September 27, 2008

100 Games of Suckitude

 Gm  Date          Opp     Score       WL      Winner       Loser           
  4 Thu, Apr  3   @PHI  L   7-8 (10)   3-1     C Condrey    J Colome        
  5 Fri, Apr  4   @STL  L   4-5        3-2     B Looper     O Perez       
  6 Sat, Apr  5   @STL  L   4-5        3-3     A Wainwright M Chico        
  7 Sun, Apr  6   @STL  L   0-3        3-4     K Lohse      J Lannan       
  8 Mon, Apr  7    FLA  L   7-10       3-5     R Pinto      T Redding      
  9 Wed, Apr  9    FLA  L   4-10       3-6     S Olsen      J Bergmann     
 10 Thu, Apr 10    FLA  L   3-4        3-7     M Hendrickso O Perez        
 11 Fri, Apr 11    ATL  L   0-3        3-8     T Hudson     M Chico      
 12 Sat, Apr 12    ATL  L   2-10       3-9     J Smoltz     J Lannan  
 14 Tue, Apr 15   @NYM  L   0-6        4-10    M Pelfrey    O Perez  
 15 Wed, Apr 16   @NYM  L   2-5        4-11    J Maine      M Chico       
 16 Thu, Apr 17   @NYM  L   2-3 (14)   4-12    J Sosa       J Hanrahan    
 18 Sat, Apr 19   @FLA  L   5-6        5-13    K Gregg      S Rivera      
 19 Sun, Apr 20   @FLA  L   1-6        5-14    S Olsen      L Ayala       
 20 Mon, Apr 21   @ATL  L   3-7        5-15    T Hudson     M Chico       
 22 Wed, Apr 23    NYM  L   2-7        6-16    J Santana    T Redding     
 25 Sat, Apr 26    CHC  L   0-7        8-17    C Zambrano   M Chico       
 30 Fri, May  2    PIT  L   4-11      12-18    D Marte      J Lannan      
 33 Tue, May  6   @HOU  L   5-6       14-19    D Brocail    L Ayala       
 34 Wed, May  7   @HOU  L   3-4       14-20    J Valverde   J Hanrahan    
 36 Fri, May  9    FLA  L   3-7       15-21    R Nolasco    T Redding     
 37 Sat, May 10    FLA  L   0-11      15-22    A Miller     M O'Connor    
 38 Sun, May 11    FLA  L   4-5       15-23    L Kensing    L Ayala       
 40 Tue, May 13   @NYM  L   3-6       16-24    J Maine      J Lannan      
 43 Fri, May 16   @BAL  L   3-5       18-25    G Olson      S Hill         
 44 Sat, May 17   @BAL  L   5-6       18-26    B Burres     O Perez       
 47 Tue, May 20    PHI  L   0-1       20-27    T Gordon     J Rauch       
 48 Wed, May 21    PHI  L   2-12      20-28    J Moyer      M Chico       
 50 Sat, May 24    MIL  L   2-5       21-29    S McClung    J Lannan      
 52 Mon, May 26    MIL  L   3-4 (11)  22-30    C Villanueva S Rivera      
 53 Tue, May 27   @SDP  L   2-4       22-31    H Bell       C Manning     
 55 Thu, May 29   @SDP  L   2-5       23-32    H Bell       S Rivera      
 57 Sat, May 31   @ARI  L   0-4       24-33    B Webb       J Bergmann    
 58 Sun, Jun  1   @ARI  L   0-5       24-34    D Haren      S Hill        
 59 Tue, Jun  3    STL  L   1-6       24-35    K Lohse      O Perez       
 60 Thu, Jun  5    STL  L   1-4       24-36    T Wellemeyer J Lannan      
 62 Fri, Jun  6    SFG  L   1-10      25-37    T Lincecum   J Bergmann    
 63 Sat, Jun  7    SFG  L   0-6       25-38    J Sanchez    S Hill        
 64 Sun, Jun  8    SFG  L   3-6       25-39    B Zito       G Mock        
 65 Mon, Jun  9    SFG  L   2-3       25-40    M Cain       T Clippard    
 67 Wed, Jun 11   @PIT  L   1-3       26-41    I Snell      J Lannan      
 68 Thu, Jun 12   @PIT  L   5-7       26-42    T Gorzelanny J Bergmann    
 72 Tue, Jun 17   @MIN  L   1-2       29-43    L Hernandez  J Lannan      
 73 Wed, Jun 18   @MIN  L   2-11      29-44    K Slowey     J Bergmann    
 74 Thu, Jun 19   @MIN  L   3-9       29-45    G Perkins    S Hill        
 76 Sat, Jun 21    TEX  L   3-13      30-46    K Gabbard    G Mock        
 77 Sun, Jun 22    TEX  L   3-5       30-47    V Padilla    L Ayala       
 78 Mon, Jun 23    LAA  L   2-3       30-48    J Lackey     S Rivera      
 79 Tue, Jun 24    LAA  L   3-8       30-49    J Garland    S Hill        
 82 Sat, Jun 28    BAL  L   1-9       32-50    G Olson      J Lannan      
 84 Mon, Jun 30   @FLA  L   5-6 (10)  33-51    K Gregg      J Rauch       
 86 Wed, Jul  2   @FLA  L   2-4       34-52    R Nolasco    C Manning     
 87 Thu, Jul  3   @CIN  L   3-5       34-53    J Cueto      J Colome      
 88 Fri, Jul  4   @CIN  L   0-3       34-54    B Arroyo     J Bergmann    
 89 Sat, Jul  5   @CIN  L   2-3       34-55    F Cordero    J Hanrahan    
 90 Sun, Jul  6   @CIN  L   5-6       34-56    E Volquez    C Balester    
 91 Tue, Jul  8    ARI  L   0-2       34-57    B Webb       O Perez       
 93 Thu, Jul 10    ARI  L   5-7 (11)  35-58    C Qualls     L Ayala       
 95 Sat, Jul 12    HOU  L   4-6       36-59    W Rodriguez  C Balester    
 96 Sun, Jul 13    HOU  L   0-5       36-60    B Backe      O Perez       
 97 Fri, Jul 18   @ATL  L   6-7       36-61    T Hudson     T Redding     
100 Tue, Jul 22   @SFG  L   3-6       38-62    B Zito       J Bergmann    
101 Wed, Jul 23   @SFG  L   4-6       38-63    G Espineli   L Ayala       
102 Thu, Jul 24   @SFG  L   0-1       38-64    M Cain       T Redding     
103 Fri, Jul 25   @LAD  L   2-3       38-65    C Billingsle J Lannan      
104 Sat, Jul 26   @LAD  L   0-6       38-66    D Lowe       O Perez       
105 Sun, Jul 27   @LAD  L   0-2       38-67    C Kershaw    J Bergmann    
106 Tue, Jul 29    PHI  L   1-2       38-68    B Myers      C Balester    
107 Wed, Jul 30    PHI  L   5-8       38-69    J Moyer      T Redding     
108 Thu, Jul 31    PHI  L   4-8       38-70    K Kendrick   J Lannan      
113 Tue, Aug  5   @COL  L   2-8       42-71    M Corpas     L Ayala       
116 Fri, Aug  8   @MIL  L   0-5       44-72    C Sabathia   C Balester    
117 Sat, Aug  9   @MIL  L   0-6       44-73    B Sheets     T Redding     
118 Sun, Aug 10   @MIL  L   4-5 (13)  44-74    G Mota       L Ayala       
119 Mon, Aug 11   @MIL  L   1-7       44-75    D Bush       G Mock        
120 Tue, Aug 12    NYM  L   3-4       44-76    J Santana    S Rivera      
121 Wed, Aug 13    NYM  L   0-12      44-77    J Maine      J Bergmann    
122 Thu, Aug 14    NYM  L   3-9       44-78    O Perez      C Balester    
123 Fri, Aug 15    COL  L   3-4       44-79    J de la Rosa T Redding     
124 Sat, Aug 16    COL  L   6-13      44-80    L Hernandez  J Lannan      
125 Sun, Aug 17    COL  L   2-7       44-81    A Cook       O Perez       
126 Tue, Aug 19   @PHI  L   4-5       44-82    R Madson     S Shell       
127 Wed, Aug 20   @PHI  L   0-4       44-83    B Myers      C Balester    
130 Sat, Aug 23   @CHC  L   2-9       46-84    R Dempster   O Perez       
131 Sun, Aug 24   @CHC  L   1-6       46-85    R Harden     J Bergmann    
139 Tue, Sep  2    PHI  L   0-4       53-86    C Hamels     J Lannan      
141 Thu, Sep  4   @ATL  L   0-2       54-87    J Parr       S Martis      
142 Fri, Sep  5   @ATL  L   5-10      54-88    J Jurrjens   J Bergmann    
145 Tue, Sep  9   @NYM  L   8-10      56-89    J Smith      C Manning     
146 Wed, Sep 10   @NYM  L  10-13      56-90    J Smith      S Rivera      
147 Fri, Sep 12   @FLA  L   1-2       56-91    S Olsen      S Martis      
148 Sat, Sep 13   @FLA  L   2-4       56-92    J Johnson    T Redding     
149 Sun, Sep 14   @FLA  L   7-8       56-93    A Miller     S Shell       
152 Wed, Sep 17    NYM  L   7-9       58-94    B Knight     S Martis      
153 Thu, Sep 18    NYM  L   2-7       58-95    J Santana    T Redding     
154 Fri, Sep 19    SDP  L   6-11(14)  58-96    J Hampson    L Speigner    
155 Sat, Sep 20    SDP  L   1-6       58-97    C Young      J Lannan      
156 Sun, Sep 21    SDP  L   2-6       58-98    C Baek       O Perez       
158 Wed, Sep 24    FLA  L   4-9       59-99    J Johnson    T Redding     
159 Fri, Sep 26   @PHI  L   4-8       59-100   J Blanton    C Balester

Incredibly depressing info culled from Baseball Reference & Retrosheet.

September 26, 2008

Closing Day, or You Can't Lose if You Don't Play

The NTP crew reunited for one last inaugural season bash at Nats Park under a light mist that occasionally swelled to a steady downpour over the course of two and a half hours. Matt, Dave and I were gung-ho for a 10 pm start time and a game played before dozens of soaked fans into the wee hours of Friday morning, but it was not to be.

Instead, half-priced inaugural season merchandise was purchased, ($5 is still too much to pay for a Felipe Lopez t-shirt!), Clint was menaced (Hey, Nationals Fans! Have a crippling beating!), and Curly W helmet sundaes were consumed. Best of all, the Nats didn't lose. Second best of all, no lines for Ben's Chili Bowl. Do I value personal convenience over good weather and a competitive baseball team? Yes, yes I do.

Fan Appreciation Night went on as scheduled, and I'm sure the several hundred fans still hanging around at 9:30 felt extra-appreciated when the players popped out of the dugout into the steady drizzle and, after a few words from Manny Acta began unburdening themselves of dozens of PNC Bank t-shirts that they'd apparently been hording all season. After that BP balls went flying into the crowd assembled behind the home dugout. (I would swear one Tim Redding toss was deposited back into the left field corner for what would have been an easy double, but my mind may have wandered.) MissChatter got the whole thing on camera, but her devotion cost her a coveted Wil Nieves bat.

The players certainly seemed appreciative, but few really embraced the moment. They should take lessons from Willie Harris, who engaged in a little impromptu showboating as his highlights were replayed in HD glory, and whipped up a fine call-and-response from the thinning crowd before skimming his cap deep into the lower bowl. With that one gesture, Willie vaulted way up the list of potential free agent Nats I'd like to see back in 2009.

If the night at the stadium was drama-free, the Nats Express trip back to RFK was anything but. Trusting in his internal compass and the infinite mercy of an omnipotent God, our driver saw no need to defog the bus windows, and our ride passed in a hazy blur of streetlights, indistinct road signs and quick-reflexed fellow motorists. Damp and unnerved but unbowed, thus ended NTP's inaugural season at Nationals Park.

The home season may be over, but Nats Triple Play rolls on. Stay tuned for some scintillating insights on economic development in the ballpark district, and news on why NTP will be severing its ties to Section 223 for the 2009 season.

September 9, 2008

NTP's Big 500th - The Shadow GM

Our 500th entry at Nats Triple Play should be the time for sober reflection. Unfortunately we don't do so good at reflection, particularly when sober, so we'll just say, "Holy feck we've wasted a lot of time on this over the last 3+ years!" and move on.

The recent spate of winning baseball has been a welcome respite from what seemed to be an inevitable march toward the franchise's first 100 loss season. But some fans have been quick to note the downside; a hot September could mean no major changes in the team's management structure. In other words, GM Jim Bowden might salvage his job.

The general Natospheric response to this scenario can be loosely characterized as:

Jim Bowden is teh Devil! The team will never amount to anything with him at the helm. He all big splash and no long-term plan. The Anacostia River will rise up and swallow Nationals Park like a modern Atlantis! He has a terrible draft record. He's obnoxious and has strained relationships with a host of fellow executives, agents, players and media. He wears leather pants and rides a segway!?!

Many of the folks who profess that Bowden is a terrible GM also kind of like a lot of the young Nationals in the dugout and down on the farm. On the face of it that's a problem. You can't discredit a general manager by lauding his acquisitions. The obvious solution, as any half decent DC political hack could tell you, is to re-frame the question. For the Anti-Bowden Brigades, JimBo's body of work in Washington is easily bifurcated. The failures are 100% Bowden. The successes? The unappreciated work of a shadowy composite figure. For ease of reference, let's call him Stan Rizzo.

  • Bowden wasted millions of payroll dollars on Paul LoDuca, Felipe Lopez, Rob Mackowiak and Johnny Estrada. Stan Rizzo shed deadweight salary by trading Jose Vidro, Brian Schneider and Vinny Castilla.

  • Bowden signed Dmitri Young to an albatross of a 2-year $10M extension. Extending Ronnie Belliard for 2 years/ $3.5M? Stan Rizzo.

  • Jim Bowden traded for Jose Guillen, Preston Wilson, Junior Spivey, Brian Lawrence and Austin Kearns. Stan Rizzo traded for Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Emilio Bonifacio, Alberto Gonzalez and Anderson Hernandez.

  • Stan Rizzo built the DSL Champion Nationals and the playoff squads from Potomac and the GCL. Jim Bowden is solely responsible for Hagerstown, Harrisburg and Columbus.

  • Bowden's minor league free agents? Jerome Williams and Mike Bacsik. Stan Rizzo got Joel Hanrahan and Steven Shell.

  • Bowden jettisoned Jamey Carroll, Rick Short and Brendan Harris. Stan Rizzo... well, Stan hasn't been so hot in the "scrappy white infielder" department either. But he probably called up Pete Orr.

You see my point. If Bowden gets marked down for Vinny Castilla and Pedro Astacio, he also gets credit for Ryan Zimmerman and John Lannan. If he missed on the trade for Kearns and Lopez, he turned Glenn Gibson into Elijah Dukes, which may turn out to be one of those Doyle Alexander - John Smoltz deals (even if I didn't think so at the time.)

There's a case to be made for canning Jim Bowden, and a fairly strong one at that. But it should be made without cherry-picking the man's record. You like Bonifacio's speed, Gonzalez's defense, Flores's arm? Marvel at Zimm's glove, John Lannan's poise, Elijah's scary combination of power and plate disciple? Then you should acknowledge that the First Great Nationals Team will, at least in part, be erected on the foundation laid by Jim Bowden's first three years in Washington.

September 2, 2008

We Wuz Robbed!!1!

He batted .552, rung up an .828 slugging percentage, scored four runs, collected three doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBI and hit for the cycle, but he's only the co-Player of the Week. Injustice, thy name is Bronson Wilberforce Arroyo.

GUZMANIA! delayed (or unjustly shared with a Scott Stapp wannabe) is GUZMANIA! denied.

Congratulations are also due to Joel Hanrahan for being a humanitarian, which despite the linguistic similarities is nothing at all like being a vegetarian. So that's alright.

September 1, 2008

Vladimir Nunez Hates Moneyball

In the midst of unprecedented back-to-back sweeps of the Dodgers and Braves, I could have let this slide. It's really such a minor story that it smacks of gossip-mongering even to mention it. But hell, if it's good enough for Rocket Bill Ladson, it's good enough for me.

As we all know, the Nats beat the Braves 9-8 Saturday night on a 10th inning walk-off walk by Elijah Dukes. Dukes came up with two outs and worked the count full before Atlanta reliever Valdimir Nunez sailed what looked to be a slider low and outside to walk in the winning run. You can see video of that last pitch here.

Unremarkable up to this point, right? Every team loses on a walk-off walk now and then. It might be the least dramatic way to win a game in all of baseball, but it counts just the same. Apparently Vladimir Nunez disagrees. Quoth the pitcher:

I think it was disrespectful. If it's a double, triple or grand slam, he can do whatever he wants to celebrate. But after a walk, with a good pitch, and you make a jump like you hit a grand slam, that's unprofessional. I did not agree with what happened. He took the pitch, and I take my hat off to him if I have to. But at that moment, the guy is not even swinging. He jumped as if he hit a grand slam.
Perhaps Vladimir is unfamiliar with the expression "A walk's as good as a hit." Though to be fair, he did specify that not even a single would have been grounds for celebration, notwithstanding that it would have been every bit as much the game-winning play as a grand slam, or a walk. Personally, I like my relievers to have a better grasp of situational baseball. I could also quibble with his characterization of that ball as a "good pitch." But why kick a guy when his team's just been swept by the Nationals?

This is why:

Photo by Nick Roberson/AP

The caption on this photo is, I kid you not: "Rockies reliever Vladimir Nunez reacts after retiring Ramon Martinez to end the eighth." So yeah, our boy Vlad here is all about decorum and a sense of proportion.