Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Italics

The Washington Examiner came wrapped in a Nats ad this morning. I usually pay it no more mind than I do the Epoch Times or the Washington Blade or any other of the free newspapers or sub-newspapers that beg for my commuting attention, but I grabbed it today.

It was nothing but an ad - I had hoped for some Nats content to distract me from my Wodehouse, but nothing doing. Still, ads can be instructive. Let's see what the team is dangling out there as lures to pull in the pigeons.

Front page: Zimmerman throwing, racing presidents, an utterly indifferent peroxide blonde in a short skirt and a warmup jacket clapping with all the enthusiasm of a Lerner signing a check. Seriously, I cannot overemphasize how bored this woman looks.

Inside: some gremlin-looking kid holding a sign demanding a curley [sic] W for its 9th birthday, Screech prancing, a Los Nacionales t-shirt you get for going on Friday, and Adam Dunn bearing a bat and that stubble that makes him look like a hood from a 1930s cartoon strip.

Well if that doesn't make you want to get your red and make it your pastime and change your mailing address to Natstown, USA, then nothing will! I mean, that blonde looks very nearly almost interested! It's good enough for me, at least - I'll be there tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's a day too soon for me to get a Los Nacionales t-shirt, but I'll still get to see Albert Pujols beat the infierno out of our culos.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Count It Up

I wrote something about pitch counts, particularly as they relate to Stephen Strasburg. Are links not showing up for you? They just look like normal text? I have complained about that.

I was thinking about this, in an ill-formed kind of way: is there an analogue in any other sport to pitchers' arm injuries? Is there a body part that routinely fails just as a result of an athlete doing his job? I guess soccer players have a lot of leg problems, but that seems to be from people regularly diving cleat-first into them. Plus they're faking half the time.

I don't know. Concussions in boxing, maybe? That's from getting hit, but that's half the job description. Do beach volleyball players get really bad sunburns? Do mixed martial artists start getting a little too used to having a sweaty man in combat panties on top of them? I don't know. Just thinking out loud here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Phrenology

Did you ever notice that when the Nats make any kind of splash among the general baseball fan population, it's for something bad? Of course you have. Well it happened again recently, when Sports Illustrated's Tim Marchman put up something that's practically indistinguishable from my last ten or so posts, except for the lack of swears and kitten pictures.

Here's the difference, though: look at Tim Marchman.

That's a face bent on finding censure. Stern, unforgiving. Now look at me (I'm below the poop arm).

Note the pronounced joviality, the willingness to assume the very best, the comforting beigeness of the hair.

What this means is that when Marchman finds something to complain about, you can more or less dismiss it. It's like a positive review of Thunderbird from a wino. When I, on the other hand, find fault, it's an occasion to sit up and take notice. I'm not going to complain about just anything, as it obviously goes against my cheerful manner.

Therefore, you should all go check out my extended critique of the statues of the Elder Gods they plopped down in front of the ballpark. It features my own exclusive photography, endless use of the inherently amusing word "poop," and a full, uncensored look at that cheery face of mine.

Even better, go here, where all instances of my joy-bringing grin have been collected, and take your pick. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel about everything. Well, until someone hits a fly ball to a National. My mug isn't that powerful a painkiller.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dirge

Well, that was just awful. Just completely, thoroughly, unjokeaboutably awful. Joking about that game would be like cracking wise at a funeral.

Speaking of which, I think it's time for a Manny Acta Getting Shitcanned Watch. Whether or not it's his fault, this team cannot catch baseballs, and it's gotten so bad that every announcer we've got (with the intermittent exception of Sunny Bob Carpenter) is all but calling for Manny's head. If this keeps up ("this" meaning "not just losing but playing like our shoelaces are tied together"), it's going to happen soon.

One thing about Bob Carpenter: when Elijah Dukes avoided that fly ball in center like it was a court order, allowing two runs to score and shattering Daniel Cabrera's porcelain self-confidence, this was the exchange in the booth, more or less. (WARNING: I went ahead and wrote out all the swears that Dibble was thinking but didn't say because he's a broadcast professional.)
Dukes dodged that fly ball like it was a court order! Two runs score!
Oh for fuck's sake! What the ballsack is going on here?
Yeah, that was pretty bad. BUT DAVID WRIGHT IS ONLY ON SECOND BASE!
I mean, why can't any of these dumb motherfuckers catch a fucking ball? Or hit a batter in the head, for that matter.
DAVID WRIGHT SHOULD BE ON THIRD BASE! WHY DOES HE NOT HUSTLE?
Yeah, whatever. Catch the ball, dipshits. This isn't fucking Mario Bros. You don't lose a life if it touches you.
DAVID WRIGHT IS THE SUCKIEST SUCK THAT EVER SUCKED!

It wasn't that Sunny Bob ignored the mistake. He briefly acknowledged it and then moved on to more homer-friendly topics. Dibble is growing on me precisely because he doesn't want to sweep that kind of stuff under the rug - he's just as mad as you are.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Solution

I watched the whole game last night, and at the end of it, I was pleased. "I say, old man," I said to myself, realizing as I did so that I'd been reading P.G. Wodehouse again, "that was a diverting three hours. Time to polish off the last fourth of this fifth and totter off to bed." Obedient as ever to the instructions of my internal monologue, I did so.

I slept the innocent, dreamless sleep of a baseball fan who'd seen a fine pitching duel, a closely-contested 1-0 contest that pushed both teams to their limits. Both sides, I was sure, had walked away with their moral fiber more fibrous and with a healthy respect for their foes.

But that's drunk talk. I woke up to face several unpleasant realities: it felt as though I had been entrusted with the safe-keeping of an unusually valuable wad of cotton balls and had kept them safe from burglars in my mouth; work (damn the concept!) meant that I couldn't resort to my usual practice of staying in bed and crying meekly for Wendy's; and, worst of all, the Nationals walked in the winning run.

What kind of pitching duel ends like that? This wasn't the well-struck dinger or the crafty squeeze bunt - this was rank incompetence. There's nothing more humiliating - baseball-wise - than walking in a run.

The tightly-played, narrowly-won pitching duel is one of baseball's sweetest delights and most time-honored treasures. And the Nats screwed it up, as they screw up everything: trades, free agency, statues of legendary players, jerseys, drafting, the Dominican Republic, text messaging, giving the game situation on radio broadcasts, hitting coaching, everything.

At least I figured out a remedy, based on my 24-hour mood swing: DRINK. Drink and never let yourself sober up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unstengelian

So I was reading Chico Harlan's latest chat on the Washington Post site. I always check those things out since Harlan's embarrassment is palpable, and I really like the way embarrassment feels. It's warm and kind of spongy, and it leaves your hands smelling a bit like tar.

There was some discussion of Manny Acta's handling of Jordan Zimmermann during the young fellow's unwatched debut. With two men on in the sixth, and with Zimmmermannn having thrown just 72 pitches, Acta pinch hit for him - which was a good idea - with Alex Cintron - which was not. The issue was addressed in the chat.
Alexandria, Va.: Why is Cintron the go-to pinch hitter with Kearns and Willingham on the bench? Cintron repeatedly got the nod in the big spots over the weekend and last night. And he delivered like you'd expect a backup utility middle infielder.

Chico Harlan (mood: embarrassed): It was the sixth inning. It's OK to save your better pinch hitters for the latter innings. (Willingham, by the way, was starting LF last night, but Kearns was indeed available to PH.) But there's no problem is using a guy like Cintron in that spot. Plus, I believe Lowe was still pitching at the time. Kearns is 2-for-17 lifetime against DL.
This is utter tactical nonsense, right? The point of pinch-hitting in that situation is to blow the game open; to make it, as "Chico" himself mentioned earlier in the chat, 5-2 rather than 3-2. If it works, you won't need your better pinch hitters later, and it's a lot more likely to work with Kearns than with Cintron. But I don't need to explain this to you - "It's OK to save your better pinch hitters" is obviously moronic and requires no commentary. These aren't the higher Stengelian functions we're dealing with.

But why am I making fun of the sportswriter who defended the bad move rather than the manager who made it, other than to make fun of the sportswriter for hating his job? I guess it's because I don't want to see Acta fired just yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Steel

The "Natinals" incident has taught something about myself: I am steel. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that a fan of a better team would be pretty upset about that, or at least amused. I am neither. It is as nothing. Years of constant humiliation have made me immune, and I'm betting you're the same way.

Yes, dear reader, embarrassment to us is like water off a duck's back. Our team makes headlines only for metaphorically peeing itself in front of the whole class? Well to us that's like a blown save to Joel Hanrahan or fatherhood to Elijah Dukes - not a big deal, happens every day.

So . . . I got to admit: I don't have a big finish here. I just wrote this so I could make that Dukes joke. I think it was worth it. There is a thing that I wrote, by the way.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photo Dump, Featuring Kitten

I ambled down to Nationals Park on Saturday to make it my pastime and get my red on and whatnot, and you could not have asked for a better day. As long as you ignore the on the field happenings, of course. I was favorably impressed: the staff was almost too friendly, the place is quite nice when it's only half full, it was a pretty good game for eight innings.

One of my reasons for making a stop in Natstown was to get some personal, non-copyrighted photos of those horrendous, seemingly poo-covered statues they've just added. I did that, but I did not let my photo-taking rest with that mission accomplished. Please enjoy the sights of the first half hour of a day at the ballpark.
I'm not a huge fan of the park from an aesthetic standpoint (I'm even less of one from an ascetic standpoint), but this is pretty cool.
The sweet sounds of the Obscure Nationals Jazz Ensemble! I don't know who these guys are, but they made some interesting jersey selections. Which is more likely: 1) They did this on purpose, just as I would have done, as a gag? or 2) The Nats just gave them some jerseys they found in a crate in the basement? I wonder if the guitarist knows that Levale Speigner's a golem.
Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday! I don't know how they do their job with yokels like me this close to them. Shortly after this, Knight stood for the entirety of the national anthem, which I thought was nice.
Unattended snacks!
The ceremonial first pitch, delivered by a guy from IHOP. Probably because of his ground-breaking work in the field of hash browns.
Portait of the Artist as a Young Man Standing in Front of Walter Johnson who has Poop Shooting from his Shoulder Socket.
American, 2009
Artist: Ryan Moore, b. 1977
And here's the ferocious kitten who guards both my towels and my gin. I pay her in kind, but she's not interested in the gin.

PS. I wrote a thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Those Are Some Dumb Flute-Players

I think I'm going to the game on Saturday - I'll be the guy in the pink Nats cap with his head in his hands. But there's point in mentioning that, since I'm probably going to be only person there. Right? I'm also going to get some pictures of those nightmare statues, which must have been designed by Nyarlathotep, accompanied by the piping of two amorphous idiot flute-players.

See, that right there is why I like the Internet: all the info you need about Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, is right there on Wikipedia.

Incidentally, I wrote a thing. It's a thing full of delightful nostalgia, and you're sure to enjoy it. Have a couple drinks first just to make sure, though.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your BREWPUB Has Evolved Into DISTILLERY

Do you like beer? Go to Denver! As I was strolling the ten blocks from my parking space to Coors Field, every third building was a brewpub. And, based on my limited sampling, a damn good brewpub. There was a even a distillery in there, which I like to think evolved Pokemon-style from a particularly accomplished brewery.

Like this pretty much, except replace "ABRA" with "brewpub" and "KADABRA" with "distillery."

Here's my report from the Rockies home opener: It's just like going to Camden Yard except that things that would be orange in Baltimore are purple. And there's more beer. There you go.

Anyway, I return to find that the Nationals are just awful. But I've reserved that kind of content for over here, where you should go right now. Also, I notice that no one gave me a suggestion on what to call my pieces over there. Don't feel too guilty, though, because it's not too late. Come on, people - I obviously can't come with a name. Help a brother out.

Is "Friends of the Nationals Zoo" too long? Too stupid? Will people not understand the learned allusion and think that I'm referring to the Yankees or Ol' Dirty Bastard? Give til it hurts, dear readers.

Right, so the Nats are lousy. But that is an ephemeral concern. The true Nats fan has his eyes on the future, on the generations to come. Maybe we're terrible now, but we're leaving a foundation for posterity, just as our Founding Fathers shot at Englishmen so we wouldn't have to put up with the Queen's bullshit.

Let's have a look at our latest contribution to the embiggening of baseball in the nation's capital.

WHAT IN THE FUCKING FUCK IS THAT?! I'll have more on this later - see the previous sentence for a preview.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Apologies

It's the second game of the season, and Rob Dibble is already apologizing for being repetitive before he talks about throwing at heads again. I guess we should congratulate him for his self awareness.

Others who should apologize:
  • Lastings Milledge for fielding his position about as well as he raps.
  • The Marlins for kicking the shit out of us in such a predictable, unimaginative fashion.
Holy crap, did you see the ump eat it on that pitch right down the middle to Kearns? Even Homeboy Bob Carpenter was outraged.

Oh, and speaking of which, is Carpenter completely full of crap on those homers to left field being mere flyballs elsewhere? Or not?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Game Notes

This is going to be one of approximately ten games over the course of the season that I'm going to be around for the end of, so I'm really paying attention. Starting . . . now! I missed the first three innings.

I LOVE the new road jerseys. I wonder why the Nats and the Orioles decided at the same time to do that right.

I'm good luck: I tuned in just in time for Guzman's single, and now we have a couple runs.

I'm enjoying the emerging narrative around Julian Tavarez: that he's a total dick who throws at people just because he can, but he's our total dick who throws at people just because he can.

Over on MASN1, Sabathia just got booed by a de facto home crowd.

And now I'm not good luck anymore.

I knew Bonifacio would turn out to be a player. Dammit. Lastings Milledge in center is going to be fun. Anyone miss Brandon Watson?

Josh Bard to went to frigging Cherry Creek High School? I have a new least favorite Nat. Fuck Cherry Creek. Smoky Hill 4 Life.

Rob Dibble is going to spend 162 games (plus spring training) advocating chin music, isn't he? I'm not saying he's wrong, but mix it up a little.

This rad, danceable simile just came to me: I miss Don Sutton . . . like the deserts miss the rain.

They probably should have gotten Nolasco out of there. Just sayin'.

It doesn't matter that he's a completely run of the mill hitter: Zimmerman's in there for his defense.

The first Dibble comment I liked, on Bonifacio: "He's hitting 1.000 right now. In two weeks he'll be hitting .220."

So it's gonna be like that, is it? Well get used to Hanley doing that to us, if you aren't already.

OK, so my wife is sitting here playing with a cat and not paying particular attention to the game. I present a transcription:
Bob Carpenter: "And at the end of the seventh, the Nats are down 12-5."
Wife: *SNORT*
Wife: "Sorry."
Cat: "Meow."

And finally, in case you were wondering when the Future was finally going to get here, wait no more. Here is a video of this very post performed by me in a butcher's apron, with commentary by my biggest fan, Australian Ben Franklin. I'm not kidding when I say: this is the best thing on this miserable blog since I called Dayn Perry an asshole.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Tonight's the night

Well, tomorrow's the afternoon, but whatever. This is going to the best one yet! I can feel it.

Seriously, though, it very well could be the best season since the first one (over/under on how long it'll take the Nats to break .500? Anyone?). While that's not a particularly high bar to leap, anything north of "watchable" will be a mood-changing improvement.

To see my mind-blowing official prediction, you'll have to go here.