Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Triple Book Review!

I read books, and some of them are even the kind that you read straight through rather than choosing what actions the protagonists should take and then flipping to a page that describes the result. Most of the baseball books I read are like that, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to review some of them. Adjust your book-buying behavior accordingly.

First up is The Last Nine Innings by Charles Euchner, a book I read shortly before the season started and should have reviewed a really long time ago. It has an interesting format, using incidents from game 7 of the 2001 World's Series of Base Ball as launching points for a series of topics, some of which I even remember. Catching, for instance. There was an enlightening discussion of catching. Euchner deserves credit for what I remember being an even-handed account of the ever more tiresome dispute between the Moneyball idiots and the anti-Moneyball idiots. Although there were some glaring factual errors ("Orlando Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals" is mentioned as a better defensive shortstop than Derek Jeter, which is half right), The Last Nine Innings proved to be a fine read and -- if your memory is as bad as mine -- an enjoyable memory-jogger. I'd forgotten all about Jay Bell, for instance, and there he is! Recommended for fans of catching and of Jay Bell.

Above: Jay Bell congratulates Tony Womack, just as he would congratulate Charles Euchler if the opportunity arose. "Great job, Charles!"

Another book I read, and keep in mind that the quality of the transitions around here pretty accurately reflect what you paid for them, is Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball by Mark Ribowsky. Now, Paige is one of the most interesting men who ever lived, and it's got to be close to impossible to write an uninteresting account of his life. Don't Look Back is no exception, and even at its sloggiest and despite Ribowski's sometimes head-slappingly pretentious prose, I plowed through it, eager to learn of the next leg of Satchel's journeys.

Ribowski does a fine job of filling in the cast of characters around Paige, particularly the less than legitimate black businessmen whose money and civic pride kept the Negro Leagues in business and Satchell -- in between his trips to North Dakota, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere -- employed. Gus Greenlee, for instance -- the Pittsburgh numbers boss who delighted in being called "Big Red," as it reflected both his imposing stature and his mixed heritage -- receives a thorough and even poignant treatment.

But this underscores the fundamental problem with the book: not enough Satchel. It's probably not Ribowski's fault. He does (as far as I can tell) a great deal of original research, but at the end of the day, we're left with a clearer picture of Greenlee and others than we are of Paige. Paige was a private man who was ashamed of his origins and used to the endless slights that went with his race and environment. He didn't often show his true self and attained a truly impressive celebrity behind a well-developed character. Ribowski talks less about Paige than he does about America's view of Paige, and Satchel's remarkable fame is something that baseball fans of my vintage could stand to be reminded of.

Finally, we come to the most comment-worthy of my recent baseball readings, Those Damn Yankees by Dean Chadwin. I almost didn't pick this book up. A whole book about how much the Yankees suck? Well, I hate the Yankees a lot, but I'm not proud of it, and it doesn't seem to be a topic that would bring out the best in a writer. "Jeters a bich and the Spaknees spend to much money lol Tigers!" Sure, Jeters a bich and the Yaknees do spend too much money and I certainly loled when the Tigers won, but that's the kind of thing to be anonymously proclaimed on message boards, not committed to actual paper with a real publisher who compiled it in a volume that's available at a steep discount at my local independent bookseller.

But then I saw a compelling reason to buy it. At the top of the cover, above a fat guy in sunglasses and an Uncle Sam hat sticking out the sunroof of a pinstriped car, I saw this: "'I recommend Those Damn Yankees. It reveals Giuliani as the self-serving political manipulator that he is.' - Mayor Edward Koch." A question mark appeared above my head, only the first of many that the book would produce.

Let me get this out of the way first: Those Damn Yankees is completely fucking crazy. Dean Chadwin sees the Yankees as an embodiment and element of everything he hates. Republicans, white people, George Will, every newspaper writer that ever lived, and Giuliani -- especially Giuliani. And if he takes a shot at one of these annoyances, he considers them all hurt. When Steinbrenner does something shady, Chadwick points it out and yells, "take that, Giuliani you bastard!"

I've never seen baseball analyzed in Chadwick's manner. It's like a Bill Simmons column ghostwritten by Howard Zinn or Centerfield by System of a Down. And it's a good thing TDY is as unfocused as it, as its unorganized listing of grievances is what makes it entertaining. In one section, Chadwick complains about the "bleacher creatures" at Yankees stadium, their rowdiness and eagerness to call opposing players "fags." Later, he rails against the police presence at the Stadium and specifically around the bleachers. Uneducated, heteronormative fans or jackbooted fascist thugs -- they both make being a Yanks fan miserable. Everything is a cause for complaint. Why are there so many white people at Camden Yards? Why does a rich guy own the team? Why aren't there any Muslim players? Chadwick does not offer an explanation for that last "issue," but I bet white guys in nice suits have something to do with it.

It's a hell of a read. Chadwick is a literate baseball fan, a very good writer, a leftist, and a hater of all things Yankee; if you've ever wondered what an alternate dimension Stephen Goldman would sound like, here he is. His style of argument is so unhinged that he should start a blog. Ever thought about why Willie Mays drew fewer walks than Mickey Mantle. Racist umpires! By subconsciously favoring Mantle, umpires saw to it that "many experts" (by which he probably means SABR, whose "membership is overwhelmingly Caucasian and male, with a high percentage Catholic") would consider Mantle to be greater player, and all because of racism. This is an ideal condensation of Chadwick's 273 pages of ranting: an imaginary problem is tackled by assuming something ridiculous (in this case, that Mays and Mantle are, other than skin color, exactly identical players) and explained by assuming the absolute worst about any authority figures.

That's not to say that TDY is without its faults. When Chadwick stops complaining about stuff that drives him and only him nuts and ventures into stuff that drives lots of people nuts, you might as well be reading any other whiny "Why Baseball is Doomed" column. We all benefit from a little leeway when it comes to bad predictions, but it's hard not to smirk when Chadwick laments that Kevin Brown's contract with the Dodgers marked the end of competitive balance or that teams like the A's and Twins, with nine playoff appearances between them since TDY's 1999 publication, are doomed to bottom-feeding and might as well be relegated.

Those Damn Yankees seems to have made little impression on the baseball world, and that's a shame. Go to your local bookstore, and you'll find eight or nine rah-rah franchise histories, some uninteresting autobiographies, Rob Neyer's latest lukewarm excretions, and at least one Baseball Prospectus collaboration with an insulting subtitle. What you won't find is anything as original, as elegantly written, or as spellbinding as Chadwick's literary catharsis.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tonight on Fox: New York Yankees vs. opponent

I didn't have time to write a playoff preview, but that's okay. You've heard all my jokes, and I dearly hope you weren't reading the previews -- or anything else on this site -- for insight. In fact, I'm starting to think that maybe the only thing old DS is good for is maybe running a yearly contest to see which player I'm most hysterically wrong about. Soriano, Wilkerson, and Guzman win, place, and show this year. The first two are pretty obvious, and Guzman did far less damage to the Nats than I figured he'd do.

But that, i.e. all matters pertaining to the Nats, is very much in the past now that the postseason has started, so I'll wait until later to relate how sad Frank Robinson's having 586 home runs makes me now that they've finally shit-canned him.

So you know how people sometime fantasize about the Commissioner (and I capitalize to emphasize the god-like powers he has in these scenarios) stepping in and with one nod of his mighty head sweeping away everything the fantasizer doesn't like about baseball? Like making it so that Barry Bonds doesn't exist or abolishing the wild card or something. Well, I think it's about time the almighty Commissioner did something about the godawful National League. Or rather, a couple days ago was about time. St. Louis? I love 'em, but they shouldn't be anywhere near this close to a World Series. If Selig had stepped in and awarded that slot to the White Sox, St. Louis' rag-tag bunch of concussed misfits would not be in a position to embarrass the League on a national stage. "National stage" is defined, per Fox's and ESPN's shared policy, as New York.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Umm, good? I guess. That's why I'm not a blogger anymore, I suppose. I mean, did these same "sources" reveal that that tomorrow the sun is going to rise? I can't think up a reaction to something I've known for a year. Hell, next you're going to want 2000 words of reaction to Washington having a baseball team.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


My blogging this season has had four themes.
1) The Nats suck.
2) But I don't care because I can't watch them.
3) My indifference is reified by the literally but actually figuratively palpable lack of posts around here, which is so high concept I think I should get a grant.
4) Will Carroll.

And I think I did a pretty good job of balancing these four topics, what with the months of not posting interrupted by the occasional jamming of my blog-finger, Pillsbury Doughboy-style, into the Wickman-soft stomach of Will Carroll's inanity.

But now things have changed. Will Carroll has moved on, and the Nats are on TV. And that's made a difference, a difference so drastic that even I'm surprised. (Not Will -- I actually see him less often than I do Anita Marks these days.) The Nats still suck, Bodes is still in charge, and I still haven't seen anything from ownership to give me any hope, but still: I'm watching the Nats. Any chance I get. Even with Paciorek still grunting.

So I was watching the Nats and realizing there ain't a whole lot to talk about. (Sample abandoned post: News Flash! Austin Kearns looks like the bass player from Wilco!) Plus I was afraid I'd lost my touch. The big news of late has been Alfonso Soriano joining the very exclusive 40-40 club. So I took a look at the issue and thought to myself, "Hmm. What can I say about this that will delight my readers and cow my enemies?" Well, if you look at the list, you notice that almost everyone on it is an asshole. So I started thinking -- and here you get to watch the maestro at work, so feel free to take notes -- this club has more assholes than a proctologist's Rolodex! Well, that doesn't work because there are, at most, three assholes in the club. It's not the number, it's the proportion of assholes, but anything containing the phrase "the proportion of" is going to have a really hard time being funny.

So I got discouraged and gave up. "Sometimes you just gotta know when to give up, kid," I told myself (I call myself kid sometimes). But then I saw the Onion take a stab at it, and I realized that there's no way to make a good joke out of it, which made me feel better. So, in conclusion, make it your pastime!

Friday, September 15, 2006

It Helps that Ortiz Bugs the Hell out of Me

Interesting question over at teh OMG: do you care that Soriano is getting himself thrown out and picked off and whatnot in his quest for 40 steals? I certainly don't. I'm not going to begrudge the guy his shot at a place in the record books next to Jose Canseco (and let's give it up to Alfonso for not bouncing one off his head), even it means he's going to be distracted from playing the game properly.

But I think I'm obliged in one sense or another to post this disclaimer: I am a terrible Nats fan. Maybe the worst. With that said, it won't be a surprise that I'm rooting for Ohka tonight, and Soriano can make as many history-pursuing outs as he wants.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It Helps that Armas Bugs the Hell out of Me

Interesting question over at teh OMG: do you care that Soriano is getting himself thrown out and picked off and whatnot in his quest for 40 steals? I certainly don't. I'm not going to begrudge the guy his shot at a place in the record books next to Jose Canseco (and let's give it up to Alfonso for not bouncing one off his head), even it means he's going to be distracted from playing the game properly.

But I think I'm obliged in one sense or another to post this disclaimer: I am a terrible Nats fan. Maybe the worst. With that said, it won't be a surprise that I'm rooting for ¡Livan! tonight, and Soriano can make as many history-pursuing outs as he wants.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What I Learned from Having MASN for Three Days

  • Brian Billick sure has a lot to say.
  • Anita Marks can do anything! Except make me watch her show or even go to the trouble of figuring out who the hell she is.
  • When in Denver, Bob Carpenter can't stop saying "In this ballpark." I'm guessing it's the thin air.
  • Jamey Carroll's still mad.
  • Tom Paciorek's still annoying.
  • The Nats suck so bad only dogs can hear it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Corner Bar Metaphorically

I'm really enjoying this Majewski scandal. Apart from schadenfreuding all over the spectacle of a public figure transparently trying to cover his ass by whining to utterly uninterested authorities, this can only work out well for us Nats fans. There are two possible consequences, and I like 'em both. Either:

1) Our laughingstock of a general manager is proven not just to have robbed (which we already knew) but to have destroyed, humiliated, and driven mad a rival executive, and that's the kind of thing a fan can take pride in. Or . . .

B) Bud Selig or whoever rolls up the MLB rulebook and pops Bodes on the nose with it. Maybe he blinks a bunch of times and reflexively cries a little bit or maybe he just writes a hilariously indignant column in the Examiner. "Yo, I didn't do nothin', dawg! Don't hate the player! Put down that Haterade, son!" Either way, seeing Bowden humiliated is just about the only thing I'm rooting for these days.

I don't know what it is, but this blog just can't seem to hold on to any of its husky sources of inspiration these days. First Livan gets shipped out for farm boy grindage, then Will Carroll bids adieu to my daily stop for terrible writing, bullshit rumors, highbrow literary analysis, and cringingly unfunny comedy bits, The Juice Blog. His goodbye post, sadly, does nothing but reinforce why we're going to miss him. It's got the self-satisfied coyness we've come to expect.
Due to recent developments, things that should come clear in the very near future, I am ending my involvement with "The Juice" blog. . . I wish I could say more at this time, but as each second passes now, things will become clearer.
It's got clunky prose.
I'd always considered this a "corner bar" metaphorically, a place where anything might be discussed with a general center of baseball goodness.
And, of course, the kind of musing about the Future of Blogging that can only emanate from a guy who's as dumb as he thinks he's smart.
I'm still not sure of blogging. I think the word is overused and misused. It's a new form of journalism, one that's continually evolving. Years from now, I doubt we'll even remember the word and the impact that it has on society will be assumed. Information will be ubiquitous, though I have no idea what form it will take.
Honest to God, does he plug "blogging" into a custom-designed Mad Libs for Dipshits program? I can't think of how a conscious human being comes up with that paragraph. But as long as we're talking about the Future, I don't know what form all that ubiquitous information will take, but I bet this guy does.

This isn't the end for Will, though I can't imagine where I'm going to get my Buzz Machine Fix.
You'll still find me at Baseball Prospectus,
They may have gotten rid of Dayn Perry, but they're never getting my forty bucks again.
Mind and Muscle,
I can't see myself buying one of those magazines with a shiny, grinning, hugely muscular hairless man on the cover, even if it does say "Droolworthy Details about Will!" on the cover.
Total Texas Baseball,
I did some research here, and I can state that Total Texas Baseball seems to be the Baseball Bias of Rangers websites. So that's something.
and soon, a couple new places, ones I think you'll like.
The Future? Will selflessly left the comments on that post closed -- he doesn't need your adoration. He does it for the children. But the comments on this post are wide open, so let's all let Will know how much we'll miss him.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Requiem for the Husky Man

So, why haven't I been blogging? I have to ask myself that question because no one else cares, but here's a clue: my favorite player, the figurative wind beneath my literal wings, this blog's gelatinous muse and smooth-talkin', slow-walkin' guardian angel is traded, and I can't muster much more of a reaction than the "Huh, that's kinda interesting" I emitted when Ronnie Belliard got traded to St. Louis.

Is it a good trade? Once again, asking myself. Shit, Ryan, I don't know, and why would you be listening to me anyway? We've got "prospects" now, and I guess that's kind of exciting. But not as exciting as having a massive, unstable Cuban either humiliating the opposition with a variety of 50-mile-an-hour pitches and an occasional non-hustle double or humiliating his own team with walks to the opposing pitcher and incomprehensible post-game tirades. It's also not as exciting as having a pitching rotation for your major league team, but hey -- youth movement and all. Whatever age ¡Livan! is -- let's say 38 -- he was such a youthful 38 that we all agreed to call him 31, but I guess that's not youthful enough for the movement.

I'll leave it to the real bloggers out there (and the links to the right aren't, as far as I know, completely out of date) to figure out what kind of performance Arizona can expect from the big guy and to make wild-ass guesses projections for the two newest members of the Nationals organization. I'm just going to miss the most interesting guy on a boring ballclub.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let's Hope This Works Out Better Than The Last Trade I Liked

"Don't forget, pitching is the name of the game. The lack of it, especially in the bullpen, beat us last season."
-- Cincinnati Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, after trading Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and some other guy for four or five dudes I have already forgotten were ever Nationals.
Psych! That quotation actually emanated from Cincinnati Reds GM Bill DeWitt after he traded Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas and some dudes that everyone's forgotten ever played for anyone. Still, instructive, huh? Here's what we can learn:
  1. Reds GMs tend toward the dumbass side of the ledger.
  2. History repeats itself.
Given that history repeats itself, the obvious implication is that Austin Kearns is the next Frank Robinson. So we have a lot to look forward to: an MVP, a triple crown, a few pennants, and that proud moment when Kearns becomes the African-American manager in baseball history.

And as for Felipe Lopez, History may not lay out his path as clearly as it does Kearns', but he's already the best shortstop in Nationals history, narrowly edging out Deivi Cruz for that honor.

Of course, all this comes at a price. The martyrdom of Brendan Harris is complete, and the end is happier for Harris than it is for most martyrs. He might even get a chance to play, rather than scraping together a living as a George W. Bush impersonator. I'm informed that Bill Bray is pretty good, and I'm certainly misty over the good times I had watching what's-his-name and the guy Paciorek liked because he's Polish. But it's worth it, and for once Jim Bowden's single-minded pursuit of Reds has paid off for us. I'm even getting to the point that I trust him to trade Soriano.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Me 'n' Alfonso

Alfonso Soriano and I have something in common. At the moment, I'm 28 years old and drunk. I wish I could stay 28 years old, and I wish I could stay drunk.

Alfonso Soriano is a Washington National at the moment, and he wishes he could stay a Washington Natinoal.

I wish I could stay 28 years old and drunk. Soriano wishes he could stay a Nat. I shouldn't stay 28 years old, and I shouldn't stay drunk, and Alfonso shouldn't stay a National. So that's something we have in common. Awesome!

P.S. I'm also eating a pretzel. There's no reason, basebally-speaking, that I shouldn't continue.

Friday, June 30, 2006

You Can Tell I'm Mad When I Go Crazy With the Dashes and Happy Fourth Everyone!

How am I supposed to celebrate the independence of a country that allows Jim Bowden to walk the streets as a free man? Not just "free," but "employed." Not just employed, in fact, but "employed in a position with enough authority and job security that he can utterly ruin something I'm rather fond of." As opposed to before, when he could just ruin it a little bit for a little while.

So after two years, here's where we stand: Yes, we have a team, and that's the main thing. Everything else -- everything -- has gone wrong. I won't exhaust the list of petty stuff (laughable uniforms, lousy broadcasters, PNC Bank ads), because we're beyond. Our new owners are showing dismaying signs of frugality. Stan Kasten just proved himself -- maybe beyond any hope of redemption -- incompetent. And then there's Jim Bowden. Good old Bodes, the kind of guy you're glad is in baseball as long as he's got nothing to do with your team. An embarrassment as a baseball executive and maybe as a person. A symbol, as if another one was needed, of the Nationals' status as a second class franchise. He was the GM no one wanted -- hell, the GM other GMs wouldn't even talk to -- and they plucked him out of a TV studio because MLB didn't care and Bob Watson already turned them down.

And now -- gulp, steel yourself and say it -- Jim Bowden is our GM. Not the interim GM, and not the guy who won't make any moves until the real bosses take over. Jim Bowden is the real boss. It's obvious at this point that the Nationals aren't going to become a premier franchise anytime soon. Before we could hope. Now we just have to hope we're not the Pirates.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006


Well, I feel better. The 2006 season got off to a very bad start. As I detailed in this Baseball Bias column (and may the earth rest lightly upon you, Baseball Bias), we pretty much got our head flushed in the toilet on the first day of school. You probably remember this, but Pedro Martinez and company hit -- with baseballs and malice aforethought -- everyone in the lineup, more or less. Finally, having taken more than any reasonable team could be expected to take, the Nats responded and received two suspensions, while the Mets got off without even a slap on the wrist. And we lost the game and the series. It stung like hell, and it was more than just being pushed around by the Mets. It was a reminder of our pathetic status -- no owner, little money, embarrassing management. As fans, we weren't in a position to talk trash to anyone.

This weekend's series against the Yankees finally sure changed my mood. The Yankees are everything the Nationals aren't: rich, successful, and professional. Their fans display an astonishing sense of entitlement, while ours work themselves into exhaustion trying to find a bright side in, say, parking garage negotations. And we did more than beat them. Alfonsono Soriano running wild like he was Jackie Robinson, Daryle Ward trying his damndest to kill himself huffing from first to home on Jose Guillen's triple, and finally Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off Father's Day home run -- we got a season's worth of highlights in one weekend.

It doesn't change much from a practical standpoint. Two wins against the Yankees don't cancel out four against Colorado, and we're still looking at a fire sale in the near future. Still, watching the Nats this weekend (and what a novelty it was to be able to do that), I had an odd feeling. It took me a while to figure it out: I was proud to be a Nats fan.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Current Events!

A riddle: What's the only thing worse than a busker?

A busker in an enclosed area.

Lawn 9, Me 0

Well, the Rockies swept the Nationals. Given that it was due in large part to the proverbially loveable Jamey Carroll and Baylor University's own Jason Jennings -- not to mention how happy it makes occasional Yard Work contributor Charlie Monfort -- I can't get too upset. Should I be worried, though?

Probably not. This kind of reminds me of last May. The Nats were playing pretty well, and surprised the hell out of me by staying not insignificantly above .500. But then they dropped two of three to the Blue Jays and got swept by Cincinnati, which prompted one of my all-time favorite jokes (because if I don't toot my horn, who will?):
The Nationals have often been described as "scrappy." This may be true, but the Reds just beat the "s" right out us.
What happened next? The Nats dropped another series to the Cardinals and then won 14 of 16 to vault into first place. Remember how rad that was? It probably won't happen again this time, but my point is not to worry too much about a sweep to a traditionally unimpressive team. Even though this was four games. At home. And Jamey Carroll beat us.

Speaking of which, I noted last year that Jose Guillen beats the hell out of teams he used to play for, a stat that fits neatly with his public persona (continually offended maniac). The conclusion:
Guillen versus former teams:
.333/.410/.688, 9 HR, 16 RBI in 93 ABs

Guillen versus non-former teams:
.297/.346/.478, 15 HR, 54 RBI in 387 ABs

He hits homers almost twice as frequently against his former employers, doubles at a better rate, strikes out less often, and perhaps most interestingly, gets plunked at a higher rate.
I'm not going to go through all his numbers this year, but he has hit half of his six homers against his former employers in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and it's a real disadvantage for the Nats that they don't see the AL West this year.

But what of mild-mannered Jamey Carroll? He has only one former employer, and he just got through destroying them: 8 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs in four games. He's hit one-third of his homers against the Nationals. Sample size be damned: I conclude that, underneath the mild, Godly exterior, Jamey Carroll is determined to regain his manhood by exerting his dominance over the team that sold -- not even traded -- him like a piece of virgin meat. DAMN that's hot.

And the theme of vengeance takes us into the weekend, as the Nats host the Yankees. Alfonso Soriano's career line against the Yanks? .358/.402/.593 with 4 doubles, 5 homers, 10 RBI and 15 runs in 81 at-bats. And I think I just did a better job of getting you all keyed up for this series than Major League Baseball itself is capable of, if an email I received from them today is any indication.
Round two of Interleague Play should fire up fans' memory banks.
I remember when we didn't have to pretend that the Padres and Mariners were rivals.
The Orioles visit Shea Stadium, where Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, Ed Charles and the rest of the 1969 Mets performed their Miracle.
I remember that! I was so excited I sent a telegram to William Howard Taft, but he was busy hunting dodos.
The Dodgers and A's face each other in a reprise of the '74 and '88 Series.
Easily the highlight of my life until I was born.
And for those with really long memories, the Tigers and Cubs -- who played in the World Series 61 years ago -- meet again.
I bet the Cubs lost! And everyone was white! MLB ignored the really cool precedent here: the last time the Yankees came to RFK, the fans ran onto the field and started a riot so bad that there wasn't another baseball game in Washington for 37 years. If the marketing geniuses at MLB suggested that kind of excitement was about to ensue, I might have some interest in attending. But as it is, I figure a 9-0 forfeit loss is a lot less likely than a 9-0 regular loss, so I guess I'll just mow the lawn.

UPDATE: Another email, this one just for Nats fans!
Get your tickets now as Nationals stars Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson battle their former teammates!
In other words, "You're rooting for guys a great franchise didn't want anymore!" Way to rub it in, you bastards.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Discussion Question

If Jamey Carroll single-handedly beat us tonight, how upset would you be? What if he single-handedly sweeps us? What if he fouls off a ball that hits Bowden in the head? And Bodes is rolling around holding his head and he's all "Dawwwg . . . why you gotta . . . play me like that . . ."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Game Notes 6-8-06

  • I think Philly's starter forgot to finish spelling his first name
  • Bang
  • Zoom

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I'm Leaning Toward CillyCelebs.com

Davey Johnson! You have to figure he won't be spending more than, say, five months as "consultant to general manager Jim Bowden." In other words, meet our new manager. An improvement over Frank? I'm too shortsighted and drunk to remember much about the guy -- I barely remember Preston Wilson -- but here's Bill James, the last and hairiest defender of Pete Rose:
. . . did you ever notice that Dave Johnson (as a manager) has the world's largest collection of disgusting personal mannerisms? He picks his teeth with his fingers, tucks his hands in his armpits, scratches his head, shakes and pats his unmentionables, spits, drools.
One quibble: "unmentionables" means underwear, and I'm pretty sure James is talking about balls. At any rate, Johnson's dugout behavior (ball-scratching vs. sleeping) is certainly a downgrade, but I expect him to be an improvement in all other areas. So yay.

Above: One result of a Google image search for "Davey Johnson"

The problem -- and I'm sure alert readers are way ahead of me here -- is that this scenario also makes it look quite likely that the Jim Bowden regime is going to last at least another year. On the one hand, I'm glad they're not holding the DUI against him. The other hand is much larger, and I think it has gangrene.

This is where I'm glad I'm carrying around so much apathy. I mean, what the fuck? This is Jim Bowden we're talking about. Yeah, I know there's this perestroika or whatever going on because Soriano's hitting a couple homers a game, but that doesn't make him not Jim Bowden. A while ago, I cautioned against hailing the Nationals' new owners as saviors. Now I feel like the anti-Will Carroll. Which is to say, I'm so fucking right. Not that I take any joy in it. With another year of Tracksuit Jim on the horizon, I'm thinking about starting one of those celebrity gossip blogs. It seems like people will read one of those no matter how crappy it is.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Feeble Kick

Hey, the Nats! I know I've sounded this note once or twice before, but a list of things on my television more frequently than the Nationals would include the Orioles, Samoa Joe, and Australian Rules Football. Combine that with my natural shiftlessness, and there's little chance of my summoning the pungent combination of vinegar and other fluids that make Distinguished Senators such a wild ride and its author a hero to children everywhere. It's hard for me to kick against the pricks, as they say.

Anyway, take a look at Alfonso Soriano. He doesn't seem to be interested in this, but I am.

Notice anything different about him? Notice that he's dressed like a baseball player, rather than an actor playing a baseball player in a commercial where they were too cheap to get the MLB license?

Here's Ramon Ortiz to remind of what a real baseball uniform looks like, as opposed to one designed by the people who brought us Turn Ahead the Clock Night. Is it coincidence that the Nats won not only this game, but also the next three? Yes, of course it is.

Speaking of the future, the amateur draft was today, and I've developed a test so that you, the reader, can figure out if you're a homer. With their first round pick, the Nationals selected Miami high schooler Chris Marrero. You don't know him from Adam, and neither do I.

Above: Chris Marrero in action.
Not really, but you didn't know that.

Is your response something like "Great pick! I think Marrero will be a real contributor!" Congratulations, your certificate is on the way.

The test works just as well with the following names: Colton Willems, Sean Black, Stephen Englund, Stephen King, Glenn Gibson, and Zechery Zinicola. Fifth round pick Cory Van Allen, however, is the perfect embodiment of the scholar/athlete and will be a contributor -- the question is not will he win a Cy Young Award, but how many will he win. How do I know? I just know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Something I'd Hate

The changes in the broadcast teams this year have been for the better. I really like Dave Juggler Jagermei . . . the guy who replaced the guy who didn't say bang zoom. The new TV play-by-play guy is innocuous enough, and I started out pro-Tom Paciorek. But, as I've mentioned once or twice, I can't watch the Nationals, so small sample size caveats apply. The sample size got a little larger this last weekend when our unbelievably heated series with the Orioles merited extra TV time, and that was enough to turn me against Paciorek.

I don't think I ask for too much from my broadcasters. As long as you're not as big a loudmouth jackass as Rick Sutcliffe, I can pretty much ignore you. I can even tolerate Joe Morgan, as his awesome accent and awesomer suits make up for the nonsense he often forces Jon Miller to be polite about. Not everyone, I realize, can be Buck Martinez, and that's okay.

But Paciorek ventured into Ron Santo territory this weekend, and that's unforgivable. Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo holds two important distinctions: being maybe the best player not in the Hall of Fame and being maybe the worst broadcaster in the history of sports. Here's what Ron Santo says when something bad happens to the Cubs: "Nnh." Or "Oof." Or maybe "Augh." No analysis, just a pissed-off noise. It's completely unprofessional and the distillation of all the anti-intellectual homer tendencies that are always trying to ruin sports for me. You can probably see where I'm going with this, but here's a quick summary of Tom Paciorek's contributions to Friday night's broadcast.
  • Corey Patterson triples. Paciorek: "Oh."
  • Jeff Conine doubles. Paciorek: "Yrgh."
  • Ryan Church flies out. Paciorek: "Blugh."
At least it's somewhat understandable when Santo does it. He has, after all, been a Cub in one form or another for about eighty years, and one can appreciate the kind of blow it is for the old guy when things don't go the Cubbies' way, as they never do. But Paciorek's been involved with the Nats for about three months, and it's hard to believe that them blowing a lead is the bowling ball to the gut kind of experience he makes it sound like.

In a more positive development, I noticed a while ago that they've started playing "Hail to the Chief" when Chad Cordero comes out. I think that's completely, 100% great, which surprises me. It seems like something I'd hate.

Monday, May 22, 2006


So all of a sudden Ryan Church is in AA. No, I didn't forget an "A," he's actually a level below Brendan Harris and Brandon Watson. There are excuses for that, but I'm not going to bother to mention them. The end result is that Frank Robinson -- and bear in mind that there are still people who think he's a great manager, and that their analysis almost always includes the phrase "586 home runs" -- has at times gone to war with an outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Alex Escobar, and Daryle Ward. Two thirds of that outfield have been the subject of special "This Dude Can't Field" pieces by Barry Svrluga, and the other one can't even hack it as a first baseman. As I've said before, there's a fine line between bad managing and sabotage, and Frank crossed that river and kept running.

Church certainly has struggled, and I (big surprise coming) blame Frank. Remember Tomo Ohka, how he walked everyone? Remember when he got to Milwaukee and suddenly stopped walking everyone? And remember how Frank would yank him out of games after -- or while -- he walked someone? I think we're seeing the same thing with Church. Maybe it means Church is soft, or maybe it means Frank's bad at his job. Probably both.

In other depressing, I-can't-believe-I'm-a-fan-of-this-joke-of-a-team news, the Nats can't spend a (relatively) little bit of cash to do something about the bullpen.
If the Nationals were to release a player currently on the major league roster, they would be responsible for paying the player until or unless another franchise signed him. So though Bowden believes there are several players in the minors who are, as he put it, "knocking on the door," he can't simply release veterans because it would essentially be adding to the payroll.
I think this is just a ploy to get me to care about the new owners. So far my interest has been limited to watching various hack sportswriters bonk their heads together trying to cram those heads up Lerner and/or Kasten ass. George Solomon is winning, in case you were wondering.
Theodore N. Lerner radiates the dignity one expects of an 80-year-old billionaire who has lived and worked here his whole life . . .
You've noticed that, haven't you? People who have lived in DC their whole lives have a certain nobility of bearing. And anyone who has a billion dollars got it from God for being a good person.

But I'm just being negative. Unlike my main man Thomas Boswell, who accentuates the positive to the point of lunacy. Some horse we would have all forgotten about in a year anyway broke its leg the other day, and the fact that 1,000 pounds of walking Alpo's hospital stay is front page news is the only thing preventing Boswell from being the dumbest thing in the Post today.

We won our heated, hateful series against Balitmore, and I blame the 15,000 empty seats per game on worries about the brawls that are de rigeur whenever Baltimorean goes against Washingtonian Virginian. The Nats hadn't won a series before that since beating Pittsburgh back at the beginning of the month, but Boz doesn't care.
These days, the Nats are just beginning to imagine a decent season despite a horrid start. Livan Hernandez had his second back-to-form start in a row Sunday with seven innings. John Patterson is due back in a couple of weeks. Maybe things won't be so bad after all.
Yeah, it's not bad at all! Alex Escobar Damian Jackson could be the solution in center field, and that's assuming we needed one -- my theory is that all those dropped balls in the outfield have been lulling our enemies into a false sense of security. Joey Eischen is bound to turn it around and become the gritty, foul-mouthed stopper we need. And as for the starting rotation, there are five pitchers there -- just like the Yankees!

William Blake ran out of Proverbs of Hell that apply to Boz, so I made one up. I think it sounds pretty authentic.
The well-fed ass is ever full of dung.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Svrluga: "You're a Damn Liar, Boz"

Tom Boswell, stating the indefensible:
And [Alfonso Soriano] hasn't butchered even one simple play.
Tom Boswell, backing up so fast I think he hit a deer:
Soriano's throwing has improved. Far more important, he seems to care. And he hates it when he screws up. However, he's missed several balls that a smooth "average" left fielder would have caught. He's definitely below average.
Barry Svrluga, not being a homer idiot:
But there is no question Soriano is costing the Nationals runs. That he has four errors -- tied for most in the majors for an outfielder -- and an abysmal fielding percentage of .951 tells only part of the story. Six games into a nine-game trip that continues today in Chicago against the Cubs, Soriano's adventures in left have played out awkwardly.
Jose Guillen, not being a homer idiot:
"We have to accept he's not a normal outfielder," right fielder Jose Guillen said. "You see when he tries to charge a ball and misses some of those line drives."
An anonymous scout, not being a homer idiot:
"He's awful," said one scout who has worked three Nationals series this season. "He's not a left fielder."
Alfonso Soriano himself, informing Boz that he's full of crap:
Asked last weekend if he felt comfortable in left field, the answer was quick, sure, and to be expected. "No," he said.
I point all this out not to criticize Soriano, whose general effort and good humor make me think a lot more of him as a human being than I did in March, but to draw attention to Tom Boswell's distortions and lies, which I'm still pissed about. That thing he said about Soriano not botching plays was a lie. It was impossible to defend (as Boz proved a day later), impossible to talk around (as Svrluga proved today), and evidence that Boswell doesn't think much of the intelligence of his audence.

As this Baseball Think Factory thread helpfully points out, he's still doing it. Here's what Boz said today about Barry Bonds.
When Pierre robbed him of what would've been homer No. 714, Bonds waved his arm disparagingly, dismissively at Pierre as if his excellent play in a close game were disgusting, an affront. How dare you?
Thanks to the internet, we can check this for ourselves. Go here and click on "Pierre robs Bonds." Watch Bonds' smiling, playful reaction to Pierre's catch and marvel at what a lying son of a bitch Washington's premier sports columnist is.

I'm overreacting, and I know it. But I'm sick of Boswell talking down to his audience as if Nationals fans were a pack of rubes who'd never heard of this game and, thanks to our ignorance, need to be told what to think about it. I'm sick of him dismissing well-reasoned criticism of his opinions by saying "Blah blah blah." Mostly I'm sick of the endless fact-mangling with which he supports his arguments. Boswell is -- for some reason -- well-respected, and his opinion carries weight. We should expect at least basic honesty from him, but all we get is condescension and lies.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm Fighting This Assignment

What level of frustration are you at? The way to tell this is to recall your reaction when Chad Cordero gave up that completely predictable walk-off grand slam to Jeff Francoeur on Saturday. So was it head-slapping frustration? Saying "fuck" a lot frustration? Laughing maniacally like somone in a Twilight Zone episode frustration? Me, I ain't frustrated at all. It's been a couple of weeks since I've laid eyes on a National, so as far as I'm concerned they barely exist. They're the thing on the radio breaking up the most annoying commercials in radio history (which is worse, the #1 Nationals fan groceries or the old guys singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"?). Sometimes I see something about them in one of the poorly-edited free newspapers I read in the morning when I don't have a book. So that makes my favorite baseball team essentially a cross between Elliott in the Morning and Nepal.

I missed the weekly Nats game I'm allotted because on Friday I went down to the rock and roll show. So I present:

The Distinguished Senators Concert Review
Pinback at the Black Cat - May 12, 2006

Pinback was very good, and all the Pinbacks did their best. They were totally Pinbacking. Pinning it back and letting it fly. Not even the fact that one of them (I call him Pinback #1) looked more and more like Jack Black as the show went on could ruin my enjoyment. To learn more about Pinback, check out their Myspace page and listen to "Penelope," which was the highlight of the show.

There was, regrettably, an opening act. If you've ever wondered what "Weird Al" Yankovic would sound like if he had less talent and more profanity, investigate Pleaseeasaur. Otherwise, don't.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Simple Play

Remember the episode of Charles in Charge (actually, I think it was a two-parter) where Charles got hit on the head and became Chaz, a leather jacket-wearing, floozy-humping bad-ass? Then he got hit on the head again and reverted to his earlier, more virtuous persona? That's kind of what happened to me. Here I was, cruising along, bringing content on the regular, when I made the mistake of reading one of Tom Boswell's email columns. It's disappeared from the internets, but maybe you remember it. Among other things, Boz posited that Gary Majewski's game-losing error against the Mets on May 1 wouldn't have happened if the Nats had an owner. It was a great example of projection: Boz is real upset about the ownership situation, so naturally all the guys whose posters adorn his bedroom walls are too.

Driven mad by the madness of the idea, I spent a week just sort of staggering around, gasping and trying to figure out a reason to go on living. Some things are too weird for the feeble mind of man, and this was one of them. How ironic that my salvation would be another Boswell column, this one even more gnarled and wicked than the first. Reading that twisted mess of nonsense acted like a frying pan on my muddled head, returning me to my accustomed angry state.

I'm not Christopher Hitchens and Boz isn't Mother Teresa, so there's no way I can do a better job taking this apart than already Harper did, and I demand that you read his account of Boswell's pennant-waving distortions. There is, however, one particularly low-hanging fruit I want to rant about.

Boz loves Alfonso Soriano, and that's fine. It's obvious that he loves Soriano solely because he's a Nat, but who am I to judge? And even I have to admit that there's a lot to like about the guy. His power, his speed, his hot start, his striking cheekbones, and his surprising (to me, at least) effort and good attitude about his new position. But that's not good enough for Boswell, so he stoops to lying outright.
In left field, he has only one error but five assists, a ratio that many thought would be exactly the opposite. He's misjudged a few difficult fly balls and looked awkward, but has also outrun the ball for a few fine catches. And he hasn't butchered even one simple play. [emphasis mine]
I haven't seen much of the Nationals, but I know that isn't true. I'm also a blogger, so I'm disinclined to do a lot of research. So I used my favorite research substitute, the wisdom of Google. This statement, "And he hasn't butchered even one simple play," is the most dishonest argument I've ever seen Boswell use. I hesitate even to call it dishonest, since it's so obviously wrong that it couldn't deceive anyone who's even vaguely paying attention. Boswell is beyond mere distortion at this point; he's lying. And that bothers me, because he'll never be called on it in any meaningful way. Sure, the blogs will complain, but he'll never see it. He'll get some snarky questions in his chat tomorrow, but he'll either ignore them or toss off an equally snarky and entirely inadequate response.

For all the idealistic talk about the free exchange of ideas and whatnot on the internet, it doesn't work out all that well in real life, unless misspelled personal threats count as "ideas." But there is something to be said about the instant feedback available to bloggers and message board posters -- it keeps you on your toes. You have to be ready to defend yourself, and that means (one would hope) that you put just a little extra effort into not babbling like a concussed halfwit. Boswell, tenured and well-respected hack that he is, is cozily insulated from this kind of feedback. Which is probably a good thing, because no one wants to pick on an old man, and that silly homer wouldn't last a week blogging.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hijinks, Tycoons

Here's something I just thought of: I can't watch the Nationals. They're not on TV. I don't know if you heard anything about this, but it's true. Channel 20 is some nonsense with Tyra Banks. Channel 10 is some kind of basketball exhibition. Channel 3 is showing the sitcom hijinks of Bernie the Entertainer or Cedric the Mac or someone. The Nats, according to the Internet, just came back from a five run deficit, and I can't watch it. With the result that I don't care.

We've got some owners, but I can't watch the Nats so I don't care. I'm finding it hard to take personal joy from some millionaires who wouldn't hire someone to piss on me if I were on fire paying millions to some other millionaires for the right to pay the salaries of a bunch of millionaires who happen to wear a W on their heads when they play baseball. And seriously, I don't have anything against millionaires. I ain't a commie. But when I can't watch the Nats, I honestly don't give a damn who's signing the checks. And when I'm selling plasma and any other fluid anyone's interested in buying to pay for my home, away, alternate, spring training, and 2001 Giants Livan Hernandez jerseys, I don't find myself rooting for the real estate tycoons who are supposed to fix everything.

You may have noticed a lack of posting here lately. Guess why. That's right, I can't watch the goddamn Nationals. I notice, thanks to the Internet, that Jason Bergmann pitched well over one inning for the Nats tonight. Who's Jason Bergmann? Beats the hell out of me. I can't watch the Nationals, so I couldn't pick the dude out of a lineup.

Pretty soon, either the Nationals or the team they're playing (Padres, maybe? I dunno) is going to win the game. As for me, I'm going to bed. I'd stay up if there were anything good on TV, but . . . you know.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Time To Play B-Sides

I ran out of bloggin' time, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that ¡Livan! is back, pendejos! He's still not going to win any games because he's on the Nationals, but he's going to lead the league in moral victories. And actual losses.

New Baseball Bias column! (At some undefined point later in the morning.) Will a buyer of unknown origin fix what's wrong with the Nats? Click on the Blue Oyster Cult album cover to find out how many words I waste saying no!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Imagine Jim Mora Saying "Sidney Ponson" Over and Over

New Baseball Bias. I need to put a Moratorium on the Latin puns. Ha ha ha!

Sidney Ponson? Sidney Ponson? Look, I know this is a bad team. I can handle getting beaten twice by some no-name Mets rookie. I can handle dropping one to a no-name Reds rookie. But Sidney Ponson isn't just a bad pitcher, he's a punchline. The guy who got so fat and so drunk they kicked him off the Orioles just beat us without a whole lot of trouble. Pity young "Irish" Mike O'Connor -- he may not have pitched well by normal standards, but going five innings practically makes him our Cy Young. He was let down by our defense and hitting, while Ponson, that gelatinous judge-punching pantload, goes to 3-0. Look at him taunting us.

And then there's this:
"We're just in a pitching nightmare," General Manager Jim Bowden said before the game. "We need a [fill-in] starter for [Thursday]. We need a starter for Sunday. Our ERA's over 5. We can talk about all the problems of this team; you have to pitch."
What Bowden's greater virtue, his incompetence or his shamelessness?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This Time Blake Took the Day Off

Well, MLB is denying reports that the unbelievable nightmare of the Expos/Nationals franchise is finally over, and ain't that just like them? I mean, I know who's getting the team, you know who's getting the team, and we're supposed to pretend Bud Selig doesn't? But anything to prolong the pain. Something we need to watch out for, I think, is going soft after the Lerners finally do get the team. I'm planning to go out of my way to remind Selig, DuPuy, et al. that they can all go straight to Hell on the day of the announcement.

Hey, we got swept by the Reds! The Reds have actually been really good, so that's something. Hell, it might be less humiliating than losing one game to Florida. The Cards are next, and that ain't exactly something to look forward to.

Soon we'll be able to rate Nats seasons by how far into the summer it is before we run out of pitching. Last year, it didn't happen until September, but we're not wasting that kind of time in the '06. Some guy named Michael O'Connor is starting for us on Thursday, and neither I nor any deceased poet of my acquaintance has any idea who that is.

I do know who Zach Day is, though, and you may remember him as well. Well, he's back. Staying true to his "pitching, pitching, pitching" philosophy, Bowden picked him up off waivers for the Rockies. Sure, he's probably injured and the Rockies didn't want him and Frank Robinson never could stand the sight of him, but he does sometimes do a thing that could charitably described as pitching.

Speaking of which philosophy, read this and remember why you love Yard Work.

? . . . !

9 News has learned Major League Baseball has selected the new owners of the Washington Nationals. 9 Sports Director Brett Haber has confirmed that the Lerner Group will be named in a news conference that could come as soon as Friday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm Not Sure This One's Canonical

Today's Proverb of Hell:
Uh-oh. Dude, that totally sucks. Go ahead and take the night off.

Thanks, William. I think I will.

Monday, April 24, 2006


So, we just lost to the frigging Reds, and the only consolation is that one of my blogging compatriots is happy. That ain't much consolation. I'd say that Livan is literally breaking my heart, but the tests aren't back, so I'd better settle for the figurative sense.

It's time for yet another Nationals mailbag with MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Go read it and tell me what you think. I know it's hard to tell with me, but from here on I'm being completely not sarcastic: that was awesome. It appears that Ladson has developed a new, in-your-face style, and I'm all for it. The typical "some in the organization think blah blah blah" bits have been replaced by Ladson kicking some ass. There's no one leadery enough to yell at Guillen! The Nats need to stop whining about their schedule, the pantywaists! Michael Hinckley is batshit crazy! Ohka sucks!

I'm completely serious when I say that Ladson needs to keep this up. Sure, I think he's wrong about everything, but I always think he's wrong about everything, and at least he was spitting fire this time. I know my man William Blake has used this one before, but it's crazy applicable:
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Blake ain't lying. Remember that, Ladson.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


There'll be a brand new Baseball Bias column around 9 am. What unpleasant soft drink is endorsed by Miguel Cabrera? Click on Malta Goya to find out!

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is noting Frank Robinson's 1,000th win in a way I find completely rad.
Two scouts who followed the Nationals in recent weeks were appalled by the team's lax approach in pre-game preparation. "I covered them all spring," one scout says. "They've been dead-ass. They work dead-ass. And they carry it into the game defensively."

Manager Frank Robinson deserves credit for keeping the team competitive during Major League Baseball's ownership, but it's possible that his strained relationships with team president Tony Tavares and general manager Jim Bowden finally have worn him down.

"They work dead-ass" -- I love that! Anyway, I don't generally listen to pissed-off anonymous scouts, but this one -- let's call him Scouty McScoutingscout -- reinforces some non-anonymous criticism we've heard of Frank. Remember this gem?
Too many times, we didn't take batting practice. If you look at our record on Sundays, it's indicative of our success. I just don't think we prepare as well.

We are giving up hits in circumstances where our infielders should have been at a different position or our outfielders should have been at a different position. Our preparation is not there right now.

And while we're at it, let's take a stroll down memory lane with some dudes who have blogs. Needham!

What exactly is Frank's job? He's a wretched in-game decision maker (other than with the bullpen, for the most part), and he's definitely not a conflict resolver with his players. What are his strengths? And how do we know what they are -- other than our projections that he's done something vague like 'set a tone'?


I don’t care what anyone says. I believe the team wins despite Frank, not because of him. I believe that calling out players in the press and trading players who have minor outbursts is dangerous. I believe that his heavy reliance on veteran players has stifled the growth of some of the younger players on the team.

This idiot!

He slept through the Expos' last season in Montreal and is on his best behavior in Washington because he knows cameras are on him. He sees this job as a sinecure to subsidize his golf habit. The bottom line is that Frank Robinson doesn't care about this team as much as you do.

Whenever Frank gets himself in some wacky scrape -- insulting his players, making out inexplicable lineups, getting a job with Ethel at the candy factory -- it's chalked up to his being too old-school, too gritty for today's players. It becomes a moral thing, another reason to hate these damned spoiled millionaires. They don't deserve a hard-assed taskmaster like Frank. But we're learning from people who know that Frank is anything but too intense for his players. He's not gritty and old-school; he's lazy and cranky.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Wisest Witness

Remember this day, O Nats fans, as the first time we won a series from a team that can actually be considered a real major league team. I wouldn't be bothering to mention it, but I got some advice from my old frat brother Pindar.
Great deeds give choice of many tales. Choose a slight tale, enrich it large, and then let wise men listen.

That sounds like something Boz would do, so maybe he's been listening to Pindar too. So, let's see . . . enrich it large . . .
  • Nick Johnson is the MVP. He only has half as many homers as Albert Pujols, but RFK is -- according to Science -- three times as hard to hit in as Busch. So actually he has five more homers than Pujols, and I bet you feel pretty dumb for even bringing it up.
  • You internet types are always on about how Frank's no good. Well he just won his 1,000th game. Everyone on the internet loves Bill James, but how many games did he win? I'm not sure, but I bet it's less than 1,000.
  • If the Mets did not exist, the Nationals would be good. Assuming that Pedro Martinez would cease to exist along with the Mets.
  • Alfonso Soriano is the greatest player in Washington Nationals history, and I'm including Walter Johnson.
  • Ryan Zimmerman would be Rookie of the Year if not for Jose Vidro. Yes, I know Vidro isn't technically a rookie, but look at him -- he's a whole new player! He's spiritually a rookie, and that's good enough for me.
  • Royce Clayton is hitting .211. I don't know how to look it up, but I'm pretty sure that's over 200 points better than Cristian Guzman last year. Bodes, you've done it again!
  • Billy Traber? More like Billy Awesome!
  • Brian Schneider is hitting .216, over 200 points better than Cristian Guzman last year.
  • Pass the collection plate -- this Church is on fire, and this time it's not Norwegian death metal hijinks! He's hitting well, basically, is what I'm trying to get across here.
Next up is the Braves. Can the Nats keep up their red-hot winning-every-other-game pace? What do you say, Pindar?
The days that are still to come are the wisest witnesses.

Sounds like a yes!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You're Right, Ryan - Livan Does Rule

I got nothing today. But I tell you who did have something was my main man Livan, who went 3 for 4 with a homer and two doubles. I'm sure you're aware of this, but he's a pitcher. And sure, maybe his pitching wasn't so hot, but some of that was Joey Eischen's fault, and the rest of it you can cram up your ass because Livan rules.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Serious Stuff

So, Jim Bowden got busted for DUI. I'm not going to make any jokes about this. I can't tell you what my line is, but this is on the other side of it. That's not to say I'm not laughing at the jokes of others or even making my own in other outlets; I'm just not comfortable piling on the guy here.

Bowden should be fired, but this shouldn't even factor into it.

In happier news, we've just about got our owner(s).
Atlanta sports executive Stan Kasten has joined the family of Theodore "Ted" Lerner in a bid to purchase the Washington Nationals, sources said, boosting the Lerners' chances in what baseball insiders believe is a three-way race to buy the team for $450 million.
So let's all welcome Theostan Lernaster.

This is an issue I've said nothing about, and there's a good reason. I don't know anything about these guys. If there's one area in which my knowledge is lacking, it's millionaires. How the hell do I know who's going to be a good owner? I was against Jeff Smulyan, and that was owing entirely to the fact that he was the only candidate who had actually failed at owning a team. That's enough for me. But people who know or pretend to know more than I do say this is good news, so go ahead and listen to them. I'm unconvinced that a new owner is going to be able or willing to fix much immediately, but anything that makes the Nats look a little more like a real franchise is nice.

Monday, April 17, 2006

One Right Answer

Nothing lamer than an off day. Let's see . . . MLB.com's Bill Ladson has "no doubts that getting Soriano was a great move" -- it's "the steal of 2006," in fact. But there's also "no doubt" in his "mind" that Terrmel "Sledge is going" at some point "to be" what you would call "a star." It's like when you're talking to someone who makes a lot of sense until he starts talking about how Freemasons faked the moon landings.

Harper made an interesting point about Ryan Church vs. Brandon Watson.
Ryan, in three games, has already passed Brandon Watson in extra-base hits, stolen bases, walks, and runs scored.
Ouch. Note how unlike, say, Tom Boswell, Harper is consistent in his opinions. He didn't tell us Watson was a "promising young Nat" until the day he was gone, at which time he started trashing him.

Will Carroll has been mercifully mostly silent, although he seems to have abandoned his idealistic idea of internet types getting press passes. Well, amateur internet types. Online writers are just as good as anyone else, but only as long as they're getting paid.
One final thought on this -- if you're asking for credentials, go to the mirror and ask yourself "What do you do for a living?" If you really want the credential, there's only one right answer.
Why this sudden elitism? Because bloggers are mean to him.
Bloggers eat their own with regularity, so I have long since stopped trying to get an IBWA going.
What Carroll fails to realize -- and can't be expected to realize -- is that Will Carroll spearheading an Internet Baseball Writers' Association is like Kevin Federline teaching a graduate-level course on how to bust hot rhymes. Did you like that one? I had Scott Long write that joke for me. He's always ready with the edgy celebrity humor.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Past a Diving Harris?

Baseball Bias column! But not until 10 am. Are the Nats loveable losers or just losers? Click on the French Army to find out!

It was a good weekend for my sacred cows. Brendan Harris actually got a start on Saturday and wound up saving the game with a great catch -- a walk-off Web Gem, as Buster Olney called it. Sunday saw la vaca sagrada numero uno, Ryan Church, justify his presence by hitting two home runs -- he's third on the team!

Still, I can't take too much joy in finally winning a series. It's going to take a miracle for the Marlins not to be the worst team in the league, and Saturday's win was fraught with bad signs. Leaving aside John Patterson's brilliant, 13 strikeout performance, the Nats played like crap. Facing a 22-year-old pitcher with 20 innings of major league experience, the Nats could muster only two runs despite being spotted six walks by Scott Olsen and four more by the parade of AAAA-types issuing from the Florida bullpen. 10 walks and only 2 runs? It's easy when you manage only five hits and run into four outs on the bases. A pickoff, two failed steal attempts, and an out at the plate -- that's Nationals baseball. Make it your pastime!

So let's not break out the Martinelli's just yet. After an off day, we head to Philly to play a real team. 13 games in, and we've had exactly one (1) good starting pitching performance. Ryan Drese might be out for the duration, though the advantage of the end of our rotation is that you don't lose much when you lose one. Chad Cordero's save on Sunday was really his first good performance, and it remains to be seen how much he'll regress from 2005.

The good news: Frank actually said he'd try Brendan Harris at shortstop, and Royce Clayton -- yes, the Royce Clayton -- left Sunday's game with a left arm injury. So that's something I'm looking forward to, though Nationals pitchers probably don't share my enthusiasm. ¡Arriba las vacas!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Baseball Bias column. You know you want to know about the Orioles.

I'm guessing you've already heard about this.
The struggling Washington Nationals optioned outfielder Brandon Watson and backup catcher Wiki Gonzalez to Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday and recalled outfielder Ryan Church and infielder Brendan Harris.
William Blake, despondent over the Mets series, didn't have anything to say, but my old buddy Origen chimed in.
Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: Outside of . . . Church, no one is saved; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death.

I have to disagree with Origen's plea for outfielder orthodoxy. Bringing Church up is the right move, and he shouldn't have spent a day in AAA. But he's not going to save anything. We still haven't had a starter go over six innings, and they've pretty much all been bad to enough to deserve the early hook. We're not scoring, and our hitters -- including one of the only successful ones -- are already demonstrating how ill-equipped they are to deal with RFK's dimensions. Church is an upgrade, but a Band-Aid isn't going to fix a broken neck. I would, however, like Jim Bowden to consider seriously the last part of Origen's take just in case Church gets off to a slow start and a trade or demotion is being considered.

It should be a happy day for me. Not only is my main sacred cow back in the bigs, but so is my back-up sacred calf, Brendan Harris. Will he give Ryan Zimmerman a day off? Will he . . . play shortstop? I doubt it -- he's been languishing in AAA because they don't trust his glove at third or second, so I can't imagine he's being seriously considered to step in where Royce Clayton -- yes, the Royce Clayton -- has faltered. So it beats me what he's doing up here, and given the fact that he hit .333 with a homer in his only nine at-bats last year before being put back on the bus, there's probably not much he can do to keep himself here.

The combination of my natural, Bowden-enhanced cynicism and the fact that ¡Livan! really sucks is making me incapable of enjoying the restoration (however temporary) of Church and Harris to their proper places. I'm serious -- usually when the Nationals embarrass the hell out of themselves, I can maintain a kind of detachment. But there's no detachment when I talk about ¡Livan!, and performances like today's hurt. But Origen told me it's not worth worrying about, considering.
The world was made and took its beginning at a certain time, and is to be destroyed on account of its wickedness.

So now I've got that to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'm Sorry About the Really Pretentious Bit

You know, I'm not even mad at Pedro anymore. I've reconciled myself to the fact that he can do whatever the hell he wants to us. I mean that in two ways: 1) He's good enough that the Nats are pretty much the Washington Generals as far as he's concerned and 2) MLB sure isn't going to do anything to stop him. But oh well. Pedro really is great, and that's in an amoral -- indeed, Homeric or Beowulfian -- sense. He's good at sports, basically, so it doesn't matter that he's a greasy dickhead. Pedro's better than any three or four Nats you could name, so it's not surprising that this rag-tag band of jack-offs is going to get slapped around every once in a while by someone of that stature.

That doesn't mean I'm not mad at anybody. One of these days, I'm going to compile a top 10 enemies list or something. Peter Angelos is #1, and it'll have Bodes, Selig, and maybe Will Carroll just for old time's sake. But here I will profile the two men most responsible for all this "Don't You Dare Hit a Met with a Pitch, You Little Bitches" nonsense and reveal the further damage they've done to the Nats.

That's right, Frank Robinson. As MLB's director of suspensionation, the erstwhile Cangrejero devised the brilliant policy of automatically suspending a pitcher who throws at a player -- even a Met -- after the umps have issued a warning. Nice job there, Frank. Throw in the whole being a terrible manager thing, and you have a criminal who easily makes the top 10. Oh, and if you're one of the "more like teh BLOWrioles lol!!!" types, I understand that the dude did some pretty impressive stuff in Baltimore a while back.

Don't let the winning smile fool you: Bob Watson is a very bad man. Well, not really, but he succeeded Frank as the discipline guy, so he's the one who pretty much told the Nats that anyone plunking a deserving Met would be getting suspended. Congratulations on preventing Pedro from getting a well-deserved fastball in the jheri curl, Bob.

But that's not the worst thing Watson's done to the Nats. After proving himself a sober, reserved, and effective general manager with the Astros and Yankees, Watson was offered the much-coveted job of interim general manager for the Washington Nationals. He turned it down. A short list of things we can add to Watson's list of offenses: Cristian Guzman, Junior Spivey, leather pants, Alfonso Soriano, sub-literate columns in the DC Examiner, Preston Wilson, that other Watson, Carlos Baerga . . . I could go on.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Alpha to Omicron

I've been idly daydreaming quite a lot about Mets getting hit by pitches. And daydreaming is as far as it'll get, thanks to the strict policies of the Man. But anyway, I was thinking about the justice of it. Felix Rodriguez hit Paul Lo Duca, but the real target should be Pedro Martinez. Then, however, I remembered Lo Duca lying to the umpire about tagging Soriano in the season opener and decided he deserved it. So if Pedro isn't the only one of these guys who needs to get plunked, how do we know we're throwing at the right guys? I decided to categorize it in the manner of the ancient Chinese classification of animals I was babbling about on my birthday for a reason I have no chance of remembering.

New York Mets Worthy of Pelotical Assault
(a) Those with last names as first names
(b) Those whose pillows would burn for days
(c) Baptists
(d) Those who look like Kris Benson
(e) Those who work as slowly as Kris Benson
(f) Senior citizens
(g) Those with Rafael Palmeiro moustaches
(h) Those who end innings
(i) Lefties
(j) Others
(k) Victor Diaz
(l) Those who hate America
(m) Tall ones
(n) Those whose internal temperature is 98.6° Farenheit
(o) Those named after comic book characters

I expect the Nationals to print out this list and provide it to all the pitchers. Pitchers: when you see a Met, consult the list. If he fits even one of the above categories, throw a fastball at his head.

About the game: I don't want to talk about it. It appears that the Nats failed to "strap it on," unless that actually means what I first thought when I saw it. It's just the latest humiliation, and I hope I get used to it pretty soon. Being a Nats fan is like doing all your shopping at the dollar store: everything's cheap and terrible.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spot the Made-Up Word

Yet another Baseball Bias column. This one's about the Nationals, so you can read it without guilt. Will the Nats get heavy and wreck them all? Click on the Orphans to find out!

We were so close to a successful road trip. Seriously -- I know I've been full of doom and gloom since the day the season started (and long before that, actually), but even as lame and occasionally disheartening our losses have been, we could have ended up 3-4, and it's not like we played any patsies. As it is, we're limping into our home opener, and it's even worse thanks to the unforgivably self-centered actions of Daryle Ward, my new least-favorite Nat. If he hadn't hit that home run in the top of the ninth, the Astros would have won it in the bottom of the inning. But he did, and now our bullpen is a mess. Thanks to Ward, we were forced to squeeze two more innings each out of Cordero and Majewski plus another inning from Rodriguez, and now the utter obliteration of our bullpen is that much closer. Daryle, I hope you enjoyed that fleeting moment of glory, you selfish son of a bitch.

The Mets come to town tomorrow, and this is no mere home opener. As I'm sure you know, we got crazy beef with the Mets thanks to that time Pedro Martinez and assorted New York relievers were permitted to pelotically assault as many Nationals as they desired, while the one attempt by the Nats to respond was greeted with ejections and suspensions. It was -- and here I step out from behind my ironic blogging facade -- a goddamn travesty, and MLB is ensuring that it's only getting worse.
Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations, Bob Watson, said the teams will be aware that no further incidents will be tolerated.

"There is a heads-up in place," Watson said. "But there's no conversation with the clubs. It's the normal provisions in place for a situation like this, but we expect them to just play ball."

What that means: this series with the Mets will have a preemptive warning on it. Which is to say, the first guy throw at someone gets ejected and suspended. This means the Nats will never be able to even the score except by pulling off a sweep, and I'm not willing to cling to that vague hope. Not to mention the fact that some 5,000 paying fans plus the Vice President of the United States of America are going to miss out on what should have been a rad beanball war. And while we don't really go in for topical, Bill Maher-style political commentary here at Distinguished Senators, I think we can all agree that that seems like the kind of thing Cheney would enjoy.

So what we have here is Bob Watson and the stuffed shirts at Major League Baseball preventing what has to happen and what everyone wants to see. I wonder if there's a bit of specious, infernal gnomic wisdom that would apply to such a situation . . .
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.

William Blake, ladies and gentlemen! Give him a hand.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Three Things I Know

New Baseball Bias column! I suppose I should offer an apologia. I mean, Basil's already called me a sell-out, and that's about as close as he comes to the spittle-fleck, profanity-laced tirades you get around here. It comes down to two things: 1) Pity. If I didn't write about the Orioles, no one was going to. 2) Given the television situation around these parts, I'm going to be seeing a lot more of the Orioles than the Nats on TV, and it's impossible for me to see that much of something and not develop a spittle-flecked, profanity-laced opinion about it. So it's nice to have an outlet. My second Nats column should go up at some point on Monday, so keep an eye out.

The Astros series has been very reminiscent of the Mets series. The first game was a typical, forgettable loss. The second game was an inspirational come-from-behind win. The series differed in their respective third games: Sunday's loss was just more of the same, while game three vs. the Mets saw us get slapped around and humiliated in truly innovative ways. So that's an improvement, I guess. But as enjoyable as the two victories have been, I wouldn't mind some dull wins if that what it takes to win more than a third of the time. Game four is uncharted territory, and I can't stand the anticipation. A few observations:
  • We're seeing what a big difference a healthy Jose Vidro makes. And if I were running things, the biggest difference of all would be when I ship him out of town for prospects.
  • Brandon Watson will be gone soon. The guy who was supposed to bring ~speed! and ~sparkingness! to the lineup is 0 for 2 stealing bases, has gotten picked off, and he sure isn't making up for it with the bat. Frank is already making noises about playing Marlon Byrd more often, and it's only a matter of team until Watson's back at AAA, particularly with Ryan Church hitting well in New Orleans.
  • Our bullpen is doomed. Seriously, something catastrophic is going to happen unless we start getting serious innings from the starters. Big Nasty (who has apparently shaved) could really help out by going 8 tomorrow.
  • Worrying about Ryan Zimmerman now is just as premature as crowning him MVP after the Mets series. I'm looking at you, Boz.
  • Charlies Slowes still hasn't learned to give the audience the score and situation at any time other than the end of a half-inning. I can forgive him his lame catchphrases and manufactured enthusiasm, but this has to change. Dave Jageler, fortunately, seems not to share Slowes' aversion.
Ever wondered about the signs at RFK that aren't about the Nationals? You know what I'm talking about -- there's some dudes in, like, shirts running around and stuff. Well, let me fill you in: They're the DC United, they just kicked off their season, and . . . well, that's about all I can say about them. But one guy who does know about the DC United is my main man D (yes, that is his real name), and you should educate yourself over at the DCenters all summer long. Oh! They play soccer -- I just remembered that. So that's three things I know.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


So Jose Guillen is hitting .419 against Pedro Martinez, and Pedro plunks him twice, huh? There hasn't been any retaliation as I write this (unless Nick Johnson's homer counts), but we'll see the Mets plenty this year. I wouldn't be sorry to see one aimed at Pedro's earhole the next time we see him. This ain't the American League.

UPDATE: And Felix Rodriguez and Frank get tossed. I guess the umps granted Pedro the Cy Young Exemption, which allows him to throw at whomever he damn well feels like throwing at.

I got nothing, and the Nats aren't exactly inspiring me right now. I was thinking about Soriano getting benched on Wednesday, and my thoughts were so positive that I actually surprised myself. Here's what you have to ask yourself with Frank: is he disciplining a player because he thinks it'll help or because he's mad? The Tomo Ohka situation was clearly the latter, and look where that got us. But everything we've heard since Soriano got sat down has been positive. The vital thing here is that Soriano knows he screwed up and deserved some kind of reprimand.
"He said in a meeting, when we don't run, he would get us out of the game, so I'm not surprised," Soriano said. "He not only talked to me, but to everybody."
Certainly a better attitude than, say, Jose Guillen displayed after the Angels told him to go home. It's too soon to tell if this will have a helpful effect on how Soriano plays, or even if it won't have an unhelpful effect, but thus far it seems that Frank handled it right.