Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

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 grĂ¢ce.

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.