Friday, May 22, 2015

Spoilers

The Phillies are in town to get their whuppin'. I sound more confident about this than I feel - I'm actually expecting a letdown in this series. The Nationals, who are awesome, dropping a series to a pack of stumblebums like the Phillies would be ironically appropriate, like when Paris killed Achilles. Sorry about the spoilers.

I mean, it has to happen sooner or later. The Nats aren't going to win every series for the rest of the year.

Probably.

The Phillies somehow aren't in last place at the moment (see here for Ruben Amaro's probable reaction to that state of affairs). This is thanks to the Marlins, who responded to their team's struggles by hiring some random hillbilly to be their manager, which only seems to have made it worse.

It occurs to me that new Miami manager Dan Jennings is the Billy Carter of managers. Not in the sense that he has a famous brother, but in the sense that he's a random hillbilly who seems like he'd be up for shilling for questionable alcohol brands.

You probably know this from the Simpsons, but President Jimmy Carter's brother Billy parlayed his reputation as a drunken hayseed into his own brand of beer, Billy Beer. My heroes at Modern Drunkard Magazine report that after Billy Beer went the way of the Zima, Billy lent his celebrity imprimatur to a revolting concoction called Peanut Lolita. Peanut Lolita. If you've ever heard a creepier name for a drink, you made it up yourself and should be in jail.

Billy Carter drinking Peanut Lolita. If anyone knows of any other jobs where you get paid for looking like a dork and drinking straight out the bottle, please let me know where to send my résumé.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wolves

We're all still furious at Marvin Hudson for throwing Bryce Harper out of the game for basically nothing, right? Even though we won? I've calmed some since it happened, but I spent some time last night musing on how much I would enjoy seeing major league umpire Marvin Hudson suspended or fired or torn asunder by wolves.

Cooler heads have since prevailed. I mean, at least he tried to help us out by getting Matt Williams out of there too.

What I do not find convincing is the argument that Harper shouldn't be removed from baseball games because people paid to see him. This line of thinking was all over the place last night, as exemplified in this ESPN piece that combines the idea with one of those Mastercard "priceless" jokes that would have been hackneyed ten years ago.
Washington Nationals ticket: $60.  
Bryce Harper jersey T-shirt: $30.  
The chance to see Marvin Hudson eject Harper in the third inning: Absolutely ridiculous.
It was ridiculous, but the first two lines do not contribute in any way to the ridiculousness. Harper deserved his ejection a week ago in Arizona, and the price of tickets or how many people wanted to see him had nothing to do with it. Would Harper's ejection last night have been hunky-dory if the fans had gotten in for free or if the stands had been empty? Does an outburst by Harper deserve more leeway than an identical blowup by, say, Tyler Moore, whom no one pays to see? I don't think we want an NBA-style caste system in baseball.

At most, the exorbitant price of a Bryce Harper jersey T-shirt should increase by one the number of ravening wolves unleashed on Marvin Hudson.

The Nationals did win, and the Mets of course lost. The Nats now have a day off to reflect on how they're in first place all by themselves, and the fact that it should have happened in April doesn't make it any less sweet.

The Mets, meanwhile, have a few hours before the Cardinals resume beating up on them to reflect on how nice it was to be in first for a while and how they're like Icarus. Icarus, you may recall, flew too close to the sun before his being absolutely terrible at flying kicked in and he died. Similarly, the Mets flew high for a while before they remembered that they're terrible at baseball and crashed back to earth.
The Mets Suck by  Jacob Peter Gowy (c. 1660)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

HAHAHAHAHAH

AH HAH HAH HAHAHAHAHAH!

HA

*ahem*

WOOOOO HAH HAH HAH

WOO

Delayed

I was hoping to be able to slap together a quick post about how we're finally and for good in first place, but the Cardinals let us down last night. First they break Drew Storen, now this.

Did you see that game? The Mets always look idiotic, but they took it to a new level on Monday with those ridiculous Norman Schwarzkopf costumes. They looked like they were trick or treating in 1991. Except even sillier than that, since camo stops working when you put your hideous Met colors all over it and wear it with striped white pants.
"Trick or treat!"
"Oh, aren't you cute! What are you dressed as?"
"An asshole."
So it didn't happen last night, but it'll happen soon enough. Maybe tonight.

Bryce Harper won his second straight Player of the Week award, an honor that I guess is important enough to capitalize.

This isn't news to you, I'm sure, but he really is amazing to watch right now. Harper's at-bats alternate between clinical detachment, as he calmly watches a pitch an inch inside go past him, and sudden, brutal violence when he swings. It's actually kind of unsettling.

A typical Harper AB goes something like this:
Ball 1.
Ball 2.
JUMP SCARE!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Attrition

That was some road trip, huh? The Nationals blasted their way to the Pacific like a dyslexic William Tecumseh Sherman, and now they're a half a game out of first.

As in any successful march to sea, there were casualties, and I'm actually kind of worried about this.

Jayson Werth got plunked on the wrist by fancifully-named bad pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne and hasn't played since. He was shockingly understanding about the HBP for a guy who just got out of prison. I was expecting the old broken-lunch-tray-to-the-throat.

We're not losing much with Werth out (especially if that contract is appropriately insured). Werth being out bothers me only as a matter of depth. Getting Babyhead Taylor in there every day is actually an improvement, but it makes the bench shorter and means we have to see Tyler Moore more than is ideal (i.e., at all even once).

Doug Fister, meanwhile, so exerted himself in his charitable endeavors that he has "tightness" in his "forearm," which all too often translates into "surgery" in his "Tommy John."

This is a problem. We were supposed to get The Rotation of Five Aces (Under a Definition of "Ace" Expansive Enough to Include Gio Gonzalez). What we actually have is One Ace (Scherzer is so awesome. He's like the Bryce Harper of baseball players) and four guys who might be hurt and whose velocity is down and who just generally aren't as good as they were supposed to be.

We're holding steady for now, but what happens when three of these guys go on the DL and one of the survivors is Gio Gonzalez and there's no one left in the bullpen because they're all starting?

In other National League East news, the Marlins just got beat bad enough by the Braves that they fired their manager, Mike Redmond.

The Marlins seem to have realized that hiring an inexperienced, recently-retired player to manage your ballclub is not the best way to win a whole bunch of baseball games.

Why am I mentioning this in a blog about the Washington Nationals? Ha ha ha I can't imagine why!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Apples, Spray Bottles, Bacon

Professor Bacon is back, and he brought a brand new Distinguished Senators feature with him: It's the Professor Bacon Bacon Blast of the Week!

I would like an apple

This week's Professor Bacon Bacon Blast of the Week award goes to "Babyhead" Michael Taylor for Wednesday's ninth inning grand slam against Arizona pitcher [look up who this is later] [actually, you know what? Don't bother]. I mean, we all know Bryce Harper would have done the same thing if he had better impulse control, but Professor Bacon doesn't care who dings the dingers as long as the dingers get dung.

Professor Bacon also wants to recommend this video. It's like he's trying to tell us something.

Having triumphed in the desert, the Nationals are off to sunny San Diego, where the locals play baseball in the middle of the night and sometimes wear camouflage uniforms so as to confound their enemies.

Will Ian Desmond commit three or four more errors? Will Bryce Harper punch an umpire in the throat? Will Alexi Amarista become the next Doug's Dude?

If you could let me know about any of those, that'd be great. I'm not staying up for this series.

UPDATE: It looks like mid-2000s relic Professor Bacon isn't compatible with mobile devices. I asked him about it, and he just kind of tilted his head at me. So I said, "You know, Apple products," and then he suggested that apple products sounded pretty tasty and maybe I should him feed him one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This Year's Model

Apparently Stephen Strasburg is this year's Dan Haren. You know, the guy in the rotation where you say to yourself, "We should be good enough to get away with starting this guy, right?"

Of course, we weren't good enough to get away with starting Dan Haren in 2013, so last year we didn't have a Dan Haren. This seems to me to be the superior strategy.

What's wrong with Strasburg? Beats me. He seems to be attempting to develop a new form of batting practice where you throw 95 miles an hour fastballs right where Diamondbacks can hit them. If that was his intent, he was successful. His other pitches didn't work, I guess. I didn't stay up for it.

The big question, of course, is injury. Wait, that's not a question. "Is he injured?" There. Matt Williams thinks he isn't, and that makes me think he is. I figure one more start before they realize it, and then we can go back to the good old days of Tanner Roark in the rotation.

We'll be fine either way, but it's really a shame that just as Bryce Harper transforms into Mickey Mantle, Stephen Strasburg turns into Dan Haren.

I wish I had stayed up if only to see the debut of our new lefty set-up man, outfielder Clint Robinson. I love it when position players pitch, especially when they manage to strike out an actual player (in this case, funnypage prettyboy Aaron Hill).

You broke Luann's heart, you son of a bitch. I'm glad you got K'd by an outfielder.
Robinson was winging the fastball up there at about 80, which is so slow that Fangraphs decided that half of them were changeups. That may not be sustainable, but he was getting better results than the guy throwing 95.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tonight on MASN: Nationals vs. [Opponent]

“I have yet to understand the value of Arizona. I have yet to understand why God brought me here.”

-Cappadonna, never catering to none
It's a shame the victory lap had to start two time zones away against a bunch of guys I'd never heard of playing for a team I often forget exists.

Seriously, the Diamondbacks' starting lineup was like something from an unlicensed video game. I vaguely remember Aaron Hill from Toronto and from his appearances as an unattainable dreamboat in Luann.
Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill
And I guess I remember Paul Goldschmidt, but that's only because he led the league in homers a couple years ago, and I'd never heard of him then. I still couldn't pick him out of a lineup, especially if they put Mark DeRosa in there to fool me. I only know who he is because I don't know who he is.

But hey, eleven runs are still eleven runs even if you score them in the middle of nowhere against nobodies. And there's nothing to help you unwind after a long trip like winning a baseball game in which the outcome is never once, not even for a moment, in doubt.