Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Cruelest Half-a-Month

The Nationals are entering their second season, and that fact is making things a lot easier on me. Here I was trying to express my unhappiness with Spring Training when I realized that I already did it last year.
I hate Spring Training. It's torture, and not the good kind you pay for. It's like decaf coffee or the last season of NewsRadio or watching a baseball game that doesn't count and the last six innings are played by dudes you're never going to hear of again. It's just like that last one, in fact.
But I'm still slogging through all these damn meaningless Spring Training stories. Every day, the Post, the Times, and Ladsonland write about the same thing and say nothing. But at least today we get three synoptic stories about the only thing I still like about baseball: ¡Livan! Dave Sheinin reminds us why all this talk about John Patterson being our ace was premature at least.
With one notable exception -- "The day people think I went crazy," Hernandez said with a laugh -- the extent of Hernandez's pain, and the seriousness of his knee injury, was only hinted at last year. He hid it well, leading the Nationals with 15 wins and leading the majors with 246 1/3 innings pitched, despite dealing with various degrees of pain for all but the first month of the season.
Damn right.
It also was his 31st birthday . . .
Hmm. I think this needs a little editing.
It also was his "31st" birthday . . .
That's better.
. . . though he looks almost exactly the same as the rookie who was the most valuable player of the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins.
What's a couple of chins between friends? I sure don't look the same as I did in 1997.
Now it can be told: On the day Hernandez "went crazy," he wasn't crazy at all. Just hurting.
I refuse to entertain any notion that Livan isn't crazy.

And that's the downside of this being the second year. I've already said everything I can say about Livan, and we're left with this.

The other big news coming out of Viera is that MLB.com's Bill Ladson is still frantically trying to get us to call John Patterson "Big Nasty." We've already been through what an inappropriate nickname that is for Patterson, but this affords us an opportunity to compare and contrast. One, two, three stories about Patterson on Monday, and Ladson's is the only one with "Big Nasty." If I didn't know better, I'd think Ladson was using his position as the near-official but not-subject-to-the-approval-of-MLB-or-its-clubs voice of the Nationals to impose this bizarre nickname on the rest of us.

Working against that theory is the evidence that Patterson is apparently tired of looking like a baby deer and decided to spend the winter big nastifying himself.

Besides the ill-advised facial hair, there is some heartening news about our boy John.
Patterson was working on a changeup that was taught to him by pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
This has a chance to be something more than the usual Spring Training "I'm 100%!"/ "I'm finally in shape!"/ "I grew a beard that will make me look nasty on the mound!" nonsense. Take the whole Nationals front office and coaching staff: St. Claire is the only one of them who's proven himself to be worth a damn. His coaching made Hector Carrasco good and Livan great. If he can improve Patterson anywhere near as much as he improved Carrasco, we really will have a new ace.

10 comments:

Chris Needham said...

A little birdie told me that that's not Ladson's nickname; it's Patterson's. Apparently he gave it to himself, and has tried to get others to use it, with Ladson being the only one to take him up on it.

Ryan said...

That's even more pathetic. It does explain the beard pretty neatly.

Chris Needham said...

I was just impressed to see that he's tackling the problem head-on. Not only did he grow the menacing beard (Pete Vukovich would be intimidated), but he's put on some weight ~ 10 pounds.

By my calculations, that brings him up to 105 now.

Basil said...

three synoptic stories

Would this make Ladson Q? It would also make Boswell John, wouldn't it? That guy's way out there, in his own realm.

El Gran Color Naranja said...

Actually the last season of News Radio is more like building a team full of veterans to make a playoff run only to fall out of contention in August due to injury and have to sit through a month of meaningless baseball watching a team with no hopes for next year play out the string.

Spring Training is like if you're local affiliate announces they're going to start airing the Simpsons at 11:00 PM, but on the first day you realize that you're going to have to sit through the sit-commy heartfelt season 1 to get to the better later episodes. It's acceptable, it gets you back in the groove, but it's really just a placeholder until the good stuff gets here.

MissChatter said...

I actually sent a mailbag question in over the weekend asking if Ladson came up with the "Big Nasty" nickname and if anyone else uses it (or if Patterson has any other nicknames in the clubhouse). He must not like me because I don't get the nice emails after sending a question in and they don't get addressed in the articles either :-)

Chris Needham said...

That's weird. He's usually good (even fantatical!) about responding.

Maybe you need to write something negative about him in your blog. He's sure to respond then. ;)

Anonymous said...

Who's the birdie? I won't tell anybody.

Chris Needham said...

The birdie? Gunnar Peterson.

Ryan said...

Have you been watching Celebrity Fit Club?