Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lucky Number

That's how it's supposed to go: They are a bad team, and we are a good team.

The Braves gave up on this season before it started (right before it started). They're the Philadelphia Phillies of baseball.

Thus they are exactly the kind of team - and as someone paying attention in the 90s, this is still amazing to me - that you have to stomp all over if you want to win a little flag at the end of the year.

And the Nats did. And that's good. And Jordan Zimmermann's good-but-not-great pitching performance combined with his three-RBI day at the plate . . . well, he's like some kind of grim-faced, normal-shaped Livan.

For whom there's still time to vote, by the way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Leders of Men

I wrote the lede on the way to the ballpark last night, let me tell you. I had some less than cheery things to say when the Nats where down 10-2. Some of it was pretty good, but the Nats won so I couldn't use it, and now it's lost in time like tears in rain. I want more life, Uggla.

My favorite part was when I called the Nats a stupid crappy team of crappy stupids.

So yeah, how about that comeback? That's not something a stupid crappy team of crappy stupids would do! You'd have to be a real pessimist to notice that it took a whole week's worth of offense to edge past a pretty lousy team. And I'm not one of those people, so let's focus on the bright side:
  1. That A.J. Cole fit right in, didn't he?
  2. We won!
  3. No more Reed Johnson.
  4. We have not lost two-thirds of our games. We were really close there.
  5. This might be all the sporting event color commentary I've listened to talking, but a win like this means something, Carp. These guys are going to go out there and they're going to know that the other guys will pick them up and they're playing as a team and they have momentum and good defense is contagious. Sports commentators tend to believe in magic, but what if magic is real? In which case I guess you spell it magick or something? I don't know. If you own a statue of a dragon curled around a crystal ball, please let me know the conventions on this.
Meanwhile, just up the road the piece, the Orioles are looking to build some heat for their little-anticipated and much-delayed series with the White Sox by booking an empty arena match. Are they still going to do the crab shuffle? Will we hear reggaeton bouncing off the empty seats every time an O's infielder comes to bat?

Regardless, my prediction is that it ends with Adam Jones lowering a forklift onto Chris Sale.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Looking Up

This is just going to keep happening, huh? Last night's Orioles game was more entertaining.

It wasn't free, either. We used to have two guys who were hitting, but Andrelton Simmons took care of Yunel Escobar, so we're down to one, and we're looking up at the Phillies.

So I guess we're just going to have to wait for tonight for the season to turn around. See you then.

"One second there, hoss. Before we wrap up, I want to introduce you all to the newest Doug's Dude.

Doug's Dingers is expanding its efforts to help guys who have chick names. Take a bow, Kelly Johnson!"

"Thanks for the dinger, Doug! So you guys have pretty much given up on catching the Mets at this point, huh?"

"Ha ha! You bet, Kelly. We're just terrible."

Monday, April 27, 2015


Where do you start with this nonsense? This weekend was the perfect opportunity to make up for past mistakes. Did you see the pitching the Marlins were rolling out against us? It was too much for us.

Mat Latos has been a disaster this year, but the Nats managed to knock three full runs off his ERA.

At least you'd heard of Latos. Tom "I Could Have Put Any Name Here and You Wouldn't Know the Difference" Koehler was sporting a 6.75 before he faced the Nats' Attempted Murderers' Row. Now he's at 4.50 - that's good enough for an All Star spot in the late 90s.

We actually adjusted Dan Haren up a little bit, but leaving Haren with a sub-4 ERA isn't something a good team does.

It was all very typical. No one hit, and no one played defense. I saw a bit of the postgame show on Saturday, and Ray Knight was furious. Johnny Holliday is a pro's pro, but I could sense some discomfort from the other side of the desk. "Do I hit the button?" he wondered, assuming there's some kind of "go to commercial in case Ray Knight melts down" button.

Knight was pointing out that the hitters weren't making any adjustments; just going up there and having the same crappy at bats over and over. That sure sounds like a coaching problem, and it sure sounds like we should kill an admiral.

Ray Knight's pissed, Stephen Strasburg's pissed, and I'm pissed. I just checked to see if we have a game tonight, and I was actually disappointed that we do. I need a day off. I thought this was supposed to be fun.

Last place. Tied with the Phillies.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Put a Byng on Him

The narrative of Thursday's game is emerging as I type this, and so far the shape it's taking is "Nats Fail to Capitalize with Men on Base."

That's true, but my takeaway is "None of These Dudes Can Catch a Ball or Throw a Ball or Do One Damn Thing Right."

It seems that each Nat thinks each of his teammates is eight feet tall. "I don't need to catch that ball - one of my eight foot teammates will lay out and get it!"

Or, "No time to lose! I have to throw this here baseball to second base! Based on how tall this fellow Washington National is, it should be safe to get it about seven feet in the air. There's no way Mark Reynolds will scamper home after this!"

So that was terrible, and Max Scherzer has to be wondering what he got himself into, and I think it's time to fire Matt Williams.

This team looks like it skipped spring training, and while Williams probably isn't 100% responsible for that, he's closer to three digits of responsibility than anyone else.

Maybe it won't help, but maybe it will. Sometimes you have to kill an admiral pour encourager les autres, you know what I'm saying?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Doug's Dingers

The Cardinals had no difficulty with Doug Fister last night. Imagine my surprise when Doug himself stopped by to share some exciting news with us, news that partially explains last night's game.

"Hi, Nats fans. This is Doug Fister from your Washington Nationals. I've always thought it was important to give back to the community and to give back to the game. That's why I've started Doug's Dingers, a charity dedicated to providing home runs to the tragically underdingered.

It's easy to forget about the tiny infielders who field our ground balls and carry our luggage onto the charter, but they're just as important to baseball as anyone! Doug's Dingers is all about recognizing the little guys. It can be something as small as remembering their names or as big as grooving one for them in the first inning.

But enough from me! Let's hear from the real heroes. I call them Doug's Dudes."

"Hi everyone! This is Kolten Wong! From Hawaii! I really can't hit at all, but thanks to Doug's Dingers, I have a home run!

Hello big arbitration award and goodbye to sleeping in a drawer at Matt Holliday's house!

Thanks, Doug!"

"Ha ha! No problem, Kolten. Any time.

Kolten Wong is exactly the kind of heartbreakingly underpowered ballplayer we're trying to help here at Doug's Dingers.

Let's hear from another Doug's Dude, Matt Carpenter. How have I helped you, lil' fella?"

"What? I mean, for one thing, I'm 6'3". Plus I'm awesome at baseball. What kind of charity is this?"

"Come on, Matt! Tell the people how thanks to Doug's Dingers, you no longer have to tell groupies that you're Chris Carpenter's little brother."

"Or Bob Carpenter's."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Last night (and maybe you saw this) Ian Desmond strode to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. It was a tie game thanks to a blown save as predictable as a sunrise.

A single would win the game. So would a fly ball to the outfield, a balk, a walk, a wild pitch, a passed ball, a forfeit by the Cardinals, an error, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting.

The important thing is that Desmond needed to get the ball to the outfield. Not only did he not do it, he completely didn't do it. After he dove at that first slider like a dying eagle, everyone - from me to Ian Desmond - knew he wasn't going to make any but the gentlest contact.

He struck out, of course, but it's OK because we won, and Desmond really did play some good defense in that game, and if we have to choose between a shortstop who can hit but not carry out even the most basic of his fielding tasks or a shortstop who's the other way around, the latter option is not necessarily the worse. That was a really long sentence, but I ain't changing it.

This isn't really about Desmond; it's about my perception of Ian Desmond. Owing to some kinda combination of confirmation bias, Dunning-Kruger effect, selective memory, manifest destiny, the ablative absolute, the phantom time hypothesis, and Moore's law, I have this idea that Desmond strikes out every time he comes to the plate with men on base. "Here comes Desmond to kill another rally," I say to myself. And then he does it. Every time!

But actually no. I did some actual reporting or at least fact-checking, and my impression was pretty much the opposite of true. Desmond hits better with men on base, and his strikeout rate drops significantly (I was about to say it drops noticeably, but I certainly didn't notice it). The lesson here is don't trust your eyes. Or at least don't trust my eyes, not that there was any great danger of that.

The nifty thing about this is that when Desmond leaves at the end of the season, I won't miss him even though I should. So I'd like to thank my brain for preemptively cushioning that blow. Thanks, brain!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday Starters

The Nationals are being sued by a religion.

Well, not really. What happened was some Seventh Day Adventist ushers got fired because they couldn't work Friday or Saturday games, so they filed a lawsuit.

It's a knotty problem, you know? I try to stay clear of these kinds of issues. I'm interested in pissing off only people I'm interested in pissing off, and that does not include people with strong opinions on when the Sabbath is or what you should or shouldn't do on it.

My advice in these matter is to read the Antigone and try not be like either of the main characters.

My takeaway from all this is that it's gotten a lot more difficult to complain about the Nationals. That's where the misleading first line of this very post came from. It might not have been actually "true" in the conventional sense, but I have developed certain habits following this team for ten years, and among them is the tendency to assume the worst at all times.

It used to serve me well - everything really was awful. Even when I thought something was going to be pretty good, Austin Kearns would run in out of right field and break its leg.

It got to the point that blogging was too easy, especially after I got my template going. If this lawsuit had happened in 2006, I would have just filled it in like this:
"Bodes, having already [something about Cristian Guzman or Jose Guillen] and [something about Smiley Gonzalez], has topped himself by trampling on the rights of a religious minority. Blargh I hate everything here's Professor Bacon."
In 2015, the Nats being sued for persecuting the faithful like a bunch of baseball Diocletians seems more like just something that happened rather than another example of the organization's thorough-going incompetence and malevolence.

On balance it's an improvement, but it does make the blogging more difficult.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Denard's back! That's not an ironic exclamation point. My favorite thing about last year was Span and Rendon at the top of the lineup. Back in the day, I had a weird fascination with the top of the Marlins' lineup - they had Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, and they just made so much sense together.

One was real fast and the other was only kinda fast. One drew all the walks and the other stole all the bases. It's exactly why I always preferred take a tag team made of opposites, like the Hart Foundation, to a team of interchangeable parts, like the Rockers.

Span and Rendon were similar but better last year. Remember how they were always on base and always scoring runs and stuff? And we won so many games! According to the most advanced sabermetrics they'll sell you without a permit, that's not a coincidence.

We're halfway to recreating that magic, plus we won some games this weekend and everything's back to normal.

Meanwhile, I'm going to miss Michael A. Taylor. They're doing the right thing by sending him to AAA. I mean, Span isn't going to supply the offense that Taylor has so far, but Taylor wouldn't have either.

And sure, we all fell in love with his unexpected power and his little tiny babyhead, but he definitely has some stuff to work on. Like how he kept not catching fly balls. Or how sometimes on his way to a fly ball, he'd take a route so circuitous that it spelled out "imnotreadyforthisplssendmetosyracusegodblessmichael" in the outfield grass.

Friday, April 17, 2015

This Is Rickey Calling on Behalf of Giant Foam Rickey

Instead of presidents or pierogis or whatever, the A's have racing A's.
Left to right: Who Cares, Who Cares, RICKEY!
That's all well and good, but one of them is Rickey Henderson. How in the hell is Rickey ever going to lose a footrace to Dennis Eckersley? I guess I can suspend my disbelief to the point that it's plausible for William Howard Taft to beat Abe Lincoln, but let's be real here: This shouldn't be a contest. Ever.

Giant foam Rickey beats giant foam Eckersley every time. Real Rickey beats real Eckersley every time. Giant foam Rickey beats real Eckersley every time. The only way Rickey loses that race is if they pay him like Mike Gallego, in which case he'll run like Gallego. Pay Rickey!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Wake Up Every Morning and I Craig Craig Craig

It looks my Nats comeback fever dream is going to need a new grizzled veteran, since Craig Stammen is on the disabled list with "forearm tightness."

"Forearm tightness" is the baseball equivalent of Clemenza telling you, "Oh, Paulie . . . won't see him no more." It's bad. Like, leave the ligament take the cannoli bad.

This might be my last chance for this to make any kind of sense, so I'm going to share the song that goes through my head every single time I hear "Craig Stammen." It's hell being me.
Craig can give you stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina stamina

This is a bad development, obviously, even though the work that would have been done by Stammen(a) has been handed over to a Heart-Warming Story. I've been a big fan of Stammen ever since 2009, when while he wasn't actually very good, he was the only dude on the whole damn roster who would throw two strikes in a row. I guess that was the Daniel Cabrera year.

This situation brought up a tangential issue: Where am I supposed to get my news? The official website is 50% ads and 100% useless. Bill Ladson's blog is somehow less up do date than mine. I used to rely on the Washington Post's Nationals Journal, but all of a sudden they want me to pay actual, real life money to read their internet blog about a baseball team.

And I'm all, "Sorry, man, but I'm from the internet, and I don't pay two dollars and fifty cents (American!) for baseball news. You jockjaws still got Chico Harlan over there? Oh for real? Yeah, I'm not paying you."

For now I'm relying on Mark Zuckerman at Nats Insider combined with however much of Bob Carpenter I can stand to listen to before I hit mute.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


It's not all bad. Here's a list of all the things we can happy about. Yes, there are only four things we can be happy about.
  • We have the same record as the Marlins, and according the staff of the Sun-Sentinel, the Marlins are going to be pretty good this year.
  • Matt Williams shook up the lineup AND brought in Blake Treinen in the seventh inning. I mean, the Treinen thing certainly (spectacularly!) didn't work, but it proves that Williams was paying attention. I had been wondering about that.
  • Denard Span is on his way back to solve a problem that we don't really have.
  • It's an early game today, so we can just get it over with and then get on with our day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rock Bottom

This is rock bottom, right? I have to think that after a humiliating butt-whipping like that, highlighted by no one catching any baseballs, things were tense in the locker room. Maybe some personal issues that had been simmering for years boiled over, like Tyler Moore took a swing at Jose Lobaton because of the time they were at the mall together and Lobaton ran into some of his friends from Tampa and ditched Tyler.

Artist's conception of the Nationals hitting rock bottom at the hands of the Red Sox as John Farrell looks on
And then after they pull Moore off of the backup catcher, a grizzled veteran stands up. Slowly, since he's all covered in ice packs because he's so grizzled. I'm thinking Craig Stammen.

So Stammen says something about how it hasn't always been easy playing for the Nationals. He's had to deal with leather pants, fireworks going off course and exploding the fire chief, and even the FBI poking around. But none of that was as humiliating as Mookie Betts stealing second and then just helping himself to third because there wasn't anyone there. Does this team even have any coaches, Stammen wonders aloud.

But look, Stammen says, visibly restraining his emotions, this could be our last chance, and I'm not going to sit here and watch you guys blow it by being completely terrible all the time. It's time for us to band together and learn about teamwork! It doesn't matter if you're about to be a free agent and can't wait to get out of here, or if you look like a little kid, or even if you're Dan Uggla. Together, we can do this!

And then everyone says "Yeah!" and Lobaton and Moore hug and then the song kicks in and we get a montage where the Nats win twenty in a row, interspersed with hilarious lighthearted pranks and capped off by a scene where it's the World Series and we're playing Boston and we redeem ourselves by not letting Mookie Betts pants us and we win!

So that's something to look forward to, and it all starts tonight.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Real Victim

If only these guys could hear how sad they're making F.P., I bet they'd play better. It's just heart-breaking.

The Art of Storytelling

So here's the thing when you're dealing with a screenplay. Suppose you've written one, an inspiring true story of a young man who escapes from an oppressive regime, wins the World Series, gains 200 pounds, and becomes hero to millions.

Naturally, a bidding war ensues. The winner, rather than just filming the thing and preserving your vision, sends it around to be "punched up." Like, they send it to David Mamet for more swears or whatever. It hurts, seeing your vision adulterated like that, but it's the kind of compromise you have to make if you want to get things done.

The Nationals are currently relying on the following script:
Act 1: A National hits a solo home run
Act 2: The Nats white knuckle it until the ninth and hope the other team doesn't manage to score, like, two runs
Act 3: The other team scores, like, two runs

I don't like it, and I bet you don't either. Clearly it's time for Jayson Werth to take on the David Mamet role and punch up this script with some swears, by which I mean dingers. Or least hits. Something, for God's sake.

The Nats get their chance to punch up the script this afternoon against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. The important thing here - and I don't think I can overemphasize this - that Rick Porcello's name is Italian for Rick Piglet. Rick Piglet!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Further Voting

I did the Mets too.

And here are the Marlins.
Up next: Diamondbacks, Greatest Living Players, Rockies, MLB Pioneers.

Write In ¡Livan!

It's time to vote for the Franchise Four, the fun, official activity that reminds us that this franchise doesn't have any history to speak of! Each team has eight candidates, and you get to choose four.

Except for Nats fans, who get to pick Ryan Zimmerman and three Expos.

At least it's an opportunity for education. I didn't even know who Steve Rogers was until yesterday, even though he might be the most 80s-looking ballplayer in major league history.

So I give credit to MLB for raising awareness of dudes who played in Canada 30 years ago and for having the intellectual discipline to go with the actual best players in franchise history rather than trying to appeal to their current paying customers.

I will point out, however, that the candidates list has a glaring, gelatinous omission. There's a pear-shaped hole in the ballot, but together we can fill it. #WriteIn¡Livan!
Click to enlarge the official Distinguished Senators ballot

Thursday, April 09, 2015


The game was delayed, so I resorted to watching Austin Powers for a little bit. Remember the part where Powers and Elizabeth Hurley are talking about all the stuff he missed while he was frozen? One of the things she mentions is "the first female British prime minister."

(This isn't my main point, but this is a British person talking to an ostensibly British person, so saying "British prime minister" is kind of clunky. Who's your favorite American president?)

Later, when Powers is being tempted by the fembots and trying not to let his spyboner distract him from his mission, there's a "think about baseball" gag - Austin shouts "Maggie Thatcher naked on a cold day!" twice.

But he had never even heard of Margaret Thatcher until half an hour before that happened. I suppose it's possible that Elizabeth Hurley showed him a picture, and he found her so revolting that she instantly became his go-to debonerfication aid, but I don't find that convincing.

So then I did watch the game and holy crap did you see Ryan Zimmerman catch that bunt? That was awesome! He dove for that thing like a Secret Service agent leaping in front of a bullet.

Like the first game, it went according to plan. The pitching was good, the real players were good, and the ragtag bunch of misfits standing in for the other real players didn't do a whole lot. And we won! Not only did we win, in fact, but we beat a pitcher who looks like the next Tim Lincecum.

By which I mean that he literally looks like Tim Lincecum.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015



It has come to our attention that yesterday's post ("Tonight's the night" 4/6/15) was not up to our journalistic or at least fact-checking standards. A list of the two worst infractions follows.
  1. The event referred to did not take place at "night," at least not in any time zone that matters. A better title would have been "Toafternoon's the afternoon."
  2. "The night" carries with it a connotation of excitement, fun, and good results. Given the events of yesterday afternoon, a different term should have been used.
In conclusion, yesterday's post should have been titled "Toafternoon's some garbage featuring Dan Uggla." We regret the error, and we will leave the post with its original, incorrect title as a reminder of our failures.

Distinguished Senators

Monday, April 06, 2015