Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Swinging Things

It seems like every year we have a chance to talk about on-field violence, and every year we have a chance to talk about Bryce Harper being an idiot and missing games because he's an idiot, depriving our beloved Nationals of their best player, who is an idiot.

This year it all happened at the same time, and I'm overwhelmed with emotion. It's like a wedding and a graduation at the same time, which I'm sure someone has tried to pull off.

I'm sure you're not coming to Distinguished Senators for game recaps, but the basic story is that Hunter Strickland, a hulking Georgian who pitches for the increasingly annoying Giants, gave up a couple homers to Harper back in 2014 and is angry about it. To be fair, Harper did give him a look after one of them.

Given the opportunity to face Harper on Monday, Strickland plunked him in the hip, rendering those two and a half year old dingers null and void. They never happened. I'm serious — go to Retrosheet. They're gone.

Harper charged the mound, fruitlessly threw his helmet, and commenced to swinging them things.
Above: The Battle of the Dudes with Basic White Guy Names
This is where I would normally scold Harper for removing himself from the rest of this game and some others that will happen later. But I'm on his side here. Let's add up all the factors:
  1. Bryce was right to be angry, and the predictability of the whole thing made it worse. F.P. Santangelo told us this was going to happen while Strickland was warming up.
  2. We can afford Harper taking a few games off. They can suspend him for 112 games and we'll be fine. The point I'm trying to across here in list item #2 is that the Mets are an absolute joke of a franchise.
  3. It was so rad! Did you see Michael Morse accidentally just ruining a couple of his teammates? Did you see how they had to haul Strickland off like a psychopath? Did you see?
I love fights. I love real fights, I love simulated fights, and I especially love fights where fights aren't supposed to happen, like a baseball diamond or Ukrainian parliament.
Probably none of these guys is named Hunter or Tanner or Cooper or Haberdasher.
I'm not going to feel guilty about this. A baseball game with a fight in it is better than a baseball without one, so I want to thank Bryce Harper for punching a guy in the face. Enjoy your time off, buddy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Please Eliminate Two

I don't like clutter, throws to first, or symbolic safety regulations. It's time to get rid of base coaches. Both of them.

The idea occurred to me as I watched some Brave get awesomely thrown out on his way to home plate. It was great! Very exciting, and exactly the kind of thing I want more of. It was then that I realized that these damn base coaches are getting in the way.

Consider the first base coach. He's there to help a baserunner decide how far to lead off, when and if to steal second, etc. And that's good, right? We all know a steal attempt is the most exciting play in baseball.

Wrong! Sure, the actual attempt is fun, but consider all the garbage leading up to it. Throws to first. Fake throws to first. Fake throws to third followed by a throw to first. Talmudic arguments about balks.
Less of this
These people are wasting our precious time. Even a fractional decrease in throws to first base is worth putting 30 former ballplayers out of work, as far as I'm concerned.

What of the third base coach? Just think how many plays at the plate those bastards prevent us from enjoying. The guy is there to make sure baserunners have information, particularly about batted balls that are outside their field of vision. Teams obviously want batters to have that information, but I don't.

Ill-informed baserunners are funner baserunners. The more action on the basepaths the better, and the third base coach is there specifically to prevent action on the basepaths.
More of this
Furthermore, the info provided by a third base coach serves as a crutch for dummies. I think ballplayers with the ability to read the situation and take a base at the right time should be rewarded. Canning all these coaches makes baseball a purer meritocracy.

What we have here is a divide between the desires of the team and the desires of the fan. The teams want their players to have as much information and guidance as possible, and if the trajectory of game times has shown us anything, it's that baseball teams are willing to test fans' patience to the utmost in the pursuit of a tactical advantage.

There's no reason that we should have to put up with this. I'm not suggesting regulating coaching staffs per se — they can hire all the batting coaches, nutritionists, life coaches, and acupuncturists they want. But there's no reason we have to let any of these people stand on the field. Players get to stand there. So do umpires. We don't need to let anyone else out there.

Plus, if it weren't dangerous, they wouldn't make them wear those stupid little helmets, right? I'm trying to save lives.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nature's Blue Jay

The Blue Jays ruined this weekend for me.

Last week the Jays went to Atlanta and had one of those "Screw you!"/"No, screw YOU!" kind of series where each game is more violent than the last. The lasting result is that Braves first baseman/all time legendary Nats-slayer Freddie Freeman is out for a while because some Canuck plunked him on the wrist.

It's a damn shame that this happened . . . against some AL team. If anyone was going to break Freddie Freeman's arm, it should have been us.

Remember when John Lannan broke Chase Utley's wrist? I'm not saying I wanted Utley's wrist broken — remember, this was long before he tried so hard to murder some Met on the basepaths that they had to make a rule about it — but the fact that it was a division rival generated more heat than if it had been a Diamondback or whatever.

You have to build these programs if you want butts in seats.

It's too bad this all happened against Toronto. Atlanta doesn't care about Toronto, Toronto doesn't care about Atlanta, and the teams aren't going to see each other frequently enough for this ever to turn into a real blood feud. This is exactly why I hate interleague play.

So the Jays ruined this series. They really are like Canada geese. Consider:
  1. Canada. Sure, not all the Blue Jays are from Canada, but not all Canada geese are from Canada either.
  2. They're dicks and everyone hates them.
  3. It's possible that Rougned Odor once punched a Canada goose in the head so hard that its helmet and glasses went flying off.
The Canada goose is nature's blue jay.
I miss Freddie Freeman. He was a good nemesis. I mean, what's Achilles without Hector?

And if you're going to lose a series to the Braves (who aren't trying), you want someone like Freddie Freeman there to take the sting off. No shame in letting Freeman beat you.

I like Kurt Suzuki, but he isn't anybody's Hector.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Did you hear the news that Bryce Harper knows how much he'll be making in 2018? Did you read anything into it?

It's none of my business, but I think you should resist that impulse.

I understand it, really. What could be more important to a Nats fan than Bryce Harper's long-term plans? And when there's something that important that you have no control over, you start looking everywhere for hints.

It's like when some cavemen really needed it to rain. Like, if it didn't they would die, which might even be more important than signing Harper. Anthropologists tell us it went like this:

Cave Man #1: "Dude, if it doesn't rain we're going to die. You think it's gonna rain?"
Cave Man #2: "Beats me."
CM1: "Come on, what do you think?"
CM2: "Man, I don't know. Leave me alone. I'm trying to draw that time I stabbed an aurochs on this wall over here."
CM1: "Sure, but do you think it's going to rain?"
CM2: "OK, fine. Look. You know there are always clouds when it rains? Clearly whoever makes the rain come likes clouds. Now get out of here."
CM1: "THAT'S IT! I'm going to find something that looks like a cloud to kill. Then it'll rain!"
Sheep: "Well, shit."

This majestic beast got hella stabbed.
Feel free to predict the future from the flight of birds or whatever, but the birds don't have anything to tell you.

When I said nothing could be more important to a Nats fan than Harper, I was thinking long-term. In the here and now, holy crap something has to happen with this bullpen.

We all knew going in that the Nats considered blowing two leads a week to be an unavoidable but acceptable result of the construction of this year's roster. It even made sense to me, but that was before the games started, when it was easier to be philosophical.

This has turned out to be difficult to watch.

I don't have a point here or anything. I'm just mad.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Special Occasions

So, who's excited for this hot interleague rivalry we got going on right now?


It seems like Nationals vs. Orioles never got off the ground. They didn't even play until the Nats' second year here. Once they did face off, it did not turn out to the be apocalyptic explosion of regional resentment and long-held grievances that I was expecting.

The New Yorkers looked like they were having fun, and for a while there the Cards and Royals couldn't hook up with punches being thrown, but Nats/O's never seemed much more intense than when they'd pretend the Mariners and Padres were rivals.

So here we are watching the Nats play some random AL team about whom the fanbase's interest tops out at mild contempt. (I'm guessing. It's not like I've ever had my finger on the pulse of Washington Nationals fandom.) They're trying to tell us that Matt Wieters returning to Baltimore is interesting, but I don't think even he cares.

Wouldn't you rather be watching the Marlins?
I miss you guys. Except for you - second row from the top, third from the left. You seem churlish.
I know that's an odd thing to say and mean - based on all available evidence, not even Marlins fans want to watch the Marlins - but I'm serious. I turned against interleague pretty early on, mainly because I like watching my team play the guys in the division. There's more at stake, and I enjoy learning about my enemy.

I don't like west coast trips, visits from the Pirates, or interleague games. I like beating up on the chumps who populate our division and cultivating a wholesome hatred for Freddie Freeman.

If that's not a minority opinion among the public, it's definitely one among the people who make decisions. I've never understood the mania for uniformity that got rid of the league presidents, separate sets of umpires, and the idea that interleague play is for special occasions.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Delicious Soft Serve

I wonder if the Nats are overqualified for the wrong game.

I heard Mark Zuckerman on the sports talk radio today, and he made a point about Adam Eaton: Eaton's the kind of guy who wins difficult at-bats, and that's vital in the playoffs.

I know Michael A. Taylor has his virtues - defense, cheerful demeanor, his batting helmets don't take up much room - but grinding out plate appearances against tough pitchers isn't one of them.
This enterprising fan has acquired one of Taylor's tiny batting helmets and filled it with delicious soft serve.
The Nationals haven't done all that well in the playoffs, and we can't blame it all on Drew Storen. They also have terrible at-bats against great pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and the shambling, visibly decomposing corpse of Jake Peavy.

It's not hard to imagine this offense clubbing the hell out of everyone until it matters and then going dark against the likes of 55-year-old Tim Hudson.

And then there's the bullpen situation. I realize it's only May, but the relief corps has been not only bad but also unavailable. I barely know who Koda Glover is, but the fact that some dude with a 90 ERA+ is so vital to our plans that we need to worry that he's injured . . . it's not good.

Even if the Nats win the division by 20 games, we're going to need reinforcement unless we want to be remembered as the poor man's 90s Braves.