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The 10 Memorable Moments of the Nats 2012 Regular Season

They’ve clinched the National League East.  God only knows what’s ahead.  But we sure know what’s behind.  One of the most interesting, historic, crazy-insane regular seasons you could imagine.   Here now, the ten most significant or just plain weird moments of the 2012 Washington Nationals most excellent campaign.  In chronological order and all in the written word:   

Bryce Harper’s 1st Game in the Big Leagues, 4/28/2012, Los Angeles, California

The One, The Kid, the Run-Until-He’s-Tagged-Measure-Testing, Laser-Throwing, Eyeblack-Oozing Baseball Cyborg* makes his 1st appearance in a major league baseball game.   The injury-racked, sputtering offense had forced Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo to call up the 19 year-old after just a brief stay in Triple A.  The teenager takes his position in Left field, looking all around the ballpark at Chavez Ravine, visibly drinking in the entire scene.  He goes 1 for 3 with a booming double, a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the 9th and fires a throw from left field so wicked and powerful it nails the runner while the disbelieving umpire, unable to accept what his eyes have just seen, calls him safe.

*Incredibly long Bryce Harper nickname, courtesy Federal Baseball.com

Cole Hamels Hits Harper, Rookie Steals Home, 5/6/2012, Washington, D.C.

Sunday Night Baseball.  The national spotlight shines on Philadelphia Phillies lefty ace, Cole Hamels, as he faces the teenage phenom and promptly smacks him in the middle of the back with his first pitch.  Jayson Werth singles to left and Harper never stops running.  Nobody goes from 1st to 3rd with a ball hit to left.  Harper does and is now 90 feet from home.  He’d been told earlier in the game that Hamels has a slow throw to 1st when he checks runners.  He sees his opportunity.  Hamels throws lazily to 1st base for a second time.  The TV camera catches a stunned, wide-eyed look on Werth’s face.

The Kid has just stolen home.  WHAT?   He’s called safe, pops up and gives a glance at Hamels as he heads back to the dugout.  Hamels later admits he’d hit the kid on purpose as an old-school welcome to the Bigs.  Harper shows the world what he’s made of.  Don’t get mad. Get even.

Strasburg and Harper Take over Fenway Park, 6/8/2012, Boston, Massachusetts

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, both students of the game and its history, are amped up, playing their first game at revered Fenway Park.  And the future unfolds before our very eyes.  Strasburg strikes out 13 confused Red Sox hitters.  Red Sox beat-writer, Gordon Edes says it all:

Strasburg, featuring a fastball that touched 100 mph, a changeup that violated the laws of nature and a curveball bereft of compassion, struck out seven Red Sox in a span of eight batters…

But if Strasburg (7-1) is the rainbow, then center fielder Harper is the Transit of Venus, an astronomical phenomenon that appears, oh, once a century or so. Harper homered to the right of the 420-foot triangle in center, doubled and singled, driving in three runs and scoring two, in one of the most precocious performances the 100-year-old edifice has ever seen.

Throw-Back Day and the Dancing Deer, 7/5/2012, Washington, D.C.

The San Francisco Giants and the Nationals are decked out in 1924 uni’s in a celebration of the last time a Washington baseball club won a World Series.  Matt Cain, owner of a perfect game earlier in the season, dominates the Nats taking a 5-1 lead into the 7th inning.  He gets two outs.  Then Ian Desmond homers.  Then Danny Espinosa homers.  Cain is taken out.  Lead cut to 5-3.  And then this happened in the bottom of the 9th inning, duly noted on this blog three months ago:

Three rookies up to bat, all in a row. Pinch-hitter, Tyler Moore, on the verge of striking out opens the frame with a solid double to the gap in center. Steve Lombardozzi bunts and the pitcher botches it and now it’s first and third with nobody out. The stadium is going nuts. Bryce Harper comes to the plate again. As a deafening, spontaneous chant of “Let’s go Harper” reaches its boisterous crescendo, Harper is steeped in the moment and raps a base hit- game tied 5-5.

Ryan Zimmerman is intentionally walked to load the bases and still no outs. The anticipation is as thick as the humid Washington air. Michael Morse is up but he hits a grounder and the Giants get a force at home. One out, game still tied. Adam LaRoche comes to the plate and hits a double-play grounder. They get the out at second but the shortstop sends a low throw to the Giant’s 1st baseman. It glances off his glove and wouldn’t you know it- Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old and the representative of all that is young about baseball, dashes in for the winning run.

As they celebrate LaRoche’s walk-off error, it appears the players surrounding him are running in circles doing deer imitations, waving hands over their heads to simulate antlers.  Turns out Gio Gonzalez had designed a LaRoche walk-off celebration during a long ride on the team plane.  LaRoche, an avid hunter, would launch imaginary arrows at players circling him like ripe deer.  Explaining to reporters after the game, LaRoche says he thought he bagged one just before he was tackled by teammates.

The Houston Astros: And We All Fall Down, 8/6/2012, Houston, Texas

A veritable circus of errors dooms the lowly, loveable Astros:

Nobody out, top of the 11th inning of a 4-4 game.  There’s hardly anyone in the stands because this is the Houston Astros- the worst team in baseball.  There is not a camera angle possible that doesn’t show a sea of empty seats.  It’s so quiet and dead in the stands that everyone in the stadium can hear the wailing cry of a single infant seated with its parents somewhere close to home plate.

Washington National’s centerfielder, Roger Bernadina singles to right.  And now the fun begins.   The Nationals’ new catcher, Kurt Suzuki, attempts a sacrifice bunt to try and get Bernadina to second.  Suzuki screws it up and instead of bunting on the ground, he pops the ball up. A tiny, little, baby pop-up.

Houston 1st baseman, Steve Pearce, moves toward the ball at the same time as the pitcher, Wilton Lopez.  The ball eludes them both and drops softly to the ground.  Lopez can’t seem to locate it between his legs.  Pearce literally pushes his own pitcher out of the way like a linebacker and picks up the ball.

Inexplicably, Astros 3rd baseman, Matt Downs, seemingly thinking maybe he has a play on the ball, dives over the fallen pitcher and succeeds in partially interfering with the 1st baseman’s desperate throw to 1st base.  The ball flies over the head of Houston 2nd baseman, Jose Altuve and well into right field.

Bernadina sees all the madness and takes off, easily passing 2nd base and headed to 3rd.  Houston right fielder, Brian Bogusevic sees Bernadina completely ignoring his own 3rd base coach’s pleas to stop and sprints for home.  Bogusevic’s throw is airmailed over the catcher’s head, Bernadina scores and Suzuki, who had moments ago tried to make an out by bunting the ball in the infield, is now securely at 3rd.

The Shark’s Amazing Two-out, Extra-Innings  Catch , 8/7/2012, Houston, Texas

The Nationals and the Astros had battled all night.  The Astros enter the bottom of the 12th, trailing 3-2.  MLB.com takes it from there:

Roger Bernadina glided back toward the fence, trying to make a play on a ball that would decide the game one way or the other.

Washington held a one-run lead over Houston with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the 12th. If Bernadina catches Brett Wallace’s line drive, the Nationals win. If he can’t get there or he drops the ball, both runners could have scored and the Astros would have walked off.

He kept striding back to the corner between the bullpen fence and one of two big, green pylons. Reliever Craig Stammen stood right behind the fence, where the ball was headed, screaming, “You’ve got room! You’ve got room!”

Bernadina didn’t have much room, but he jumped toward the corner, disappearing from the sight of everyone in the Nationals’ dugout. He nabbed the ball, collapsed to the ground and held his glove high. He made the catch and saved the game, preserving Washington’s 3-2 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night — the second straight four-hour, extra-inning game between these clubs.

Dancing in the Rain, 9/8/2012, Washington, D.C.

It’s the day Washington decides Stephen Strasburg is done for the season.  The Nats play a sloppy, unfocused, error-filled game. The Miami Marlins lead 6-5 as Washington goes to the bottom of the 9th.  The Baseball Gods decide it’s time for rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  After a 2-hour and 33 minute delay, Jason Werth comes to the plate and promptly launches a game-tying homerun.  In the bottom of the 10th, the Marlins use five infielders to try and escape a bases-loaded jam.  Corey Brown lofts a soft single that just eludes Miami right fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, scoring Ian Desmond with the winning run.

Gio Wins 20th Game, Celebrates with a Face Plant, 9/22/2012, Washington, D.C.

Cy Young award-contending Washington ace, Gio Gonzalez, reaches the pitching milestone but not before tripping on the mound in the middle of a pitch in the 7th inning.  The baseball flies to the backstop.  Gio lands on his face, spread-eagle on the ground, motionless for several long seconds while trainer, manager and players convene to see if he’s alright.  Turned out to be mortification not injury.  Gio gets up, his teammates laugh and he doffs his cap to the adoring crowd.  Later, Ian Desmond remarks, “A perfect 10.  I’m just glad he didn’t mess up his hair.”

Werth Gets His Philadelphia Revenge, 9/26/2012, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg:

So now we’re in the top of the ninth. The Phillies have closed within one run. The crowd is back into the game. A Nats loss here would lower their division lead to just three games. What fun for the Philadelphia crowd. The Philadelphia television broadcast is filled with audio of fans heckling Jayson Werth, especially after he walks into the on-deck circle. So he fields a foul ball, and pretends to toss it to the crowd, then thinks better of it and gives the ball to the Nats dugout.

The boos rain down. Philadelphia fans have their target for the unfairness of life’s charade, and they fill their role with gusto, in the form of saying “BOOOOO” really loud.

Werth’s take: “I was going to flip the ball. There was a group of kids. Behind the kids there were these unruly middle-aged men that to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth. Who knows. I kind of got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids, and then I thought, maybe I shouldn’t, because of the people right behind the innocent little children there.”

There were only two possible things that could happen next. Werth could strike out, and the fans could celebrate, and wave their arms in triumph, and be filled with genuine feelings of joy and elation that this hairy man had been shown, had been defeated, had been denied. Or Werth could single in two runs, filling the Nats fans watching at home with similar feelings of joy and elation, that this hairy man had made up for so much past frustration and pain, had transferred those feelings to the enemy.

Werth singled.

Nats ended up winning 8-4.

Best Baseball Headline Ever: National’s Morse Hits Invisible Homerun, 9/29/2012, St. Louis, Missouri

It’s the very 1st inning in a pressure-packed game at Busch Stadium.  The bases are loaded and Michael Morse smacks a shot to Right field.  The Washington Post’s DC Sports Blog again offers a hilarious take on the MASN broadcast of the bizarre events that unfolded:

 …on Saturday night Michael Morse hit a grand slam that was called a single and then changed to a grand slam, but the umpires weren’t satisfied, so they sent everyone back to their original places, and after running the bases in reverse Morse then fake swung and hit a fake home run which Bob Carpenter fake called in his real voice.

There it goes!!” he said, as nothing happened.

“Are you kidding me?” F.P. Santangelo asked.

”Right field, it is deep!!” Carpenter continued, as no ball went into no outfield where it was not watched by any outfielder and no fans threw their hands up in frustration. “SEE. YOU. LATER. Grand Slam, the Nationals are on top by four.”

Redskins and Nationals: Crass vs Class

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The Redskins remind me of a 3-year old with a shiny new toy who plays with it so obsessively, the thing is broken and doesn’t work anymore after a few weeks.

It could be worst, though.  If they could figure out how to do it, RGIII would also catch passes, block and play in the secondary.

Unfortunately for the kid, he ended up with the Washington Redskins; a team that is proof that no matter what apparent good fortune has landed in their laps, crap still travels downhill, directly from owner, Daniel Snyder and the Father-Son Shanahan coaching duo.   The Rebuilding Century continues.   Except, of course, these are the Redskins.  They have nothing to rebuild with til the year after next with no 1st round draft picks next season (traded for RGIII).  They will continue to be in the 2nd year of an $18 million reduction in their salary cap for violating the NFL’s rules on signing free agents during the lock-out last year.

Last week, receiver, Josh Morgan, drew a personal foul to end the Skins chances at a comeback in St. Louis.   And this past Sunday…a late personal foul cost them again…this one apparently incurred by Redskins offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan.   Unlike Morgan who at least faced the music after the game and talked to reporters, the Redskins did not make Kyle Shanahan available to the press after the contest.  Here’s the message this sends to the team.  The players are accountable.  The coaching staff is not.

Starting at his own 2-yard line, RGIII had driven the Skins to the  Bengals 19 yard line with enough time left for several shots at the end zone.  They ended up losing 36 yards.  How do you accomplish such a thing?  Here’s how:  a 15-yard sack, a 5-yard off-sides penalty and young Kyle’s personal foul.  On their last play of the game, RG faced a 3rd and 45.

Contemplate that for a moment.  3rd and 45.

“Daddy, please don’t make me go out there and talk to those mean reporters.”

There is no doubt the Redskins picked up a franchise player in RGIII.  If he physically survives the beatings he will be taking week after week, he will have been worth every one of those #1 draft picks.   The Skins are now averaging over 30 points on offense every game.   At quarterback- mission accomplished.

I do find it striking how differently the Redskins treat their star player than, say, how the Washington Nationals protect Stephen Strasburg.  The Nationals are guarding their investment by ending his season early, convinced their long-range planning will yield a bounty of future stellar seasons from Strasburg.  The Redskins?  With the Shanahan family clinging to dear life for their jobs if they have another abysmal season- Sunday showed how much they care about RGIII.   They will keep running him out there until he ends up in the ER.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between long range and short range planning, between Ted Lerner and Daniel Snyder- between class and crass.

 

 

RGIII Joins Strasburg and Harper as Once in a Lifetime Talents

September 10, 2012 1 comment

It was the football version of Stephen Strasburg striking out 14 in his major league debut.  Of watching a 19 year-old eclipse just about all records for any teenager in baseball history.

Those who wondered if the Washington Redskins had lost their marbles by trading away three 1st round draft picks for Robert Griffin III are wondering no more.

While several other rookie quarterbacks looked very much like rookies in the first Sunday of football action this season (including #1 pick, Andrew Luck, who threw three interceptions and fumbled once), RGIII left a dizzying legacy after just his first game.

He completed his first 8 passes in a row, including an 88-yard touchdown.  He finished the first half with a perfect passer rating- a feat never before accomplished by any first-year player in the history of the NFL.  He is one of only four rookies to debut with more than 300 yards passing.  And his team won in a huge upset.

He accomplished this on foreign turf, against a New Orleans Saints team that didn’t lose a single regular-season home game last year.  RGIII managed to outplay Drew Brees, who set an all-time NFL record for passing yards in 2011.

Beyond the stats, RGIII was cool, calm and collected- displaying a maturity way beyond his 22 years.  This kid is the real deal.  And he makes those around him play better.

History is replete with Heisman Trophy winners who are total busts in the NFL.  Traditionally, it takes a young quarterback about three years to get into the groove of things.  And again, history shows the teams they play for take awhile to get in gear too.

But this Washington team may be different.

For one thing, in Mike Shanahan they have a coach who is famous for his work with quarterbacks.  He certainly did pretty well with one John Elway.  His son Kyle, who when he had some talent to work with in Houston, became one of the top offensive coordinators in the league.  The father-son duo are known for their x’s and o’s offensive savvy.  They just haven’t had any talent to work with in Washington over their first couple of years.

But boy, do they now.  And they are smart enough to build their offense around RGIII’s considerable skills.  Watching what the Kid can do with his canon arm, his speed and agility and his smarts and composure- the Shanihan’s may be in for a whole lot of redemption in the years ahead after two disappointing seasons in Washington.

The Redskins are also now in their 3rd year of their 3-4 defense and finally have the personnel to pull it off.  They way they handled the Saint’s high-powered offense and future hall-of-fame  quarterback was truly impressive.

The team’s success is not all about RGIII.   But no matter what side of the ball you play on, it is impossible not to feel good about yourself and your team, when you know you have a guy like that calling the signals and leading your club.

Three 1st round draft picks for Robert Griffin III?  A friggin’ bargain.   Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper for the Nationals.  And RGIII for the Skins.  Can we handle all this lightening in a bottle here in the nation’s capital?

Uh, Yes We Can.

The Strasburg Shutdown: Ultimately a Moral Decision

We live in a disposable culture, and for once, there is a sports franchise, smart enough and moral enough to say that no matter the stakes- a young man’s health trumps even a potential World Series trophy.

The Washington Nationals will not risk sacrificing their once-a-generation talent on the altar of immediate gratification.  And those calling the team “pathetic” and “disgraceful” reveal a win-now-at-any-cost mentality that for years has left a trail of broken arms and broken dreams.

Nationals fans, by the way, have been accepting of the team’s position from the get-go.  They saw how the team shut down Jordan Zimmermann last year, his first after returning from the same surgery as Strasburg, and they see how the young man is now a legitimate contender for a Cy Young award.   Local surveys find National’s fans have few qualms about this approach. All the critics so outraged on our behalf, please spare us.

Stats and Real Life Cases

It is true that there has never been a study of the careers of 24 year-old, 1st round draft picks and how they perform in the first year following Tommy John elbow surgery.  Forget the surgery.  There’s plenty of data about pitchers between the ages of 21 and 24 who have not undergone such surgery that shows the more they pitch, the more likely they are to blow out their arms or never return to their original form.  See what the Chicago Cubs did to the careers of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.

Leo Mazzone, the former Atlanta Braves pitching coach who calls the National’s organization “pathetic” for wanting to shut down Strasburg, has nothing to be proud of in regard to how he overused a 21-year old pitching sensation named Steve Avery. To the point that by the time he got into his mid 20’s, Avery was a shadow of his former self and would never return to his early form.

It’s About the Long Haul

The way sports teams are built now, especially in baseball, there is precious little thought given to the construction of a franchise that can win consistently over a decade or more.  For most General Managers, it’s a piece-meal approach accentuated by headline-grabbing trades in the Winter and desperation gambles at the end of July.

This is not how the Washington Nationals have been constructed.  They have a nucleus of largely home-grown young players who are under contract and will play together everyday for most of the next ten years.  Their unexpected rise to the top of their sport this year is testimony to the sheer talent that has been assembled the old fashioned way; through wise scouting and careful draft selections.

The critics who whine that this could be the Nationals last shot at a World Series don’t have a clue what they are talking about.  Everyone knows the baseball playoffs are an utter crap shoot, anyway.  But this is a team that is built to last and young Stephen Strasburg is the lynch pin of a starting rotation that could well dominate hitters year after year.  I would wager a considerable sum this is not Washington’s only playoff appearance of the decade (and, of course, they’ve clinched nothing yet so it’s premature to assume just about anything).

It’s also good business to shut down Strasburg.  How many future Strasburg’s out there will ever forget how this team treated, respected and treasured the health of their young star?  Next time Nat’s General Manager, Mike Rizzo, sits down at a kitchen table with the father of a young man he wants to draft for the club, those won’t be empty promises he’ll be giving about protecting the health and career of his son.  It will be a fact guided by history.

Strasburg’s “Devastated” Teammates

But what about the poor players who expect management to field the strongest possible team for any drive to a world title?  Well, first of all, the Washington Nationals are much, much more than Stephen Strasburg.  Eliminating all of his stats, Washington’s pitching staff would still have the best ERA in the game.

Secondly, the Nationals have overcome the absences of other players important to the franchise, including Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Drew Storen, Jason Werth, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos.  This has always been a team bigger than any of its individual parts.

I also believe the players will take the Strasburg shutdown as a challenge and will be highly motivated to rise to the occasion.   He will certainly be in their hearts and minds and I would not be at all surprised to see them dedicate their playoff drive to the young and absent pitching sensation.

We’ll Never Know Who Was Right

As there will be no real way to tell if the team was right or wrong about the Strasburg shutdown, there are a few ways the Nationals can have the last laugh here.  They need to win the World Series this year without him.  And then they will have to win one with him.

How’s that for a lofty set of goals?

It would well be worth it- not only for the sake of Washington’s historically beleaguered franchise, but also for the rich comfort of being able to tell all those ESPN blowhards and pitching coaches who have disposed and ruined so many young arms in the past, that they were wrong.  Wrong on the facts.  Wrong on the morality and the ethics.  And wrong about the humanity and the business of baseball.

Welcome to the Nats Bandwagon!

It’s just a baby bandwagon right now, but we’re building a much bigger one.

Young, fresh and amazing, the Washington Nationals are now recognized as being the real deal.  And they are getting admiration from some unusual places.  And not just because of media hype.  They are the 2nd best team in all of baseball.

First off, I’ve posted twice on the Nats in the last few weeks.  One of these was a statistical analysis comparing Bryce Harper’s rookie season projected from his first 100 at-bats, to the first full seasons of 15 hall-of-famers.  It was a gushing, almost sickeningly enthusiastic piece that naively compared the kid favorably to some of the greatest names in the history of the sport.  Since that was published, Harper’s only gotten better- hitting for better average and showing more power.

Then last Saturday, I posted about the remarkable performances by both Harper and Stephen Strasburg in the first of a three-game series at fabled Fenway Park.  It was yet another love poem to the Nats, quoting from some of the best baseball writers in the nation.  And the Nats  have only gotten better.  In fact, they haven’t lost since.  They swept Boston then went on to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays, their first 6-0 road stretch since baseball returned to Washington in 2005.

So now, on the eve of a three-game series against the New York Yankees, I know this good fortune cannot continue.  Both the Yanks and the Nats enter this series on 6-game win streaks.  Somebody has got to lose.  It’s youth against grizzled veterans.  It’s baseball’s most storied team against the sport’s perennial losers.  It’s the past against the future.  I have a feeling the Yanks are going to take at least two out of three.

I might add I also thought the Nats would get swept in Boston.

————————————-

And now to the converts.  Wasn’t it just last April that the Nats made such a big deal about the Philadelphia Phillies coming to town?  The great “Take Back the Park” promotion?   The defending NL East champs?  As of this morning, the Phillies are 10 games behind the Nationals.

And there is this.  It’s from a Philadelphia sports blog and you’d think that with a headline like Nationals Aren’t Going Anywhere– it might be a column about the team’s impending collapse.

You would be wrong.  Here are some of the more amazing excerpts:

 The Nationals, of course, are the Nationals. We are trained not to take them seriously.

My advice to Phillies fans is to start.

The only thing that can derail Washington now are injuries. In Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, they have two of the best players in baseball. From top to bottom, theirs is the best rotation in the league, with a strong bullpen and defense backing them. All together, there is just enough pop in their lineup to propel the club to 38 wins, the second-highest total in baseball.

What part of this equation do you envision falling apart? The Nationals have dealt with their share of adversity, like losing catcher Wilson Ramos for the year, or Jayson Werth for 60 days to a broken wrist. Still they are on top, their confidence building.

And they are only getting better, I’m afraid.    

Many of us watching this Nationals phenomena have been rooting for Washington for many years.  A lot of folks easily go back to baseball’s return to the nation’s capital in 2005.  Some, like me, date back to the 1960’s when as youngsters we cut our baseball teeth sitting in RFK stadium watching Frank Howard, Mike Epstein, Del Unser, Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Bernie Allen.  And there are those Washington fans who remember Griffith stadium, a place better known in baseball lore as the location of Mickey Mantle’s 565 foot homerun more than anything the Senators ever did there.

When you go back that long and see what’s happening now and watch the sudden hype in all the coverage from every corner of the media world…when you see curly W’s on the hats of hundreds of people—in Boston..when you read stuff like the post above from the Philly sports blog- there’s a tendency to say to yourself:  “Hey wait a doggone minute…I was there at the creation!  Everyone else is just a front runner!”

To my long-time and long-suffering Washington baseball buddies- resist that temptation, my friends. Welcome the converts to our fun and ever-expanding tent.  Open your arms wide for the refugees suddenly washing up on the shores of the Potomac.  Finally,Washington has something to offer the world besides debt and gridlock.  

Behold, world- in Strasburg and Harper and even with rookies you’ve never heard of like Lomdardozzi and Moore, there is the spirit and brashness of youth.  In Davey Johnson, there is the wisdom, good humor and steely determination of a lifetime in baseball winning World Series titles as a player and a manager.  In Mike Rizzo, you have the general manager who is suddenly now being recognized as the architect of one of the most interesting ball clubs in the history of the game.

Welcome one and all!  Hitch yourselves to the bandwagon but be prepared for a long, long ride through this season and into the next four or five.  Do not doubt.  Do not fear.  And for crying out loud, do not ask any Clown questions, bro’s.

Dreams on Hold


Yikes. Stephen Strasburg likely needs reconstructive “Tommy John” surgery on his elbow and will be out from 12 to 18 months. Jordan Zimmerman, who started last night for the Nats after undergoing the very same thing is evidence that there is a 90% success rate for this procedure.

But it’s a long, tough road ahead for the Nat’s young phenom who finished the season with the highest strikeout to innings ratio of any pitcher in the major leagues. He’s flying out to the West coast to get a second opinion.

The human arm was not really built for the strains of major league pitching. Young pitchers are like thoroughbreds; capable of generating so much power, but ultimately extremely fragile. The Nationals have been extremely cautious with Strasburg, making sure he’s limited to 90 or so pitches per outing; putting him on the disabled list for a shoulder strain and pulling him promptly last week when he winced in pain after throwing a change-up.

If the reaction of my colleagues in the office is any indicator, this is a stunner. No, more than that- it’s heartbreaking. All the promise and potential…on hold…while the Nationals and the Washington area at large holds its collective breath for the next year.

Ouch.

Assorted Thoughts This 4th of July

July 1, 2010 1 comment

Happy 4th! As the week draws to a close there are a number of disconnected issues that have been getting me going recently. A brief take on everything from jobless benefits and Lebron James to sports replays and Lady Gaga. Enjoy the weekend and don’t blow yourselves up!

Congress and Unemployment Benefits
In my view, it is unconscionable to not extend jobless benefits when the average length of unemployment in America is nearing a year. How do we pay for it? Print more money. Worried about riots in the streets? Continue making it difficult for people to find food and shelter. And what becomes of these Congressmen who deny jobless benefits when they lose their jobs? They become lobbyists and make even more money.

The Double-Dip Recession
It is becoming increasingly evident that it was only government stimulus programs that created signs of life in the American economy. When the homeowner tax breaks expired, people stopped buying homes. When the government stops hiring census workers, joblessness will continue unabated. I’m with Paul Krugman and John Maynard Keynes.

Lebron James
I am tired of hearing his name and couldn’t care less who he plays for. Wherever it is, I’m sure it will be for a lot of money and that he will not win an NBA title.

Sporting Event Replays
Whether it’s baseball or the World Cup, it is not charming or “part of the game “to get calls wrong and have no mechanism to correct them. It’s incompetence and it robs fans and teams alike. Tennis has instituted all kinds of technology to make sure calls are correct and it hasn’t damaged the sport one bit.

Supreme Court Nomination Hearings
They are a total farce. Politicians line up on their predictable sides. The nominees say absolutely nothing of substance. They all get approved. The only good line out of a week’s worth of Elena Kagan testimony is when she was asked where she was on Christmas day when the underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane in Detroit. “Like most Jews, having dinner at a Chinese restaurant.”

The Future of CNN
My God, who cares?

The Future of Lady Gaga
I hope she marries Larry King.

The Washington Nationals When Stephen Strasburg is Pitching
Sublime.

The Washington Nationals When Stephen Strasburg is Not Pitching
Sad and pathetic.

Who Cares What Robert Garcia Thinks About Anything?
Nobody.

Then Why Does He Keep Writing?
Because it amuses him.

Isn’t that egotistical?
Yes.

Well, tell him to STOP
No. Get your own blog.

The 4th of July weekend
It’s a wonderful holiday celebrating the greatest nation on Earth. Have a tremendously fun weekend people! Happy Birthday, America!