukes couldn't hit the curveball. At least he could hit something.

7. I'm starting to feel for My Son The Braves Fan. But only a little. McCann can't see at night, Heyward may be DL bound, Jurjjens is already there, a guy my age two-hit them one night after Scott Olsen's work. Wow. I did tell him we Nats fans kept the basement clean despite living there so long and he was welcome to all the beer and snacks we left behind. Don't worry about staining the rug. We won't be back.

7a. Jamie Moyer is Digger Phelps' son-in-law. Here's a guy closing in on his 100th victory since turning FORTY and all I can think of with him is Digger Phelps.

8. Is there any way the Nats don't take Bryce Harper?

9. Leftover thoughts from this week's ballpark visit: The new pizza is much better than the old pizza. I just hope the stands upstairs stay open past the third inning. I'm not a fan of the new intro, at least not compared to last year's. I may stick with pizza and wings and pass on the big ribs on future visits. Last big rib I had was pretty much still mooing. How about you cook the things? I'm glad Uncle Stan listened to me and put up those counters behind the sections where you can eat and still see the game. MSTBF and his buds used them the other night. It's hard to take a lot of food to your seat and balance it and watch and then some clown tries to get by you during an at-bat *** those counters may be the best of all the upgrades.

10. Shouldn't Detwiler be about ready to do something? I believe we're at the 10-week mark. Not that I don't have a ton of faith in a rotation of Livo-Atilano-Olsen-Stammen-Chico. Just saying.

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Case You Missed This (or Miss Milledge)

I just saw this a little bit ago. Anyone still wish Lastings Milledge was a Nat?

My wife will hate me for posting that but I just couldn't resist.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eating A Lot of Peaches

When Tyler Clippard came into the game Tuesday night, my Son The Braves Fan - turning bitter as he sensed the inevitable - said, "Here comes your boy. Time for the return to earth."

Yeah, well, not yet. I couldn't think of a clever reply but when Melky Cabrera looked at strike three, I did mutter, "He can return to the bench."

It probably shouldn't surprise anyone that Clip was a fairly easy winner of the most recent poll about three-week MVPs. Only 87 voted (I'm hurt). He got 35 votes. Livo got 23, Pudge got 21, Capps got a surprisingly low 7 and Guzman got 1 (and to think I almost didn't include him).

I voted for Clip, though it wasn't as easy a call as you might expect given my professed fondness for the young man. I actually thought Capps would win the poll. Either one was a good call, though I can see cases being made for Pudge and Livo as well. Late implosions doomed this team so many times last April and Clip&Save have kept that from happening thus far this season. I don't hold last night against Capps. He didn't blow a save and dude had to give up another run sometime, didn't he?

When my son isn't being an obnoxious Braves fan (is that redundant?), he's a good conversationalist about baseball in general and his closet love for the Nats shows here and there. On the way home, we had a conversation about the new and improved Nats.

"Fool's Gold," he said.


His point was he thinks Capps is more likely to sustain something close to this pace than Clippard. He admitted he really didn't have a reason for thinking that way, just thoughts based on observations (like his dad, he doesn't own a slide rule). He conceded Clippard was fun to watch, as long as he wasn't watching him against the Braves.

"But who is he and what suggests he's really that good?"

I don't have the answers and I don't think anyone is really THAT good. Eventually he's going to get jacked a little and the ERA will balloon some.

Let's look at the opposite of that question. What suggests he isn't that good? A little sample size as a starter? He was pretty good in relief last season. He's maturing a little, learning more about pitching out of the bullpen, about the hitters he's faced. History may not suggest he has this in him. The present offers some pretty good evidence. This isn't a hot week. This is a very hot month.

No one can keep doing what he's doing, nice as that would be. But can he continue to be a very effective setup man? Can he continue to blow away hitters with that fastball that seems to rise and explode on a hitter?

Why the hell not? Until I see otherwise, I'm going to answer that with a resounding yes.

Edited to add this: Dave over at Nats News Network has a post on the subject that actually has some answers, so make sure you read it. After reading it, I change my answer from why the hell not to HELL YES!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Dear Uncle Stan,

Clearly, my luck has changed. My karma is good again. That's 3-0 with yours truly in the house. Last season, we hadn't seen a single victory on this date and we were well into the summer before we saw the Nats win a third time.

I'm easy to get along with and don't require much. A limo is not necessary. A nice Town Car will do. As long as the cooler is stocked.



Do I need to wear a tie in a fancy ride they're surely going to send for me? Or can I stick with shorts and a jersey?

My Son The Braves Fan and I worked out a compromise. Jason Heyward is my designated Brave but things are much more specific with him. Heyward has to hit one off the Coke sign on the scoreboard to make me do the Tomahawk Chop. Dude is certainly capable. My son's night wasn't a total loss because he got to see this not-yet-21-year-old crush one. I must admit, I do like that kid. I immediately offered Taveras and Bruney in a straight-up trade. Replacement right fielder and bullpen help, right? The deal was rejected. I will continue to work on that.

His favorite Nat came oh-so-close to making him sing. He turned pale when the ball left his bat. Everyone in section 309 called it fair but our opinion was ignored.

Only downside of the night was the news about John Lannan. I've become such a doomsayer about injuries. I have Friday in the "when do we hear about a visit to Dr. Andrews?" pool. Hope that isn't the case but I've been too many "it's nothing, really" tales of woe to think otherwise.

Love a free t-shirt. Love it more when the Nats win. Would have loved it even more had we been serenaded.

Will definitely love my new ride to the ballpark. Thanks Uncle Stan!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Family Situation

It's on. Nats vs. Braves. So you know what that means. This becomes a house divided. This year, we have a new twist in there and we come to an, uh, ah, unbiased audience for help.

Some background. I call my son My Son The Braves Fan because he is a Braves fan. No issues there. He comes by it honestly. There was no team in D.C. when he was growing up. We live in Richmond, for years the home of the Braves' AAA team. He should be a Braves fan and, to his credit, he's very loyal. His fandom is not a sign of bad parenting. There are other signs of that. This is not one of them.

My son is also a Hokie, a proud graduate of Virginia Tech. So we have this little bet when we go to Braves-Nats games. If U.Va. product Ryan Zimmerman hits a home run when we're there, my son has to stand up in his Braves gear and sing the U.Va. fight song. It has happened a few times and all rank among the highlights of my life. One of these days, I'll get one on YouTube.

Anyway, now the little weasel is trying to weasel. The other side of the bet is I had to do the Tomahawk Chop when Jeff Francouer hit a home run.

Francouer, the weasel noted, is no longer a Brave. Bet is off.

No way, I noted. I didn't trade Francouer. If I had, I would have traded him to the Nats (think they would have taken Dukes for him?). His issue is with Frank Wren, not me. We had no out clauses for trades in the original deal. When (not if) Zimmerman hits one out, he sings and dances. Plain and simple.

He's holding firm but agreed to listen to reason. I know no more reasonable group than the totally unbiased audience of this blog.

What say you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Moving On Up?

Johnny just said on the pre-game, rather matter-of-factly, that Jee-sus will start for Harrisburg today and then head on up to AAA Syracuse. Right on schedule it seems.

Five starts there and then? And then?

No, the Nats ticket office did not put me up to this. Honest. But get your tickets for that Cincinnati series in June right now. Don't wait until they make it official (though they don't have to worry about being overrun by Reds fans because there aren't any). Do it now.

If the Nats are smart, they'll say something along the lines of, "Well, it will either be here, here or here." I'm stupid enough to buy a ticket for every game that could be a possibility.

At my age, things to look forward to seem to be more and more infrequent. I can't think of much I've looked forward to more than Jee-SUS' major-league debut.

I will be there.