Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Even A Blind Squirrel Can Find a Stopped Clock Twice a Day

There's no way we should have won that game. The Nationals ran out of starting pitchers and relied on the bullpen to go the whole nine innings for the second time in as many games. Nick Johnson, Rick Short, and Dutch Zimmerman weren't playing, while Cristian Guzman and Deivi Cruz were. But somehow it all worked out. Hector "Macho" Carrasco, who hasn't pitched three innings in a game all year, went four. Giant Jon Rauch pitched for the second time since May and struck out two. Cristian Guzman hit two doubles off a Hall of Fame pitcher.

The lesson is that even if you completely screw up, you can still catch the occasional break. It's a lesson Thomas Boswell still hasn't learned, if his column from Friday is any indication. It's a landmark piece, actually, whatever his faults. Boswell is king of the homers. He won a Ron Santo Award for his "golly gee whiz" assesment of Jim Bowden's personnel decisions, and that was all the way back in January. Since then, he's kissed ass, dismissed all criticism of the team (once by actually writing "blah blah blah"), and become known as the only person willing to defend Cristian Guzman, outlasting even Guzman's own bosses in that shameful last man standing contest. Now that the Nats aren't playing so good, he's changed his tune.
You can only play with injuries for so long, then come back quickly each time to hurt yourself anew. You can only feud with so many pitchers, then banish them to sundry distant cities. You can only make so many trades, hoping to keep postseason dreams alive a little longer, before some weakest link in the roster chain -- exposed by one trade too many -- is finally found.
If Boswell's seeing the problem, it must be obvious to everyone.

But his logic remains flawed. While he is (correctly) blaming Nats management for the team's sorry state, he can't help but remind how great Frank 'n' Bodes once were.
If the Nats use nine pitchers, each for one inning, against John Smoltz on Sunday, you can thank Robinson and Bowden. You thanked them for that 50-31 start and for meaningful games throughout the entire summer. You begged for it, didn't you? So, perhaps, considerable forgiveness is almost mandatory now.
So giving away Claudio Vargas and Sunny Kim was necessary to put us in first place? I'm not sure that makes sense.
Robinson's "frankness," some of it blistering, in motivating his players privately and in evaluating them publicly, helped drive a team that lost 95 games last season to first place on the Fourth of July. His demands and discipline also helped keep it playing beyond its talent and above its injuries until, past Labor Day, the unlikely Nats still found themselves in contention.
It's kind of amazing that Boz still believes in Robinson's motivational genius. Remember Frank's big move that was going to change attitudes and turn the season around? When he turned the music in the clubhouse off?
Claudio Vargas, now 8-8 as a dependable and entrenched Arizona starter, and Sunny Kim, 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA with the Rockies, were simply given away by Bowden -- put on waivers to clear roster spots so that temporary holes could be plugged in the hold of the leaking U.S.S. RFK. Nobody, including me, protested their departure.
Bullshit. You were wrong, Boswell. Don't try to involve us in your foolishness.

This turned into more of a line-by-line thing than I meant it to, but I think the flaw in Boswell's thinking is clear. He doesn't discuss the possibility that the Nationals were winning despite -- or at least regardless of -- Bowden's and Robinson's ministrations. Boz isn't alone in this. It seemed like any criticism of Bowden during the first half of the season was met with something like "yeah well hes gm of a fristplace team so he must be doing a prety good job lol!!!!!1" Now he's GM of a fourth-place team, and to start finding fault with him now evinces the kind of stimulus-response thinking that does no credit to any multi-celled organism.

2 comments:

pete said...

...and f-rob gets tossed for arguing balls and strikes...

his performance is long passed being an embarassment.

Basil said...

If he hits .700 the rest of the way . . .

Priceless!