Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lenny Harris for the Hall

David Ortiz says he's going to retire in about a year, so in the spirit of putting up Christmas decorations on November 1, it's time for Hall of Fame arguments.

I don't know if Ortiz should be in the Hall. Craig Calcaterra thinks he should be. He may well be right, but in mounting his argument he strung together some impressively illogical blithering about whether all of Ortiz' designated hittering should factor into it. I quote the entirety of the "The Designated Hitter Factor" section of his piece (except for the end).
He has played a mere 277 of his 2,257 career games in the field, spending the rest of his time as a designated hitter. 
The notion, however, that just because one has zero defensive value means one has no Hall of Fame case is silly.
No one is arguing that, right? Well, I'm sure you could find someone who refuses to consider DHs for the Hall, but this is certainly not engaging the real argument.

Baseball players' offensive output is graded on a curve. 300 home runs from a catcher means more than it does from a first baseman, right? Then it follows that those same dingers from a DH mean even less.
The DH has been part of the game for 43 seasons. It is not some novelty anymore.
OK. So? This is not an argument.
Relief pitchers are routinely inducted to the Hall of Fame now and they are specialists too. Many — specifically, one-inning closers — are the sorts of specialists that have only existed since the 1980s, really. If no one knocks them for not being all-around players no one should knock the DH.
Things that are different are different. Is this an argument that people should like the DH, or an argument that being a DH should have no bearing on a player's candidacy? Either way is dumb.
And the fact is that, with the possible exception of Edgar Martinez — who should be in the Hall of Fame in my view — David Ortiz has been the greatest (mostly) full-time DH in baseball history.
This is begging the question - "Ortiz is the best at something, so he's a HOFer." Being the best thing something - anything - is not a criterion for election. Being the best hitter or pitcher gets you in, sure. But it doesn't work for the best pinch hitter or defensive first baseman or third base coach.
It’s also the case that Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas would not likely have lasted long enough or produced enough as players to make the Hall of Fame without the aid of the DH as well.
Then it seems like the voters have already managed to factor designated hitting into Hall of Fame candidacies, huh?

What I suppose Calcaterra is doing is arguing against the ideological anti-DH case for keeping Ortiz out of the Hall. In doing so, he ignores more reasonable arguments, which I guess makes it a lot easier for him.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Six Year Itch

The theme of the Nationals' 2015 is nostalgia. The team celebrated the tenth anniversary of its arrival by embarrassing the hell out of us like it was 2009 all over again.

Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer ensure that we're no longer humiliated by every Nats headline, as was the case six years ago, but the ratio is nevertheless unfortunate, and it got worse as the year wore on.

Or rather, it's getting worse as the year wears on - our embarrassments didn't end on October 4, which prompted the Sports Bog to compile the Nats' ten most embarrassing moments.

The Natinals jerseys screwup is the funniest one. Papelbon choking Harper checks in at #1, but I'd put Smiley Gonzalez there. Lots of teams have public disagreements in the dugout; I think we're the only one that's lost a GM because the FBI was coming after him.

Rob Dibble's on there, but Tom Paciorek was worse. Dibble was kind of fun.
"Rob Dibble here reminding you to bring a lunch!"
A couple of my favorites didn't make the list. Remember when the Nats were ordered by the DC Fire Chief to stop setting off fireworks because some hot explosives landed on a guy?

And that guy was in fact the D.C. Fire Chief? 2009 really was a hell of a year.

That same year saw Washington Post Nats beat writer "Chico" Harlan throw an hilarious little prissfit about how he was too good for his job.

I wonder why the Sports Bog didn't mention that one.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Penny Wise

This managerial situation is amazing. The Lerners seem not to realize that talented people expect to be paid for their services, and thus have embarrassed the hell out of us all once again. I would agree to manage the Nats on a one year, $1.6 million contract. The problem is that no one who should be managing would accept that.

It has probably worked out for the best. Managerial performance is even harder to predict than it is analyze, but we may well be better off with Dusty Baker. With the exception of headline writers, of course, for whom being teased with Bud Black must have been very trying.

Even if everything's OK this time, you have wonder to what extent the Lerners' parsimony and lack of appreciation for the manager role has held this team back. They have never paid top dollar for a manager, relying on people either too new or too old to command big salaries.

Like Matt Williams.

Let's say, hypothetically, the Nats were the team that poached Joe Maddon away from the Rays. Williams gets the Rick Renteria treatment.  With Maddon installed and the Lerners millions of dollars poorer, things would have played out quite differently. Would Jayson Werth have spent his season undercutting the manger? Would one of the closers have sulked himself into uselessness? Would the other closer have tried to strangle the Bryce Harper?

Probably not, but that's why Joe Maddon costs five million dollars.

"Hey now, fellas. No choking in the dugout."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Uncle Blackie

Mike Rizzo has turned things over to his bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Mr. Black. For the last nine years he was manager of the San Diego Padres. Until they blew up.
There's a lot to like about this. For one thing, it shows that the Nationals are able to learn from their mistakes. Matt Williams was hired despite lacking any real experience because he interviewed well and was a Mike Rizzo crony from back in the day. Bud Black may have interviewed well, but neither of those other attributes is true of him.

I'm sure we're all going to enjoy how easy his name will make headline puns. You've got an evocative color AND a word that can mean friend or beer or marijuana. "Dank Bud Smokes Opposition." That kind of thing.

Plus he carries on the baseball tradition of dudes with last names that describe them inaccurately, like Cecil Fielder or Bill White or Mike Trout.

Is he a good manager? I don't know. Probably, right? People didn't seem to blame him for getting fired. I prefer to analyze these things in hindsight. It's much safer.

I may not be confident saying Bud Black is a good manager, but I'm sure he's an improvement.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Stable Condition

The Nationals fired Matt Williams, and the fact that the move was a year late doesn't mean it's not a good one.

Virgil points out that rumor is a monster, vast and terrible, fleet-winged and swift-footed, sister to Coeus and Enceladus, who for every feather on her body has as many watchful eyes below as many tongues speaking, as many listening ears.

Enceladus' sister is already providing us the with the names of possible replacements. Bud Black? Yeah, sure. Dave Martinez? OK. Cal Ripken? That's the stupidest damn thing I've ever heard.

I mean, the Nats just acknowledged that hiring a really good player with no managerial experience was a mistake. One has to hope that they're not going to follow up by hiring an even better player with even less experience.

Whoever they hire is going to have his work cut out for him. The Nats do have talent, but that talent comes with some issues. The main issue is that the guys playing for the Nats are weepy schmucks, at least one of whom isn't afraid to try to get his manager fired.

This stable may well be impossible for an outsider to clean out, and I'm going to suggest that they give that job to the man who filled it up.

Jayson Werth should manage the Nationals in 2016.

Just think of all the things that could go right!
  • Barry Svrluga said that Werth is insightful and thoughtful. That can't be enitrely because Werth spent all year giving Svrluga dirt about the team. Disregard for speed limits aside, Werth does seem smarter than the average ballplayer. He might be really good.
  • Major league manager is a full time job. Faced with the pressures of his new role, Werth might be tempted to give himself lots of time off.
  • It's pretty clear that the most difficult aspect of managing the Nationals is Jayson Werth. But if Werth is the manager, it becomes the easiest job in sports. Smooth sailing, Nats fans!

Friday, October 02, 2015


After a successful campaign, a Roman general could celebrate a triumph. He'd ride in a chariot through the city with his face painted red to make him look like a terra cotta statue. The crowd would cheer as they gazed upon the spoils of war, and the victorious soldiers would sing dirty songs about their leader.

At the end of the parade, the guy who lost the war would be ritually strangled. In the case of Vercingetorix, he had to wait around for five years between his surrender and the administration of the coup de grâce.

The Nationals have gone to New York, not with dirty songs and painted faces, but with the resignation of a Gaul who's killing time until it's killing time.
This happened a few weeks ago. We're just now getting around to the strangling.
I haven't been paying much attention the last couple of weeks. It's not that I've been especially busy or whatever. I just don't care. The Nats aren't playing for anything, and . . . well, I mean, do you like these guys? It dawned on me over the course of the season that I don't.

And that was even before Barry Svrluga set down the recriminations. It turns out that the Nats don't like the Nats any more than I do. It further turns out that I was right not to like these guys, since they're the most emotionally fragile pack of narcissists that ever failed. I always figured that you had to be mentally tough to make it to the majors, but the 2015 Nationals put that notion to bed.

Among other things:
  • Drew Storen responded to his demotion by melting down, sulking, and breaking his thumb.
  • Ian Desmond responded to his impending free agency by taking a run at Cristian Guzman's "Worst Nats Shortstop Ever" title.
  • The whole team got all weepy over the Tyler Clippard trade, got even weepier about the Papelbon trade, and was just generally weepy about other dudes' paychecks.
  • Jonathan Papelbon attempted to demonstrate what happened to Vercingetorix, using Bryce Harper as a stand-in.
  • Jayson Werth got a day off and responded by being the biggest jackass in history.
That last one gets a block quote:
Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: “When exactly do you think you lost this team?” 
The Werth contract was never going to end up being a net gain. It was too long, too much money, and everyone who didn't make that offer to Werth laughed at the team that did. Still, it was looking good for a while there. Werth put up some good numbers as the Nats became a contender. He followed this up by going to jail, getting hurt, being the worst player on a team that included 2015 Ian Desmond, anonymously bitching to the media, and showing up and undercutting his manager.

He's truly the face of the team.

This season isn't a failure entirely because the players are blubbering children. The Lerners decided to get cheap when it came to improving the team. The only move Mike Rizzo made was like taking your car in for a sweet new sound system and instead installing a car bomb. Matt Williams is possibly the worst manager since Ted Turner. Still, it's not clear that these crybabies deserved any better.

I'm not going to cheer the triumphant Mets, but I'm not going to be upset when they get done strangling the Nats either.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monkey Business

Drew Storen's 2015 has been a reminder to call no man happy until he is dead.

Everything was coming up Storen for the first half of the season. He had a pile of saves and a minuscule ERA. His team was cruising to a division title, which would afford him the opportunity to get the Playoff Monkey off his back.

After that, he could look forward to a nice raise in arbitration, another pile of saves, and then a big fat proven closer free agent contract.

But Fate or Whatever had other things in mind. Nemesis struck in the form of provener closer Jonathan Papelbon, whom the Nationals acquired on July 28. The thinking - it was good thinking and I liked it - was that having two closers would be better than having one.

This thinking proved to be flawed, since it failed to account for Storen completely losing it and metaphorically gouging out his eyes with his mother's jewelry. He couldn't pitch anymore. His ERA went up by five, which is a lot. He walked everyone and had as much to do as anyone with the damn Mets slamming a door in the Nats' faces.

It all ended with Storen picking and losing a fight with some locker room equipment. Thumb broken, Storen will not pitch again this year, and we've probably seen the end of his Nats tenure.

The story evokes pity and fear. Storen has a tragic flaw - the fact that his self confidence is as fragile as fine china - but he's not a bad person. He didn't do anything wrong other than pitch badly, and he didn't want to do that.

Behold this Storen, who pitched pretty good and was a man most mighty; what setup man did not gaze with envy on his fortunes? Behold into what a stormy sea of dread trouble he has come.

Therefore, while our eyes wait to see the destined final day, we must call no man happy who plays for the Nats, until he has hit free agency, free from pain.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


So, that's that. The Mets came back from a 7-1 deficit last night, ripped out the Nationals' spine, and strangled them with it. It was the final turning point of the season. The time for competing has ended; now it is time for recriminations.

I've made it clear how I feel about trying to impose a narrative on a baseball season, but I also understand how tempting it is. It's never been more tempting than last night. If this were a movie, the Nats' screen time would have ended yesterday. Big shootout, Mets win, Nats wind up falling into a lava pit or something.

But, while existence may be a computer simulation, it is definitely not a movie, and the season still has a few weeks to chug along before we can get on with our lives.

Which means the Nats are still in it! I mean, if you hadn't given up a couple weeks ago, why give up now? Momentum isn't real, no matter what that fig-loving fraud Isaac Newton tells you.

"Nah, they're done. According the principles of physics, I mean. #FireMatty."
The Nats could win tonight, Matt Williams could stop bunting, and Drew Storen could decide to stop it with the sulk-pitching.

Then they could win again and again, even as the Mets are destroyed from within by their own hubris and Scott Boras. It could happen. It's not much less likely than it was two weeks ago.

It's no comfort to me - I actually did give up a couple weeks ago. But I'm happy to humor the delusions of others.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

I Don't Know. Whatever.

"Bryce Harper Calls Out Nationals Fans"! Can you believe it?

You shouldn't because he didn't. A journalist asked him a question about the ambiance at Nationals Park. He responded honestly, and that gave all the writers an opportunity to shriek and jump and down and get lots of clicks because of all the delicious outrage. So congratulations to everyone involved - you're all credits to your profession.

“I mean, they left in the seventh, so that’s pretty brutal. I don’t know. Whatever.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me, and keep in mind that this was in response to a question. It's not like he called Mean Gene Okerlund over and started bellowing into his mic about fair-weather fans.

I particularly agree with the part where Harper said, "I don't know. Whatever." That's exactly right, because this whole thing is dumb. Are Nats fans not good at being fans? It's possible. But it doesn't matter.

Being a good fan has no moral dimension to it. "Good fan" and "good person" are not the same thing. They don't even overlap. If you want to leave the game in the seventh, go right ahead. Maybe you have something better to do. Maybe you're in right field melting into a sunburned puddle. The risk is that you will be looked down upon by people who think spending two hundred bucks on a jersey and being willing to overturn a car should the Nats win a World Series are indications of good character.

I can understand that Harper would prefer to play in front of an enthusiastic crowd. It's just that it doesn't matter. It's like Drew Storen's desire to close - we can't all get everything we want, and we can't concern ourselves with everything everyone else wants.

At the same time, it's silly to condemn Harper for stating a reasonable desire in such a mild, unassuming way. "What a punk!" cry the comments. And, yeah, Harper is a punk. It's just that this in no way a demonstration of that.

But all this is fiddling while Rome burns. The Nats blew it yesterday, as I'm sure you don't need me to tell you. Scherzer has been exhausted, and the bullpen's bad enough that, when combined with the acumen of Manager of the Year Matt Williams, there's no lead it can't blow.

Nero didn't really fiddle while Rome burned, they tell us. He performed a poem about the sack of Troy. I don't understand the objections to this. It was thematically appropriate, and what was he supposed to do? Run out there with a bucket?

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Natsiest

This is it, people. The final countdown. We're headed for Venus (Venus).

The Nationals just beat the ever-loving hell out of the Braves, and that's great. Curb-stomping the Braves is something I will never get tired of seeing. It hasn't been the hardest task lately, but when was the last time the Nats looked like a team that could do it? It might have been as long ago as June, when they actually did it.

So the Nats are heading into this series with the Mets in as good a shape as one could expect. The Mets, meanwhile, have become so Nats-like that I have to force myself not to like them. They just dropped two of three to the Marlins - that's something the Nats would do. They lost two games off their lead over the course of a weekend - sounds familiar. They're talking about shutting down one of their starters because of innings and ligaments and Scott Boras - well, it'd be nice for the Nats to have company when it comes to that kind of stupidity.

So we're hitting the Mets at their Natsiest. That's good, because they can send us to game over this very week if they get their crap together and the Nats regress to their second most recent state.

Europe Update: Europe actually put out an album this year. They're big in Sweden, I guess. Please enjoy the first single and title track, "War of Kings."

Friday, September 04, 2015

Knife Fights

See, here's why I don't get into knife fights.

Imagine you're in a knife fight. Your opponent is wearing his Chucks and high-water jeans, and you have your three-quarter sleeve white pimp jacket, as is customary.

But you're losing! You're all cut up, and there's so much blood on your knife that you can't keep a good grip on it.

Suddenly, the winning move occurs to you. I don't know what this would be since I don't get into knife fights, but maybe it's, like, a double reverse backhand knifestab preceded by saying, "HEY look over there!"

The problem is that you're in no condition to pull off this perfect move - you can't hold your knife and you're getting sleepy from blood loss (does that actually happen, or do I just get sleepy because giving blood is boring?). You figured it out, but too late.

The Nationals could be in a similar situation. Everything's coming together, as long as you define "everything" as "the batters."
  • Ryan Zimmerman is . . . well, you can't say he's back to normal, because he's not this good. 7 homers, 28 RBI, and a 942 OPS in August. His September OPS is 2121.
  • Jayson Werth is now batting leadoff, and in that position he's "slashing" 328/400/621. I'm skeptical that there's any causation there, but I'll take it. I mean, the man's paid his debt to society and maybe it's time to lay off him.
  • Anthony Rendon's maybe coming around. The trend line is upwards, at any rate.
  • Bryce Harper is walking more than Johnny Appleseed.
This is a different kind of good team than we expected, but it's looking pretty good regardless. It's the kind of team that can win a division.

But it's probably not the kind of team that can win a division in a month while spotting the Mets six games.

Knife Fight Bibliography:
  • Borges, Jorge Luis. (1962) "The South." Ficciones  Trans. Anthony Bonner. New York: Grove Press.
  • Herbert, Frank. (1965) Dune. Philadelphia, PA: Chilton Books.
  • Payne, Anthony (producer). (1983) Beat It [video]. United States; GASP.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I'm going to talk about the Orioles for a minute, since the only Nats news right now is about Bryce Harper's gluteus assimus, and this is a family-friendly space (but only recently - don't read the archives, kids).

I know most of you hate the O's, but I don't and neither does beloved mascot Professor Bacon. He likes them so much that sometimes he changes colors to Orioles orange and makes me call him Professor Old Baycon. He even squeals in a Hairspray accent.
"Feed me an apple from down'ere, hon."

Barry Svrluga wrote a really nifty piece in the Post about the O's playing out the string. The players, "displaying the kind of steadfast delusion only ballplayers can," are at least claiming they're still in it, but they're not.

And it's only going to get worse for Baltimore, since about half of these guys are free agents at the end of the season. It's too bad. I kinda like the O's, and I really like meaningful baseball programming on MASN.

A couple notes on our orange friends:

1. Ownership is still terrible. If you're in the AL East, this is the time to go for it. The Red Sox are lousy, and the Yankees are only pretty good. For the other denizens of the division, this is an opening. The Blue Jays realized this, so they upgraded in the offseason and then at the trade deadline acquired probably 10% of all the non-Nats players in baseball that I know the names of.

The Orioles, meanwhile, came off a 96 win season in a wide-open division and did . . . nothing. Well, not nothing. They got Travis Snyder, who, it turns out, didn't quite make up for losing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.

It's bad enough that Peter Angelos is evil; he's cheap, too.

2. Buck Showalter is really good at his job. I mean, yeah, it didn't work so much this year, but getting last year's team to 96 wins is an argument for sainthood.

It wasn't that strong a team to begin with, and then a hundred things went wrong. Chris Davis was terrible and then suspended. Manny Machado played half a season, and Matt Wieters played, like, 15% of one. The closer couldn't close.

Yet somehow he was able to get this ragtag bunch of misfits to a division title. Here's a man who knew just when to use Delmon Young, who got an 877 OPS out of Alejandro De Aza and 930 from Steve Pearce. When he realized Tommy Hunter couldn't close, he booted him out of there and tried one who could.

It didn't last. Delmon Young turned back into Delmon Young, and the number 3 starters became number 5 starters. That doesn't take anything from 2014, though. It was a heck of a managerial performance. You could even call it masterful.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Rub Some Dirt On It

Matt Williams lost the Nationals another one last night. The Nats' one deadline acquisition, Jonathon Papelbon, sat there watching as the bullpen did what the bullpen does.

The Papelbon trade turned out to be a "Gift of the Magi" situation. Williams sold his hair to buy Mike Rizzo a watch fob, and Rizzo got Williams a closer he's too stupid to use.

My question: What is the point of Matt Williams?

He's obviously not any good tactically. He has no idea when to pull a starter. He appears to believe that there's a rule preventing a designated closer from pitching in any but save situations. He thinks a defensive replacement is something that happens to other people. He clearly only learned what a double switch was a couple of weeks ago - he handles those things like your grandpa with an iPhone.

Does he make up for it in other ways?

FP Santangelo is a proponent of what I call the emotional school of baseball criticism. You hear it pretty much every game - if the Nats are losing, the solution is to become gritty. Get the uni dirty. Play as a team. Feed off each other like a plane-crashed soccer team.
This is the goal.
I'm not as opposed to this kind of thing as I'm making it sound. There's something to it; I don't doubt that a happy clubhouse leads to better performances than a miserable one or that good attitudes are more likely to produce good results. I'm not going to base any kind of argument around the concept because it's too wispy to hang anything on, but that doesn't mean it's completely imaginary.

But the fact that FP has to say it every day means that Matt Williams isn't making it happen. I can tolerate a bad tactical manager as long as he brings other things to the table. This isn't some kind of "I renounce sabermetrics!" thing either. If I recall correctly, that was the point of Bill James' manager book - the tactics add up to few games. It's being able to manage people that counts.

There's no reason to think Williams can do that. At least some of his players don't like him any more than we do. The team is embarrassingly bad at fundamental things like throwing a ball to first base. To the extent that there's such a thing as "playing with a sense of urgency," the Nats aren't doing it.

Other than using SAT words in radio interviews, is Matt Williams good at anything?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Did anyone think to tell the Nationals that they were allowed to acquire players right up through yesterday? I meant to, but you know how it is. I had to read The Golden Bough to prepare for a 300-word blog post, so I never got around to it.

But yeah, just perusing the old MLB Trade Rumors here, I see that the Royals got themselves a Jonny Gomes. I quote:
Gomes has still slashed a productive .247/.412/.466 against opposing southpaws.
Isn't it terrible the things baseball makes you write? Look at what he "slashed" against "southpaws." I understand - you can only write "hit" and "left-hander" so many times before you get desperate for alternatives. "Second-sacker." "Senior circuit." It's gruesome.

Anyway, I wonder if Gomes would have been useful. More useful than the last time he was here, at least.

And here we find out that the Giants grabbed Alejandro De Aza. I wonder how much he slashed.
The free agent-to-be has slashed .292/.347/.484 over 178 plate appearances since that trade.
Good slashing.

As a left-handed outfielder whose greatest strength is defense, De Aza wouldn't have been the most useful thing for the Nats (although he might have saved that game last night if anyone had thought to get the immobile jailbird out of the left after they took the lead), but there are a couple things to recommend him.
  1. If he came here and did well, that would be pretty embarrassing for the Orioles, who dropped him like he was Delmon Young. I know some of you are into embarrassing the O's.
  2. He looks like Trinidad's own Trevor Sayers, the genius behind "Stamina Man," the song that starts playing in my head every time I think about Craig Stammen. In a roundabout way, De Aza could have filled the hole Stammen left in our hearts, if not the hole he left in our bullpen.
I wake up in the morning and I pray pray pray for an excuse to post this.

Finally, the Cubs acquired Austin Jackson, and here's something the Nats could have used. Thanks to a series of grandfatherly health issues, Denard Span will not be coming back. Maybe ever.

So we're back to Babyhead Taylor playing every day, and I'm still against that. Austin Jackson may not have a gaudy slash line - not even against portsiders in the junior circuit - but he's an alternative.

Plus his name is reversible. It works just as well as "Jackson Austin," and that gives you flexibility.

August 31 was the last time it made sense to grab the Nats by their labels and yell "DO SOMETHING." They didn't do something, so the most we can hope for in terms of reinforcements is Tyler Moore.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Keep the Dog Far Hence

Sir James George Frazer posited that in pre-historic fertility cults, a sacred king representing the sun was ritually murdered to ensure a good harvest. It seems like a pretty disruptive way to organize your government, and it's probably not true anyway. Regardless, you have to wonder how the doomed king felt about all of this. Did he know?

The Nationals are in St. Louis this week for a series that could turn into the kind of ritual sacrifice that got TS Eliot so excited back in the day. Everything's perfectly set up for it:
  • The Nats are 5.5 back. 
  • Time may be slowing down, but it is still moving ahead and, from the Nats' perspective, running out. 
  • It's getting to be harvest time.
  • The Nats are the reigning kings of the National League East and thus representative of the sun.
  • The Cardinals are far, far better at baseball. 
It's the baseball equivalent of drugging the king, dressing him up like a stalk of wheat, and telling him to look over there while you prepare your stone axe for the mortal bonk. 

I'm guessing that's how they did it. I wasn't there.

Meanwhile, the Mets get to play the Phillies. The Nats get the best team on the road; the Mets get the worst team at home. You have to appreciate the symmetry.

My point is that if you haven't yet given up on the Nats, you might not have any choice by the time these series conclude. They have squandered a comfortable-seeming lead and spent enough time staggering around like a recently-bonked king that merely playing well isn't going to make any difference.

To paraphrase the last thing Anne Bonny ever said to her pirate boyfriend, had the Nats fought like men, they needn't have been hang'd like dogs.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A True Story

I'm finding this all very tedious. The Nationals are 6.5 half games behind the Mets; 10 games out of the wild card. They win some; they lose some. The poor bastards who have to write about this team every day force themselves to find narratives after every game, but your narrative is only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher.

It is - let's face it - unlikely that the Nats are going to make the playoffs. MLB's official odds put the chance at less than one in ten. Not impossible, but nothing more than a Padres or an Orioles fan can expect. Watching Nats games is thus less compelling than it used to be. As much as Carpenter and FP will deny it, we're just biding our time until the mathematicians say it's over.
Key: The Nats are the one that sucks.

I'm going to tell you a true story here. I had an outbreak of gnats in my house. There's no need to panic - the source has been identified, and crafty traps have been lain. It's just a matter of time before the last one perishes.

That's how I spend my evenings now: Waiting for the gnats to die.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Minnie Churl

I checked to see if everything still sucks, and it does.

Is it churlish to be unhappy with merely winning a series rather than sweeping it? Maybe. I don't know. I'm comfortable with my churlishness. Call me Churlie Hustle. Churl Haggard. Churles the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.

What's going to happen now is that the damn Mets are going to stroll into Coors Field like they own the place, and then will proceed to own the place.

The Nationals, meanwhile, seem likely to take one of three at home from the Brewers.

If I sound pessimistic, it's only because everything sucks, up to and including my favorite baseball team.

It sounds like Ichiro is going to return to the Marlins next year.

That led me to reflect on how it sure seems like Ichiro is terrible now except when he's playing the Nats. I was relieved to discover that the statistics back up my impression.

Ichiro is hitting .262 overall, .245 against not the Nats, and a pretty impressive .394 against Washington.

So here's to the Nats for geting us closer to lots of discussions about whether Ichiro has more hits than Pete Rose. The answer to that question, by the way, is and will continue to be "No."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some Stats

I was looking up some stats for some random players that don't have anything in common. It's one of the things I do to pass the time until the Nationals' season ends on October 4.

Gerardo Parra in August: 295/348/492, three homers, 130 OPS+

Yoenis Cespedes in August: 292/313/462, two homers, 111 OPS+

Ben Zobrist in August: 383/500/638, three homers, 12 walks, 213 OPS+

Michael Taylor in August: 230/266/361, 1 homer, twenty damn strikeouts, 72 OPS+

Leadoff hitter Jayson Werth in August: 125(!)/200(!)/229(!), 1 homer, 19 OPS+(!!!!!!!)

Jonathan Papelbon in August: Five innings

Monday, August 17, 2015

Like a Duck

That could hardly have gone worse. Everyone was terrible; everything is terrible. We get a day off before the Nationals head east to resume the Rockiest-style ass-kicking that started a few series ago.

I don't think my mind has come to terms with the likelihood that the Nats are going to miss the playoffs. I'm just kind of dazed. Like William Rosecrans after Chickamauga, I'm stunned and confused like a duck hit on the head.
Current worried status: DEFCON Rosecrans. "This way to 80 wins, boys!"
If the Nats are similarly stunned and confused, they're hiding it by trying to sound as blasé as they were at the trade deadline. "We got 'em right where we want 'em" seems to be the attitude.

That kind of thing can be reassuring, I guess, if your cult is being investigated by the IRS or CPS or whatever and you want to be reassured that your leadership has everything in hand. In this case, though, it smacks of laziness and indifference. It's like Frank Robinson's back.

So our favorite team is about to be a laughing stock, and I think that's what bothering me the most. I'm not looking forward to the 2015 Nats being mentioned along with the 1964 Phillies and 2007 Mets. People are going to be laughing at us for this wreck of a season. Forever.

You know what Medea did when she thought everyone was going to laugh at her? She killed her kids and a couple other people and then bailed in a flying dragon chariot. Whatever the baseball fan equivalent of that is, I'm getting there.
Thinking about it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Big Difference

My experiment in quantum baseball physics was a failure. I didn't watch one single pitch of that series, but nevertheless the Nationals are 3.5 games behind the Mets. I feel like it's below my station even to look at the Wild Card standings, but the Nats are 6.5 games away from baseball's very worst kinda-sorta playoff spot.

I'm just going to copy and paste myself, because it sure sounds like that series turned out the same as the last time the Nats faced the Dodgers.
The narrative seems to be that the Nats ran into a "gauntlet of aces," so who can blame them for losing? The Dodgers threw reigning MVP Clayton Kershaw, unpleasant weirdo Zack Greinke, and even Mike Bolsinger at us - we should be happy we won one of them! 
Which, I mean, yeah, it's tough to hit Kershaw and Greinke, just as it's tough to watch Kershaw's Subway commercial or (I'm guessing) have a conversation with Greinke. 
But what do we think is going to happen when we get to the playoffs? Hitting tough pitchers is how you win a World Series, dammit. The opposition isn't going to be running Jerome Williams out there in October.  
If you can't score runs off good pitchers, you lose. My evidence for this is the 2014 postseason, in which the Nationals couldn't even score runs off the remains of Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, and they lost.
So this series loss is not something to brush off as bad starting rotation timing. The playoffs are nothing but bad timing. They don't let the Bolsingers pitch in October; you have to hit the good ones.
Change "Mike" to "Brett" and "Bolsinger" to "Anderson," and everything I wrote back in July is still true.

The big difference between then and now is that on July 21, I more or less assumed that the Nats were going to have a chance to play badly in the postseason.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Shrödinger's Nats

Legendary physicist Erwin Shrödinger didn't get HBO, so he had to wait to watch Game of Thrones until it came out on DVD. You'd find him in his lab at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies with his hands clamped over his ears, yelling "No spoilers!" while his colleagues discussed events.
That's Austrian for "When is season 5 coming out?"
Shrödinger realized that, because of quantum something or other, as long as he hadn't seen what happened on Game of Thrones, it hadn't actually happened. I know it doesn't make sense, but this is all according to physics.

This has been illustrated with a helpful parable about doing terrible things to a cat. We're against that kind of thing here at Distinguished Senators, so we went with the HBO thing.

The same principle applies to baseball games that start so late there's no way you're going to watch them. Let's face it - the Nationals are very likely to lose ground this week. But - and once again, this is physics talking - if I don't watch it and don't look at the results the next morning, it never happened.

You know how when you're a kid and there are monsters under your bed, they can't get you if you pull the covers over your head and don't whatever you do look at them? That's what I'm doing this week.

If you care about the Nats, don't tell me what happens.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Worry status update: I am now this worried.
Does this look more worried than the last one? Let's just say it does.
The Rockies were lousy even before they exiled their best player to Canada. They were able to win fully two-thirds of this weekend's games despite having been defanged at the trade deadline.

Really, though, they didn't beat the Nats. They just beat up on Drew Storen. I'm surprised to find out that that's actually making me feel a little bit better.

Even if you put those losses entirely on Storen - which is fine by me - there's plenty to worry about.

Denard Span might not play again this year. Like someone following the instructions of Archie Bell and the Drells, Span's back has tightened up.

This is a real problem, since one of the places the Nats could have expected to improve was center field. Yes, we all love Michael Taylor, but he's not getting it done.

The other day Dan Kolko was relating a conversation he'd had with Matt Williams: Given that Span has tightened up now and we're slated for more Taylor than we'd expected, did Williams want to see Taylor do anything differently?

No, of course not, we are told Williams said. Don't change a thing. As this happened, Taylor's stats appeared in the background, complete with a .280-something on-base percentage.

So, there's nothing you'd like to Taylor do better? Not even one thing? Maybe there was a misunderstanding and he thought Kolko was asking him about Mike Trout.

I'm also worried about Max Scherzer. Daniel Descalso is as perfect a candidate for the Doug's Dingers program as there is, and there's Scherzer stepping in there and scherzing one up for him.

I mean, he hasn't thrown a no-hitter in weeks.

I went and saw The Church last night. Distinguished Senators contributor Steven Kilbey tried to make us all feel better during "Metropolis."

Don't say nothing good will ever come of this
Don't say the damage is worse than it is

I get that, Steve. There's a long way to go. But you can't expect a room full of people who just watched their team lost two of three to the damn Rockies to look on the bright side.

It's like he didn't even know!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Dead Pledge

This is what four months of charity gets you? They sent Doug Fister to the bullpen.

I don't get it. If Fister's pitching badly enough that you don't want him in the rotation, why do you want him in the bullpen? That's not what a bullpen is for.

This isn't the 1950s. You don't just use dudes who aren't good enough to start in relief. Fister wasn't struggling because because he was running out of gas; he was struggling because his sinker didn't sink. He usually doesn't stay in the game long enough to run out of gas.

He's exactly the kind of pitcher who is not going to thrive as a reliever.

The bright side is that Joe Ross is staying in the rotation. I'm a big fan. Joe Ross strikes out everyone and doesn't give a damn about their feelings. Based on his performance so far, the Nats have already won the Steven Sousa trade.

This being the Nats, even the bright side has a dark side. It sure sounds like Nats management, not having learned the most obvious lesson of the team's last four years, is going to put Ross on some kind of cretin innings limit and make him stop pitching.
Using the 25-30 percent concept as a guideline, Ross’ cap could be somewhere around 153 innings (a 25 percent increase) and 159 innings (a 30 percent increase). And if Ross is averaging about 6.5 innings per start so far in the majors, he could have about five (conservative) to seven starts left in the season. In other words, about the rest of the month.
Yeah yeah developing pitchers young arms blah blah blah whatever. Are you people trying to win? This season is what matters. Maybe you don't mortgage everything to go for it this year, but mortgage something. If this means pushing Joe Ross to the point that he has a 2% higher chance of blowing out his arm in three years, do it.

This isn't the time to play the long game. It's time for the short game. Work on your putting. We're in minigolf territory here. Watch out for the windmill.

So what exactly is the argument against starting Clint Robinson in left field against righties? Well, what's an argument that doesn't include "veteran" or "$21 million" or "I'm afraid Jayson's going to come after me with a shiv made of pressed-together newspaper and prison oatmeal."
Or a sock and an Altoids tin

Thursday, August 06, 2015


This isn't happening against top men. The Diamondbacks aren't any good. Jarrod Saltalamacchia ("jump the stain"?), who wasn't good enough to play for the Marlins, is clowning the Nationals.

But not as much as they're clowning themselves. You win championships by doing the little things. There is no littler thing than throwing the ball to first base. It's baseball's quantum. Aaron Barrett couldn't seem to handle it, though.

Other little things include not issuing a walk when the bases are loaded (they did that one twice) and not getting outpitched by Tyler Moore.

I've had this feeling for a while now that the Nats are doomed once the playoffs start because they're shoddy at fundamentals and have a manager who's always thinking three moves behind.

I'm not so concerned about that anymore, because now I don't think they'll make the playoffs at all.
I am this worried.
The Mets are two games ahead, they're about to play a bunch of patsies, and they seem to be propelled by Destiny, who is an idiot.

The Nats are two games behind, they can't beat also-rans at home, and they refuse to tell Jayson Werth to sit down and not play baseball.

Today I was reduced to checking if the Nats would at least get a Wild Card berth.

They're three and a half games out.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Why exactly is Ian Desmond playing every day?

The Nationals' roster construction philosophy appears to be built around a variation of the first line of the Hippocratic Oath. Instead of "First do no harm," it's "First don't hurt anyone's feelings (except for Drew Storen's)."

You can't replayce Jayson Werth - that would be insulting. You can't sit Ian Desmond no matter how terrible he's been. Feelings, man.

Perhaps the Nats would be surprised to learn that neither "First do no harm" nor "First don't hurt anyone's feelings (except for Drew Storen's)" is actually in the Hippocratic Oath. I learned that about a minute and half ago, and I still haven't recovered from the shock.

If Hippocrates didn't say it, maybe it's not a good principle for running a baseball team.

Hippocrates: "Don't blame me for this garbage, bro."
You don't need me to tell you that Ian Desmond has not been a contributor this year. He's hitting like Jayson Werth, and he's fielding like Jayson Werth. A list of possible shortstops who would be doing less than Desmond to sabotage 2015 includes:
  1. Jason Martinson
  2. Miguel Tejada
  3. Trea Turner
  4. Cristian Guzman
  5. Yunel Escobar
  6. Danny Espinosa
Espinosa's the most obvious option, but why he's not playing is anything but obvious. He has one (1) plate appearance since the Pirates series at the end of July. Why do you pinch hit with Werth (56 OPS+) when Espinosa (101 OPS+) is sitting there on the bench trying to remember what playing baseball is like?

Sure, Espinosa's not a real shortstop, and sure, his beard starts, like, right under his eyeballs, but neither of those should be enough to keep him out of the lineup like this. Put him at second, Escobar at short, and Rendon at third. Or just leave him at short and see what happens. The Nats are getting F-minus production from short; Espinosa can maybe get that up to a C.

I don't know - is it really just about Desmond's feelings? Everyone seems to like him; maybe the Nats are worried about a mutiny if Desi gets dissed, and the Werth situation shows that they are afraid to make a grown man cry by sitting him.

Or maybe they think Desmond's the best option. That's even worse.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

First Loser

Why are all these terrible things happening to me? I try to be a good person. Like halfwit LA rackets kingpin Mickey Cohen, I have killed no men that in the first place didn't deserve killing.
The example I try to live up to.

You're not always rewarded for doing the right thing. Mickey Cohen went to prison and got brained with a lead pipe. And here I am looking at the blue, orange, and undeserving hindquarters of the New York Mets.
The Nationals' view

Matt Williams put in another masterpiece of bad managing last night. Doug Fister went into a frenzy of charity, anointing three new Doug's Dudes. (Honestly, that homer to Nick Ahmed is probably worthy of a whole Doug's Dingers post, but I'm all out of jokes about that.) After five, Fister was clearly done, but Williams sent him out to hit anyway. I don't know why Williams hates taking pitchers out of the game, but he's awfully reluctant to do it even when everyone knows it needs to be done. Cf. Joe Ross on Saturday.

Still, a good manager wouldn't have won that game. Even if you take out Doug Fister at the exact right time (i.e., while he's warming up), you don't win if you don't score.

I'm starting to think that acquiring a closer who never gets to close didn't solve all the Nats' problems.

Meanwhile, Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Nats should have at least attempted to get, drove in four runs as the Mets - who seem to be some kind of idiot team of idiot destiny - romped all over the Marlins.

Monday, August 03, 2015

At Least

I said the Nationals didn't have enough offense, and they don't.

I said Matt Williams was going to bumble them out of any chance of winning anything, and I was right.

Jeff Passan goes in hella hard on Williams here.
The reigning NL Manager of the Year hasn't acquitted himself as much of a tactician in his year and a half on the job, and his performance over the weekend did nothing to sway his reputation otherwise. It was bad enough that two unnecessary intentional walks backfired Saturday. Parking Storen and Papelbon in the bullpen for the entire series showed a troublesome adherence to standard principles more open-minded managers long ago ignored.
It's funny - Williams comes off so well when you hear him talk. He seems competent, and he uses really big words, especially for a major league manager. I think I heard him say "obstreperous" in a pregame interview once.

I'm sure that's how he got the job. Mike Rizzo already liked him, and I bet he aced the interview. "Sure, he's never managed before, but he was a really good player, and he said 'ebullient'! And 'abjure'! He even used them correctly. As far as I know."

But it's one thing to sound like a smartypants fancy lad when Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler and lobbing softballs at you; it's quite another thing to run a baseball team successfully.

Williams can't do it, and it's too bad, and we're pretty much screwed. Even if the Nats do recover from this weekend's disaster and win the division - which is more likely than not - he's going to run into a much better manager in the playoffs and get styled on.

If the Nats don't make the playoffs, at least he's fired, right?

Thursday, July 30, 2015


The Tigers have given up, and that could be good news for the Nationals. They might be convinced to disgorge a Cuban for us.

I wanted Aroldis Chapman, but we got Jonathan Papelbon. That's fine, really. But while Papelbon solves one of the problems I wanted, I still have a hankering for:
  • Outfield help
  • A Cuban with an inexplicable first name
Well looky here - the Tigers just put Yoenis Cespedes on the block.

This has even less of a chance of happening than the Chapman thing. I mean, you can't disrespect a veteran like Jayson by acquiring someone who plays his position but way better than he does. It's not about winning the World Series; it's about respect.

Speaking of respect, Drew Storen is all pissed off because he's not closer anymore.

I'm not going to make fun of him. Of course he's angry. I would be too, were I in his position. No one blames Storen for wanting to be the closer.

But look, human society is, like, a huge unwieldy pile of every individual's preferences, and they're not all going to fit together. All these things need to be balanced against one another. No one gets everything he wants; some desires, as reasonable as they may be, can't be fulfilled.

Drew Storen's problem doesn't matter to anyone but Drew Storen. It is impossible to care.

Sorry, dude. Except that I'm not sorry. I can't even care that much. Just keep your head down and do your job and you'll get your eight million or whatever dollars next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Well look at that, the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon. Ain't that something?

This doesn't matter even a little bit, but man do I wish it had been someone else. I've always disliked Papelbon. Remember when the hacks who get to call World Series were trying to convince us that when he got ready to throw a pitch, he looked intimidating? Every damn pitch, the camera would give us an unnecessarily close close up and Joe Buck would have to blather something about his terrifying stare. I mean, World Series broadcasters are basically conduits between Fox's corporate sponsors and you, the viewer, but this was shameless even for them. It would take a better shill than Buck to convince anyone that he looks like anything other than the kind of 12 year old who tortures insects.
Oh my goodness I am so intimidated. Who's a big scary man? Who's the big scary man? Is it you? Yes it is!
That said, he's definitely good at pitching. I thought the Nats were going to sit still, but they went out and fixed the third-biggest problem they had. I'm impressed. This transaction wasn't free either, and I'm not talking about the AA pitcher the Nats gave up. This is costing some Lerners some money. Thanks, guys!

It'll be interesting to see who actually closes. Wait, that's not true. Who cares? As long as they both keep their mouths shut - and that could be a problem with Papelbon - it doesn't matter. Especially if the manager has the experience and savvy to figure out the best matchups and . . . oh, right. We don't have one of those, and you can't really trade for one.

The narrative from this point is that all the problems are solved. We got a reliever on the same day Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman came back, so now we're perfect.

This outlook requires a rosier opinion of our ancient position players than I can muster, but I'll settle for one problem being solved.

[Mets] relief pitcher Jenrry [sic] Mejia has been suspended 162 games for a second positive performance-enhancing drug test, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.
Hahahahahah get rekt you idiots! You should have known he was on drugs when he told you how to spell his first name.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Hey there, baseball fans. Doug Fister from your Washington Nationals here with an update on the Doug's Dingers program.

You know, there are a lot of charities out there, and they're not all equal. You've heard the stories about so-called charitable groups that keep all the money for themselves and don't get anything done. That's hard to forgive - I don't even think making The Score makes up for it!

You don't have to worry about that with Doug's Dingers, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Doug's Dingers gets results!

Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson were toiling in obscurity, which is to say Atlanta. Everyone had forgotten about Uribe, and people thought Johnson was a chick. I know I did!

But look what happened - two patented Doug's Dingers later, and suddenly both of my dudes get acquired by the Mets. Now they have something to play for, and that's what I call results.

People thought I was crazy to intentionally give up home runs to players who weren't very good. Or at least unethical. But when I see the faces of these Doug's Dudes when they get the good news that, thanks in part to me grooving a fastball right down the middle to them, they're back in the playoff hunt - well that, makes it all worth it.

Speaking of those Mets, they just picked up my old buddy Tyler Clippard. They're really going for it up there, huh? Makes me wish I could give up a homer to myself!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Untitled #674

From time to time, we've been joined here at Distinguished Senators by outside commentators. This isn't just a space for my lovable voice and insightful insights. We've been enlightened here by William Blake, who told us about Screech. By Origen, who possibly overrated Ryan Church a little bit. And even by Doug Fister, who's been kind enough to keep us up to date on his charity work.

Today we're joined by Steve Kilbey of the Church, who perfectly sums up the Nationals' current predicament.

The enemy seeks our dissolution
All he needs is a little push

The Mets are making that push. They're losing slightly less often than the Nats are. They made a move, acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson (both Doug's Dudes!). Uribe already won a game for them. They're not done, either: They're trying to get an outfielder - possibly an Upton.

The Nationals, meanwhile? Nah. We're fine, thanks.

Maybe you saw the rumor about Jonathon Papelbon. That's not going to happen. But if you heard about it, that means there's a possibility that you might think that they're not just standing pat. They are.

Nats GM Mike Rizzo did a radio interview last week and dropped some hints that he's not doing a damn thing. "We will certainly be looking but I don't know how active we'll be."

Don't just do something - stand there!

"There's no trade I could make that could be as good as the guys we're getting back [from the DL]."

He can't actually believe that, right? Yeah, getting Rendon back is good news, but are we still trying to convince ourselves that getting Werth and Zimmerman back changes anything other than the specific reasons that the lineup sucks?

The Nats aren't quite good enough, the man in charge of fixing that doesn't seem to realize it's true.

Where are they now? 
  • Steve Kilbey and the Church will be appearing at the Fillmore in Silver Spring along with the Psychedelic Furs on Sunday, August 9th. Tickets are available
  • Origen and William Blake are still dead. 
  • Doug Fister will probably have a blog post up tomorrow.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Here's an awkward question: Are we bad fans?

By "we," I mean "y'all." "All y'all," to be less specific. Not me - I'm definitely a bad fan. One of the worst. I only go to games when there's a Livan-related trinket available.

The evidence that Nats fans are bad at being Nats fans is mounting. Sure, it's all circumstantial, but we're not looking at whether the fan base is going to prison, only whether it has bragging rights over Cincinnati or Phoenix or wherever. The burden of proof on this one is light as a feather.

We call it the fan base to make it seem bigger, by the way. You don't want to call and say the fan is going to be there. We put "base" on the end of it.

Some blog intended to help the SEO of a site that's trying to sell you after-market tickets put together a hell of scientific study about fan base enthusiasm, factoring in attendance and ticket price and even diseases of the modern age like Facebook and Twitter engagement.

It's the .48 that gets me. You can't round up.
We're terrible at this stuff! Are you doing your part? Make sure to follow @Nationals on Twitter with both the real account with your name on it AND the one with the funny pseudonym you use to troll desperate semi-celebrities.

Then there was this story about TV ratings. Ratings for baseball are pretty great everywhere, and the good news is that around here they're well up from back when they were under nine thousaaaaaaaaand.

The bad news is, on a per capita ratings-type basis, we're getting outdrawn by damn near everyone. Even Baltimore! Have you seen what they're doing up there? Playing in an empty ballpark, Steve Pearce at second base, running out of Hawaiian shirts before I got there - it's been a complete debacle.

It looks a little better as a counting stat rather than a rate stat - 67,000 butts in their own seats per game - but still. We're 19th out of 30.

The attendance is actually pretty good. After a pretty rough start (2005: 8th out of 16) and rougher middle (2010: 14th out of 16), we're up to 4th. We're number four!

Based on the available facts, I conclude that Nats are not terrible at being Nats fans. Rather, they are rational actors who respond to incentives and whatever you call the opposite of incentives.

If you offer them Shake Shack and Livan bobblehead dolls, they go to the game. If you offer them Bob Carpenter, they switch over to Ancient Aliens.

PS Make sure to check this out, where Wm. Yurasko makes a pretty convincing case that Aroldis Chapman would be only the third-greatest Cuban in Nats history. He also has a line about Chapman's fastball vis-à-vis Jayson Werth's reckless and imprisonable disregard for all living things that I wish I'd thought of and which I now cannot rip off since I've made it clear that I know about it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


That was a close one. We were a baby's head's breadth away from disaster.

If it weren't for Michael A. Taylor, a man with the body of a man and the head of a baby's head, driving in a couple runs in the 8th and then stealing second and scoring another one, we'd be in real trouble: headed to Pittsburgh to face a superior team while only one game ahead of the damn Mets, who refuse to acknowledge the Nationals as their betters and stop trying.
Note how his hand is too big for his head. Because it is a baby's head. The head of a baby.
Thanks to Taylor, we're living in some kind of Elysian Shangri-La-Ass Utopia: headed to Pittsburgh to face a superior team while two games ahead of the damn Mets.

So things could be better, and my prescription hasn't changed. We need some offense. We need Aroldis Chapman. We need to set up a GoKickMe so we can afford Aroldis Chapman.

We'll see what happens. I'm just going to sit here pushing myself back into the sofa cushions as I watch my nightmares come true.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Charoldis Fund

On Monday I laid out a mathematical case that the Nationals should acquire Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. The math included numbers such as "101," "103," and even "106." Those numbers are irrefutable.

The counter-argument contains some much larger numbers, such as "176 million" and "210 million." This argument consists of the Nationals payroll and the money promised to Max Scherzer to induce him to throw his no-hitters for Washington.

The counter-argument is not being made publicly, but unfortunately it's being made by the only people whose opinion matters - the pack of Lerners that signs the checks.

It was revealed last month that the Lerners think they've spent quite enough on this team, and any mid-season improvements are going to have be more or less free, which means they more or less aren't going to happen.
The Nationals’ owners, despite being among the wealthiest in the sport, are reluctant to add payroll in the middle of a season, according to major-league sources.
So that's that.

Or is it?

We're living in the future, and while we don't have flying cars or colonies on Mars or double ties, we do have crowdfunding. If you can get a whole bunch of people to pitch in a few bucks apiece, pretty soon you have Chapman money.

This futuristic method of fleecing suckers has already accomplished so much. Among other things, a whole bunch of people pitching in a few dollars apiece have:

1. Saved the Icelandic goats, evidently the stars of an episode of Game of Thrones, from non-dragon-related extinction.
2. Sent apparent musician Amanda Palmer a million dollars so she could make a record and pay musicians in hugs.
3. Allowed Who's Your Caddy? executive producer Chris Roberts to escape his high-flying Hollywood career so he could follow his dream of making Wing Commander again but this time spending $80 million dollars to do it.
These are the winners in the new crowd-funded economy. One of them throws a hundred miles an hour, one of them is a goat, and the other two robbed drama club kids and nerds.
I'm very nearly serious about this. What if the Nationals made it known that, gee, we almost have a trade worked out for a high impact player who can put us over the top, but we need just a little more money. Click here to donate and make it happen!

Are there rules against this? I'm sure they aren't allowed to mention the specifics of what you'd be paying for. They probably couldn't even do something crafty like using pseudonyms - you know, "Charoldis Apman" or whatever.

That, however, can be solved very neatly by leaking information to friendly writers. "Sources say the Nats are close to acquring a reliever whose name rhymes with 'Chardolis Apman'" - that's the whole reason Ken Rosenthal exists.

It's not like shame would hold them back. They're willing to charge damn near 300 dollars (American!) for an Ian Desmond jersey. Setting up a GoKickMe or whatever to raise bullpen money is far less objectionable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Even Bolsinger

The Nationals lost two of three to the Dodgers over the weekend, and it has me worried.

I saw about half of those three games on Saturday. There's nothing I love more than a single admission one-and-a-half-header, so after the lights went out on Friday I made sure to get myself a seat in the very hottest part of the stadium, rendering me a deep mahogany color. Blog game George Hamilton.

The narrative seems to be that the Nats ran into a "gauntlet of aces," so who can blame them for losing? The Dodgers threw reigning MVP Clayton Kershaw, unpleasant weirdo Zack Greinke, and even Mike Bolsinger at us - we should be happy we won one of them!

Which, I mean, yeah, it's tough to hit Kershaw and Greinke, just as it's tough to watch Kershaw's Subway commercial or (I'm guessing) have a conversation with Greinke.
I. Like. To. Eat. A. Sandwich. With. A. Steady. Diet. Of. Fastballs. Oh God I'm so lonely
But what do we think is going to happen when we get to the playoffs? Hitting tough pitchers is how you win a World Series, dammit. The opposition isn't going to be running Jerome Williams out there in October.

If you can't score runs off good pitchers, you lose. My evidence for this is the 2014 postseason, in which the Nationals couldn't even score runs off the remains of Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, and they lost.

So this series loss is not something to brush off as bad starting rotation timing. The playoffs are nothing but bad timing. They don't let the Bolsingers pitch in October; you have to hit the good ones.

This winds up being a happy corollary to my Aroldis Chapman longings. As I baked in the right field sun, I was musing on how odd it was that the Nats were starting Clint Robinson against Kershaw. I don't mean to pick on Robinson, really. He's a great story! And he's producing, which is more than you can say for some of the jockjaws on this team. Of all the people who have ever played baseball, he's definitely one of the twenty best who are currently on Washington's active roster. He's a glittering gem of a baseball professional.

But you have to think that any manager - even Matt Williams! - would rather not play Robinson, who is a marginal major leaguer who bats left-handed, against Kershaw, who is the best left-handed pitcher, no matter how dry and clinical his Subway commercials come off.

I can't even blame Williams for this one, though. The only other option in left was Matt den Dekker, who also bats lefty. Personally, I would have given den Dekker the start in the second game on Saturday, since about 40 minutes previously he'd won the first game of the day by den Dekking one into the upper den Dekk, but whatever. Williams had no choice but to pencil in a marginal lefty hitter against Kershaw.

The Reds aren't selling only pitchers. Remember Marlon Byrd? He hits right-handed, he's making more money than the Reds want to spend, and he was a National as recently as 2006. All of that screams "throw-in in a Chapman trade" to me.

Ten years ago, he saved us from starting Endy Chavez every day. He can save us again.

Seriously, a Robinson/Byrd platoon in left field every day goes a long way toward solving Priority Number One for the low cost of about three million dollars. It ain't my money.
Artist's conception of what it would look like if Marlon Byrd played for the Nats again. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Chapman" Means "Peddler." "Aroldis" Doesn't Mean Anything.

The Reds have given up, and that could be good news for the Nationals. It won't them from stop beating the hell out of the Nats all the time, but they might be convinced to disgorge a Cuban for us.

They've made it clear that they wish to be done paying Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but we don't need either of them. We got so many starters. Joe Ross isn't in AAA if he's in an organization that needs starters.

What we need is Cincinnati's slow-walking, smooth-talking, triple-digit-fastball-throwing closer, Mr. Aroldis Chapman.
The important thing here is the numbers on the left. They all start with a 1 and have three digits.
I know what you're saying - We have a closer! Drew Storen isn't the kind of guy you trust to close a game you really, really care about, but he's a proven closer.

I'm totally with you on that. The bullpen is, in my opinion and why would I have anything other than my opinion on this here blog, this team's third-highest priority.

Priority number one is offensive production from left field/first base. We're hamstrung here because Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are 1. Going to come back sooner or later and 2. Have too much seniority to replace.

Do you remember when they called up Zimmerman and made him play shortstop because they didn't want to insult Vinny Fricking Castilla? It's been ten years, and I'm still holding a grudge. It's not the same people making the decisions these days, but some of the ideas linger. They're not going to make Werth park his jailbird ass on the bench just because they have someone who can hit to play left. Therefore, what point is there in acquiring someone who can hit to play left?

Priority number two won't be addressed because it would be really weird to fire a manager at this point in the season, even if he's Matt Williams. I think even I might be against it. Tony La Russa isn't walking through that door.

So that leaves us with priority number three: the bullpen, and that's why I want Aroldis Chapman to become the second-greatest Cuban in the history of the Washington Nationals.

You can work around having two closers. Let them take turns. Get the platoon advantage. Tell Storen to deal with it because the other guy is way better. Just do it. I don't care what it costs.

I ask the Nationals: Do you want a World Series, or do you want us to think you want a World Series?
Wouldn't it be nice to see this at Nationals Park? Feed your bullpen. Feed it.