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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.

Done. Good Night

Check the "mainstream" media for terms, etc. I've seen as low as 6 mil and as high as 11 mil. Obviously, only one figure is correct. And I'm guessing this was done comfortably before the deadline.

Release courtesy of the Washington Nationals:


The Washington Nationals tonight agreed to terms on a Major League contract with College of Southern Nevada outfielder Bryce Harper, the first-overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo, Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel Roy Clark and Nationals Director of Scouting Kris Kline made the joint announcement.

Harper—who stands 6-foot-3, 205 lbs. and hails from Las Vegas—hit .443 (101-for-228) with 23 doubles, four triples, 31 home runs, 98 RBI, 39 walks and 20 stolen bases in 66 games for College of Southern Nevada in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, which uses wood-bats. Despite being the youngest player in the SWAC, Harper posted .526 and .987 on-base and slugging percentages, respectively, en route to a stellar 1.513 OPS (OBP+SLG) this season. He led his team and conference in virtually every primary offensive category.

Harper, 17, was named 2010 SWAC Player of the Year and also earned First-Team SWAC All-Conference status. Harper’s 31 home runs in 2010 set a College of Southern Nevada single-season mark, easily besting the former record of 12, which was set during CSN’s era using aluminum bats.

Last season, Harper was cited as Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year after he batted .626 with 14 home runs, 55 RBI and 36 stolen bases in 39 games for Las Vegas High School. The season prior, in 2008, Harper hit .590 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI in just 38 games as a high school freshman. In March of 2009, Harper became the first high school sophomore ever named a Pre-Season First-Team All-American by Baseball America.

The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Harper sports extensive baseball experiences gained beyond his high school and college careers. He was a member of USA Baseball’s 2009 Under 18 Team (.294 with four doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI in eight games) that went a perfect 8-0 to claim the COPABE Pan Am AAA Championships in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Harper also played in the 2009 AFLAC All-American Game (‘09 Jackie Robinson Award presented by AFLAC), the Area Code Games (‘08 All Area Code Team) and International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby (‘09 Ryan Howard Award).

The Nationals signed or agreed to terms with 33 players from their 2010 First-Year Player Draft, including 25 of their top 26 selections.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Am I Still Awake?

I swore I wasn't going to do this again. I was going to bed at a reasonable hour and I was going to get up in the morning and find out if Bryce Harper signed.

Sure. Right. Ain't gonna happen.

I'll be awake until there's some news. It sure as heck better be good.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dibble and Women - WOW

Sunday a.m. update - Rob Dibble's blog Harder to tell with written rather than spoken words but I'm going to label it sincere

Sunday p.m. update - now we have an on-air apology delivered. I still don't like his cheering over Bob's calls but it would be less than gracious not to accept the apology for this one and move on. So apology accepted. Moving on.

Wednesday night was the night I turned the game off early to watch Top Chef, which hacked me off more than the Nats game did (no spoilers, though, in case you taped it).

Should have stayed with the game. Or maybe not. My wife might still be screaming, as well she should.

Check this out if you are as clueless as I was about this situation.

I didn't watch on Thursday because I was at the game, waiting out the rain delay in the bar and then listening to the end after the kids and I bailed early. I didn't watch last night as I was driving home from the AOL offices.

So I don't know if it has been addressed on air. Has it? If not, it should be. Has MASN said anything? Apologies? Anything? Bueller? Bueller?

My wife goes to a lot of games. She keeps score, in a Bob Carpenter Scorebook (Bob is blameless here, my point is the woman I married pays attention and pays attention to the people in the booth). My daughter goes to a lot of games. She went back with some friends last night. She knows baseball, knows the Nats almost as well as I do.

My sister and sister-in-law go to more games than I do, and I'd put their knowledge of the Nats up against anyone's.

I can't believe Dibble will be able to get any with what sounds like smug insults of a good portion of the fan base. Sexist and stupid, those comments.

My guess is, like most who make sexist and stupid comments, he meant zero harm. I don't think Rob Dibble is sexist or stupid. He just didn't think before he opened his yap. He thought he was being funny. Like a lot of times Dibble thinks he is being funny, he missed badly.

I hope his arrogance doesn't get in the way of making a proper apology. Not a forced apology, mandated by the brass. A real, live apology. (If one has been made already, then I offer a proper apology). You can tell the difference easily.

Very eager to see what happens with this one. If something already has happened, please clue me in.

Well done John Lannan. But.

Congrats to John Lannan for pitching a fine game and snapping the Nats' latest losing streak. For you, sir, I stayed away since my luck has run dry. The Nats don't win when I'm in the house anymore. I sat out that rain delay on Thursday and even Livo couldn't cope with me there.

I don't think any of us have ever questioned whether Lannan has the "stuff" to win at the major-league level. He clearly does. When he's on, he's rather good.

But here's what I want to see out of Lannan, and most of the Nats pitchers not named Jee-SUS or Livo, actually: Win when your stuff ain't there. Because of a lot of times for every pitcher, it ain't there. And almost every time, that spells disaster for the Nats.

I'm sure I've expounded on my five-five theory here before. Don't worry. I'll do it again.

I have a theory that any pitcher good enough to start a full season in the bigs has five great games in them. Games where everything is working. They'll win four of them. The other? Bad luck, the opponent is also having a night, that kind of thing. Jee-SUS' debut is a fine example. On as on can be but it could have been a loss because one pitch was hit out and the Nats were down for a while.

They'll also have five games where the stuff stinks for whatever reason. They'll lose four of them. They'll get lucky once or the other guy will be worse. Jee-SUS had one of his five last time out.

What makes a decent pitcher good or a good pitcher great is what he does the other 25 or so starts when he's neither lights out nor horrific. How do you find a way to win when you are down a cylinder (as my racing friends like to say)? Those who figure it out are prized pitchers.

I saw Livo throw 42 pitches against the Braves in the first inning earlier this year. He got some bad breaks (at least one misplayed ball that I remember) and some good breaks (at least one great catch that I remember) but the key is Braves were on the bases all inning and only one scored. Livo worked his way through some crap and the Nats went on to win.

As much as I loved Jee-SUS' debut, I fell more in love on July 3 against the Mets. He was slightly off his feed but left down just 2-0. He kept it from getting out of hand and the Nats won.

Lannan, Stammen, Martin, Olsen *** I could go on and on but none of those guys seem to be able to work their way through when it isn't one of the GreatFIve Starts. That 2-0 against the Mets would have been 6-0.

So, yeah, I'm glad John Lannan seems to be back to being on more than off. I hope he's able to wedge his way into that rotation of greatness we've been told repeatedly is on the way. Maybe he found some magic elixer and he'll be "on" every time out.

We all know that isn't the case. So get back to me when Lannan (and the rest, he's far from alone in this) figure out how to win when the A game is back in the clubhouse.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Holy Schmokes - It's Aug. 12? Where's Bryce?

Wow. Where did time go? You get busy and it's Aug. 12. Wasn't it Willie Nelson who sang ain't it funny how time slips away?

Will Bryce Harper slip away?

I know nothing but my hunches all say this will get done. This kid wants no part of school, no part of another JUCO season, no part of injury risk. He wants to sign and play. I think it will get done.

What will it cost and what's reasonable? I have no idea there, either. He's younger and therefore (we assume) further away from the majors than Jee-SUS. So I don't see Jee-SUS money being involved. But maybe it will go that high, or higher.

What will it take and do you see it getting done?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Silver Lining

The song from Spamalot is cascading through my head - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life! So I will.

Tonight's bright side is Top Chef is on in an hour and I can turn this damn game off. I suppose I could just go ahead and do it now. Top Chef is down to, what, eight? They could probably still beat this team. Kenny is the pitcher since he's a "beast" on the mound just like in the kitchen.

Speaking of which, I wonder if tonight is the night they're at Nats Park?

What the hell has happened to this team? I'm going up tomorrow, my first live game since the disaster against the Mets on July 4. Meeting the kids - both live in that area now - and some friends. Looking forward to that. The game? Not so much. Though I think Livan is pitching? Another bright side.

And another: I'll be there early enough to get one of those Strasburg debut DVDs they're giving away. Good. It will remind me of one fabulous, fun night when I actually had some hope.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

IMPORTANT! Non-Baseball Help Needed

Nook or Kindle?

Yeah, this is a crucial decision we must make soon. My wife has requested an electronic reader for her upcoming birthday. Being the wonderful, accomodating husband I am, I will oblige. I got her a Lastings Milledge autographed baseball last year. I guess she got tired of reading that.

You'd think this would be a simple thing but it isn't. We spent about an hour at a local Barnes and Noble yesterday playing with the Nook. Still no decision. She actually said, I swear, "Throw it out there on your blog. Intelligent people read your blog." So after you stop laughing uncontrollably, chime in. I threw it out to my Facebook community and it was split down the middle.

To me, they're the exact same thing. Do you like saying "Nook" or "Kindle" better?

There are some differences. The Nook is slightly heavier but not enough to make a difference. The Kindle holds 2,000 more books but shouldn't the 1,500 the Nook holds be enough? The Nook allows sharing with other Nook owners. The Nook can be serviced in person at your local B&N. The Nook is $10 more expensive, hardly a big deal. The Nook, so B&N says, has a much bigger selection of available material.

So it should be a no-brainer as all those tilt toward Nook. But B&N may be sold soon - what happens then?

We agree that the extra $50 for 3G seems like a waste. But, but salesperson said - suppose you're out on the beach and you want to download a book? How about we just download one before we hit the beach, using our home wifi? I can't remember the last time I was somewhere I couldn't poach a wifi.

So what say you, intelligent blog-reading community? Nook? Or Kindle?

(just so it is Nationals related, she can haul her reader into Nationals Park easier than hauling in her books and magazines. Yes, she does that. Have to be prepared for blowouts and rain delays)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Four More Years! Four More Years!

We're baccckkkkk, which is good news or bad news depending on your point of view. My road trip is over, I'm back in the saddle and ready to roll. I'll have a post later this weekend filling you dear readers in on all the things I learned on my two-week-plus jaunt across the country (Wrigley is cool, deep stuff like that).

But first I wanted to chime in with this: Four more years, four more years! How tough is it to do a four-year, $60 million deal for Adam Dunn? Too high? Too long? Nonsense. It is a bargain compared to some other contracts out there and the Nats ought to get it Dunn (weak pun, used again, sorry).

I got some goose bumps last Saturday when Dunn got his standing ovation for his first at-bat after the trading deadline. Clearly I'm not the only one who wants Dunn around for a while. My only regret is I was not in the stadium that night to start a "FOUR MORE YEARS, FOUR MORE YEARS" chant every time he came to bat.

I managed to stay awake long enough to see him drive in six runs by the third inning, enough for John Lannan.

Why would you NOT want this guy on your team long term? Yeah, I know. He strikes out a lot (he hits it out a lot, too). Yeah, I know. He's not the Big Cat over there at first base. So shore up some other areas and live with that. You simply cannot take that big bat out of the lineup.

Before Dunn arrived, Manny Acta talked about needing that big bat. That big bat is named Adam Dunn. I know Ryan Zimmerman is the face of the franchise and Stephen Strasburg is Jee-SUS and the leader of a (so we're told) about-to-be awesome rotation. Lose Dunn and that doesn't matter. Too many resources (read - dollars) will be used trying to replace him (the answer is not in the system). Keep him and then go about figuring out an everyday second baseman, deciding if Mik, uh, Michael Morse can be the regular RF and the next Jayson Werth, figure out that rotation, etc.

With Dunn, I truly believe the Nats aren't that far away IF this rotation nonsense we're getting fed turns out to be true. Without Dunn, the Nats take one big step backward.

Is he Teixiera? No. He's also not looking for Teix money. This should be the biggest no brainer of them all and I think I may be more upset if Dunn isnt' signed than I will be when Bryce Harper doesn't get signed.

Seriously. Get this Dunn. NOW.