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I Love Stealing Players from the Yankees

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Nats-Yankees

I’ll admit to being an intermittent Yankee fan through the years. It’s what happens when your own hometown doesn’t have a baseball team for over three decades. But now that we have this very cool ball club called the Washington Nationals, it was outrageously wonderful to learn yesterday that we had stolen last year’s closer for the Bronx Bombers.

That’s right, Rafael Soriano, the guy who stepped up for the great and injured Mariano Rivera last season is now going to be wearing a curly W on his hat. Analysts have been writing that the Nationals sent a statement by agreeing to pay so much money for the best free agent relief pitcher on the market. The statement being, basically, “Screw All of You.”

See, the traditional baseball world made up of general managers, managers, owners and ornery old scouts who still spit tobacco products- doesn’t like the Washington ball club very much. They think we were crazy to sit Stephen Strasburg just to protect the young kid’s arm a year after Tommy John surgery. They see arrogance in Washington GM, Mike Rizzo’s approach because shutting down your star pitcher implies you’re keeping him healthy for all the future division titles, playoffs and World Series wins you’re going to be piling up.

Many in the traditional baseball world are also just plain crazy jealous. In Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nats lucked into two of the most remarkable players to come down the pike in about 20 years. The baseball establishment liked the Nats better when they were a doormat; a sorry little team from a rich but fickle market that used to have to pay a King’s ransom for any marquis talent (see Jason Werth).

But after a 98-win season and the realization that 87-year-old Nationals owner Ted Lerner is, in fact, one of the richest men in the world and certainly the wealthiest owner in the sport, suddenly old DC doesn’t looks so bad as a destination for premier talent.

But the fun part about stealing a Yankee is that back in our old insecure days, that’s what we beleaguered Washington fans thought was surely going to be the fate for our diamonds in the rough. That sometime in 2016 or 2017, Bryce Harper was going to be wearing pin stripes instead of the curly W- that it would be just a matter of time before Stephen Strasburg would someday be the opening day pitcher for the Yankees.

And now we have the Yankee closer- a decision that no doubt was actually made shortly after a chilly October night at Nationals Park when young relief ace, Drew Storen, picked the worst possible moment in the world to collapse. Blowing a six run lead in the deciding game of a playoff series is something you remember. And vow to never repeat.

Drew will get his chances in 2013, but it will be the Yankee closer, the 33-year old veteran Rafael Soriano who will be shutting the door on most nights. Young Drew will learn. But right now, it’s time for the formerly forlorn Nationals to rule the baseball world. And to their detractors: here’s a little tobacco juice in your eye.

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.