Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Pataphysics of Love

Love! Amore! Ove-lay! It's the most lovingest day of the year, or so I've been told, and so today I'm writing a mash to note to my beloved Washington Nationals. When I say "Nationals," I'm referring specifically to the 2007 edition. Nothing about how blogging about the Nats rescued me from a life full of free time or how me and my pappy, just off the boat from the Old Country, used to bond over Expos games at Alfred Jarry Park. I'm saving all that for my ruthlessly plagiarized, defiantly fictional memoirs. How do I love the Nats? Let me count the ways.

1. The Nationals play baseball. And I love baseball, ergo I love the Nats. It's the most romantic logic thingy ever. I'm fairly desperate at this point, which helps, and not just in baseball either. I watched as much of that Caribbean Series as I could, and that thing was awful.

2. The Nationals are going to be terrible. I'm kind of looking forward to that, both as a fan and as a blogger. Obviously, I'd like them to be good, but if they're not, they might as well set some records and give me something to write about. It'll be more fun following a 100-loss team like Washington than an 85-loss team like Baltimore. I'm also enjoying the unanimity: fans, journalists, Vegas, the front office -- no one's pretending we have a chance.

And beyond wins and losses, there things to look forward to. I can't think of any besides Zimmerman, but I'm all blissed out on chocolate and cupids and not thinking very clearly.

3. The Nationals are going to be on TV. This came close to ruining the season for me last year, and I'm pretty sure I saw more Nats content in September -- once I started getting MASN -- than I did the rest of the season combined. And now there's no Paciorek, so that's just a bonus.

4. The Nationals are a lot more likeable this year. I didn't like Frank Robinson. He was lousy at his job, didn't care, and acted as though baseball owed him a living. Tomo Ohka agrees with me on this, and he's a millionaire. I didn't like Jose Guillen, either. He was pretty good at his job except when he was tearing apart a clubhouse with some imagined grievance, backed up by the apologists he managed to attract to himself through a heady combination of personal charm and being good at sports. I lack both of those attributes, so this bothered me perhaps more than it should have.

And now they're both gone! The fact that I don't hate Manny Acta even though he's declared himself willing to fill out a lineup card featuring Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman is a testament to his charisma. Meanwhile, the corner outfielders stepping for Guillen don't seem to have any personality at all, an unmistakeable improvement.

5. The Nationals might not be terrible forever. As upset as I was about my favorite team being on TV maybe once a week, what really broke me last year was Jim Bowden's contract extension. I knew the Nats weren't much when they got here. I knew they were even less than that the second go-round. But I clung to the hope that once real ownership was installed, things would get better. I gave up on that once it seemed the new regime wasn't any more competent than the old.

But I was wrong. Since the Lerner/Kasten takeover, Bodes has been a downright good general manager. I may not agree with the parts of the Plan that involve the steadfast refusal to have any starting pitching, but I do -- for the first time ever -- have some confidence in the long-term outlook of this franchise. And that trumps all the other reasons I had.

Special thanks to the Acme Heartmaker for thematically appropriate artwork.

9 comments:

Sam said...

See now, I knew the link to a pitcher saying his arm didn't hurt had to be a ruse.

Couldn't be the Nats.

NatsNation said...

The hearts were a cool touch for V-day. Great idea.

El Gran Color Naranja said...

How dare you say the Caribbean Series was awful! Why just signed the MVP!

Nats rool?

Anonymous said...

Not liking FRank Robinson is one thing, but saying he didn't care, was bad at his job and acted like baseball owed him a living is a ridiculous joke. I guess 05 when they were in 1st place for half a year was him not being good at his job? Didn't care? How about the guy spent 2 season as manager of a team splitting time between the road, canadia and puerto rico. Yep, he must have just been along for the frequent flyer miles. I guess he didn't care when he almost fought Mike Scioscia. Or when he got the homerun called back against, I think, the Braves. Maybe you didn't like the man and how he managed, but please, try to have some respect for the man who has spent 50 years of his life in baseball, retiring as the 3rd greatest homerun hitter of all time. Unbelievable!

Chris Needham said...

Can you respect him as a Hall of Fame player, but think he's a crapbag manager?

Ryan said...

Anonymous: Needham pretty said what I'm going to, but in a more timely and succint manner, which is the pattern for pretty much everything we're both involved in.

Frank's accomplishments as a player are impressive but irrelevant.

I don't know that there's a lot of debate over whether Frank was a good manager. The more inside information that gets out, the worse he looks. Remember that awesome rant Tavares went on when he didn't think Frank would be back?

Whether Frank was a diligent manager is a more open question, I suppose. I didn't see a lot of enthusiasm from the guy. We know he fell asleep in the dugout in Montreal, and I seem to remember at least a suspicion of him doing it here.

As far as respect, well, I don't think hitting 586 homeruns is a moral act. Mismanaging my favorite team is, at best, morally neutral. I just don't think much of the guy.

Anonymous said...

Frank Robinson's accomplishments as a player are absolutely relevant. Not just the homeruns, but everything he did. Those accomplishments got him into the Hall of Fame. Frank Robinson commanded the respect of his players b/c of those accomplishments when he played--they knew who he was and what he had done. He knows what he is talking about. He knows the intricacies of the game. He spent his life playing this game. Frank may not have been a people person, but the players played hard for him and knew what kind of effort he expected every night. I credit Frank Robinson with that miraculous 05. He was the manager under mlb during the absolute worst times and guided your, apparently, favorite club to a good year....great under the circumstances.

Dude, you put I hate Frank on a little candy heart. He's a Hall of Famer. Not classy at all, san diego.

Ryan said...

We disagree on who gets the credit for 2005, which is fine. Giving it to Frank seems like a post hoc ergo propter hoc to me, but my attribution of most of the credit to the capricious Dumb F. Luck probably strikes most people as an unsatisfying cop-out.

I don't think Frank had the respect of most of his players, at least not here. Certainly not the pitchers. He did a great job with Guillen and Soriano, for which I gave him his due.

As for the candy heart, they only give you 8 spaces on those things, so they don't lend themselves to in-depth analysis. And there was no way I was going to get through that post without using "H8." I love that one.

Anonymous said...

Frank's skills as a player are irrelevant to his abilty as a manager. I submit he demonstrated his ability to manage. He played and coached under Earl Weaver. He won Manager of the Year. His Expo and Nats teams in particular overachieved. When you look at the players MLB stripmined from the Expos (V Guerrero, J Vazquez, G Sizemore, not to mention Jose Reyes) the talent pool was pretty bare when they got here, but they were in first at the halfway point. Either he was a cause, or they achieved that in spite of his ability. But if it was in spite of his ability, then you can't turn around and say they LOST because of him. He made a lot of aggressive moves, particularly pinchhitting, that worked more often than not, and he made some moves I questioned -- like walking Delgado to pitch to D Wright with runner on -- that worked out. I personally think the animosity shown towards Frank was based on the fact that he is old and black. The black part is verboten to verbalize, but the old part is often alluded to (he did fall asleep in MTL, but I never saw him do that in DC). Being black evidently is enough of a sin to merit banishment in Lernerland -- remember, that was the group with the fewest blacks, and what major black front office hires have they made since they got the team? As a black man, I personally am tired of giving Lernasten the benefit of the doubt -- any regime that fires Frank BUT KEEPS BOWDEN cannot be taken seriously -- so I've given up the 160 seats I used to buy. But I can't wait for this season, just to see how creative certain parties will be in absolving Manny Asta for the team's certain failings.