Archive for May, 2010

What do I know? But I’m sure may folks, including me, thought that if the Nats were going to win the series against the Giants this week that Hernandez would have to win his game because Atilando had no chance of beating Lincecum.  Well, as many of you may or may not know, depending if you decided to stay up ‘ till about 12:30 as I did, the Nats beat the Lincecum and the Giants last night.

A few notes about the last night’s game: 

I can’t believe how easy it was for Kennedy to steal 2nd and 3rd against Lincecum and for Zimmerman to steal 2nd.  The Nats have decent team speed, but 3 stolen bases is a lot.  Lincecum was in la-la land.

I know Riggleman thought the Giants were getting some good swings against Atilano in the 6th, but I would have kept him in there to see if he could have gotten out of the inning.  He was pretty good last night, much better than when I saw him last week with my old man at Nationals Park.  If my memory is correct, Atilano is undefeated on the road.

At the end of the day though the bullpen did fine as Storen did a great job and Clippard only allowed a run.

Nyjer Morgan had a hit and stolen base last night, but the dude just seems to make mistake after mistake.  Last night, he screwed around with a ball hit to left-center by Molina that should not have allowed Molina to take 2 bases, but because of Morgan’s nonchalcance, Molina, who honest to God, runs slower than I do got a double.  Not good, Morgan.   Then Morgan got caught looking twice on strike out pitches in consecutive innings.  His on-base percentage is just not good enough right now.  I’m sure Riggleman has thought about this, but maybe Morgan should hit in the 7th or 8th spot for a while until he gets his groove.  Then maybe Riggleman could rotate between Guzman and someone else at the lead-off spot – Willie Harris maybe or even Bernadina.

Throughout the year Ian Desmond has displayed rookie errors, but it doesn’t take long each night when I tune in to the game to see him make plays which clearly save this team runs.  He is a very good shortstop now and I think he will become an excellent shortstop soon. Plus, in addition to Willingham, Desmond has been to this point in the season our most clutch hitter.

In game 1, the Nationals lost a game that was very winnable.  They did not take enough pitches and basically bailed out Giants pitching time and time again.  Last night, although they were probably surprised as any of us were to see Lincecum struggle, they took pitches and waited for their pitch to hit. 

This was exemplified by Willingham’s great 7th inning trip to the plate even though it came after Lincecum had been knocked out of the game. With Dunn on 3rd an no outs, Willingham took two fastball strikes low in the zone, then laid off two of bad pitches.  He was obviously looking for something up and in that he could drive out of the infield to score Dunn.  He fouled off two pitches high in the zone and took another way inside.  Finally he got a breaking ball that hung just a tad on the inside corner and he lifted it to left field to score Dunn.

On Tuesday night, the Nats would have swung at one of those 1st two low fastballs and probably have gotten popped up.

It just seemed like a different mindset.

Let’s see if  Stammen can avoid walking people this afternoon since that’s really the only way the Giants seem to be able to get pitchers in trouble.  If we are patient against Zito, maybe we can sneak out of Frisco with another series victory.


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Juju Magic

I think it’s fair to say that part of the reason D.C. sports fans suffer so much has to do mostly with the failures of our teams.  But for a true sports fan, the salt on the wound always comes from seeing your arch-rival do well.  When D.C was winning, we could deal with our arch-rivals winning, even though we rooted against them, because we were getting a piece of the pie as well.  So in the 80’s and early 90’s, while the Giants won 2 Super Bowls and the Cowboys 3, it didn’t sting as much because the ‘Skins won 3 themselves and went to a 4th. 

This kind of reflection, like many others I have had, was prompted by one of most hated rivals recent success, this time in the form of the disgusting Flyers and their disgusting fan base.  The Flyers made a coaching change mid-season and went from being out of the playoffs to now making a mircaulous run to the Finals.  Last year the Penguins did the same thing and actually won the whole thing, beating us along the way in a series we had a 2-0 lead.  Two years ago, the Caps brought in Bruce Boudreau while the Caps were out of playoff contention. We made the playoffs and lost in the 1st round to the Flyers who made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Boudreau has obviously done a lot to distinguish himself as did the Caps this past year, but once again we lost in the 1st round only to watch the Flyers now advance to the Finals.

In 2005 and 2007, the Redskins made miraculous runs to the playoffs.  However in those same years, Pittsburgh and the Giants also made miraculous runs to the playoffs with the Giants clinching in week 16 in 2007 and the Steelers in week 17 much like us.  In 2005 we lost in the divisional playoff and in 2007 the wild-card round both times to Seattle.  In 2005 and 2007, the Steelers and Giants, not us, both won all their playoff games on the road en route to miraculously winning the Super Bowl.  We did what most wild cards team do which is lose.  Now while the Steelers do not qualify as rivals to the ‘Skins, their fanbase is shared with Penguins fans so I have animosity towards them and obviously nothing need be said about how much I hate the Giants.

This of course doesn’t even include the Wizards who lost three consecutive years to LeTravel in the playoffs.  

So there you have it.  This is what I think about when I’m up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep.   Most people around here are talking about a 4 star sports town.  Sure Strasburg, McNabb, Ovie and Wall are great, but which one of them knows a witch doctor or medicine man that can cast out these demons that rule our sports teams and our collective psyche.

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1-495 beats 1-695

Everyone wants a piece of Willingham after his series winning, walk-off HR yesterday in the 10th to lead the Nats in a 4-3 victory over Baltimore

The Nats won an entertaining series, to say the least, over the weekend.  Mixed in our 2-1 series win were some great plays, (i.e. Josh Willingham’s home-runs) and some really bad plays (i.e. Nyjer Morgan’s somewhat comical tantrum on Baltimore’s inside the park home-run on Saturday). 

It’s interesting that there have been a lot of things written about whether the Nats/O’s series is a true rivalry.  So far, the Nats hold the all-time series lead 14-13.  There have been a lot of close games and excitement similar to this weekend’s series.  While it of course makes sense that all the players and coaches don’t feel there is a rivalry since the two teams hardly play each other, to me there definitely is a healthy competition between D.C. and Baltimore, if for no other reason that Ravens fans hate the Redskins and like to rub it in our faces at any opportunity they can get about how recently Baltimore has been better than D.C.  So while the O’s have much, much more history that the Nats, and Baltimore has about 25 more years of baseball history in general, there is D.C. baseball heritage which makes beating the O’s, whether they stink or not, somewhat satisfying.

Let’s face it, the Nats have not been playing well of late.  3-7 is not going to cut it and the only reason we have not fallen further behind other teams is that just about all the NL teams lost their series’ this weekend aside from the Mets who like us went 2-1. 

There is something fundamentally wrong with our hitting.  Game after game we out-hit our opponents and often have double digit or close to double digit hit totals, yet are not scoring that much.  We scored 7 in a win on Saturday and 7 in a loss on Thursday, but other than that, we haven’t had over 5 runs in the other 8 of our previous 10 games.  We seem to have plenty of pop in the lineup, so maybe we are not able to string hits together or more logically, have not been getting a lot of 2-out hits.  But something is amiss.

The pitching is starting to show some kinks in the armor, both the starters and relievers.  Storen had his 1st rough outing this past weekend, but he looks like the real deal.  Capps blew a save yesterday, but he was due.  But as we go on the is roadtrip, with the recently reliable Olsen skipping a start, how many pitchers on our staff aside from Hernandez do we feel confident will go more than 6 innings in any of their starts?  Atilano got beat up by the Mets.  Lannan was good yesterday for 5.1 innings.  Stammen has not gone past 6 innings yet in a game. 

We got an angry Giants team who have lost 5 in a row coming up followed by the division leading Padres then the really bad Astros.  4-5 on this trip would be great and would leave us at .500.  That puts a lot of pressure on Livo to pitch really well on Tuesday night when the series opens in Frisco.

There have been a lot of rumors that the Nats are interested in acquiring Oswald from the Astros.  How could anyone not be totally for making this trade?  I know we would have to give up a good propsect or 2 and surely Oswald’s presence alone would not guarantee us a wild-card birth, but think about Oswald paired with Strasburg at the top of the rotation.  If we could get continued consistency with Hernandez and Olsen and maybe something from Wang/Stammen/Lannan, that’s a decent rotation.

Next year, it would be awesome to have Oswald, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Olsen and Lannan as our top 5 pitchers.  Let’s do it Rizzo. 

Double vision: Intersting article by Wilbon about the potential star power we have coming in D.C.  A couple of comments on his article:  1st of all, no wants to admit it anymore, but Agent Zero in 2004-2006 was a huge star in this town and around the country, certainly not LeTravel or Kobe big , but big.  It may not be cool or en vogue to mention it now, but it’s true.  2nd of all, no way Portis doesn’t get recognized anywhere he goes around here unless he wearing his SE Jerome get-up.  3rd, Wilbon keeps mentioning Chicago as home to so many stars.  What big national sports stars aside from Jordan have been playing in Chicago recently?  Urlacher, not a huge star.  Who else?  …….thought so Wilbon. 

(Wouldn’t it be awesome if Wilbon actually read my blog and made some scathing remarks about how I was a blind homer and hater against him and all his favorite players like LeTravel, McNabb, etc?)

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It was a beautiful night yesterday at Nats park.  A beautiful night for having a beer, eating some junk food, talking with my old man and watching a baseball game.  The ballpark is beautiful and for only $20 a piece, we had excellent seats.

Evertime  I go to a baseball game, I’m reminded why I enjoy going to them so much – one game really doesn’t matter that much.  Of course I was rooting for the Nats, but anyone would say that a baseball game in May does not have the intensity of an NFL game and of course it cannot touch the insanity that is going to a Caps game. 

So after all I’ve been through, it was nice to go to a game and not feel like sun would not rise tomorrow if things did not go our way.

So it didn’t matter too much that Atilano had his worst performance of the year with the Mets tattooing him all over the park and it didn’t matter that Ian Desmond had two bad errors which led to at least one more run being scored.  Or that Zimmerman had two huge gaffes which I could say led to at least one more run being scored. 

It was nice to see though from a fan point of view that the Nats have no quit in them and they rallied to make the game interesting and if Dunn had come through in the 8th with the bases loaded, the game would have been really interesting.

By the way, if you were watching the highlights on MLB network or Comcast, you can see me yelling at Jason Bay as he goes to collect Josh Willingham’s double in the 9th inning that went to the LF corner.  I’m the guy in the red Nats hat looking directly down at Bay as he is in the corner digging the ball out.  And just in case you were wondering what I was yelling, it went something like this:  “BOOOOOO!!!!”

I know, not very original, but it was heartfelt.

Double vision: I think there have been some very fair things written about Santana Moss since his name got associated with the Canadian doctor.  I think Jason Reid had a well-written post which makes it clear that Moss will most likely get at least 4 games for getting himself involved with a banned substance.  But at the same time, I think most fans, including me, don’t really care about the morality of the issue.  I mean look at it this way:  everyone in this town has been demonizing Haynesworth because of his reluctance to play through injury.  Here Moss is supposedly getting HGH to ensure that he can play and “earn his money” so to speak. 

If the allegations are true, he obviously went over the line, but I wonder how many of us really care about the morals of the issue.  When I heard that Cushing would be out for 4 games, I was happy because that would mean he would not be available to play against the ‘Skins in week 2.  I guess if Moss had been caught doing something where he was not trying to recover from an injury, but just trying to get bigger/stronger/faster, then I would feel differently. 

Of course, I’m biased and if this was DeSean Jackson instead of Moss, I would be recommending a lifetime ban from the NFL.  But still, Moss’ case seems a little murky than some of the other cases we have heard of recently where dudes have been caught taking masking agents for steroids.

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Well, the focus of this post was going to be the Nats, their victory last night and my and my old man’s 1st visit to the Nats park tonight to hopefully see the Nats sweep this mini-series with the Mets.

But now, all that’s gone because it turns out Santana Moss is supposedly the ‘Skins player who got the illegal stuff from the dude in Canada.  To be honest, I thought it was going to be someone else, but I thought it would be someone like Moss, someone who played hurt a whole, but still managed to play.

It seems like Moss did not knowingly take the stuff since he is not a suspect in the investigation.  But it would be stupid for me to announce his innocence or guilt at this point anyway.   His tone during the interview he conducted at Redskins Park certainly made it seem like a touchy subject for him, but who is to say?

From this point forward, it seems safe to say that we should at least prepare for the possibility that he won’t be suiting up for us during the 1st four games of the season.

Lots to talk about between me and my old man as we watch tonight, hoping the Nats can put together two games in a row with good starting pitching, some clutch hitting and some solid relief pitching ‘ cause chances are, the Mets are not going to turn another triple play and hit another inside-the-park home run.

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So, I was wrong, we didn’t get the 2nd pick in the draft this year…..WE GOT THE FIRST PICK!!!!!

Before this past Wizards season began, and I was talking about 50 wins for D.C. and the 3rd seed in the East, Gay for Jay kept telling anyone who would listen that the Wizards should tank the season, trade everyone they can, and get John Wall in the draft.  Basically, we should start over.

I thought he was nuts.  He insisted that Jamison, Butler and Arenas were all losing players with big contracts and that the team should get rid of them ASAP.  After we rolled the Mavericks on opening night, I thought he was even more crazy and I laughed in his face.

Now the Wiz have a ton of cap room, the 1st pick in the draft, and a whole bunch of trade exemptions – (though I’m not exactly sure what these mean and would welcome an explanation from anyone who does)- and a lot of hope for the future.

So, now who’s laughing?  That’s right….Gay for Jay. 

But now I’m with him.

I think the Wiz should draft John Wall and move Arenas to the #2 spot which is where he should have been playing all along.   Just don’t ask me to do that stupid bicep dance that Wall is known for.

I also don’t think that the Wiz should go after any 2nd tier free agents this year such as :  Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire and anyone else of their ilk.  If you can get Wade, great.  If not, hold off for Carmelo Anthony next year and keep building the team.  If you can’t get Anthony, hold off for our native son Kevin Durant.  If not, keep building the team.  Leonsis will do his best to build the team slowly, but effectively with depth and talent all over.

This is the biggest day the Wiz have had in a while, at least the biggest good thing to happen to this team in over two years.   Before I start worrying about them screwing it up, I ‘m gonna enjoy the feeling to have us sitting at #1 of something for a little while at least.

Double vision:  The Nats lost another extremely frustrating game last night where even though they left a ton of men on base, they were able to tie the game up in the 8th inning on a great clutch hit by Desmond only to see Clippard blow the lead in the bottom of the 8th. I don’t understand why Clippard, with 2 men out, would not try to challenge any batter with a hard, fast-ball outside rather than throwing a breaking pitch which a right-hander could turn on and hit out of the ballpark. 

If someone can turn on your fastball and win the game, give the dude his props and move on.  But don’t lose the game throwing breaking, off-speed crap that hangs and then see it get hit to the moon.

All that being said, the Nats have made it through the 1st 40 games exactly at where I’d hoped……20-20.  It just doesn’t feel that good considering we have lost 5 in a row.  We now have 5 games against the Mets and O’s at home.  I would say that it would be great to win 4 out of 5, but that would mean sweeping one of the two series and that’s something we have not done all year.

Let’s hang in there boys.

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O.K., I have a good feeling about the lottery tonight.  Obviously, considering the Wizards’ history in the draft lottery, predicting anything positive is pretty much like spitting into the wind.  But now that Steinberg has done such an excellent job documenting our woes in the lottery, I think good times are coming our way.

I think we are going to get the 2nd overall pick which should be good enough to land us John Wall or Evan Turner – both great players who can help us out.

You heard it here first.

Double vision: A lot of people are going to say Craig Stammen had a bad game last night, an obviously his 1st inning was one we’d all like to forget, but after that, aided by a couple of great plays by Bernadina, he kept St. Louis quiet.

The Nats lost last night because they had men on 2nd and 3rd with one out in the 5th inning and men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the 7th inning and scored a combined 1 run.

That’s not going to win many games, let alone a game on the road against St. Louis.  While it was great to see Storen show up last night and give us hope that the bullpen can improve as the season moves forward, the Nats have lost their last 3 games because of their hitting.

We are getting hits, but coming up small when the game is on the line.  Too bad too because we have gotten enough decent starting pitching this road trip to have won at least 2 more games.  Instead we are 3-5 and facing Carpenter tonight.

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