May 31, 2006

Fire & Eischen

Joey is literally and figuratively out of ammo.

And so the ballad of Joey Eischen limps to its long-anticipated end. The veteran LOOGY has hocked up his last 2-hit, 3-BB, 4-run third of an inning for the Nats this season. Eischen was placed on the 60-day DL, and will likely have surgery on a partially torn rotator cuff in the not-too-distant future. His spot in the bullpen will be taken by 2004 1st round pick (and W&M grad) Bill Bray, making the Nats the only team in baseball to have their last 3 first round picks on the active roster. The move also gives the team 6 pitchers on the 60-day DL, which might be some kind of record.

On one level this is sad. I genuinely liked Joey for his candor, his funky wind-up, and his scary potential serial killer demeanor. But I'm glad to see that, in what are hopefully the waning days of his tenure as GM, Jim Bowden is leaning more heavily on the farm system and evaluating some of our younger players instead of trading for washed up veterans like Junior Spivey or Deivi Cruz.

With new ownership coming on board and a renewed commitment to player development it will be useful to know whether guys like Bray, Shawn Hill, Saul Rivera, Mike Vento and Santiago Ramirez have anything to contribute at the big league level. Now if we can just get Trader Jim to jettison one of the Anderson-Fick-Jackson-LeCroy-Ward conglomerate in favor of giving Brendan Harris a legitimate audition, we might have a genuine youth movement in the making.

On another level, this is yet another reason to second guess the Nats medical staff. Eischen had this condition all off-season, he even started spring training late because of the soreness in his shoulder. Is this maybe something that should have been looked at a little more agressively before he was re-signed, given a default spot in the bullpen and trotted out there to blow at least two games that I can remember? As usual, I don't have an answer for these medically-oriented questions, they just make me wonder. In the meantime I wish Joey nothing but a swift rehab and a complete recovery next season.

May 28, 2006

Meet the Nats

If this team is going to put forth the effort to win a few series in a row, taking 2 of 3 from those filthy, thievin' Baltimorons, 3 out of 4 from the defending NL Champs and 66.6% from the suddenly resurgent Trolley Dodgers, I guess I can take a few minutes out of my Memorial Day weekend to figure out who the hell these guys are.

To say that the Nats roster has experienced some turnover since Opening Day would be an understatement on par with saying Britney's career is experiencing a bit of a hiccup. The team has used no fewer than three centerfielders (Brandon Watson, Ryan Church and Alex Escobar) who aren't on the 25-man roster, and we have a full 5-man rotation on the DL (Patterson, Astacio, Lawrence, Drese and Day). All this roster flux has forced the Nats to start a shuttle bus service to New Orleans and Harrisburg.

If the last 10 games are any indication, some of these guys, either through necessity or design, might be sticking around awhile. So without further ado, meet the newest Nats:

Mike O'Connor: Not really all that new, having assumed John (Gee, didn't he used to pitch here?) Patterson's roster spot last month. O'Connor's a crafty lefty, which is essentially the tag given to all lefties who don't throw like Randy Johnson used to. But Mike's done an excellent job since his promotion, going 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 6 starts, and dueling Roy Oswalt to a Texican standoff the other night. If "Irish Mike" can cut down on the BBs (16 vs 22 Ks) he has a chance to be the Nationals first legitimate lefty starter. (No John "The Llama" Halama doesn't count.) O'Connor's performance has already earned him the Federalist Party's nomination for 2008.

Shawn Hill: Shawn was called up from N'awlins to fill the roster spot of the late, unlamented Zach Day, who may or may not be having shoulder surgery but definitely is gone until after the All-Star break. Hill was one of the Expos best young pitching prospects until Tommy & John went to work on his elbow. He spent 2005 rehabbing, and this season working his way up through the minors. In his first start on Saturday he pretty much shut down the Dodgers, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits through 7 innings. If Shawn continues to pitch well he might free up the Nats to trade Tony Armas or Ramon Ortiz for prospects later on this summer. In his free time Hill is the poster boy for Nationals Farm Authority.

Mike Vento: Vento is the newest contestant in the Nats Outfield o' Doom, which has thus far claimed Brandon Watson's potential, Jose Guillen's health, Daryle Ward's pride, Ryan Church's sanity and Alex Escobar's career (such as it was.) According to Trader Jim, "[Vento] is this year's version of Rick Short. A blue-collar, hard-nosed kid who can hit." So lock in the lowest possible fare to Tokyo ASAP, Mike. And when you get there, say "Hi!" to last year's version of Rick Short for me. Realistically I hope Vento can hold down the fort until Ryan Church gets his head on straight again.

Saul Rivera: This is Saul's 2nd stint with the big club this season and this time they actually let him pitch. So far the 28 year-old righty reliever has pitched two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two. And he's given the Nats a plausible excuse not to use Felix Rodriguez.

Santiago Ramirez: See above re: plausible excuse not to use Felix Rodriguez.

May 25, 2006

Well, That Was Awkward...

I don't want to see Frank Robinson cry. It's unnatural. It's like Daryle Ward passing up a rack of ribs between innings, or Jim Bowden getting into a cab after last call. Yet there it was for all the world to see. Somehow Fatt LeCroy made Cap'n Hook cry.

Now I know what your thinking: Watching your starting (albeit 3rd string) catcher surrender 7 stolen bases and commit two throwing errors would reduce any manager to tears. Or maybe Frank was simply weeping at the indignity of having to roll LeCroy out there in the first place. Because let's not kid ourselves, Fatt LeCroy is not a catcher. He's a living, breathing backstop positioned between the pitcher and the ump. And that's all anyone should reasonably expect of him. That he can call a good game and swing a decent bat is icing on the cake.

With Brian Schneider on the DL, Wiki Gonzales
injured and Robert Fick being a d*****bag, Frank really had no choice. Robinson said he wasn't trying to embarrass LeCroy when he removed him in the middle of the inning, but Matt was doing a fine job of embarrassing himself. He needed to be put out of his misery, Old Yeller-style.

So maybe Frank was doing his best impersonation of Travis Coates after he put down the shotgun and shovel. Maybe what Frank said to LeCroy before he got tossed out of that Atlanta game a few weeks back was, "You complete me."

Or maybe Jose Guillen just pine tar'd him.

Flashes of Brilliance

Last night's Nats game was a joy to watch. You had a great pitchers duel between Roy Oswalt who's stuff was absolutely filthy and rookie Mike O'Connor who put together six innings of three hit baseball. O'Connor would have pitched the seventh if not for one of the randomest plays I've seen in awhile.

In the bottom of the sixth with Damian Jackson on third, Oswalt inexplicably balked. He started home then fell off the mound toward third. After the inevitable conference with the umpires, Jackson was awarded home. That made it a 1-1 game and gave the Nats a little hope.

The Nats took that hope and used it to beat vaunted Astros closer Brad Lidge upside the head. The bottom of the 8th was a clinic in clutch hitting and good execution. Even Frank's using Ramon Ortiz as a pinch runner was the right call.

It was great to see our boys play solid ball. This team has its problems but a few performances like that could be the catalyst of a great summer for Nats fans.

May 21, 2006

2 Out of 3 Ain't Bad

Mission Accomplished. Sure, a 3-game sweep would've been nice, but I'll take a series victory any day, particularly a series win over those dirty thieving Baltimorons. More than 90,000 of DC's non-baseball fans turned out to see the Nats this weekend. It's not exactly the bleacher-bouncing heyday of yesteryear, but it's a start.

The Battle of the Beltway(s) had none of the light and heat of a New York subway series, or the sharp geographic divisions the delineate Cubs turf from White Sox territory in Chicago, but if you were there for any of this weekend's games, you know that all the raw material of a rivalry is in place. Nats fans hate the Orioles because of Peter Angelos. Orioles fans hate the Nats for (a) cutting into their revenue stream; (b) constantly reminding them how Angelos wrecked their team; and/or (c) not speaking in that gawdawful Dundalk patois, hon. It may not mean much to the players yet, but the fans are already there.

Even more encouraging, the Nats managed back-to-back well played games. When Tony Armas struggled through five mediocre innings Saturday night, the bullpen picked him up. Sunday afternoon Livan returned the favor, gutting out 7 innings of one-run ball for his second win of the season. In between the bats did just enough to take advantage of some truly abysmal Baltimore pitching. Ramon Ortiz is a terrible pitcher, but I wouldn't trade him for Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen right now.

I hesitate to mention it in the afterglow of Sunday's win, but Alex Escobar looks like a terrible centerfielder. No doubt some of his rust is attributable to learning a new park and readjusting to the speed of the big league game. But based on two games worth of personal observation he looks awful in the field, misjudging balls, taking bad routes and making even routine catches into Preston Wilsonesque mini-thrillers. He appears to have an above average arm and a decent bat, but I don't know how much more outfield defense this team can afford to sacrifice. I shudder at the thought of a Soriano-Escobar-Ward outfield.

From the rare vantage point of a home series victory, it's time to take stock: With this afternoon's win the Nats are 16-28, 12 games below .500, 10 games out of first in the NL East and just 4 games above the cellar dwellin' Florida Marlins. Those are all bad things. But I'm in the mood to be generous. (Enjoy it while it lasts, it'll be gone after we drop 2 of 3 to the 'Stros this week.)

Consider that the Nationals have almost a full pitching rotation on the DL right now (Patterson, Lawrence, Drese and Astacio.) Only Patterson and Astacio have any chance of pitching again this season. Add in the fact that we're missing our best setup man, our starting catcher, and last year's best power hitter. Hell, even factor in the loss of Cristian Guzman if you want. I doubt whether even competent front office and dugout management could make this team competitive this year.

So enjoy the smaller triumphs, the moral victories. Celebrate the cosmic justice of an Orioles loss. Savor Alfonso Soriano's monster bombs, knowing that each one will make him that much more valuable at the trade deadline. Mark the progress of Ryan Zimmerman, the best 21-year old in major league baseball. Marvel at the diamonds in the rough like Mike O'Connor. Maybe he's only getting by on guile and novelty right now. Maybe the second time through teams will figure him out and he'll be done. But in the meantime he's a hell of a good story, and one more reason to root, root, root for the home team.

May 20, 2006

It Wasn't Supposed to be Like This

What kind of sick sadist puts Daryle Ward in right field? His profile says he's 240 lbs, but that was obviously before he put his other foot on the scale. Given a choice, I think I'd rather have J.J. Davis out there. Look, we've been over this before. Sure, Daryle's listed as a 1B/OF, and he did fine on the one ball hit right at him. But watching him try to play anything tailing away from him (complete with half-assed 2 inch leap) brings back unkind memories of Carlos Baerga at 2B.

What, did Marlon Byrd disappear into the Springfield Mystery Spot? And take Marlon Anderson with him? At least Frank was awake enough to keep it from happening again, moving Ryan Church to right and putting Byrd in CF next inning. Ward's misadventures in the field spoiled a gutsy outing by rookie lefty Mike O'Connor, who pitched 6 effective innings despite taking a wicked line drive directly off his throwing shoulder (earning him Cap'n Hook's temporary admiration.)

Other than that, the less said about this game, the better. The wheels came off in the 7th inning when FRodo was brought in to give up his traditional 3 runs on 6 hits, and by the time Joey Eischen made his 8th inning appearance, you knew the Nats were just mailing this one in. At least Fonzie's 14th dinger (trade bait, baby!) broke up the shutout. And the crowd was definitely running about 70-30 Nationals, which was gratifying to see.

Daryle Ward does his best large immovable object impression in the outfield and Felix Rodriguez finishes the job out of the bullpen. So who's the scapegoat for this game? Ryan Church, of course!
It's like deja vu all over again. Ryan is gone, off to Harrisburg to try and get his groove back. In his place we get Alex Escobar, the crown jewel of the Jerry Owens trade.

Alex is having himself a nice little season in Double-A ball (at the age of 27!) and is fragile and easily injured, so he fits right in with our other OFs. For comparative purposes only, here's Escobar's career MLB line:

  • 92 Games; 301 AB; .229 avg./.309 OBP/.369 SLG; 39 R; 9 HR; 34 RBI; 3 SB

And now, Ryan Church:

  • 155 Games; 396 AB; .258 avg./.337 OBP/.432 SLG; 55R; 14 HR; 59 RBI; 6 SB

Granted, Ryan isn't exactly lighting the world on fire but anybody who looks at this team and identifies Church as the most pressing problem, and Alex Escobar as the solution needs to have his drinking-before-lunch privileges revoked.

Fire Bowden! (Robinson too!)

May 19, 2006

Home Sweet Homestand

With a thoroughly crappy roadtrip gone but not forgotten, the Nats return to RFK for their longest homestand of the season so far. The upcoming ten-gamer is a whopping four days longer than the team has been home for any stretch to date. I'm convinced that contributes in some small way to the ticket sale malaise hovering over the team. For example, take this typical (but entirely fictional) exchange:

"Say Fred, did you hear the Nats are home this week?"
"Gee Bob, maybe we should catch a game!"
"Oops nevermind Fred, looks like they're gone again, on the road for two weeks."
"Screw it Bob, let's just get coke and hookers this weekend instead."

So not only do short homestands drive away fans, they contribute to the decline in community morals. Conservative values voters: Call your congressman and demand longer homestands! The virtue of the Republic hangs in the balance. But I digress...

This weekend marks the inaugural B-W Battle between the Nats and the Orioles. Now, baseball writers from the once distinguished Thomas J. Boswell to the thoroughly undistinguished beat writer have opined that you cannot have a genuine rivalry until both teams are competitive. To which I say "Horses**t!"

When the Green Bay Packers play the Minnesota Vikings, you think anybody cares about the records? When the Red Wings and Blues throw down, do the standings even matter? College sports are built on the back of geographic and thematic rivalries: Georgia-Florida, Army-Navy, USC-UCLA, Notre Dame-everybody. As a lifelong Redskins fan I can vouch for the fact that even the worst season is redeemed by a victory of the Cowboys. Likewise, a Super Bowl season can still be tarnished by a defeat at the hands of Dallas.

I understand that in the era of free agency players don't identify with their cities like they once did. Alfonso Soriano was in Texas last year, why should he carry any antipathy towards the Orioles? Baltimore's Kevin Millar was an integral piece of the Red Sox puzzle until this season, logically he should dislike the Orioles more than the Nats. But rivalries aren't really for the players any more, with a few notable exceptions (Reggie Miller vs The City of New York springs to mind.) These days rivalries are fueled, for better or worse, by the fans.

And Nats fans have plenty of reasons to dislike the Orioles, starting at the top. Peter Angelos delayed the relocation of our team, prevented Nats games from being universally broadcast, and utterly dismissed our credentials as baseball fans. That by itself is reason enough to boo his team. But for baseball fans, there's an even more compelling storyline. Angelos has presided over the methodical destruction of one of the great franchises in baseball. He didn't start the process, but he's doing his best to finish it.

Not so long ago the Orioles were a model organization. The "Oriole Way" was the blueprint for player development. Oriole teams were a perfect mirror of their hard-working, fun-loving , blue collar city. But through a series of mind-bogglingly bad personnel moves (turns out the only thing worse than a GM who's never met a free agent he didn't like is an owner who's never met one he did) and PR disasters: Albert Belle, Mike Mussina, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada... Angelos has turned his team into a fan-repellent perennial also-ran. And if that's not boo-worthy, I don't know what is.

So I hope to see lots of red, white and blue out at the ballpark this weekend. Dave, Watson and I have ambitiously committed to all three games (depending on the severity of our hangovers.) Feel free to stop by Section 313 and say "Hi!" We'll even save you some peanuts.

May 17, 2006

More monopoly stupidity

Ok, Nats fans, excuse me for a moment while I call bullshit on another monopoly that has pulled another round of crap with another team I happen to care about.

According to the NCAA, as reported in, William & Mary (which happens to be Watson and my alma mater) is barred from holding NCAA events due to it's mascot/name, the "Tribe".

This, despite the research and support of local Native American groups, and also in spite of Florida State, with it's much devisive mascot and logo, being allowed to retain theirs.

Besides the facts that the mascot of the Tribe was the very lame Colonel Ebirt ("Tribe" spelled backwards), and who was retired already, and the logo of the "W" and "M" intertwined with feathers (viewable on the W&M athletics site) is just about as generic as you can get, I just don't see how the NCAA thinks this makes any sense. Let's allow schools that can pay off Indian tribes and who blatantly use Indian logos, but screw a smaller (and I might point out, actual academically focused) school.

As we talk about monopolies, let's recognize that all kinds of stupidity is going on all around us. Not that I'm bitter. Our MLB overlords are not the only monopoly that looks only to money to talk.

Thanks to Adam for the initial link.

May 15, 2006

Success -- how far along (or behind) are we?

So, time for a little summary of where we are vs. Success:

For the team....

1. During the season, at least one 6 game winning streak.

This one is somewhat funny. When two game winning streaks are considered good for the team, we're really sucking.

2. Not to be mathematically eliminated before Sept 5 (which does happen to be my birthday).

Considering we're pretty much considered eliminated. Listening to MLB Home Plate the other day, we were squarely compared with the Pirates and the Fish. Thus, we suck. I'm still hoping that item 1 might happen and we have a hot month.

3. Nick Johnson to only be on the DL at total of 20 days or less.

Now here is a success criteria we might hit. So far, so good.

4. Chad Cordero has 20 saves or more. Being conservative, but trying!

With the team as bad as it is, Chief is getting very little opportunity. He currently has 3. At our current rate of production, we're looking at 18 or so -- so we're not too far off here.

5. John Patterson has a record that includes 12 wins. Hoping for run support, this is more than last year

Injury has taken away this bright spot -- who currently has one win. With a June 1 return, he'll have to be on fire to hit this.

6. Guzmania delivers a Batting Average better than .260, and hits 30 dingers. I'm trying to recreate 2004 for him. If he hits Nate's predictions, so much the better.

So this one will just... not... happen.

7. Zimmerman delivers, and we see a solid ball player.

Still a little early to tell, isn't it? So far so good.

For Dave

8. Attendance at 15 games.

Currently at two. However, I'm planning to be at all three this weekend against the O's.

9. Chipwich's at at least 5 games.

At this point, service is so bad at RFK that my quest for ice cream has been foiled so many times. It wasn't served early in April, and on the recent game I went to on May 3, ice cream stopped being served in the 7th inning. So I missed it. Damn you Aramark! Food service has been so awful, I can barely say anything.

10. One entry into Coyote Ugly after a game


11. One night of total stupidity at the ball park, involving not driving and a lot of beer.

Perhaps this weekend. :)

12. A win on Jun 24, just to have some personal gratification on beating the Orioles while at Camden Yards decked out in Nats gear.

TBD. :)

Maybe this weekend will be the energy we all need. One can hope.

May 14, 2006

Catch Me If You Can

Alternate Title: Oh, Wiki You're So Fine...

I realize it's been a long, long time since I've done a game recap, but it's been a long time since there's been a game that I've (a) seen and (b) felt any urge to revisit. (Cable monopolies... they're COM-CASTIC!!!) But this afternoon's game in Atlanta presents the opportunity for me to fold a recap into the context of a larger post about roster management.

First thing's first: This was the best all-around game I've seen the team play this season, which isn't saying much. Still, I like what I'm seeing from Tony Armas, and even though it kills me that Fonzie has a mental block that prevents him from hitting anywhere below leadoff, he's still one hell of a sparkplug at the top of the lineup. If he can pull a Brady Anderson and hit 50 homers from the top spot I almost won't care when he finishes the season with only 80 RBI.

Undoubtedly the play of the game occured in the 5th inning. The Nats were up 1-0 on Alf's solo homer when Nick Johnson... yes, that Nick Johnson, beat out a grounder to first on a play Adam LaRoche apparently lost interest in. (In fairness it was actually a tie, and I think LaRoche might have edged him out,) but Nick deserved the call because there was no reason it should have been that close. In Triple Play lore, a "tie goes to the runner" play will ever after be known as a "LaRoche."

So, a rare thank you to Frank Robinson for emphasis on hustle. My disagreements with the Cap'n Hook school of game management are legion, but I have no quarrel with his focus on effort. Even when Carlos "Cheeseburglar" Baerga was "playing" 1B for the Nats he showed more hustle than Adam LaRoche could muster on a routine inning-ending grounder. And as we all know, Carlos regularly played the field while eating a rack of ribs. (Or at least that's how I remember it.)

And, in a rare display of opportunism, the Nats took advantage of their 4th out to notch 4 unearned runs and chase Braves starter John Thomson. Ryan Church picked an excellent time to remind us that he was still on the roster, lashing a 2 RBI single that accounted for half the Nationals unearned runs. Nats bats continued to feast on Aussie reliever Peter Moylan in the next inning, adding 3 more to the scoreboard.

After that Tony Armas locked down the Braves through the 7th. Tex pitched a run free 8th and was inexplicably yanked to give Felix Rodriguez the chance to give up a meaningless but annoying 9th inning homer to Wilson Betimit, the Wily Mo Pena of infielders. Tony Armas now has both of the wins on this roadtrip but sadly he is not scheduled to pitch against the Cubs.

This game also marked the return of Wiki Gonzalez from exile. According to the Nationals beat writer who is not Justice B. Hill (freakin' sweet name) Gonzalez is expected to be the Nats primary catcher while Brian Schneider is on the DL. (No word on whether Schneider will be mocked for his lack of toughness while rehabbing his "hamstring injury.") Gonzalez was recalled despite the return of Robert "Chuck" Fick and the presence of Matt LeCroy because Jim Bowden, in his infinite wisdom, decided we need a catcher who might actually attempt to throw out a runner every few games or so. (Which Wiki did quite nicely, nailing Jeff Francoeur at 2B.)

For those of you keeping score at home the Nats 25-man roster, at present, includes 3 "catchers" (Gonzalez, LeCroy, Fick) 5 "first basemen" (Johnson, LeCroy, Ward, Fick, Anderson) 4 "second basemen" (Vidro, Anderson, Jackson, Soriano) and 8 "outfielders" (Guillen, Church, Byrd, Soriano, Ward, Anderson, Jackson, Fick.) That's some serious roster flexibility, granted some of these guys play their positions like Britney Spears "sings." But, with all the problems this team has do we really need a 3rd C/4th 1B/8 OF more than a middle reliever?

If you want to send Jason Bergmann back to the Zephyrs to figure out how to... you know, throw strikes, that's fine. But for God's sake don't replace him with Robert Fick. You've just increased Joey Eischen's workload exponentially! Why not bring back Saul Rivera, and see if he can actually pitch at the big league level? Or Kevin Gryboski, and see if he can still pitch at the big league level? Or Travis Hughes, who might at least be able to knock down a few line drives with his double-XL uniform?

Do you see what I'm getting at here? We don't need Robert Fick. (Nobody needs Robert Fick, but that's beside the point.) It's like some drunken moron once said, "Pitching, pitching pitching."

P.S. Frank Robinson was ejected from Saturday night's game by home plate umpire John Hirshbeck after Robinson said something to catcher Matt LeCroy that Hirshbeck overheard and thought was directed at him.

This bizarre sequence of events is the perfect excuse for the first ever Nats Triple Play Fill-in-the-Blanks Contest. What could Robinson have said to LeCroy that would have gotten him tossed by Hirshbeck? Best answer earns the admiration of three cheap, lazy bloggers.

(Employees of Nats Triple Play, their spouses and families are not eligible to earn admiration.)

May 12, 2006

Bonds or The Babe?

I came across this in Boswell's Friday afternoon chat on the post. A UVA grad student put up an Implicit Association Test on whether a person unconciously prefers Bonds or Babe Ruth. It only takes 5-10 minutes.

According to the test I have a moderate preference for Babe Ruth over Barry Bonds.

May 7, 2006

Lerner, But Still Low

(With apologies to Alan and Frederick.)

What a year this has been,
What a foul mood I'm in,
It's like
barely beating the Bucs.

And the team on the field,
Perhaps sould be repealed,
For just
barely beating the Bucs.

All the moves that Frank makes seem to be,
Intended just to annoy me.

And from the pain in my gut,
Clayton's 2 for 20 rut,
I would swear we were tanking,
About to take another spanking,
And just barely beating the Bucs.

OK, so maybe I was just looking for an excuse to do that. Be thankful I took a pass on Jim Bowden's version of If Ever I Would Leave You. But even after taking two of three from the hapless Pirates, there is a deep and abiding sadness in my heart. GUZMANIA! is going on
injury hiatus for the rest of the season.

On the one hand, this is absolutely the right thing to do. Goooz is obviously hurt, and a torn labrum is not the type of injury you can really expect to rehab and play with (see Guillen, Jose.) So this surgery was going to have to happen sooner or later, and getting it done now gives him the maximum amount of time to get back in shape for 2007.

On the other hand, we're now saddled with a full season of Royce Clayton at shortstop, and Royce appears determined to put Guzman's 2005 season in perspective by having one almost as bad in 2006. Apparently all Jim Bowden wants is someone to stand between second base and third base and hit under .240. There must be someone, somewhere willing to do that for less than the $1M Clayton is pulling down. Perhaps someone whose name rhymes with Glendon Ferris?

May 4, 2006


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nationals finally have an owner.

Ted, these are the fans. Fans, this is Ted.


May 1, 2006

Must... Grasp... Straws...

Fresh off a battery-recharging trip to Las Vegas (Proposed motto: "4 Days Without a Transvestite Hooking Mugging on Fremont Street!") I return to Nat-land with a renewed sense of optimism. It's amazing what not watching or reading about the games for 4 days will do for you. Try it, see if you don't feel better. Sure, I know that the guys got shellacked in St. Louis and wasted a great performance by ¡Livan! but I didn't see it or listen to it, so it's not real to me.

Instead I've opted to look on the bright side. Jose Vidro is healthy and hitting the ball well, squelching a potentially ugly situation at second base. Nick Johnson is healthy, (knock on every piece of wood in sight) hitting the ball well and getting on base at his usual All-Star clip. John Patterson (pre-DL version) has looked primed to build on 2005, Livan is eating his way into form and Tony Armas seems suspiciously like a decent #4 starter. Add to that John Rauch and Chad Cordero anchoring opposite ends of the bullpen, and hey, we're still better than the Marlins!

Unfortunately that's where the bright side dims. Our best power hitter really ought to be trade bait, our setup man lost a Mexican standoff with his elbow ligaments, our newly acquired free agents ought to be paid in Confederate money, and the highlight of the week is the return of Zach Day (Now if we can dig up J.J. Davis we can pretend Preston Wilson never happened!)

But enough of that. April is the cruelest month, and it's over. May brings us one month closer to a new stadium, new ownership, a new team president, GM and manager, new rookies and the end of the "Inaugural Season" graphics at RFK. Happy May Day to legals and illegals alike! (Speaking of which, has anyone checked to see if maybe Ramon Ortiz's visa is about to expire? Just kidding, he's the pitching equivalent of Cristian Guzman, so he's my boy. RAMONIUM! anyone?)