No, this post will not be a paean to Scott Podsednik. (Though man alive, if you're going to save up your homers for the postseason, you can't do much better than Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.) Nor will it be a tribute to another of Dave & Watson's titanic semi-annual drinking binges. Rather a somewhat pedestrian update on the Nats' Arizona Fall League sluggers:
- Brendan Harris continues to dominate AFL pitching. His .533 batting average leads the league, and his 1.337 OPS ain't too shabby neither. The knock on Harris has been his defense, but he has 0 errors in 11 games in Arizona, playing 2B, 3B and SS behind some very shaky pitching. If Jamey Carroll gets too expensive this offseason, Harris is one possible replacement part.
- Larry Broadway's .368 average is second on the team, with an impressive 1.023 OPS. But Larry's problems have been well chronicled. He's a Nick Johnson clone on a team with no shortage of left-handed hitters, so he might just be putting on an excellent audition for other teams.
- Ryan Zimmerman took a couple weeks off to recover from his MLB debut, but he's picked up right where he left off, hitting .353 in 4 games, including one 5-5 performance. Dutch took Tony Blanco's spot on the roster, and Tony left the team after hitting a respectable .286 in the AFL.
A tip 'o the NTP cap to the late Ted Bonda, the former Cleveland Indians owner who gave Cap'n Hook his first managing job back when he was just an Ensign. From the AP article:
"When Cleveland was in danger of losing the Indians in the 1970s, [Bonda] led a coalition of business owners who bought the club. The group lost revenue each year, but Bonda used his own money to keep the team in town."
Are you listening, Dread Pirate Smulyan? His own money.
Yes I know, wrong sport. But I can't pass up an opportunity to abuse Washington's worst sports columnist, Mike Wise. Wise never met a bandwagon he didn't attempt to hijack for his own purposes. Today he uses the Skins 52-17 victory to declare that we are all bad people for criticizing Mark Brunell last season.
Apparently Brunell's teenage daughter was driven to tears by chants of "We Want Ramsey!" at FedEx Field last year. I myself was sometimes driven to tears by what happened after we got Ramsey, but that's beside the point. Brunell was god-awful last season. By any objective standard he was one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL. Benching him wasn't anything near as close a call as Joe Gibbs made it. It was a mercy demotion.
Brunell is playing much, much, ridiculously much better this season. I'm happy for him and for the team. But that doesn't mean I was wrong to boo him last year, or that I regret it now. There are very few opportunities in life to simply coast on past performance, and that's as it should be. Honest competition, in sports, business or politics, increases the odds that the best people will be put in key positions. If Mike Wise understood that, he would be able to celebrate Mark Brunell's resurgence without demonizing those who recognized his obvious decline. But then Mike Wise wouldn't be the hack columnist I love to hate.