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

Tygers

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

1,000!

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'?

Harper!

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

Patristic

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

Cazatalentos

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.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dingers!

I knew that Jorge Julio trade would pay off! But man, winning games is exhausting. That took forever. Some observations:
  • DUTCH! And that was off Billy Wagner, not some sucker-ass ex-Oriole. I'm trying to keep myself from getting too excited about Zimmerman. I mean, he's bound to hit a slump sometime, right? He's gone through college, Savannah, Harrisburg, the majors, Spring Training, and now the majors again without one, so that must mean he's due.
  • See how much easier it is to score with some dingers? This small-ball stuff is for suckers and last-place teams.
  • Guillen continues to pad his otherwise lackluster OBP by getting plunked all the time. Being universally loathed has its advantages, I guess.
  • It's tough to see our top two starters fail to contribute. We're not going to get bailed out by dingers too often, and we need to save that for when Ortiz or Armas is out there.
  • So Soriano got yanked for not running out a pop-up, huh? I wonder if that counts as SWAGGER. I also wonder how long Frank puts up with it. And then I wonder whose side Boz takes.
  • From getting no-hit in the fifth to scoring nine runs. There hasn't been anything that captured my interest like this since October.
Remember the Soriano play at the plate from Monday? That was some BS, huh? Don't worry, Tony Tavares is on the case.
"On a play like that, I think you should be able to appeal it," Nationals President Tony Tavares said Tuesday. "I think the most important thing is getting it right. I don't think it takes a long time. It takes a couple of minutes. Maybe you have like they do in football: A couple of times, you get to protest a call, but you limit it and the game keeps moving."
Naturally, I asked my main man William Blake what he had to say about the issue, and he fired back with yet another Proverb of Hell.

"The fox condemns the trap, not himself."

I need to correspond with long-dead writers more often. I bet H.P. Lovecraft would have some interesting stuff to say about Soriano.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bowden: "The Nats Suck"

Well, maybe he didn't say exactly that, but here's his prediction for the season:
The team will go as far as health and starting pitching will take it.
Confident! When a carnival barker like Bowden sounds as down as he does throughout this interview, you know things are bad.

Side note to the interview: one of my innumerable pet peeves is that thing that people do where they ask themselves a question so they can answer it, and Bodes just set a land speed record.
But am I disappointed that we played that poorly this spring? I am. Do I have a concern that good defensive players were playing poorly? Yes. Was I concerned that some of our players didn't get enough at-bats or innings because of the World Baseball Classic? Yes. Was I concerned that a reliever or two didn't perform like they were accustomed to? Yes.
Good lord, man, let Ladson ask the questions. He's not going to blindside you -- dude's a softball pitcher.

And Ladson pulls double duty, stepping to the plate to answer your questions. To sum up: they've given up on LeCroy catching, and Fick will probably be the back-up when he returns. Brendan Harris has good attitude, good bat, bad glove. Royce Clayton isn't a leadoff hitter. Some other stuff I don't care about. The first question gets the most interesting response.
It seems to me that the Nationals no longer want Ryan Church around, ever since he suffered the toe injury last year. Why don't the Nationals just trade him?
-- Vince, A, Denver

I think the Nationals want Church to be part of the organization. In fact, Church's No. 1 fan is general manager Jim Bowden.

I'm almost positive that I, for one, am a bigger fan of Ryan Church than Bowden is. I for instance, wouldn't have sent him to AAA based on 50 Spring Training at-bats. But if Bodes actually does like Church, there's another thing he and Frank are probably fighting about.

However, many in the organization have heard enough of Church's excuses, especially when it comes to his body.

For example, Church said he was rundown during Spring Training. People in the organization were stunned when they found out about that particular statement. The organization is hoping that Church will get mentally tougher in the Minor Leagues.

I'm actually not as eager to comment on this as you might think. Everyone calling Church a wuss is closer to the man than I am. But so is the Post's Dave Sheinin, who wrote this back in March:

The fact is, the crash into the wall in Pittsburgh left Church unable to get out of bed or even turn on the shower without assistance. If anything, he came back too soon, causing more problems later on. As for the pinkie toe -- suffice it to say that a broken pinkie toe earns someone no sympathy. But Church said he could not even put on a shoe, let alone play baseball.
You can't expect Church to say something like, "Yeah, I'm a total pantywaist. My mind's just not in the game, you know?" But Sheinin offers at least the possibility that when Church says he's too hurt to play he actually is.

And so what? What if Church is the slackingest, most apathetic milquetoast in the history of baseball? Maybe it means you don't commit to him after his arbitration years. Maybe you don't pencil him for 160 games, and maybe you don't hang out with him after work. But the guys running this team need to treat it like a professional sports team rather than a frat during rush. Church is a resource this team can't afford to waste. His lack of "mental toughness" didn't stop him from putting up on 819 OPS last year or winning Rookie of the Month in May. The fact that a bunch of tough jock bullcrap from Robinson or Schneider or whomever is keeping our best centerfielder from playing centerfield is as perfect an indictment of how this team is run as you can find.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day: Bias, A Meter, Swears

First off, two announcements. I'm going to have as many as two weekly columns over at Baseball Bias, so go check them out if you're left feeling empty and unsatisfied after your daily dose of Distinguished Senators. Or maybe, like, talk to a priest or something. Anyway, here's the first one. It's long. And register in the Baseball Bias forums, where you can talk to me -- live!

Meanwhile, I'm instituting a new feature here at DS. I was thinking about how no one on our team is going to lead the league in anything important and about how much I love ¡Livan!, and that's when I got the idea for the ¡Livanometer! Because if any National is going to lead the league in something, it'll be Livan and innings. The ¡Livanometer! will keep track of how many innings El Gran Cubano pitches as well as the total for the league leader. It's not off to a great start, but the longest, fattest journey begins with a single mediocre start.

On to the game! I didn't get to watch one single pitch of one single inning of this game. You know, the next time I see some tweed-wearing fruit-booty who gets all lit up on sepia-toned nostalgia and starts mewling about how there should be more day games for the purity of baseball, I'm going to crush the bridge of his nose with my forehead and scream, "I work for a living, motherfucker!" I hope by these actions to convince him that he shouldn't spend his sabbatical reading Bart Giamatti because it will give him wrong ideas about things. Then I'm going to peer around with a scary look on my face and blood trickling down my head and bellow, "Alright, now where's Costas?!"

As far as the actual game, there are two things to think about:
1) The Nationals are not very good.
2) The Nationals were not very good.
"Were not," in this case, refers to today, but I didn't want to ruin the symmetry of the two statements. Certainly, it looked like 2005 all over again: mediocre but acceptable starting pitching, good bullpen, powerless and ineffective offense, base running blunders. So, while it's hella stupid to start drawing conclusions from the events of one game, you can't help but get the feeling that we're settling into a familiar groove, much like Orioles fans must feel when the Birds slide smoothly into fourth place.

It may be worth noting that base running messed us up even though we're supposed to be improved in that department. But a bad driver doesn't become good when he gets a faster car; he merely becomes more efficient in injuring himself. I guess the driver in this soon-to-be-abandoned metaphor is Frank or whoever makes the actual decisions while Frank thinks about golf and Lakers tickets. Oh, and here's where I abandon the metaphor: it wasn't Soriano or Watson who blew it for us, it was Vidro. So, a bad driver doesn't become good when he gets a faster car but insists on driving the old one and getting thrown out at second. Shit, I don't know. I wasn't an English major, okay?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tonight's the night

Well, tomorrow afternoon's the night, as long as we agree that "the night" has taken on a new meaning, like "the occasion of the first Washington Nationals game of the year." It's ¡Livan! vs. Tom Glavine, and make sure you enjoy it. With our rotation, three out of five Nats games are going to be almost too depressing to think about, so we must treasure our time with Livan and the scrawny babyface who wants us to call him Big Nasty.

Actually, Pedro Astacio's injury has had the happy effect of making the Nats more watchable, at least from my perspective. It's more fun to root for young guys with potential than has-been vets running out the clock, and now we get Giant Jon Rauch instead of Astacio. It's not all beer and skittles, of course. Our depth is that much less . . . deep with Astacio gone, and Rauch isn't exactly Livanish as far as going deep into ballgames. But I'll be rooting hard for the Giant, not least because I have recently acquired a very rare Rauch rookie card from Japan, and a good performance from Rauch could up its value to the point that I could dig myself out of the hole I created by stocking up on Superfriends Christmas collectible plates. I swore those things were going to increase in value.

Translation: "Rauchu, Pitcher and Forever Tallness. Fight!"


UPDATE: Never mind!
In the meantime, right-hander Ryan Drese is expected to take Astacio's place in the rotation. Drese, who is on the disabled list, will pitch in a Minor League game on Monday and throw 75 pitches.
So everything I said at the beginning about being depressed 60% of the time is still true. And I'm never going to make any money on my rookie card.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Standards and Practices

Tavares finally gets something right. From teh Post:
In the wake of a humiliating 9-6 defeat by the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of the Battle of the Beltway, team president Tony Tavares has taken action, instituting a sweeping policy that will fundamentally change the way the Nationals go about their business.

"No more facial hair," Tavares said. "That's the rule." When pressed on the necessity of the rule, Tavares cited the irresponsibility of certain players. "No one minds a tasteful Ken Griffey Jr. moustache, but did you see us out there? Jon Rauch looks like a serial killer, Nick Johnson looks like Snidely Whiplash, and you'd swear John Patterson bought that beard off a high school sophomore."

Does Tavares worry about enacting such a harsh policy with new ownership on the way? "Let me tell you," Tavares responds, "there is no one thinking about buying this team who will mind this. Rod Beck and Larry the Cable Guy are not bidding."