Monday, July 31, 2006

Red Meat

Jim Bowden looks like an absolute fool.

It's not that he let today's trading deadline elapse without trading Alfonso Soriano; that's the red herring that everyone will be screaming about tonight. What I can't stomach is that after all the smugness and hot talk, Bowden let the deadline pass without dealing any or all of Livan Hernandez, Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro or Soriano. Just a few days ago, Cap'n Leatherpants boasted: "the fire department is in my office right now hosing down my phone because all it does is burn." Pfft! Really? Those Mike Stanton trade discussions must have really drained the ol' cell phone minutes, huh?

Earth to Jim Bowden: get over yourself. Earth to Tom Boswell: stop encouraging him. Earth to Stan Kasten: WTF??

On the whole, the Nats made two excellent trades this month. The Kearns/Lopez/Wagner trade looks brilliant and getting rid of Stanton was a necessity. But what happened to building the farm system? On May 4, the day he was awarded the team, Ted Lerner said that building the farm system was his "number one priority". Here we are in August and the Nationals have added only one true "farm system" player: Shairon Martis, AKA Little Dutch Boy. Guillen and Vidro were probably lost causes due to injury but I have a hard time believing that no team was willing to part with a decent AA player to add Livan Hernandez for the stretch run.

Unless Bowden can somehow move these guys in the offseason, we'll be stuck with the same cast of creaky characters for the 2008 campaign:

1B Johnson
2B Vidro/Lopez
SS Guzman/Lopez
3B Zimmerman
C Schneider
RF Guillen/Kearns
CF Church/Kearns/Escobar/Jed Clampett
LF Church/Kearns/Blanche from Golden Girls

As for Soriano, well, Bowden got what he deserved. He told everyone who would listen about how eager he was to shop Soriano and how high the price would be, to the point where other GMs seem to have just tuned him out. Bowden was bluffing so hard at poker that the other 29 guys at the table just checked their bets. Ol' LeatherTrousers drove the price for Soriano so high that other teams simply punked him by offering their comparable stars for less. See: Abreu, Bobby and Lee, Carlos. At the last minute, Bowden made a pathetic attempt to trick other GMs into thinking the Nats were trying to re-sign Soriano, and no one fell for it.

Now the team is still talking about trying to sign Soriano to a long-term deal. To that I say: do or do not, there is no try. Is there a plan to build the farm system, or is there not? If that is the plan, then Bowden should forget about trying to re-sign Soriano and use that money for farm talent. If the plan is to dramatically spike the payroll and buy a winner, Florida Marlins style, then go for it. There's more than one way to field a winning team, but you have to make a plan and stick to it. I know, they can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but I can't help but feel that the Nats missed a real opportunity to turn a corner here. Dedication and commitment are the only way to stop this franchise's years of rudderless drifting. Is anyone willing to set a course?

He's Ours! For Now...

The trading deadline has passed, and Alfonso Soriano is still a Washington National. Svrluga at the Post reports that many teams were interested, but were pressuring Bowden to lower the price for Sori. As I and others have written before, there is an implicit discount interested teams would have applied in this situation to the price to be paid to the Nationals, given that we're nearly a month into the second half of the season and Sori is a free agent at the end of the year. Only a pure playoff team, with player stock to spare, and hoping to go all the way this season would see fit to give up the kind of trademeat Bowden wanted. Anything else, and quite possibly even what Bowden wanted, would have disappointed given Sori's upside.

Good for you Jim, good for you Stan. You cleared the first hurdle. Now, let's get him signed. The guy is a playa and will help this team win now.

Alfonso- President Kasten likely will not give you a no-trade clause in your contract, and you should not demand one. Any team that will give you one is likely not a team with which you will want to play for long. Look at Bobby Abreu, just traded from the Phillies to the Yankees. He is a former power hitter, and now is only worth his salt for on-base percentage. He's hit 9 homers and the one Phillies fan I know thinks he's a lazy outfielder. He's making $13.5 million this year, scheduled to make $15.5 next season. Phillies fans have wanted to get rid of him for some time now, but with his no-trade clause, he dictated that he would only go to the Yanks, Mets or Red Sox. The Yanks traded him for three class-A or lower prospects and another minor leaguer. In other words, crap, and now he'll be reviled in his old town.

Kasten ran the Braves for years, and never traded a serious player. If you come and play hard, he'll never trade you. If you get lazy or get the wanderlust, you never deserved the no-trade clause anyway. Get serious and we'll always love you.

Go Nats!

Box Dinner

Brandon has already written the story of Box 338. He was the point man for our company's Game Night out. He dealt with the ticket office, negotiated the box, got the tickets, the whole thing. It's a good review of an RFK box.

I wanted to add my take. I thought Box 338 was awesome. Sure, it's small and there were no amenities. It was private, there was air conditioning and the bathrooms in the outfield on the third level are always empty. The view was excellent, and I'm certain we were close enough for

A) Barry Bonds to hear my taunts;
B) Alfonso Soriano to hear my praise.


The view from Box 338. As Brandon wrote, this television was off when the game started and a brave coworker reached one of the elegant folding chairs out to turn it on.



I had managed to find a glass(ish) of good bourbon before the game, but had not eaten. After hurling a couple-three insults at Bonds (I never taunted anyone before at a baseball game. It was so...liberating.) I went on a food expedition with Brandon. Since I was unable to find the mythical 'food court' at the last game, we went down to the first level to try and find it. After walking all the way round to the front gate (directly opposite the outfield boxes), the entrance to the food court came into sight, but so did


Cheesesteaks. Although the two guys working the cart looked like they were imported directly from the South Philly, no self-hating Philadelphian would dare call the lukewarm grade triple-Z ('suitable for human consumption') shredded steak with cold american singles on a cold bun a cheesesteak, but it hit the spot. My quest for the alleged 'food court' is still To Be Continued.

Directly adjacent to the cheesesteak cart was the liquor bar, which was also a new discovery for me. I have yet to see liquor sold at RFK anywhere but here, except the f][king PNC Diamond Club, where your money's no good unless you spent $100 on your ticket. After engaging in some polite conversation with a young lady who knows far more about baseball than I, my turn came at the bar.

Here I must digress. I have found the closest thing to a bargain as I like you'll find at RFK: liquor. A Jack Daniels and ice at this bar is $7, for a fairly generous pour. Although JD is not a 'premium' bourbon (and before I get flamed in comments, yes I know JD is Tennessee sour mash and not technically bourbon whiskey), not all bars in DC got that memo, and it's not uncommon to pay $7 for a JD. Georgetown, Glover Park, Old Town Alexandria, Washington Harbor, Dupont Circle, all areas where this is an approximate price for this not-rail-but-for-sure-as-hell-not-premium whiskey.

By contrast, a bottle of Budweiser, which runs $6.50 at RFK, can be found in the DC area for anywhere from $3.50 to $5.50, though you'll get hit for $6 if you're where the Beautiful People hang out. So whiskey is sold at less of a stadium markup, comparitively. If the bartender thinks there's a tip in there somewhere, you may also get a little extra wrist in the pour as well. So I did not feel bad about paying $7 for a whiskey.

Make that two, since I may not be back here for some time. At this point, the bartender pulls out the 16oz wax Coke cups and asks if I want doubles, so I don't have to come back at all. Two $14 whiskey doubles and I was pretty much set. Good pours, whoever you were, Mr. Left Side Bartender.

I went back up to the box, where I set to drank one whiskey whilst hoarding the other. I tried to give it to Brandon, but at first he refused. I gave him credit for the refusal, whereupon he accepted it, still insisting he could not drink that much whiskey in four innings. That Brandon.

The atmosphere in the in the box was very social. Not everyone was a baseball fan, so there were conversations all around and people moving in and out of them and the game. I think for this type of event a box is so much nicer than seats; if everyone was out in a crowded section with their own seat, there would have been constraints around who you were next to and could talk to.

Yada yada up to the top of the ninth. Saul Rivera came in, sent three up, three down, all on fly balls. Still 3-2 Giants. Nationals ninth: substitute catcher Robert Fick (a former Brave from Kasten's days) walks.


Bottom ninth, no outs, Fick on first. Brandon, in full rally cap regalia, watches as Sori preps to K.







Lopez singled, sent Fick to second. RyZim came to the plate, and at this point I tapped Brandon on the shoulder and said, "we're going to win this game."

Wahoowa! Stat of the day: as of yesterday (Saturday), RyZim had 43 hits with players in scoring position, leading the majors.

Ryan singled, sending Fick home. Score tied 3-3.


Nick Johnson on the next at-bat, with a 2-2 count. Benitez walked him, loading the bases, sending Lopez to third.






Two outs left to score one run. All the Nats needed was one sacrifice fly. The game was tied, but I did not want to see any free baseball. I wanted this one wrapped up. Mr. Disgruntled himself, Alex Escobar at the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, he doinks one to left. Lopez, his slightly less shellshocked former Reds teammate, tags up and comes home. Game over. Nats win, 4-3. Brandon goes wild, the rest of the box goes mild. Everyone was having a good time and finishing the last of their beverages (I have found the supposed 7th inning last call at RFK to be somewhat...flexible). We stayed as long as we could. No one was in a hurry. When the grounds staff came out, we knew it was time to go.


This is not an exit.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back to the Future

It's July 30, and all eyes are on Alfonso Soriano and the trade deadline. However, Monday marks another more obscure deadline that is well worth watching. Tomorrow is the last day of Davey Johnson's contract as a special consultant to GM Jim Bowden. Will the Nationals retain him in any official capacity, or will Johnson disappear back into the forest of unemployment? The implications of any move to retain Johnson may offer a sneak preview into the uncertain future of Frank Robinson.

I've posted on this before, back on June 23, right after Johnson's hiring was announced. That post was a bit before its time, but what I wrote six weeks ago still rings true today:

"Also telling is the fact that Johnson’s contract as special assistant only runs through July 31 of this year. On the surface, it would appear that Johnson is only needed to get Bowden through the trading deadline. But it’s also interesting to note that July 31 figures to be only 2-3 weeks after the Lerner/Kasten regime officially takes over in Washington, just in the nick of time to renew Johnson’s contract and/or give him the manager job. Kasten can get up on the podium and tell us all how the franchise is going to enter a rebuilding period and that a change of the guard is necessary, and that Johnson is just the man for the job. I really would not be surprised to see this happen."
It's possible that Johnson's contract expiring is a non-issue. Maybe Jim Bowden really did just need some extra help evaluating talent for trades. There's certainly nothing unusual about Bowden's affinity for any and all former Reds players and staff. If one of his kids wanted a dog, he'd probably trade for Schottzie (file photo, right).

On the other hand, Johnson is probably the most sought-after "free agent" manager in baseball after Lou Piniella (also a former Red). Johnson was also the Reds' manager during the high point of Bowden's tenure as GM. The Reds were leading the division going into the 1994 strike and won the division title the following year under Johnson's stewardship. It's also worth noting that Bowden was not responsible for the manager's firing. Johnson was bounced out of Cincinnati by former owner Marge Schott (above), who had it in for him from the beginning. Schott threatened to fire Johnson before the 1994 season if he did not marry his live-in girlfriend. The couple got married that January.

Johnson was ultimately replaced with Ray Knight before the 1996 season, but Bowden clearly missed his former charge. In 1997, Bowden said of Johnson:
"If you give Davey the horses, he's going to win at least 90 games," Bowden says. "Davey can run a game, and he's going to bring along your young pitchers. I felt working with him was very positive. He can be stubborn at times, but he never asks you for players and he lets them play."
It's highly likely that Bowden wants to get some of that ol' mojo back. We may find out tomorrow if he'll get his wish.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Good Riddance

The Nats answered my prayers last night and traded Mike Stanton. And we got a young pitching prospect, Shairon Martis in exchange. What were the Giants thinking here? Is Jim Bowden slipping Mickeys to opposing GMs to get them to agree to horrible trades?

I was getting really, really tired of watching Stanton struggle to get out of inning after inning. I know that his absence leaves the team short in the bullpen, and that he was a good clubhouse influence and whatnot, but it's time for him to call it a career.

We'll see what other trades this weekend brings, but you can bet that Bowden will be importing some bullpen help....right?

Existentialism

Misschatter has an excellent post on a subject that Ben and I were just discussing last night: blogger existentialism. Do we see ourselves as providing the same journalistic quality as mainstream media outlets? Does the MSM see us as the online extension of talk-radio ranters? Are you ashamed to identify yourself as a blogger?

Writer Jaron Lanier has wonderfully articulated a perspective that I share:


The question of new business models for content creators on the Internet is a profound and difficult topic in itself, but it must at least be pointed out that writing professionally and well takes time and that most authors need to be paid to take that time. In this regard, blogging is not writing. For example, it's easy to be loved as a blogger. All you have to do is play to the crowd. Or you can flame the crowd to get attention.
Nothing is wrong with either of those activities. What I think of as real writing, however, writing meant to last, is something else. It involves articulating a perspective that is not just reactive to yesterday's moves in a conversation.
Blogs and mainstream media serve two similar, but different, purposes. The MSM is professionally bound to provide an eyewitness account of fact in a (usually) one-way dialogue. An editor filters the content for maximum conformity with the MSM entity's values, agenda, and paper-selling prowess. They report on it, you read it, end of story.

Above all else, MSM sources are regarded as the definitive historical account of world events. Think of the iconic status of big, era-defining front-page stories: V-E day in 1945, Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the mayhem on September 11, 2001. The professional journalists who record these events are, and ought to be, held to standards and practices that simply don't apply to the world of blogging.

Blog posts, even the best ones, are disposable. They are pure reaction and conversation with a deliberately short shelf-life. The triumph of blogs over newspapers is that they provoke the exchange of opinion among like-minded strangers who would otherwise have no contact with one another. One's perspective of blogs, therefore, will depend on the extent to which a reader values opinion and dialogue over the mere consumption of information.

I read both blogs and MSM sources for their own unique strengths. Barry Svrluga's Nationals game writeups tell me what happened and how. The Nats blogs all offer different, deeper perspectives. These elements all make up great parts of a whole. FWIW, I give the Post great credit for becoming much more conversational in the past 5 years or so while remaining a premier American newspaper. The live chats and yes, even blogs, that the Post sponsors are an indication of the growing two-way nature of media.

Talk-radio-style ranting and raving has it's place too, I suppose. These types typically pass the time flaming each other on message boards using anonymous handles. The anonymity tends to filter out the tenets of polite conversation, leading to caps-lock-pressing, exclamation-point-laden online shouting matches. Personally, I don't spend any time on these sites or find much value in the noise that they create.

I'm not at all ashamed of being a blogger. There's something to be said for putting your opinions and values out there every day for the world to criticize. I find blogging to be extremely rewarding, but I get even more value out of reading the posts of others. My world is enriched every day by the amazing writing that I find on almost every other Nationals blog.

Keep the conversation going...what's your take?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Welcome Tom Boswell to The Curly W

Well he's actually probably not reading us, but it makes a great headline. In today's column, he catches up with me on Alfonso Soriano:

He has elevated his game so high, and become so beloved by his teammates and professed to like his new team and town so much, that the Nationals suddenly confront a truly confounding question: Why on earth would you trade this guy at all?
I've been a proponent of keeping Sori all along. He's young, a masher, can work in left and at 2nd, likes it here, he gets along in the clubhouse and the fans love him. The money he wants is not unreasonable.

Sure, he wants a no-trade clause, but there's no way that's a real dealbreaker. Kasten had Tom Glavine, Ron Gant (until he broke his leg riding a motorcycle), John Smoltz, David Justice, Steve Avery, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Andruw Jones, Ryan Klesko, and kept all these guys five seasons or more. None of them had no-trade clauses (if we are to believe that Kasten has never granted one). If Sori's a keeper, Kasten will keep him. I guarantee Diego Bentz knows this. Kasten's not so stupid as to promise he'll hang onto a guy even if he sucks and loses his interest. Bentz knows this too.

Who in the battery of names we've heard is really worth Sori? Other teams are applying an implicit discount on the players they're offering based on the fact that Sori will be a free agent, and would have to start negotiating from scratch. Boswell:
Right now, rival teams may be nickel-and-diming the Nats, assuming they're committed to dealing Soriano by Monday's trade deadline.
And anyone who thinks Sori will be back for a longterm bite at the apple in the offseason, well that's just crazy talk. Boswell:
Those who think that Soriano might re-sign with the Nats if he is traded are probably dreaming.
If the Nats let him go now, he's gone.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Suite Spot

The lack of enthusiasm in the man's voice was clear. "You're not gonna impress anyone with these boxes," said Mike Miller, sales rep for the Washington Nationals. I had been assigned the task of organizing an outing to a Nats game for my office (wonder why they picked me?) so I called the club to see what options were available. I was interested in getting a suite for our group of 16 people, partly because I thought it would be conducive to socializing, but mostly out of morbid curiosity.

The sales rep was right. If you'd like to simulate the experience of sitting in an RFK suite, just set up a bunch of folding chairs in your garage or unfinished basement and hang a TV from the ceiling. Don't believe me? Take a look at this of 360 degree image of an RFK suite. It looks like a storage room in the basement of the Death Star. Now don't get me wrong: it wasn't all bad. We had a pretty decent view from left center, an excellent perch for hurling the occasional catcall at Barry Bonds. The suite was also air conditioned, which is a must when sitting in small, enclosed spaces with 15 friends in July.

The air conditioning and a lone trash can were the limits of the suite's amenities. Someone had taped a small D.C. United poster to the wall in a feeble attempt to spruce things up. The TV was turned off when we arrived, and the condition of the room led us to assume that it probably didn't work. At about the fourth inning one of my co-workers got the brilliant idea to extend one of the chairs out of the front of the suite and press the power button with the chair's leg. We held our breath, and everyone cheered when the in-park MASN feed sprang to life on the screen.

While the space itself wasn't anything to write home about, the experience of renting the suite from the Nationals was very positive. Mike, the sales rep, was friendly and willing to help me devise the best solution for my group. The first time I called, Mike explained the various options that were available and offered to email me a list of suites and prices and information on catering packages. We finally made a decision on Monday afternoon, and the game was on Wednesday, so there was little time for the Nats to overnight us our tickets. This was no problem: Mike personally delivered the tickets to our Dupont Circle office on Tuesday morning! I was completely shocked, given the bad reputation of the Nationals' front office.

Of course, like anything associated with the Nats, price gouging was the name of the game. The 10-person suite itself cost $900, not cheap by any means. In fact, for just $15 more per person one could sit in the exclusive PNC Diamond Club right behind home plate, yet here we were in left center. The suite included two parking passes (a $24 value), but did not include any kind of food or beverage whatsoever. All of that was handled separately through Aramark, who proudly offers such ripoffs as a six pack of Pepsi for $14 dollars, six packs of Bud for $25.50 and one bottle of Jack Daniels for the low, low price of $64. Nothing like a 300% markup! People complain about paying $3 for a gallon of gasoline these days, but they think nothing of drinking $52 per gallon beer at RFK. But I digress.

All in all, the RFK suite experience was great for our group. It was conducive to co-worker socializing in a way that just would not have worked had we bought seats out in the stands. The downsides, of course, are the astronomical prices for Soviet-style amenities. So if your boss ever tasks you with setting up the office outing to RFK, consider renting a box. But if you do, just remember Mike Miller's words: you really won't impress anyone with these suites.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Roll Call: Clean Sweep (cont'd)

Update 7/26/06 1:30pm: Dave at Nats Triple Play posts his review of the Grand Re-opening Weekend. He was pretty sour on RFK before, but he enjoyed the weekend. Says RFK doesn't smell bad anymore. Our own Brandon is in comments there raining on the parade.

Continuing as I was...news and notes from the Natosphere. 12:16am, 7/26/06. Alfonso Soriano is still a Washington National.

Harper at Oleanders and Morning Glories: when I say Brian, you say

...Schneider. Plus, a quick look at the players from the trade (mmm...pre-Eddie Van Halen Valerie Bertinelli...). And he also-uh invokes the temptation-uh of Satan-uh and says the Nationals-uh must trade-uh Alfonso-uh. Later, proving he is but human clay, he evaluates the rumored Soriano trademeat, and despairs.

Nationals Enquirer is worth the headlines alone. He's reporting there is no White Sox deal. As an aside, I thought it was bullshit, at least for today. Nats fans should take some degree of pride in knowing that Soriano is the hottest trade property in the majors. Period. If Kasten pulled the trigger any time before 11pm on the 31st, I'd think he settled for too little. Austin Kearns, take note. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your team is help them by leaving.

Nationals Nation has a closeup of the Giant Head Presidents from the new and still despicable 4th inning races. Harper, this is a better photo than I took Sunday, but lower res.

Dave at Nats Triple Play posted a pretty harsh view of RFK from Thursday, the day before the GRO (the Grand Re-opening, not the British General Register Office, where you can enter a birth, a death or a wedding...come to think of it, maybe that is more appropriate). He hasn't posted since, so if he was at any of the weekend games, he should post a follow-up. Nate posts a positive take from Sunday, after the sweep, but defers to Dave's take, which is still not on the wire. Finally and once again, if you are here but want to read about something other than the Nationals, go somewhere else, like Watson's review of Clerks II.

Ok, so I've come to realize Brian at Nationals Farm Authority turns out content so dense, I can barely editorialize. Hardcore baseball fans can find minor league farm system reports from 7/20, 7/21, 7/22, 7/23, 7/24

He's not all stats. While everybody is looking at the Reds trade and the (supposed) Soriano trade, wondering, where's the beef

where beef = prospects
here Brian writes about a Nationals prospect in the Dominican Summer League, and how if it weren't for 3rd party bloggers, we'd never know this stuff, then posts about Dustin Dickerson and Esmailin Gonzalez, two promising future Nats, then wraps up the Harrisburg game from Sunday (featuring Kory Casto, pimped hard by Farid at Beltway Boys, and Tim Raines...Junior). Here's some meta: the future of the future. Nats hire Mike Rizzo as Assistant GM. Note that the Diamondbacks' farm system never got worse while Rizzo was there. Wonder if he's related to Frank Rizzo. Maybe I should sue for punitive damages.

Lastly, Brian gets an entire graf for his take on Soriano Must Go. With no chance at the playoffs, the Nats must trade him, or risk accepting only draft picks from the team that signs him as a free agent in the offseason, versus
2 or 3 good prospects who are pretty close to the majors and who are not as risky as two draft picks.
Respectfully, I believe this is overthinking. The guy is a playa and sells tickets. He wants to stay here. There's an opening at second. Any trade is bound to disappoint, unless it produces the next Greg Maddux. Nick Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Felipe Lopez, RyZim in the infield next year. I think that's a good start. Yes the Nats need pitching. They also need a bat. A big one.

Thurdl at Nationals Institutes of Health projects John Patterson is done, and does some math for us: season over in September; Guillen 'tommyjohned' til maybe Jan 08.

As ever, District of Baseball and Nationals Pride round up the online media coverage of the Nationals.

Nats won their 4th in a row tonight, 8-7 over the Giant(Barry Bonds Head)s. I may sample the Giants bloggers tomorrow. This is an open thread.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where Are You, Dear Reader?

SiteMeter tells us we have a few international readers. The image below shows readers outside the US in New South Wales, Australia, Taiwan, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Vancouver, British Columbia. Over the past two weeks, we've also seen readers browsing from England, France and Mexico. International readers: are you expats? Foreign nationals with a taste for baseball? Drop us a comment and tell us about yourself!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The US readers are all over the place, from Seattle to Orlando. Brandon and I are in DC. Where are you?

Roll Call: Clean Sweep

A terrific weekend at the ballpark. Alfonso Soriano is still a National. Ryan Church was back and hit a big homer. Tony Armas and Livan Hernandez really pitched! With a glass of Baker's bourbon in my hand, let us review news and notes from the Natosphere...

JammingEcono at Banks of the Anacostia is still on the Soriano trade beat. Latest news: White Sox. Don't know where that one came from. JE's got a whole rundown on who from the Sox would make this trade doable.

Farid at The Beltway Boys just keeps turning shit out. The guy writes a lot, and it's good. Here he writes about Austin Kearns and why he looks so droopy. I have sympathy for a guy that grew up learning the game watching the Reds, then gets drafted by them in the first round of the baseball draft, then gets traded in the prime of his career. Memo to Austin: buck the fuck up cowboy. You can be a Reds fan and be happy that you were worth enough to help them in a stretch run. But when you come to work now, you're in Washington. Everyone in Washington is from somewhere fucking else. I like that Farid changes up his top banner every so often. If you're reading this now Farid, your top left banner is a bad link.

In other Beltway Boys news, here's his take on the Cubs series, game 1, game 2, game 3, he's a bit skeptical on the White Sox McCarthy trade. And he's a bit under the weather. Comment him some chicken soup.

Chris at Capitol Punishment has his take on the Cubs series, and has some good and bad.

Basil at Federal Baseball has a weird story about Cubs Manager Dusty Baker and an ESPN producer trying to sandbag him. Also, I've written that I don't like the Presidents Race. I think it's stupid, disrespectful, and given they ran that crappy computer animated race, not even original. But since they're doing it, Basil profiles G-Wash, TJ, Abe and The Teddy.

Misschatter at Just a Nats Fan has her take on Austin Kearns. Hey man, I know it sucks, but you make good money and don't work year round. Get over it. No other team will want you if they think you can only be happy in Cincinnati, and even the Reds won't have any use for a whiny bitch with entitlement issues. And here, Misschatter reveals her secret plan to dominate the universe: suck up to Tom Boswell and George Solomon. Here I learn Misschatter takes notes during games, here is Misschatter and Mischatter's mom being interviewed Friday by ABC channel 7. Unfortunately, I had problems playing the file. I'll try on another system tomorrow. Lastly, she posts a moving tribute to Sal Fasano.

Screech's Best Friend at Nats320 is still hard at work inside the entropy-free bubble of section 320. As I wrote below, I tried to crash their section, and I almost couldn't find it. It's almost...as though...they don't want you to find it. Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

A busy little bee ScrBF has been: all-time fave RFK eff-ups and great reviews of the Cubs games: 1 (bonus posts: Grand Re-opening picsfrom Friday#1, #2), 2, 3. Still more pics, and an appreciation of Jose Jose Jose Jose Guillen.

I'll finish up tonight's Roll Call with a post from a blogger we just added to the blogroll: Nationals Baseball Fan, written by Michael Briggs. He sits in section 319, which is also inside the RFK wormhole with 320. If you've evern been frustrated with traffic signage in the DC area as being somewhere on the misleading side of confusing, you'll find this post funny.

I'll round up the other bloggers tomorrow. 12:05 am 7/25/06. Alfonso Soriano is still a Washington National as of this moment. This is an open thread.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Single Blogger Theory, or, Photojournal: Bukowski Edition

I had plans to go see today's game 3 against the Cubs with an old friend, but he never showed. I went ahead to Lot 8 by myself, thinking he may be running late and would catch me at the game. I set up my table and chair, poured a whiskey and read the New York Times and USA Today Weekend Sports edition. Alfonso Soriano on the cover.


View of the stadium from my spot in Lot 8.

Across the way from me were a bunch of people having what looked like a catered tailgate. As gametime approached, most of that crowd, including all the men, disappeared into the stadium. I watched as the three ladies left to clean up struggled to get a keg out of a keg tub. Still waiting for my seatmate, I volunteered assistance, and they offered me a beer. They said they had to drain it anyway, so they poured me a Bud Light and began hawking free beer to everyone walking past their spot into the stadium. I had two beers with them and went into the stadium. It was top of the third inning. I got a red Rally Towel.


The Free Beer Ladies. Memo to Nats management: ladies in the lot with free beer = a better game experience.


I was greeted by a very enthusiastic ticket staff.

I made it to my seat just in time to see the end of the Big Head Presidents race. Of all the things announced as 'new,' this makes the least sense to me. I find it distasteful in the same way Mattress Discounters uses George Washington's face on the dollar bill to hawk bedding in January. Besides, they were already doing this virtually on the big screen, so I wonder who pitched the idea of dressing staff up in ten-foot tall costumes in July. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.


I don't remember who won, but Roosevelt, at left, was disqualified for using a motor vehicle.

I did not eat in the lot, so I made for the food. I decided I'd check out the 3rd level festivities the team put into place for the 'Grand Re-opening.' On the way there, I stopped by a couple of sections in the outfield I usually visit. Just to the left of Box 338 is the box section that directly faces the batter. According to MLB rules as I understand them, all parks have to have a direct view of the wall, or ivy, or something plain and green so as not to distract the batters. This section used to have green netting over it, so it blended in, but was still noticeable. Some time after May, they boarded it over and painted it green on the outside. There always used to be some random guy in there, watching through a hole in the netting. Now, it's just plywood and storage.


I hope the new stadium does a better job than this.

One section to the right is Box 338. This is an open balcony over center field. Back in April and May, fans could walk right up and hang out there. The view is terrific, and you can look right down and see the bullpen behind the outfield fence. At some point since May, the Washington Elite in Box 340 complained that commoners could just walk right up and get the same view for free that the Washington Elite was paying the big bucks for, so they gated it off. Today, I noticed they had the gated further back and had a private party sitting in that area. A good idea.


The Nationals should be hosting the Nats Bloggers in this section, and lavishing as much free food and liquor needed for positive coverage, because we care.

Continuing on, I wandered past the Kids Zone. Pretty cool. Virtual batting practice, face painting, Xbox, pitching cage.


I wanted to try out the Xbox.

The only thing I could find was Red, Hot & Blue, so I ate there.


The barbeque spot on the third level in the outfield.

$9.75 I thought was a lot for a cold dry pork sandwich and slaw, but it's a ball game, right? I was annoyed that the RHB area had no forks (slaw with a spoon) and no sauce for the sammy. I tried to get a water here, but they conveeeeeeeeniently had only beer and soda.


The view from Red Hot & Blue.

It was the 6th inning, and I was ready for another beverage. On my way around the stadium, I looked out the front gates at the red carpet.


I think the red carpet is pretty cool. At upper right is the George Preston Marshall plaque.

Instead of buying a beer (and the annoying PNC Diamond Club that sells bourbon is always empty but you can't get in there without a $100 ticket), I went back outside to my car.


I got this shot on the way out at the 6th inning. The swaying cantilevered roof is iconic. It's what separated RFK from Three Rivers, Riverfront and Veterans Stadium, all same design, all deceased.

Back at My Own Private Tailgate, I had another bourbon and listened to the bottom of the 6th and top of the 7th. I went back in on the second ticket I had that I had been unable to get rid of at the beginning of the game.


Another view of the red carpet.












I thought maybe the Nats320 guys would be fun to meet, so I went to section 320. 320 must be the nexus of the universe, because there is no sign for section 320. The sign before it is for 'Sections 319-321,' and the sign after it is for section 321. I had to go down and walk two sections toward center field in order to get over to it.


I presume Screech's Best Friend and Nat del Negro are in this photo somewhere.











I went back to my seat(s).


Section 213.












I took off for the outfield seats to take some more pictures. It was the 8th inning.


Your blogger washed his hands before photographing himself.
















I love the outfield seats and can't wait to exploit their cheapness.


In the last row.












One of the endearing things about RFK is that if you are in the last row of the upper deck, you have to duck to avoid braining yourself on the steel roof supports as you walk the row.


I know this beacuse I whacked my head good in this section on July 9.
















Another great thing about RFK is the views out from under the roof.


Looking east along the Whitney Young Bridge. Lot 8 dumps out at right and 295 south is at the other end of the bridge. I'll miss this stadium.










Work it the fuck out with Soriano and get him signed. Welcome back Ryan Church!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

2 in a Row. That's Hot.

I should be tailgating in Lot 8 right now, but my seatmate is running late, or something. Are baseball trade politics always this crazy? Youth, prospects, rebuilding, that's what I'm hearing everywhere about the Nationals. No chance at the playoffs, in theory, so we're looking at the 'future.' A couple of Natizens have noted that dealing a couple of short relievers for a couple of day to day players is not really rebuilding, unless, of course, it is.

All Soriano rumor, all the time. Vidro and Guillen, I find it interesting that the most solid coverage of these players as trade fodder comes after they've been hurt. Now we're talking Livan? C'mon, there's going to be no real trade for the future that does not involve Soriano. Everything else is either a prospects crapshoot, or some guy(s) that help you in the majors right now.

I love Alex Escobar (right now, that is), and Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez may become 'good guys,' but does anyone see these guys as the future? Anything can happen, and I'd love to be wrong. The only real asset the Nats have to trade is Soriano, and as long as he's still on the table, the value of the Nats other trademeat goes down. Everything else is automatically second-tier at best.

Interesting stat from the Post: Alfonso Soriano, who hit three doubles and a triple in yesterday's 7-3 win gives him 231 bases for the season, "by far" the most in the majors (could not find the league-wide stats for comparison).

Why the hell can't the Nats work it out with this guy? He's a good second baseman, and Vidro is not the future any longer. Seems after the controversy in spring training, Soriano moving to left field, now that the guy is white hot, they haven't pulled the trigger on a trade and Vidro is hurt (who as I mentioned above, I'm just now finding out was trademeat)...seems like a perfect-storm opportunity to work it out with a 30-year old player that has a lot of giddyup left in him.

Just my $.02.

Ok, fuck it. I'm out of here. Going to pick up some ice for my whiskey and a sandwich and heading to the stadium. My seatmate can find me there. If anyone reading this is heading to the game, stop by my green canopy-silver station wagon tailgate spot for a bourbon. I'm taking my camera and going to take a bunch of pics. I might even crash Section 320. Go Nats!

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's About Damn Time

An AP story appearing on Yahoo! Sports reports that the paperwork completing the sale of the Nationals to the Lerner group was finished earlier tonight. (Update: 8:41 AM Saturday: Rocket Bill has the full scoop on Nationals.com.) The change in ownership will be official after a money transfer goes through on Monday. That giant sucking sound will be the $450 million going out of Lerner's pockets and into MLB's coffers.

Just two days ago, MLB's saber-rattling lawyers and Kasten's despondent comments about "foot dragging" made it seem like the official transfer would be postponed until the District met the league's terms. Now, out of nowhere, Stan Kasten tells us that "any remaining issues are complete." This turn of events makes it clear that the MLB letter (written on behalf of the owners) was, for the Lerners, the establishment of precedence for the fights ahead and, for MLB, a parting shot at the D.C. Council.

Make no mistake: there will certainly be issues in the near future, but tonight's paperwork completion should at least end the tripartite nature of the wrangling. MLB has its money and can now slink back to New York, fat and happy with the spoils of its slovenly greed.

The fights between the District and the Lerners over the stadium are just warming up, I'm afraid. And there's still that MASN thing. But at least Bud Selig and Bob DuPuy are names that we won't have to hear in connection with our beloved team anymore. Can I get an amen?

A Shovel Full of Dirt

I read something in the Washington Post last week that made me go back and take another look at this stadium thing.

Last Monday, the Post ran a piece by political writers Jim VandeHei & Chris Cillizza on Democracy Alliance, a network of high-dollar liberal donors that give the big bucks and then redirect them to places like Center for American Progress (liberal thinktank founded by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta), Media Matters for America (a research organization that tracks conservative misinformation in the media -- hint: they're busy; founded by David Brock, former conservative hitman and author of an attack book on Anita Hill and the guy that first reported on Troopergate, leading to Paula Jones filing a lawsuit against Bill Clinton) and Air America Radio, home of liberal talkers Al Franken and Rachel Maddow.

Seems some in the Washington establishment think the secrecy in which the Alliance operates is a bad thing, or looks bad, or tilts too liberal yada yada. Nothing about baseball here.

Then I see the graphic that accompanied the article. It's not in the online version, so you'll have to trust me. It listed among the George Soros's and the Fred Barons...head of Western Development Herb Miller, late of DC Baseball Stadium development award!

So I did some homework. Here's a link to a Hotline blog piece on Democracy Alliance. Herb Miller, "Dem uber-fundrasier" is mentioned in the second paragraph.

Hrmm, I said. Bigtime Democratic fundraiser gets big urban development contract from city run by Democrats...and the 'big business' owner seems all up in a wad over it.

So I did some more homework. I decided to see where Ted Lerner's political contributions go. So far, for the 2006 election cycle, he has donated $1250 to Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia. It should be noted that Lerner Enterprises is based in Bethesda, Maryland.

In 2002 and 2004, he gave a total of $1000 to Tom Davis, as well as $250 to the Federal Victory Fund, Tom Davis' federal political action committee (PAC). In 4 years, the Federal Victory Fund has given nearly $550,000 to Republican candidates, and $2150 to Demcratic candidates (but zero dollars to Democrats since 2003, which is also the last year Ted gave to Democrats, those being Kate Hanley in her effort to unseat Jim Moran in VA-8 and in 2002 to Al Wynn in Maryland -- in 1999 he gave $1000 to Al Gore, and $500 to Tom Davis in 2000).

(I had problems with these long, dynamically-generated URLs, so to see my source data on Lerner's giving, go to OpenSecrets and search on Lerner, Theodore and for the Federal Victory Fund, hit here and it's the third one down.)

What does all this mean? I'm not sure. I know other members of Lerner's family give politically as well, but I did not research them. I don't know of any other apparatus Lerner controls for giving politically, such as a PAC, and I could not find any data on Lerner Enterprises corporate political giving.

Is there an angle to this story? The mayor and Council advocated for Fred Malek's ownership group, but he's an even harder-core Republican giver than Lerner (over $70,000 to Republicans this year alone), so it's not explicitly political payback. Readers know I have speculated that it's personal payback by the city for MLB's picking of the ownership group the City didn't want. I just thought the political side story might be interesting. Wrap that up with the whole British politician gets killed in front of Miller's house, and it's worth a look.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Roll Call: Misery Loves Company

Update: stories that came late yesterday and this morning:

BallWonk: hilarious look at HBP from the perspective of other pro sports; how this trade is already hated by both teams.

JammingEcono at Banks of the Anacostia is really all over Soriano > Mariners and Livan > Mets trade rumors.

Farid at The Beltway Boys thinks Ramon Ortiz' decent outing last night might get him traded immediately, and he responds to some criticism about his calls to re-tool the team.

The title of Misschatter's raw roundup of the last two games says it all.

Screech's BF has an appreciation piece on Vinny Castilla, just released by the Padres.

NationalsEnquirer has today's Baseless Speculation of the Day.

Brian at Nationals Farm Authority has the latest Farm Report up.

Finally, like Pavlov's dog, when I heard about John Patterson having 'exploratory surgery,' I hoped hoped hoped Thurdl tell us what that really meant. Done!

Now back to our regularly scheduled Roll Call:

Post of the day: Basil's anatomy of a bunt-turned-inside-the-park- home run.

BallWonk writes an open letter to Nick Johnson: Make it so, Numbah One. Also: bats were not included in the Big Trade.

JammingEcono at Banks of the Anacostia is nosing around the Nats potential trade partners. A long post on three Detroit prospects, a realistic look at a Nats-Mariners trade for Soriano, and, after a review of a DC eatery, rumor-mongers on Soriano to the Cards and Dodgers. Look at the guys mentioned for Soriano and tell me what you think.

Man, Farid at The Beltway Boys turns out content: his take on the first game post-trade (a loss), a look at how the 'big trade' is already on its head (with a great graphic -- Farid, is that your Photoshop job?), and his thoughts on how close the fielding lineup already is to success, if just the pitching could catch up. Bonus RyZim Watch in this post.

From Chris at Capitol Punishment: angry snark on the trade, an open letter to Frank Robinson (bonus team notes in this post), the limit of Infinite Suckiness (with bonus anagram o' the day) and a look at potential Soriano trade partners: Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Yankees. Moral of this post: enjoy Alphonso while he's here.

Ryan at Distinguished Senators is pretty sure he could get a hit off this guy.

Basil at Federal Baseball has an interesting stat on teams with 100+ losses and number of wins by each team's top pitcher. Some interesting names come out of this exercise: Randy Johnson, Andy Benes and Doc Gooden (bonus 'nitwit' flamewar update). He uses cutting edge technology to model the Saturday collapse in the ninth inning: two Nats batters came to the plate with the bases loaded, down one run. It is amusing for me to read about Basil's disassociation with (or intense malaise about) Soriano trade prospects when he hammers me daily with stats. Guess Basil's a 'not real until it is' guy. Don't forget the anatomy of a bunt-turned-inside-the-park- home run.

Misschatter at Just a Nats Fan has been prolific. She looked at Kearns' and Lopez' first game, posted a video of Baseball on the Barn (Curly W will be at the next one), updated us on Wiki Gonzales and posted a roundup of Monday's game, including Nick Johnson's new at-bat music. Bonus Real American Hero mp3 on this post.

Screech's BF at Nats320 is keeping busy while his section is dark. His head is spinning over the roster moves and he reacts to the first post-trade game (no one was spared). In a post echoing Chris at Capitol Punishment, Screech's BF writes that this is not much of a team anymore. They are just sort of...diffusing into the ether. Like me, he's an Escobar supporter: he hits in every game and has a strong arm. If only he would improve his fielding. Screech's BF thinks he may be the odd man in the outfield with Armas and O'Connor coming back and the addition of Kearns. He says goodbye to Matt LeCroy, a DH in the National League, dumps on Felipe Lopez and Tony Armas as proxies for a team with no confidence, and ohh does he have the trading deadline blues! Bonus post from Nat del Negro, coming off the Nats320 bench: is Escobar staying after all? And yes, you can freely quote the Post, just attribute the comment, and if you feel like it, but it in

blockquotes
and/or link to the original piece.

Nationals Enquirer, as always, has the best tabloid headlines of any Nats blog. Reaction to the first post-trade game, the Showcasing of Jose Guillen, risk Cordero for more than three outs or...lose, Felipe Kearns (lol!), buh-bye Matthew LeCroy, Nationals Enquirer Mailbag (money quote:
There is a reason for this madness; and it is known as sucky pitching.
And Alex Escobar gets it done at the plate. (RyZim Watch: 17 game hit streak. Wahoowa!)

Nate at Nats Triple Play captures the boundless enthusiasm of Natworld at the time of the trade...and the hangover. If you're tired of reading about the suck, read Watson's review of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Colin at NatsFanatics has a Nationals Fan Club update. Blogswarm: Colin has been asked by the team to gauge input on stadium music. Go to the forum and post what you want to hear.

Brian at Nationals Farm Authority never sleeps. Farm reports here, here, here and here. Some words of comfort (and uncertainty) on the loss of Bray and Majewski, and a great take on the Washington Post's piece today on the Nats farm system. Brian knows this stuff.

Harper at Oleanders and Morning Glories has a message for the Reds fans: rest Majewski. He also has an observation about Being Alex Escobar. Not to be outdone by himself, he quotes his own post to make the point that Kearns is part of the future, Escobar, may be. He picked up a great quote from the longtime voice of the Reds re: Jim Bowden. The guy's no fan. His latest post has a roundup on Guillen's MRI and more more more Soriano trade rumors.

Thurdl at Nationals Institutes of Health thinks the 15-day DL is a laugher for John Patterson. He rounds up Vidro's hammy, Armas's return and Ryan Drese's rehab start here, and despite Guillen's strained elbow hurting his trade value (Guillen's, not Thurdl's), streaking Escobar and opposite-of-streaking Kearns will get to play their natural positions.

District of Baseball and Nationals Pride, as usual, round up online media coverage.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pee-Yew

Man. Stankin. 2-3 since the All-Star Break, and lookin bad. Lost two of three to the worst team in baseball, the Pirates. Going into the rubber match tonight with the Marlins, a team so bad only the Nats keep them from last place. I have the Nats Blahs right now. I feel like I don't even know the bullpen anymore. Some quick hits on the team since the trade:

Nats are 2-3, scoring 31 runs. Looks like losing two short relievers has not helped the starting pitching (that just in from the Department of Blinding Flashes of the Obvious).

Reds are 4-1, scoring 29 runs. Looks like giving up two every day players has not hurt run production (which is what the optimistic Reds bloggers below predicted).

Nationals new players:
Austin Kearns: 4 games, 17 AB, 2 hits

Felipe Lopez: 5 games, 21 AB, 2 hits, 1 home run

Game 1 vs Pitt: Nats pitchers combined for a whopping 2 strikeouts. Pirates pitchers only racked up 4.

Game 2 vs Pitt: there was nothing memorable about this game.

Game 3 vs Pitt: Livan threw 6 innings (86 pitches) and gave up 3 ER. For some reason, I view this as improvement.

Game 1 vs Florida: Tony Armas did not look terrible in his comeback, which is a compliment, and Ricky Nolasco pitched seven solid innings for the Marlins. With only 12 total strikeouts in the whole game, 3 total walks (the Marlins pitchers walked no batters) and 13 total hits, this was a defensive game.

Game 2 vs Florida: in an comedy of errors (exquisitely dissected by Basil at Federal Baseball), Florida CF Reggie Abercrombie bunted up the 3rd base line, and it turned into an inside-the-park homer. When that shit happens, you're just happy to get the win.

In this stretch of games, Alphonso Soriano hit three homers, all with no one on base.

Shall we have a look at Clayton, Bray and Majewski?

Royce Clayton: 4 games, 11 AB, 5 hits

Gary Majewski:
2/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, faced 5 batters

Bill Bray:
2 IP, 1 hit, 1 ER, faced 8 batters, and got a win

Anyone else in a Nats funk?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

100th Post!

It's considered somewhat taboo in the Natosphere, and in the blogging world at large, to promote one's own blog. However, I'm going to take a pass on this one day...this is the 100th post of The Curly W!

I really didn't know what to expect (or what I was doing) when I started this blog back in September of 2005. I've always loved to write, but the crappy job I had back then afforded me no opportunity to do so. I've always loved the idea of blogging, but I never had a theme to shape my efforts. Then the Nationals came to DC and re-awakened my somewhat-dormant love of baseball. I started lurking on some of the other Nats blogs and, being the loudmouth that I am, started leaving comments on the posts I found. I'd start typing a comment, complete with a thesis and supporting points, and when I got to about the 500th word I realized: "hell, if I'm going to go to all this trouble I might as well start my own blog." So I did.

It all began days before the end of the 2005 season. I explained the I explained the blog's raison d'etre and a bit of my own backstory in the first post. I decided that I wanted the Curly W to be a sports column, focusing on the larger, more controversial issues affecting the team instead of parsing stats or writing recaps. Those just aren't my style and besides, the market for that stuff was already well-cornered. I knew that my inability to post everyday would put me at somewhat of a disadvantage among the readership, so I tried to make every post count, and I've had a lot of fun writing almost all of them.

Some of my favorites are my initial defense of Jim Bowden last fall, and my re-defense of him a month later. Of course, I eventually came around to the dark side after the Soriano trade. I also had a lot of fun putting together my first and only Curly W InfoGraphic about the ownership/stadium debacle and teeing off on one of Tom Boswell's more ridiculous columns. Most recently, I had a great time writing a three-part trilogy on my own personal greatest Nationals moment of all time.

I've also met (virtually, anyway) an amazing, witty and intelligent community of people who, like me, love the Nats and want to write about them. Many of their blogs have served as the inspiration for this one, and I enjoy reading their work even more than I enjoy creating my own. In particular, I'd like to thank Farid, MissChatter, Chris, Basil and Nate for their comments, encouragement and technical help with the Curly W.

I'd also like to thank Ben Folsom for joining the Curly W. Ben's passion for the team and for writing have helped this site turn the corner from infrequent posting. Thanks to Ben, the Curly W is now a daily (or more) Nationals blog. Stop by often. Tell your friends.

Of course, I'd like to thank you, Dear Reader, for honoring me with your readership. There millions of blogs and terabytes of pornography out there on the Internet that you could be viewing, and it's humbling that you choose to spend some of that surfing time here. This blog wouldn't exist without you.

Finally, thanks to my favorite reader, Kate, for enduring my late-night, kitchen-table blogging with that bemused smile and pat on the back for which all good wives are famous. I love you.

How to Be Dead

How bad are the Nats? It's a question we've all asked ourselves this year as news of each new loss comes rolling in. We've all discussed the reasons for the team's suckery. It seems like the team has sunk to new lows this week by turning in dreadful performances against two of the worst teams in the National League. This last week isn't the only time this season that the Nats have performed outrageously poorly against the league's cellar dwellers. In fact, the team has dropped so many games to bad teams that I formed a hypothesis: the Nationals fare worse against teams with losing records than they do against teams with winning records.

I decided to test my hypothesis against the real numbers, presented below:

Nats vs. Winning Teams

W L Nats W Nats L
==============================
Boston 55 36 0 3
Yankees 54 36 2 1
Toronto 52 40 0 3
Mets 55 37 2 6
St. Louis 52 40 1 3
Cincinnati 49 44 1 5
San Diego 49 43 0 3
===========
6 24

Nats vs. Sub-500 teams
W L Nats W Nats L
=============================
Baltimore 44 51 3 3
Tampa Bay 39 54 2 1
Atlanta 44 49 4 4
Philadelphia 42 49 6 4
Florida 41 50 5 5
Milwaukee 46 48 3 0
Houston 45 48 4 4
Chicago 35 56 1 2
Pittsburgh 33 61 3 3
Los Angeles 46 47 2 1
Colorado 44 48 0 4
===========
33 31


Whoa! I could not have been more wrong. What do these numbers prove (other than that my hypotheses are crap)? I was stunned to see that the Nationals, after 94 games, only have six wins against teams with winning records. Six! It's not just that the Nationals are a below average team, it's that they are wholly unable to compete against better than average teams.

Not only that, but they're barely scraping by against the losers of the league. It is self-evident that a losing team like the Nats would fare better against the losers than they would against the winners. What shocks me is the variance in their performance against the two. These numbers underscore what a truly awful team this is. Moreover, the numbers suggest that it will take more than just a blockbuster trade or two to turn this team around.

It's pretty clear what has to happen to affect positive change at this point. First of all, Frank Robinson has to go. His lethargy and negativity have clearly worn off on the players, as exemplified by a general lack of hustle and carelessness on the field. A manager who sleeps in the dugout is a manager who can't be bothered to do whatever it takes to win. Bye-bye, Frank. Make sure you log your parting shots with Ladson and Svrluga on your way out the door.

The manager sets the tone, but he does not win games by himself. The players have to be passionate about the team and the game, and the Nats don't have that either. Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten need to follow through on the vision that they have articulated: get rid of players who are not part of the long-term solution in D.C., and acquire ones that are, even if they are not currently major-league ready. Last week's blockbuster was a good start, but more needs to be done. This team simply cannot move forward until Soriano, Guillen, Vidro and possibly Hernandez have been traded.

Last, but not least, Major League Baseball and the Lerner family have to finalize the transfer of ownership. I know that Stan Kasten is now the de facto team president, and Lerner is the de facto owner, but every move they make will be tainted by shadows of doubt until the stench of MLB ownership is finally washed away. This weekend's Grand Re-Opening is a good start. The changes at the stadium this weekend, however slight, will be tangible proof that the Nats are finally entering a new era. I can't wait!

*****

I'll be at the game on Saturday. Anyone else going?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Roll Call: Reds Bloggers Edition

A sampling of reaction by Cincinnati Reds citizen journalists to their team's 8-player trade with the Nationals. Engineered by Jim Bowden, the former Reds GM.

Will at The Morrison Hotel Annex is happy FINALLY to be rid of Felipe Lopez. He thinks the Reds are a better team instantly, regardless of the incoming players. Incidentally, he rated Lopez an F and Kearns a B- for the midseason just this past Monday.

Shawn the very prolific Cincinnati Reds Blog says the mood is that the Reds got robbed, but if it works out for the Reds, then it worked out for the Reds. Anatomy of a tepid endorsement.

JD Arney at Red Reporter slept on it...and still thinks it's

the worst trade the Reds have made in my lifetime.


The Big Red Machine thinks this is a good deal for the Reds.

I found a Nationals-Reds blog, the Church of Baseball. A unique perspective, since Sister Daedalus is a fan of both teams. Advantage: Nationals.

Blade at The Cutting Edge titled his reaction to the trade 'Sick Joke.'

JinAZ at On Baseball and the Reds likes this trade, because it helps the Reds now. A looong and detailed post, and he considers Bray the best catch. I'm sad to see him go.

Daryl at Raising Reds agrees with JinAZ: sad to see young stars go, but Concy needed the bullpen help now.

Chad at Redleg Nation kind of does my job for me with a roundup of Reds blogger reaction, here and here. Mostly of a WTF?!? nature.

Jacci and/or Christina at We Heart the Reds...doesn't right now.

Huevos Rancheros at Krivsky-O-meter has two problems: one, he does not like the trade (vomit and still ill), and two, he may have to change his blog's name soon.

Welcome to any Reds bloggers that followed their traffic here. This is an open thread.

Get Your Hiking Boots

It could be a long walk to the stadium from parking proposed by the city. Today's Washington Post Metro section is anchored by a long piece on the city's proposal for stadium parking.

(Image at right by Laris Karklis, April Umminger and Nathaniel Vaugh Kelso for the Washington Post; source material from DC DOT and GeoEye.)

I've written about the parking hubbub a couple of times, here and here.
There are some good comments on these threads, regarding why we should care, since we'll never park in the VIP spots, and how the math of 900 + 925 came out to 1225 (hat tip Otavio)

Since I wrote about this, a lot of things have happened:

July 6: the DC Zoning Commission approved Tony's plan (which is premised on the sale of the surrounding land and development rights to Herb Miller).

July 7: the Nats' owners whined about it.

July 8: the Washington Post wrote an editorial about it on the 8th, expressing skepticism that the project could be completed on time, but advocating for the city (and CFO Ghandi) to hear Miller out.

July 12: the DC Council gave Lame Duck Tony an easy victory, approving the sale of land and developement rights to Herb Miller. No word in this piece if Marion Barry sharked the above-market loan to the city as quid pro quo.

Something else has been bothering me, though. On July 9, three days after the Zoning Commission approved the Mayor's plan over the owners' objections and three days before the DC Council approved the sale to Miller, Alan Senitt, a 27 year-old British politico was killed in Georgetown, his throat cut in front of a mansion as he walked his date home, a victim in what is now a wave of murder in DC. What does this have to do with the stadium? The house Senitt was killed in front of is Herb Miller's house, and the woman Senitt was with was formerly Miller's kids' babysitter, and she still lives in the basement apartment of his house!

My inner Jack Bauer thinks this is a strange coincidence, what with the Council, the Mayor and the owners all pissed at each other, and Miller standing to score the the beeg juan.

Anyway, today's is about the city's plan for interim parking at the new Stadium until proposed or anticipated permanent lots appear. The print Post has a map of the area that I could not find in the online version, so I posted the graphic above. Parking will be quite spread out, with some folks having to walk longer than a half mile to get from their cars to the edge of the stadium property.

As I have written before, I hope to use the Metro more frequently at the new stadium. I also know lots of people like me will live less than 20 minutes from the stadium and the lure of quick-in, quick-out will be a factor in the number of games we go to.

This article also talks about a $20 million renovation to the Navy Yard Metro stop to increase capacity. I'll believe that when I see it.

Also, the article cites the city:

City and Metro officials said they expect about 45 percent to 50 percent of game-day crowds to use public transportation. That would represent a slight increase in the proportion of fans using Metro to get to RFK.

Maybe the city is hedging a slight increase in Metro riders, but I think the city will be lucky if the percentage of Metro riders does not decline. RFK is easy as can be, on the Orange and Blue lines, the main east-west lines through the city. The new stadium will be on Green, reducing by half the number of train cars servicing the new stadium directly, and requiring a larger total number of transfers. As picayune as it sounds, I think things like direct access and number of transfers will factor into people's decision to drive or take the subway. Maybe I'm wrong. I'd like to hear your thoughts. A link to a map of Metro is here.

I'm just really going to miss Lot 8.

Roll Call: Reaction to the Trade

The Nats' citizen journalists are weighing in. But first, vote in Jeff's poll at District of Baseball.

Updated links, 7/14, noon:
The Sports Note thinks it's a good deal for both teams, but the Nats came out on top. This long piece also has some freaky-deaky stuff about Michael Strahan's divorce.

Farid at The Beltway Boys wonders where is the rebuilding, then thinks this is the rebuilding, and the Nats may be laying the foundations of a good team.

Chris at Capitol Punishment has been busy today. First post has Nats' top ten moments (Wahoowa! RyZim featured in four), bottom five moments, team MVP (hint: Wahoowa!), team Cy Young, team LVP and Joe Horgan Award. Second post deals with Marlon Byrd's DFA and the Nats signing former Oriole Luis Matos. Escobar & Matos at center, Guillen & Kearns at right. Somethings gotta give!

Screech's BF was eyeballing Matos.

Last night, it was late, the lighting wasn't great, probably some booze involved, and face it, Nationals Enquirer was going home with whatever trade he could pick up. Today, he's having second thoughts.

Nationals Nation gives a thumb's up to a trade engineered by a guy who, just a year ago, got pulled over for drunk driving and then wouldn't be let into the Reds clubhouse as a visiting GM.

Harper has a longer take on the new Nats.

District of Baseball and Nationals Pride have the roundup of online media coverage.

last night's stories:
BallWonk (re: Loud Guy in section 512)

Banks of the Anacostia

Farid before, and after the trade. He nails this one and there's some lively chatter in the comments, including what was probably Screech's Best Friend's first take.

Here's Screech's BF's longer take at Nats320.


Capitol Punishment #1 and #2.

I'm blockquoting my recommendation of Chris' second take.


Ryan at Distinguished Senators has indisputable circular logic and a great title to his post.


Basil at Federal Baseball before and after. Chris is right. This is the piece of the day on the trade.

Misschatter has nuggets from the Reds post-trade presser. JANF bonus: update on Comcast/Adelphia/MASN.

Nationals Enquirer. He was a Bray Believer.

Watson at Nats Triple Play echoes Screech and wonders if Bowden is too terribly objective in trading for players he drafted or previously managed.

Rocket1124 at Nasty Nats took down his Fire Me picture of Jim Bowden.

Brian at Nationals Farm Authority thinks stocking the show this young allows the Nats to focus more on the farm system. I think he might know about this stuff.

El Gran Color Naranja thinks both teams made out all right.

Jeff at District of Baseball on Nats coverage before and after the trade. DoB bonus: Comcast/Adelphia/MASN update.

Tim Kurkjian on the trade (mp3).

This is still an open thread.