We won today 4-2. Little steps, little steps.
July 31, 2005
I found this on the Washington Post this morning:
"The Nationals' recent collapse at the plate and on the field overshadows the big picture of a hustling team that has played much better than anyone expected in front of large, appreciative crowds. This, despite a home stadium not equipped to handle big crowds on a daily basis, without an owner, restricted by a payroll capped at about $50 million and a major disaster from the outset in getting games on TV to the most people. Suggestion to fans and the manager: Take a deep breath and enjoy."
July 30, 2005
The Triple Play crew met up last night a little late, and watched the end of the game at Carpool in Arlington. And the slide continued, and we continued to watch.
Watson then lamented that "the blog is drying up". I don't think so -- I just think we're running out of ways to say "the Nats suck right now" and "they lose again". Being clever that way gets hard to say on the 14th loss in the past 17.
Bos had a good article this morning. Yes, we're no longer leading the NL wild-card race. Yes, we've fallen behind.
But we also now know that this is the team. Says chief Bowden: "Look around [the] locker room. These are the guys we are going to war with."
And his most important quote I read this morning: ""What's different about the first half?" he asked them. "We've got the same people here. . . . Why can't we do it?""
There's a statement I can agree with . What's different? Essentially, nothing. The team is just in a funk, and they have to shake it off. Nothing more complicated than that.
As for the blog -- If you'd like I can rant about flip-flops again.
July 29, 2005
- Braves 5, Nationals 4
Apparently, Jose Guillen has decided on a new strategy. If the Nats are going down, Jose's taking everyone else down with them. A hard slide into 3rd to break up a double-play left Chipper Jones with some extra ventilation for his boys, a thigh-high spike-induced rip in his trousers.
Chipper: "There are correct ways to break up a double play. Almost castrating somebody is not the way to do it. I'll remember that the next time I go into second base against them."
Jose: "Next time I come even harder then."
Is it just me, or is Jose starting to sound a little bit like Tony Montana? Tell me you can't imagine Jose saying this:What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!
July 28, 2005
The Nats are playing Atlanta right now, 4-1 Braves. It's 2:33 in the afternoon. Dave's in his home office, watching on a 15 inch flat panel, I'm in my office listening on the radio and "watching" on Yahoo Gametracker. The thing that makes this great is we're IMing back and forth about the game. It's not as good as occupying bar stools in your favorite bar, but it will do in a pinch.
- Braves 4, Nationals 3
Perversely enough, you really can't blame the last two losses on the Nats offense. Sure, they scored 5 runs over two games, but in this series that should actually have been enough to win. Instead, one night after the bullpen coughed up a lead, the Nats new Bad News Bears-style defense insured another loss. Despite a rare, late-inning offensive rally (thank you, Danny Kolb) our guys were unable to overcome bouts of hysterical blindness by Christian "Have You Seen My Baseball?" Guzman and Nick Johnson. Now, I've been in the tank for Goooz all season, but my support was always predicated on the notion that his above-average defense compensated for his abysmal offense. If he ain't gonna hit or field, I think he might be in serious danger when Tony Blanco comes off the DL.
So Comcast's suit against MASN and the O's was dismissed by the circuit court in Montgomery County, but we're still no closer to seeing the Nats on TV. Since the Nationals aren't using their bats anyway, maybe we could give them to the opposing parties, lock them in a room, and hope they bludgeon each other to death. Major League Baseball, with it's usual assertiveness, vowed to redouble its efforts at doing nothing to get the Nats on TV.
But Do You Need to Use Protection to Play?
This has nothing to do with baseball or DC, but it's just too good to pass up. It appears that our good friend Ron Mexico, star of STD tests, radio call-in shows and the Las Vegas FatBurger will be making his video game debut this fall, courtesy of Midway.
July 27, 2005
It feels like the baseball world is already making arrangements for the Nationals funeral. They're planning to cremate Chad Cordero's hat and sprinkle the ashes on the outfield fence. I'd like to point out that this team is still ten games above .500 and that we're still in the fight. You have to win games early on in the season to have a cushion for when the inevitable slump happens. The Nationals did that and now that's going to save their collective asses.
Hopefully with the pressure off the team can regroup and remember what it took to take the division lead in the first place. There are some teams that just play better from behind and I think this is one of them. It's time to get a chip on our shoulder and start knocking heads.
There's a hell of a lot of baseball left and I'm not ready to write this team off.
July 26, 2005
So I get home from work yesterday and before I have to meet Dave to see the Island (Review: summer popcorn flick worth seeing once, not necessarily on the big screen) I want to catch the early innings of the Nats game. I turn on my DirectTV and it says Nationals vs. Braves 7:30 but the screen is blacked out. Confused I check DC20 to see if it's on there, again no luck as they're showing Everybody Loves Raymond. Then I figure since it's the Braves it's on TBS. What the hell, they're showing Raymond too. I flip back and forth between the channels for awhile never finding the game. Rather pissed off, I head off to meet Dave.
I'm a little early to the theater so I call Nate to get a score update and the conversation goes like this:
Watson: "Hey, what's the score?"
Nate: "I don't know, I'm not watching it, it's only on directTV. Let me hang up and call you back."
Watson: "I'm in the mall and reception sucks, you won't be able to call me back."
Nate: "I can't hop online and talk to you."
Watson: "Fine, I'll find out after the movie."
After I hang up Dave shows up and we walk toward the theater when my phone rings again. It's Nate and he points out there is no game on Monday and that we're both idiots.
July 24, 2005
- Astros 4, Nationals 1 (14 innings)
As far as I'm concerned, there's no particular shame in scraping together just one run against The Rocket, who's putting together the best statistical season for a pitcher I can remember seeing. Matching that total against Wandy Rodriguez (Wandy? Really, for the love of God, Wandy?) though, is another matter. This isn't an offensive slump. If Wily Taveres hadn't been doing his best Helen Keller impersonation in centerfield Saturday night, we would likely have lost that game 2-0, and been swept for the series by an impressive 23-4 margin. Individual players have slumps, teams have problems. The Washington Nationals have a problem.
Part of the problem stems from having a $50 million payroll. We knew going into the season that whatever else the Nats were, they weren't deep. Carlos Baerga, once memorably described as playing the field like he was wearing a spare tire, has been better than anyone expected, batting .279 in 57 games and occasionally making a nice play at 3rd. But any team that hasn't had its opening day infield together in nearly 3 months is going to suffer. And asking this team to make up for Christian Guzman's incredible shrinking batting average is like asking them to tread water while towing an anvil. No Nats hitter has been completely healthy for the entire season, and when they rest, the offense suffers even more.
Nevertheless, I can't shake the feeling that there's more going on here than a scrappy team that overperformed in the first half, and doesn't have the resources to put together a stretch run. If this team had legitimate ownership, and someone at the top making personnel decisions, I think the Nats hitting coach would be on the hot seat. So, standing in for our as yet unidentified owners, let me be the first to say... Bring me the head of Tom McCraw.
My weekend recap.
Saturday night, Nate and I caught the game from the Glory Days in Fairfax. That first inning did the trick for the Nats, who looked great. I have to rant about Mel Proctor and Ron Darling during this game. In the 5th inning, they just couldn't stop talking about Armas and the no hitter. Of course, the quickest way to jinx a no-hitter is to talk about it continously, and of course, in the 6th, Mel and Ron's jinx set in, to let that homer that brought in 2. Cordero proved he can't live except under pressure, and let in two hits to make the ninth interesting.
Sunday afternoon, I was with Sharon and a going away party for a friend of hers, so I actually started watching the game on TiVo starting at about 4pm -- until I ran out of TiVo. I set it for 4 hours. Who would have thought I needed more than that? I actually watched the whole 4 hours, and just made sure not to see any scores or work on the web somewhere that would show me the score as I did that. It was a good pitchers battle. The 8th inning proved disappointing. Men on 3rd and 1st with no outs, and then Schneider, Church and Wilkerson can't get anything going. Disappointing.
Guillen's injury was a very unfortunate occurance in the 9th. With only one man left in the 9th, going into extra innings is rough. When Tex came in for the 11th, I was reminded of his 97 MPH pitches Saturday. Wowza. Of course, then he had to bat in the 11th.
So I saw all the way to the top of the 14th inning, with men on 1st and 2nd, with a 1-1 count, and ran out of TiVo. So I had to read about the loss on ESPN.com
July 23, 2005
A quote found today: "All but one of the electronic scoreboards around RFK Stadium went dark in the bottom of the third. The working one carried the message: "Thank you for your support.""
It simply has to get better.
July 22, 2005
With apologies to Watson for stepping all over his post... but mine has a graphic!
As promised, the intrepid investigative journalists at The Post have published an expose on the actual outfield dimensions at RFK Stadium. Now we know that the so-called power alleys are closer to 395 ft. than 380, and dead center is actually about 408 ft. as opposed to 410. With those stunning revelations behind us, hopefully our hitters will stop bitching and set about trying to hit doubles into the massive outfield gaps. (By the way, I'd have a little more sympathy for our power hitters if I hadn't watched noted sluggers J.D. Closser and Mike Lamb hit shots to the bullpen on consecutive nights.)
When we last left our intrepid reporter duo they had just faced mortal peril and possible trespassing charges for sneaking on the field at RFK to measure the distance from home plate to the outfield fences. The mortal peril stemmed from their decision to eat the RFK pizza on the way.
As suspected, Barry and the Boz found that the signs in the outfield were off by a whopping 14 feet. There's a big difference between 380 feet and 394 feet. No wonder our guys were tearing their hair out. Hopefully this will help everybody relax a little bit and maybe they'll start trying to hit it down the line instead of out into death valley.
`Things are going bad,'' first baseman Brad Wilkerson said. ``They keep swamping on us right now.''
You said it Wilkie.
`What we're going to have to do,'' Nationals manager Frank Robinson said, ``is get this thing going before we fall too far behind.''
Yeah, that would help Frank.
The good news is that Livan cooled down, and he's going to stick around. '`I feel good today. Not 100 percent, but I feel much better, and I'm not going to miss a start,'' Hernandez said.
My meeting last night was a horrible, torturous experience -- and that sounds like it put it on par with attending the game.
The Nats Triple Play crew is not going to any more of this series. Watson is out of town for the weekend. (I'm emailing Nate in a minute to ask if he wants to watch Saturday's game somewhere out).
Things have to get bad before they can pick up sometimes -- I think I'm ready for the tide to turn, and I'm going to have some faith now that they can do it. I'm not going to play this game. You can't blame new fans. You just have to teach them. (And if I sat behind those two guys they described as talking about a legal case -- I'd yell louder).
July 21, 2005
- Rockies 3, Nationals 2
Personally, I think Livan was just venting, after another outstanding outing playing injured. But let's not forget that his older brother, El Duque is generally considered to be crazier than a shithouse rat, so maybe there's a little something genetic going on there as well. But there have also been hints that Patterson and Loaiza are disgruntled with their on-going and criminal lack of run support. The Nats team ERA has declined every month this season, and offensive production has gone right along with it.
This is no longer a case of hitting a slump in the middle of a long season. This team has serious, systemic offensive issues. When scoring 4 runs is considered an offensive explosion, there's more at work here than Christian Guzman's cold bat. Being as in the tank for Goooz as I am, I'm almost happy for him right now. He's safely on the bench, parked next to Kenny Kelly, so he can't be considered even a little at fault for the accelerating offensive slide.
Perhaps, in the late July heat, Nats hitters have mistaken Washington, DC for Arlington, Texas and are under the misapprehension that they're hitting in the Ranger's home Ballpark. No fewer than 3 Nats hitters crushed balls to the warning track between the power alleys last night. We just aren't going to win that way, and the sooner our boys get on board with the idea of pulling the ball or going the other way into the corners, the better off we'll be. If they can't make that adjustment, no amount of bouncing in the left field stands will give the Nats a home field advantage.
So a disappointing night last night. Losing isn't fun to watch, and to the Rockies even more so.
But the drama I'm more watching right now is Livan "'It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more'" Hernandez. Most importantly, what happened last night that set him off? Was it something with the knee? Was it the lack of run support? Or a specific comment or event?
Let's look at the crazy quotes of the post game interview:
"I'm not happy for three years. After the season, I'm going to tell you"
"It's 99.9 percent I'm not going to pitch no more"
"I'm done, I think, so let's see what happens. ... I'll go to sleep and I'm going to make a decision tonight."
"It's not the doctors. It's me. I'm the doctor. I don't need it, but I'm going to" [have an operation].
"I'm tired of something. ... I'll tell you when the season's over. I'm mad."
And Frank doesn't know what the hell is going on.
Watson and Nate are going to the game tonight. I have a stupid meeting.
July 20, 2005
So according to Boswell's Wednesday email newsletter he and Barry Svrluga (the Nats beat writer) are sneaking onto the field at RFK with a 300 foot tape measure to check the fences. Barry did an online chat today after the fact. They didn't get arrested but they were thrown out after only measuring one of the fences. He wouldn't say what the measurement was, but something's definitly up. Stay tuned . . .
Since the title of this blog is about life in the nation's capital, I'm going to comment on something that really gets me going, as the fellow members of Nats Triple Play will comment on.
I have long had a single rule on this. "Flip Flops are not going out shoes." They are for the beach, and they are for the shower. They are not, simply not, going out shoes.
So why bring it up? It's managed to cause a flap in DC this time.
Apparently, some of women of the national championship Northwestern University women's lacrosse team, invited to the White House on Tuesday after a 21-0 season, chose to wear flip-flops for their moment to meet the President.
The picture shows four of the nine women in the front row wearing flip-flop sandals wih the President.
I have finally found my example of just too much. Maybe I'm wrong when I say you can't wear them out of the house. Maybe it's debatable at some bars. Maybe I'm wrong when I say you don't wear them to a restaurant. But here, in this example, when you know you are meeting with the President of the United States, it should be very clear that they are not appropriate. You do NOT WEAR FLIP FLOPS to the WHITE HOUSE. The same goes for Congress and the Supreme Court.
The Chicago Tribune has a long article on this.
The Wil Cordero traveling road show and pinch hitting circus is over. The Nats just designated the veteran fielder for assignment, and signed 26 year old OF Kenny Kelly off waivers from, who else, the Reds. Jim Bowden's quest to reassemble the Big Red Machine continues. I'm assuming Kelly will eventually fill out the roster at AAA New Orleans once Nick Johnson and Tony Blanco come off the DL.
Nats uber-closer Chad Cordero was at ESPN Zone for a Q&A/autograph session. (Apparently this is a regular, bi-weekly thing that we could start scheduling our afternoons around, were we so inclined.) Since I'm not tethered to The Man's timeclock like Watson and Dave, I decided to drop by and say howdy to The Chief.
First thought upon leaving my apartment: "Damn, it's hot out here."
Second thought: "Mmmm, that breeze feels good."
Third thought: "Damn, it's hot out here."
And so on.
Anyhoo, after a sweltering six block stroll down 11th Street, I joined the end of a line of red-clad Nats fans stretching out the door and around the corner.
Question to the guy in front of me: "Is this the Chad Cordero line?"
Response: "Ummm, I think so."
Question from the guy who got in line behind me: "Is this the line to see Cordero?"
My response: "Ummm, I think so."
Thought for the Day: Maybe this is how the lemmings got started.
After 20 minutes of standing in line for what thankfully was the Cordero meet and greet, and not the latest Liza Minelli comeback tour, I made it into the air-conditioning, a ridiculously underrated human technological achievement. The Q&A was already under way, and was actually fairly interesting, covering topics from the genesis of the flat hat to his thoughts on the Stanton balk call in Milwaukee.
Afterwards, standing in the sweaty, panting, autograph-hound line I met Nats radio guy Charlie Slowes' kids, who notwithstanding their last name, are actually fairly bright, if a little annoying. Chad looks smaller in person, though maybe that was because he was sitting down. And, as a courtesy to the people who were trying to talk to him, he didn't have his cap pulled all the way down to the bridge of his nose. He was polite, and actually seemed to enjoy interacting with all the middle-aged businessmen skipping out of work.
I fully expect to be back in two weeks, when hopefully Carlos Baerga will be the guest of honor, and I'll be the only one there.
- Nationals 4, Rockies 0
For one game at least the Zach Day-Preston Wilson trade worked out even better than the Nationals could have hoped. Behind stellar pitching from John Patterson: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8K, the Nats cobbled together 2 runs on 7 hits through the first 7 innings to take a 2-0 lead. Then, in the bottom of the 8th, Christmas in July came to RFK.
Zach Day's homecoming was memorable, though perhaps not in the way he intended. After walking leadoff batter Brad Wilkerson on 4 pitches, Day allowed back-to-back-to-back singles to Jose Guillen, Brian Schneider and Preston Wilson to drive in two more runs. The Chief worked out of a two-on, no out jam, and pitched a scoreless 9th for his absolutely ridiculous 33rd save.
Despite much agitation to make Day the Nats Player of the Game, that honor really ought to go to John "Stretch" Patterson, who pitched another gem and was just 3 outs away from a complete game shutout. A mini-cheer also for Goooz, who came off the bench as a defensive replacement and made a nice play to record the final out on a broken bat infield hit.
Now I'm sure Watson & Dave will wax rhapsodic over Frank's brilliant line-up changes that inspired the team and powered them to a much-needed victory. But I'm just going to take a moment to point out that the Nats scored just 4 runs last night, equal to their offensive output in a 5-4 loss on Monday, and also right in line with their season average for runs per game.
Daywatch: Zach's less than inspired outing certainly didn't look good, but I think of it this way; he hasn't pitched well at RFK all season, why would you expect him to do better now?
Dayline for 7/19/05 (ND) - 0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (total wins: 0)
Nats NL East lead: 1.5 games
July 19, 2005
To celebrate the return of the Triple Play crew to RFK (and since there isn't much to celebrate in the Nats return to RFK so far) I've compiled a brief list of Do's & Don't's for genuine DC baseball fans:
- Stand and remove your hat during the National Anthem (this includes women & children);
- Cheer the announced Nats starting lineup (regardless of your feelings about a certain middle infielder);
- Wait until half inning breaks to leave your seat (you make a better door than a window);
- Heckle the Coors Light guys... it's the only way they'll learn;
- Watch for flying balls, bats, peanuts, t-shirts and small children;
- Try the chorizo, it's outstanding;
- Cheer for the ground crew, the trainer, the backup assistant clubhouse attendant, or anyone else whose efforts are rarely publicly acknowledged;
- Flirt with your neighbors, baseball is about making new friends;
- Take bets on the Dollar Derby, the Beer Race, the Turkey Hill Tub Shuffle, or any other in-game entertainment. Trust us, that's what they're for;
- Stand and stretch during the 7th inning stretch. We want to get a better look at you;
- Substitute "Nationals" for "home team" during "Take Me Out to the Ballgame";
- Cheer for the recovery of any injured player (yes, even Yankees);
- Exit calmly but quickly after the game, the Triple Play crew has things to do.
- Emphasize the "O" in "O, say can you see...". This is not Baltimore.
- Screw up our National Anthem. If you're going to sing it in public, learn the words.
- Buy from the Coors Light guys, it only encourages them.
- Try the pizza. You've been warned.
- Heckle the Nat Pack, they're just kids... and those t-shirt cannons hurt.
- Cheer anything positive that happens to the opposing team. Except maybe the birth of a child, and then only if it's ugly.
- Spray pesticides on Screech. Bald eagles are a threatened species.
- Swear, there are little kids around. (I'm working on this one.)
- Start fights. The Triple Play crew does not want to have to hang around and provide your description to the cops.
- Forget to tip the beer guys. You heathens.
I'm sure my colleagues will fill in any I've missed. Enjoy the game!
Tom Boswell got it right when he said "One crisis will follow another as the night the day." when he was writing about the Nats. We’ve now lost eight of our last ten games, we’re only a half game in front of Atlanta, and we just lost at home to the Rockies who have the worst on the road record in baseball.
The entire world is crashing down on the Nationals and I find myself in the most peculiar of places. I’m still thrilled to death about baseball in DC. We’ve got a real-life, honest-to-god, major league baseball team on our hands. Sure, every loss is a dagger to the heart and every mistake or missed opportunity is a kick in the shins, but it’s a wonderful reminder of just how alive this team has made us. We finally get to live through the glorious ups and downs of rooting for a baseball team that’s ours. For the record I think we’re going to take the division, but whatever happens from here on out we’ve got an awful lot to live for.
I'm a Goooz guy, that's no great secret... I've own his freakin' jersey (and soon I may be the only one left in DC). I'm a Goooz guy because, even including this year's mind-numbing .190, he's a career .260 hitter with nearly 150 doubles and more than 300 RBI. He's not Sammy Sosa or Brett Boone, he's not older, he's not slower, his body's not breaking down. Whatever the problem is, it's under his cap. And even with his repulsive hitting, which you know bothers him as much as it bothers us, he goes out every day and plays solid, sometimes spectacular defense.
Guzman is signed for 4 years at $4 million per, but even discounting the money the Nats need him. There simply aren't any other major league-ready shortstop prospects in the organization. SS-of-the-future Ian Desmond is batting .282 at Single A Potomac, not exactly the kind of stats that will get you jumped up to AAA ball, much less the big show. At AAA New Orleans, neither Rick Short or Brendan Harris or is a natural shortstop, and the other infielders have stats that make Goooz look like an all-star slugger.
This team has shown that it is capable of carrying Guzman's bad bat. When the team was winning, Goooz hit below .200, and now that the team's losing Goooz is hitting below .200. You can blame the current slump on a lot of things, but for once Frank is right to say that Guzman ain't one of them.
Thankfully, we were spared from watching the loss, but I think Frank summed it up for all of us -- "the worst game we played all year long. It is not acceptable and will not be acceptable. ... I am not going to accept that. ... It is a lack of execution, as far as I'm concerned. We are not executing, offensively and defensively."
The discussion last night was whether or not to sit Guzman -- Frank's statements are that if it was Gooz alone causing the problem, he'd sit him.
My thought is that you need to do something to shift the wind a little. Sitting Gooz might be that.
July 18, 2005
Being dedicated Washington Nationals fans, we here at Triple Play don't normally concern ourselves with the dealings of that other regional baseball franchise. However, since the blockbuster trade in question involves our division rivals, the Florida Sport Fish, it is worth commenting on. The Baltimore Sun is reporting the imminent conclusion of a deal that would ship Florida SP A.J. Burnett, 3B Mike Lowell and a minor league outfielder to Bal'mer for RP Jorge Julio, OF Larry Bigbie and rookie SP Hayden Penn.
Whatever the relative merits for the two clubs involved, this is a great deal for the Nats. The Sport Fish are trading away a solid No. 2 or 3 pitcher and an established (if struggling) power-hitting infielder for a solid but unspectacular outfielder, a Guillermo Mota clone, and a promising but unproven young starter. It certainly seems like the Sport Fish are restocking for next year, having already traded SP Al Leiter to the Yanquis for a bucket of gold-plated BP balls. The Nats Triple Play crew heartily endorses rebuilding years, and encourages other NL East teams to catch trade deadline fever.
Thankfully, the Nats are home again for two series to hopefully make things better.
The Triple Play Crew is going to the movies, with Nate and I seeing Fantastic Four and then Watson and I seeing War of the Worlds. Thus, we'll just be catching box scores tonight.
Tomorrow, we'll all be watching from RFK.
July 17, 2005
Why is it that major league pitchers can't bat? Ryan Drese just went down without a fight. These guys have been playing ball and presumably swinging the bat since little league. In high schools the best hitters are usually the pitchers. At what point do they forget how to hit? I mean Pedro Martinez doesn't even take the bat off of his shoulder when he hits. I watched him stand in the on deck circle and take one warm-up swing. It drives me bonkers that there is an automatic out every nine hitters.
Nate and I were stuck in my car coming home from a wedding and somewhere between the trailer parks and the red lights inspiration struck. Without further ado, the Tomo Ohka Song. Sung to the tune of "Meet the Flintstones"
He's the worst pitcher on our staff.
He throws, like it's bp,
and the other teams swing the bat.
Nate had a couple of other verses but I think they're lost to the dustbin of history.
So the boys in blue broke the downward slide.
Watson and I watched the game at a crab feast hosted by our friends Dale and Nora. (We aren't sure where Nate was). As I had hoped, Guillen the Barbarian must have been pissed off enough by Friday. His two-run single in the seventh inning snapped a tie, leading the Nats to the 5-3 victory. I think we all needed it. And I do think Frank should mail that DVD to the league. While it can't change the outcome of the game, this shouldn't just be left alone.
It's impressive to read about Guillen this morning. The Times, ESPN, and the Post are all discussing the injuries, and how much pain he's playing through. You do get the sense he cares a lot about Washington, and Frank in particular, and it shows.
This afternoon we face Tomo Ohka. Nate and Watson are far better on commenting on that.
- Nationals 5, Brewers 3
If you're the kind of baseball fan who believes that luck tends to even out over the course of a 162-game season, then the Nats could be in for a rough July. Of course, sometimes a team can win in spite of itself. Rare clutch hitting by Jose Guillen provided a two run cushion, and, for the first time in a long time, the bullpen didn't give it back. Kudos to Gary "Tex" Majewski, Mike "Billy" Stanton, and The Chief for a return to form. And a special thank you to Christian "GOOZ!" Guzman for providing an offensive boost by getting himself ejected for arguing balls and strikes, neither of which he can hit anyway. Gooz arguing pitches is like Stevie Wonder complaining about violence in music videos. Maybe he's right, but how would he know?
Today's subtext-ridden matchup: Drese vs. Ohka (Coming soon, a link to Watson singing the Tomo Ohka Song).
DayWatch: A new feature here at Nats Triple Play, chronicling Zach Day's effort to win 10 in the 2nd half, and make Watson eat his hat.
DayLine for 7/16/05 (ND) - 1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (total wins: 0)
Nats NL East Lead: 1.5 games
July 16, 2005
I went from stupified, to livid, to fatalistic, all in the span of about 20 seconds (which is to say, all before Ron Darling had managed to formulate a syllable). 1B Ump Paul Schrieber blew the call. Clearly, obviously, indisputably blew it. But if Frank had taken Livan, his 136 pitches and his bad right knee out before the Brewers best hitter came to bat in the bottom of the eighth, or if Vinny could have hit a decent fly ball in the top of the eighth there wouldn't have been a 10th inning. If Jose Guillen hadn't chosen this series to do his best Christian Guzman impersonation, or if the Nationals had managed to convert 11 hits into more than 3 runs, it never would have come down to this.
If you believe in karma, then this is what the Nationals get for coming out on top in all those one run games, for convincing the umpires to convert homeruns into long foul balls, for being statistically out-played but still winning. And so the Nats lead shrinks like Paul Schrieber's credibility.
July 15, 2005
- Brewers 4, Nationals 2
Opting for continuity, the Nats started the 2nd half the same way they finished the 1st. John Patterson's solid pitching effort was wasted, and the our offense remained on extended All-Star break. Preston Wilson made a nice debut, launching a solo homer in his first at bat (and my, Dave, that bandwagon has such a tight turning radius) but the rest of the team failed to catch the fever, managing just three singles.
Maybe some of that $2.5 million the Nats are picking up on Wilson's contract could have been better spent buying the whole team Tom Emanski instructional videos.
The Atlanta Native Americans dropped their 2nd-half opener as well, so it remains:
Nats NL East Lead: 2.5 games
July 14, 2005
Ok, so his first at bat, Preston Wilson hits a homer.
Maybe we're wrong. :)
I hadn't planned a second post for today, as the Triple Play crew is skipping out early to take in an Indiana Jones double-feature at the AFI Theatre. Just Raiders and Last Crusade, no Temple of Doom where Lucas strayed from the Judeo-Christian canon and suffered the consequences. But I digress...
Dave touched on one of my favorite topics, the intersection of baseball and politics. We've seen plenty of silly linkages between the two, not the least the presidency of a former Texas Rangers owner, but the Nats have had a major impact on the DC political scene. I'm polite enough not to bore my friends by talking about this at length in public, but I'm going to talk about it here.
2006 is a mayoral election year in DC, the only election that really counts, since DC doesn't have voting representation in the U.S. Congress. Our incumbent mayor Anthony "Tony Bowtie" Williams, hasn't actually committed to running for a third term, and about half the city council is waiting in the wings to run if he vacates the office.
Once upon a time, Mayor Williams was widely considered the savior of Washington, DC. He balanced the budget, buoyed the city's credit rating, attracted development to declining neighborhoods, and generally put DC back on the map as a respectable place to live and work. He was also the anti-Marion "Bitch Set Me Up" Barry.
When Mayor Williams ran for reelection in 2002, the bloom was off the rose. Downtown was still booming, but redevelopment made very few inroads into far Northeast or Anacostia, and some DC residents were complaining that, as Dave noted, the city may be a much nicer place to visit, but it isn't necessarily a better place to live. Williams, the anti-Barry, was accused of ignoring poorer areas of the city, and promoting businesses at the expense of people.
In spite of the criticism, Tony Bowtie cruised to reelection, but his fervent support for DC baseball has reinforced many of the old arguments. Councilman Adrian Fenty, in particular, loves to harp that “If we can find the money to build a new baseball stadium, surely we can find a way to fix our schools.” as though the two things are either mutually exclusive or even related. Fenty is young, popular and adamantly opposed to spending any public money on the Nats.
But the most interesting potential matchup for Mayor Williams is city council chair Linda Cropp. Wildly unpopular among Nats fans for potentially torpedoing the move from Montreal at the 11th hour, Cropp has positioned herself as guardian of the DC taxpayer at every turn. What makes her worth watching is her increasing support in the business community, where there is little love for the gross revenue tax that will fund the new Nats stadium. Between Fenty chipping away at his popular support, and Cropp courting business leaders, the adulation of Nats fans alone may not be enough to get the mayor a third term.
I promise that this will be my last extended DC politics rant for a while. The Brewers are on deck to start the Nats second half. Maybe Preston Wilson will hit one out.
The fine folks at DCist have speculation on whether or not the Nats will cause Mayor Williams to run again. I can't speculate either way (as I don't know), and I can't vote in DC, but I will say that since Mayor Williams came to down, the city is a hell of a lot better place to visit.
I do hope he runs again.
Preston Wilson came to Washington because the Red Sox needed bullpen help:
- Oakland A's trade RP Chad (Moneyball) Bradford to Boston for OF Jay Payton;
- Having accquired Payton, the A's trade OF Eric "Crash Test Dummy" Byrnes and INF Omar Quintanilla to the Colorado Rockies for SP Joe Kennedy and RP Jay Witasick;
- With Byrnes on board the Rockies trade OF Preston Wilson to Washington for SP Zach Day, OF J.J. Davis and a federal highway project to be named later.
If Zach Day wins 10 games in the second half I'm coming after Jim Bowden with a torch and a pitchfork.
Thoughts from the AAA All-Star Game
Watched the AAA All-Star Game last night, starring two of our own AAA New Orleans Zephyrs, 3B/DH Rick Short and OF Tyrell Godwin. The PCL (our guys) beat The IL 11-5.
- Rangers AAA C Gerald Laird hit the 1st Grand Slam in AAA All-Star history, not bad for a last minute replacement pick.
- A's AAA OF (and Watson clone) Matt Watson has a ridiculously hot, and very pregnant wife.
- Tampa Bay SS-of-the-future B.J. Upton is the reason "Moneyball" guys hate "tools" guys. Despite great range and a cannon arm he has 30 errors so far this season, and added two more in the All-Star game.
- Rick Short ought to be playing in the Majors, for someone, right now. All he can do is hit? C'mon, that's like Buddy Ryan slamming Cris Carter with "All he does is catch touchdowns." Way to evaluate talent.
July 13, 2005
So, for the record, today and Monday are the two slowest days in professional sports, with nearly no activity. It used to be no activity at all, but with the WNBA there are some games. People more into sports are also tracking golf. You'll note I'm not.
Smart of us to start a blog when it's slow. Then again, there has been some significant Nats News over the past day or so.
So Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Nats have officially picked up Mike Stanton. Now this I'm all for.
We actually have another lefty! Gary "Lefty" Majewski won't have to fake it anymore.
The day after the All-Star Game is the only day from April-October that is utterly devoid of MLB baseball. So we have to fill it up with trade rumors and 2nd half speculation.
According to our boy Barry Svrluga at the Washington Post the on-again, off-again Preston Wilson deal might be on again. I think we've all staked out our positions on Preston: nice guy, good fielder, likely to have little or no pop in his bat at RFK. But the latest twist is that Wilson would play center, with Wilkie moving to 1B until Johnson gets healthy, and Byrd/Church platooning in left.
Then, when Nicky comes back to play 1B, Wilkie moves to LF and Byrd/Church go to the bench. Leaving aside the question of whether Wilson is an offensive and defensive upgrade over Byrd or Church, what do we need all these outfielders for? Both Byrd and Church have shown good defensive range, and Church has a good bat: .325, 7 HRs, 28 RBI in part-time duty. I guess the thinking is that Church doesn't have the range to play CF, and Byrd doesn't have the bat to play everyday.
The other interesting personnel move on the horizon is the potential addition of lefty reliever Mike Stanton, formerly of the Yanquis. Stanton would be the left-handed setup man for The Chief, taking some pressure of Luis "El Guapo" Ayala and Gary "Tex" Majewski. Another lefty in the bullpen would also allow Joey Eischen to return to doing what he does best, sitting in the bullpen looking scary.
The Triple Play crew, along with assorted spouses, accomplices and friends with benefits, will be watching tonight's MLB All-Star Game at Coyote Ugly in downtown DC. As a test to see if anyone other than us actually reads this thing, anybody who correctly identifies Dave, Watson or me out at the bar gets a free Miller Light (Dave's beer of choice).
Update: Turns out that Coyote wasn't even showing the game, we got some bad info. Apologies to the dozens of fans who turned out for our Miller Light challenge.
July 12, 2005
Sure, I know they're just taking batting practice, and the balls are practically as big as softballs up there, but that's just ridiculous. Not only did Bobby out-homer David Ortiz, Andruw Jones, Carlos Lee and Mark Teixeira, he out-hit anyone in the history of the Homerun Derby. By a mile. He had 24 homers in the first round. Only two guys had more than that in the first half of the season. That's just silly. Congrats to Bobby and all his Venezolano brethren.
Programming note: Nats Triple Play is now listed on the DC Metro Blogmap, a move sure to double our readership... from 3 to 6.
July 11, 2005
I was also listening to Sunday's game on the radio. Specifically I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the restaurant I was about to have dinner in. It was tied 4-4 in the tenth when my date showed up. I thought for a second about asking her to join me in the car when I realized 1) this was our first real date and 2) if I did that there would be no second date.
Then again, maybe she would have understood . . .
July 10, 2005
I had the chance to be a fan on the road this weekend. I ended up with some interesting insight into perception of the Nats, and particularly Frank.
Friday night, I was having dinner until about 9, so ended up on the Long Island RailRoad between 9:16 and 10:30. Thus, I "watched" the game on the ESPN GameCast on the web. While slightly time delayed, it is a good way to 'watch' a game if you only have the web and don't want to shell out money for MLB.TV.
Saturday, box scores only for me -- and reading the box score on your cell phone really looses any impact of a pitching battle. The folks I was on Long Island with were delighted to watch the Yankees play in the bar, however.
Sunday, however, was old-time baseball for me. The joy of XM Radio in the car meant that I listened to the Nats / Phillies matchup on channel 184... and it was the Phillies feed. This was some interesting insight into the way the Nats are viewed outside of DC. Plus, baseball on the radio can be a lot of fun.
What was most interesting was some commentary on two particularly "Frank" moves. In the bottom of the eighth, Frank put in Eischen just to walk Perez, and then pulled him to put in Cordero. The Phillies commentators were completely baffled by this move. They just didn't know what to make of it. Admittedly, neither did I. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, the Phillies commentators were discussing the fact that the Nats outfield plays deep -- all the time, and had the entire series. They actually commented on the fact that the in-field and out-field positioning was strange to them, and seemed like there was a great deal of confusion on the Nats side. All interesting insights -- no wonder people don't know what to make of the Nats.
And remember, since divisional play begain in 1969, 103 of 155 teams that have held sole possession of first place at the All-Start break went on to win their division. So we're well placed, despite the bummer road series. (So I choose not to think about the Phillies, who led the NL East at the break last year and then finished 10 games behind Atlanta.)
- Philles 5, Nationals 4 (12 innings)
- Nats NL East Lead: 2.5 games
July 9, 2005
I'm not dwelling on the fact that the Nats supported John Patterson's finest outing of the season with exactly 0 runs on 6 hits, losing 1-0 to the Phillies.
To be fair, I didn't get upset when the Nats blew a 3-run lead, I got upset when they blew TWO 5-run leads, 5-0 and 8-3. But the game did produce two of the more entertaining plays I've seen all year. Phillies relief pitcher Geoff Geary came up to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning and promptly fouled Ryan Drese's pitch straight down into home plate, where it rebounded and struck him square in the forehead, nearly knocking him unconscious. It's only funny because he was okay.
Later, with Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins on first, Drese botched a pickoff throw to Carlos Baerga, and as the ball rolled into right field, Baerga attempted to climb over Rollins to get to it. At one point Carlos was more or less squatting on Jimmy's head. Carlos did have a nice 3-run home to balance out his questionable fielding technique.
Nats NL East Lead: 2.5 games
So Nate and I caught the game at Clyde's in Georgetown. We sat in the bar and had dinner. Two things I want to point out:
First, I've never seen a player bounce a foul ball off the plate and into his face.
Second, I've never seen Nate get more upset than when the Nats blow a 3 run lead, except for the second time they did it.
I know I said two things, but here's a third. Once it was 8-7 (the final score) I told Nate "Now it's a one run game, they're sure to win" :) As we've been saying "It's never boring watching the Nats".
July 8, 2005
So I thought I'd chime in too. While I do have my faith in both Frank and Jim, I do wonder about this Wilson deal. I get my baseball tidbits from others, and I was coming off a morning of listening to Sports Radio 980 (which I never do, because I have XM radio) in my wife's car (which also only gets AM stations). The talking heads on the show that morning had on Bos -- the man, the myth, the legend -- from the Washington Post.
Bos was commenting on how much the Nats needed relief pitching. Ayala and Cordero have been working very hard. And I'm with him on that (both have racked up a ton of points for me in Fantasy). You simply can't expect more from the bullpen than you're getting, and quite frankly, it's not humanly possible. Those guys are going to make a mistake here and there, and it would be nice to have someone in the 'pen who could take a little of the load.
Do we need offense? Yeah, it would be nice to produce a few more runs. But Frank doesn't seem to leave guys in very long when he senses danger (Danger, Frank Robinson, Danger!), so some more arms would be good.
But maybe Nate is right -- maybe Jim thinks Zach Day's arm will fall off. If it does, give it to Gooz. He could use it as a bat. Nothing else seems to be working.
Since Dave and Nate already posted it's my turn. I'm Watson, the third member of our group. I'm planning on filling my posts with random observations and maybe a little humor. I'll also occasionally go off on a rant if you're lucky. My turn ons are dive bars, cold beer, and lots of movie quotes. Double points if said quote is recited by a hot girl. Triple points if she's offering me beer.
Sporting News has the Nats trading pitcher Zach Day and minor league outfielder JJ Davis to the Rockies for outfielder Preston Wilson.
I am not amused. Wilson's current stats: .258 average, .322 OBP, 14 homers, 45 RBI. And that's in the rarified air of Coors Field. You don't trade young pitching for a career .265 hitter who averages less than 20 homeruns a year.
Jim Bowden's trades falls into two categories: the Jose Guillens, and the Alex Escobars. I predict this will be an Alex Escobar trade. Maybe Zach Day has a rare disease that will cause his pitching arm to fall off at the elbow.
Remember this? I'm sitting in a cab enroute to Union Station to head out of town for the weekend (wedding in NYC, with a stop off with Jimmy Canada for pizza), and I started poking around my sidekick's camera section.
I found this picture taken from our seats at RFK from the Mets / Nats exhibition game before the season even started. April 3, 2005.
Looking at it is funny, since there is so much more signage at RFK now. Even that Comcast sign (which I think is just evil considering the mess with MASN).
It seems a long time ago. And 50 degrees warmer.
So you're supposed to start these things off with an introduction, and I'm going to lead off here.
I'm Dave, and I'm the least baseball knowledgeable of this crew. Think of me as your color commentator. I'm a baseball fan because it's the best sport to socialize with -- drinking beer during the summer in a fun outdoor environment with friends, interrupted by exciting moments of sports. What more can you ask for?
This has been a great year for me and baseball, because I know more than 4 player names at any given moment. The last time this happened was when I was 7 and was an Orioles fan, and knew Cal, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, and Rick Dempsey. So knowing a bunch of players again is wonderful, and this team is making it worth it.
And yes, we play fantasy with one another. I'm loaded up with Nats -- despite Watson's badmouthing -- including Wilkerson, Guillen, Vidro, Hernandez, C. Cordero, and Ayala. And yes, I'm also currently second from the bottom.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages... Welcome to the newest, latest, greatest, and most dysfunctional chronicle of the 2nd half of an inaugural baseball season ever seen on the world wide web.
More than enough has been written about the return of baseball to Washington, DC. The struggle, the passion, the heartache, the logistical nightmare. Reams of paper have been devoted to the team's surprising on-field success and the off-field machinations of local politicians, potential ownership groups, blood-sucking Baltimore baseball barons, and idiot cable TV franchises.
We intend to be more focused. While we will undoubtedly touch on all of the above topics and more, the driving force behind this blog is a fan's eye view (from Section 313 at RFK) of the Nats stretch run, the NL East pennant race and a potential playoff berth for the much-maligned former Les Expos de Montreal.
I'm Nate, the sole DC resident in the bunch, so I'll have a bit more to say on the local politics of baseball in the nation's capital. I'll let my co-conspirators introduce themselves in turn. For now, let's "Play (2nd half) Ball!"