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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?)