Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nah. They Just Got Confused About Which Team He Was On

The Philly fans just cheered the hell out of Jayson Werth. I don't think it was just because he's totally dreamy.

Could it be that the conventional wisdom of the sports section is wrong?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hygiene

I don't have anything to say about baseball, but I always have an opinion about watching baseball.

The highlight of the weekend's action was watching the crack MASN camera team bring the catcher narrative to life for us. On Sunday, Ivan Rodriguez picked up one of his late, agonizing hits on the way to 3,000, and the announcers took the opportunity to talk about how maybe Pudge is being pushed to greater heights by competition from Wilson Ramos.

The view on my television immediately shifted to Mr. Ramos himself, enjoying the game while hanging over the Mo Vaughn barrier in front of the dugout. What follows is a list of Ramos' actions while the camera was on him:
  1. Pick left ear with left pinkie.
  2. Examine left pinkie.
  3. Pick right ear with right pinkie.
  4. Examine right pinkie.
  5. Make a face.
  6. Brush off right pinkie on Nationals sweatshirt.
I don't know a whole lot about television production; certainly not as much as the guys who told Jim Riggleman to make really awkward hand gestures while he previews bad managerial decisions in front of a green screen. But I probably would have said something like "CLOSEUP ON JAYSON WERTH! NOW!" right after #1 in that list.

I also noticed that Bob Carpenter is still doing that thing he does. You know, the thing where the Nats screw up really bad, prompting Carpenter to mention the screwup as briefly as possible and then obsessively mention a much less damaging gaffe the opponent committed.

The first time I recall this happening was back in 2009. Elijah Dukes had evaded a flyball like it was a DUI checkpoint - this was back when the Nats couldn't catch anything - and Sunny Bob steadfastly maintained that David Wright was the bad guy.

It happened again on Saturday. Jonathan Sanchez walked approximately everyone, and the Nats responded by scoring only one damn run. I wasn't paying real close attention, so my only info was coming from Carpenter. Listening to him talk, you'd think Sanchez had walked in about fourteen runs. I was honestly shocked when I looked up to see a 1 on the scoreboard.

At least Dibble would have called him on it. I think Santangelo just mumbled something about "country hardball" as we went to break and winced through that Riggleman commercial again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Rome

Rick Ankiel continues to impress. Not as a ballplayer, because he's been awful, but as a story. Not only is he in many important ways just like a dinosaur, he appears to be just a heck of a nice guy.
During his first trip back to St. Louis as an opposing player, Ankiel thanked Cardinals fans with an advertisement in the city’s main newspaper.

“Many Thanks to Cardinals’ fans and the City of St. Louis for your support and cheers over the years,” the ad read, with a picture of Ankiel smiling. “It was a privilege and an honor.”
So that's nice, and he even played pretty OK during that series, so we shouldn't mistake his kindness for weakness.

Did you notice how all during the Brewers series Santangelo was whining about all the shifts? The complaints just kind of zipped into one side of my head only to escape from the other side without sticking to anything, but they did increase awareness of all those shifts. Turns out the Brewers are trying something pretty interesting.
The Brewers use spray charts to set their defense, and in many cases, that means defensive shifts that put infielders in odd places. It's common for most teams to position three infielders on the right side to play defense against power-hitting lefties such as David Ortiz, Adam Dunn or Jim Thome.
But thanks to information in spray charts that indicate where a batter is likely to hit a ground ball, the Brewers are taking infield shifts to a different level, sometimes to the extreme. For example, the Brewers' infield shifted against the Nationals' right-handed batters Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, rookie catcher Wilson Ramos and Rick Ankiel, a lefty.
I'll be interested to see if this winds up helping. As the data available to teams become more detailed, we could see some seriously crazy stuff. Only two of the dudes out there are restricted in where they have to be on defense. A maniacally charismatic manager could maybe find seven strong men without well-developed regards for their own safety and have them stand right in front of the plate. I'd think about that for the major league minimum.

Important news in the field of blogging equipment: Costco is apparently selling giant jugs of good-quality bourbon for basically nothing. Now, I live in a police state (as far as liquor blogging paraphernalia goes) bordering another police state. BUT! Say I put up an add on this thing and clicked on it from as many computers as I could get to. Could I write off gas for a road trip to Delaware on my taxes? Something to think about.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lunch

You hear about this Rob Dibble controversy? It's about the silliest thing ever, but it gives me an opportunity to take a snarling walk down memory lane.

Rob Dibble was fired from his analyst job after Stephen Strasburg's season-ending injury prompted him to make some of those feral "walk it off, rookie!" noises that you may remember from when Ryan Church ran into a wall.

He recently claimed that Strasburg's dad was so incensed that he emailed the Nats, and that's what prompted the pink slip. Stan Kasten, formerly the guy in charge of apologizing for Jim Bowden, disputes that and hopes Dibble "gets whatever help he needs."

This argument is so trivial that it doesn't matter who's actually correct. Therefore, I'm siding with Dibble.

I know the guy's easy to hate; I've certainly taken shots at him. But Dibble's done some good. He provided a necessary counterweight to Bob Carpenter's cult recruiter cheerfulness. Remember the time he went all Dada and told you to bring a lunch? He wasn't here long, but he left memories that will endure forever. Some of them are even good.

Stan Kasten, on the hand, never did a thing for us. This is a guy who couldn't get rid of Jim Bowden without the help of the FBI. And when the Smiley Gonzalez scandal finally did break, Kasten bravely stood up and blamed everyone in the world but himself.

For all the talk about Kasten bringing the lessons of the Braves dynasty to Washington, the best thing about the Kasten Era was that we lost 100 games only twice.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Beat the Mets

I got to say - I don't expect much from this team, but I do expect a certain level of competence against the Mets. So good work and keep it up.

PS. Ok, I'm annoyed, and MASN has a damn problem.

I was watching MASN and wondering when the O's game was going to come on. That's when I heard the Manny Ramirez news, from Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight. They said: "Manny Ramirez is retiring." I thought to myself, "Huh, ain't that a thing?" and took another pull from my Jim Beam rye on the rocks.

An hour later, I get on my trusty personal computer and find out that Manny Ramirez is retiring . . . because he's facing a 100 damn game suspension for drugs.

I got no inkling of this from MASN. Knight said something about how Manny was maybe too involved in the steroids controversy, so they didn't completely avoid that aspect, but they certainly avoided the substantive part of it.

This is a dereliction of duty as far as I'm concerned. For once in my life, I relied on MASN to keep me hipped to the baseball news. They failed totally. "Manny Ramirez retires" is at best half the news.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Reversal

I guess it wasn't about getting Desmond out of the leadoff spot after all.
Ian Desmond will return to the leadoff spot tonight rather than swapping places with Danny Espinosa as Manager Jim Riggleman had originally planned. Espinosa will play tonight against the Marlins, but Riggleman simply changed his mind after saying yesterday he planned to hit Desmond, who began the season 0 for 13, seventh in the lineup and move Espinosa to leadoff.
It's been a bad day and a half for the two levels of management just above the players. Let's review!
  • Jim Riggleman reverses his own inexplicable mistake and moves Desmond down in the order.
  • Riggleman makes me watch a couple old men in the middle infield instead of playing the starters.
  • Third base coach Bo Porter kinda loses the game by faking out Jerry Hairston with all the ankle-breaking elan of a prime Allen Iverson.
  • Riggleman, concluding after less than one try that his new lineup wasn't optimal, moves Desmond back to leadoff.
So yeah, that's a pretty sour mixture of indecisiveness and incompetence, like a cocktail made of Coors Light and dishwater. Jayson Werth kinda lost the game too, but at least he hits doubles.

But none of that matters, because ¡LIVAN!'s pitching tonight. There should be a name for beautiful days like today. I mean, we had Strasmas last year, but ¡LIVAN!'s been bringing us joy since day one. Livanoween? La Fiesta de Santo Gordo? National 82 MPH Fastball Awareness Day?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Post

They've rolled out the B-team four games into the season. Santangelo likes it, but I kinda want my money back. I wasn't prepared for a Cora - any Cora! - in the starting lineup just yet.

Other than my disgruntledness, the big effect here is to hide for a day the drastic reshuffling of the lineup. Ian Desmond, who's looked as bad as anyone can over three games, is no longer leading off; Danny Espinosa is.

Bob Carpenter was quick to point out that "This isn't about getting Desmond out of the leadoff spot." He didn't explain what other objective aside from getting Desmond out of the leadoff spot was to be achieved by getting Desmond out of the leadoff spot, so I'm going to go forward with the assumption that this was primarily about getting Desmond out of the leadoff spot.

Why was he ever there? I realize that this roster doesn't give you a lot of good options there, but Desmond doesn't get on base. It's just not part of his skill set. Other than just picking the up the middle guy with the most seniority, I can't figure out the thought process that wound up with him batting first anyway.