Thursday, August 31, 2006

This Will Seem Silly if Soriano Leaves


When you argue about baseball records, the terrorists win

Good morning, Washington Post. Let's see here, coffee, toast & jam and Rachel Maddow on the radio. So Section A, what's news today? Ok, Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney's 'new' effort to gin up support for the hugely unpopular Iraq debacle in the lead-up to the 5th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks...don't think that dog is hunting anymore, and besides, can't really find any Democrats proposing appeasement or threatening to cut off funding for the military, but that's never stopped Mr. 36% before...

Oh, here's an interesting one on medical centers and practices that cater to the religious beliefs and morality of their doctors. Because, you know, those folks that mix medicine and religion, they're not preachy or anything. Better not go there if I want birth control, to try have have a baby through IVF, or have a hangover. Yessir, another victory for science.

And here's one for you if your doctor says you're not getting enough nicotine: cigarettes have a third more of the addictive agent than 10 years ago. But don't use that as an excuse about how hard it is to quit if you're seeing those doctors above. You might find yourself in a compound somewhere married to a 60 year old guy and living with a dozen sister-wives.

Ok, what else. Here's an obit for a Nobel-winning Arab author I never heard of and more affirmation that Japanese pop culture is still ten years ahead of ours.

All right, what else? What's this? Barry Svrluga was promoted to the front page? What issue of national importance can he possibly lens through baseball to shed light on our tiny existence in this galactic backwater?

Baseball records, and it's a stemwinder. Sori is about to hit number 45, eclipsing Vlady Guererro in 2000, but not Frank Howard in 1969 (though he'll get that one too). Whose record is it? Are the Nats still the Expos? Do they inherit the poltergeist of the Senators?

In my opinion, the Expos records should continue to travel with the Nats. To start fresh is to ignore the wonderful history of our franchise: how the Expos lost the hearts of Quebec, went on life support, and how MLB plundered the franchise, preparing it for execution. And when they got a new lease on life, how MLB barely met the federal minimum standard for management, failing abjectly to maintain a farm system, thereby turning them into a de facto expansion franchise to suck for a few years so Angelos can line his wallet. If the Nats wanted to be the Senators, they should have taken the goddam name.

Not to say the Nats shouldn't honor the Senators and Grays. The new stadium should be big enough to include a gallery commemorating Baseball in the Nation's Capital, but the Nats should not pretend they are the new Senators. Memo to the Lerners: don't go Art Modell on us. Ravens fans are the NFL laughingstock, so while you're patting yourself on the back, don't pretend the MLB vampire didn't suck the Expos dry for 5 years and then dangle them in front of Washington like a loaf of stale bread to a starving man.


FDR Senators program: radioarchives.org

Friday, August 25, 2006

Flame Warriors!

We could all use a good laugh. The Nats won 7-6 tonight over the Braves.

Here's another good laugh:

If you're reading this blog, you're probably the type of Netizen that spends a good amount of time in online discussion forums and chat rooms. In fact, I'm betting that many of you (especially when you have too much time on your hands at work) spend a lot of time here or even worse, here. If you're nodding your head to any of this, you're probably familiar with flamers. No, not those kind of flamers. I'm talking about the various types who lurk on blogs and message boards solely to cause trouble of one form or another.

Ben referred me to a terrific site that you should all check out called Flame Warriors. Author Mike Reed has crafted hilarious little vignettes of online-lurker stereotypes, complete with illustrations. Go ahead and take a look; you're sure to recognize more than a few. I haven't read them all yet, but I'm pretty sure that I have donned more than a few of these personae in my day. If I had to pick one that best describes me I'd go with Filibuster since I tend to be a bit, er, verbose in my comments and posts.

In the comments and forums that make up the Natosphere, I've definitely encountered ALLCAPS, Big Dog and Me Too, Bong, Evil Clown and of course, Fanboy.

Check out the Flame Warriors Roster and come back to drop a comment...what kind of Flame Warrior are you? Which ones have you encountered? Remember, stereotyping in America is okay as long as it's not based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or pro sports affiliation.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DFA: Quantum Physics Edition

The Nats lost 9-7 to the Marlins, their fifth futile outing in a row. The Fish complete the Ol' Sweeperoni.

The Nats managed to commit three errors as Frank Robinson rested (spared?) many of the regulars on the evening. How many tee times do you think Frank has scheduled for October already?

There's nothing to say about the games. I have to admit that these past few weeks have been the absolute most difficult for me in the year that I've been blogging the team. There's. Just. No. Hope.

Fortunately, Nats bloggers are giving us non-game related nuggets to enjoy as we grind out the stretch:

*Chris breaks down each position against the NL averages and discovers not one, but four black holes in the Nats' lineup: catcher, right field, center field and pitching. A black hole is a supermassive object with a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. I think that about sums up the way I feel each time I see a Nats box score.

*Basil continues to track the Majewski flap with the Reds, featuring precise anatomical diagrams that reveal the true nature of the embattled pitcher's injuries. Man, this has got to be the non-event of the season, yet Wayne Krivsky just can't let go. Dude, your team is in contention for the NL Wild Card. Why not focus on winning the games instead of trying to make a mountain out of a molehill? I wish Reds owner Bob Castellini would tell this asscrack GM to let it go, already.

*Nats 320 continues to post pure gold. If you need to be reminded of good reasons to go to Nats games for the rest of the year, read Screech's BF's post about the joys of RFK. I'm inclined to agree with him. Yes, it's old and creaky, the concourses are narrow, and there's no eight-story virtual-reality waterpark in there, but dammit it's a rockin' place to watch a ballgame! All of us die-hard Nats fans are going to die a small death when that new stadium opens in all its plastic modern gleam. If it's anything like FedEx field, the new park will be a nauseating shrine to the rich bastard-dom of the D.C. area. Gone will be the Lot 8 tailgates, the bouncing stands, and the...well...you know...er...well, it'll be gone, anyway! I'm already nostalgic for something that isn't gone yet. That's how little we have to focus on at this point in the season.

*Speaking of RFK stadium, Watson breaks down the ballpark ettiquete in a post at Nats Triple Play. I agree, and I'll add one more: if you are tailgating in the parking lot, follow the principles of Leave No Trace. This means that you pack out whatever you pack in. Don't throw your beer bottles, empty bags, discarded chicken bones, etc. on the ground for someone else to pick up. The team provides dumpsters by the tunnels on the way into the game for you to discard your trash. If you're a Phillies fan, feel free to hop right in yourself.

*MissChatter is still self-conscious about her Gary Bennett jersey. Fans of the Back to the Future series will appreciate the temporal paradox in which the venerable blogger finds herself. Miss C has a red "DC"-logo Nationals alternate jersey from 2006 which bears the name and number of the Nats backup catcher from 2005. The red jersey did not exist last year, and Bennett was traded to the Cardinals in the offseason, so, get this: he could not have possibly ever worn the red jersey himself. The result has been a rip in the space-time continuum, creating a wormhole so large that it seems to have swallowed the entire team into the Suckery Quadrant. We here at the Curly W think the jersey is cool.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ring of Fire


I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire...


-Johnny Cash


Nats lose their 4th straight, 7-5.

This team reminds me of a two-week old helium balloon, shriveled and drifting on the floor, long devoid of purpose and glamor, waiting for someone to come along and pop it so it can relax.

Football is coming soon to save us.



Image of kid with balloon at science camp stolen from Google Images.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

DFA: Extreme Suckery Edition

I really can't wait for this corpse of a season to end. Well, maybe not. I still want to get a few Lot 8 parties in, but man is this getting old.

  • *The Nats lost to the Fish last night, 3-1. The Nats are apparently batting .246 with runners in scoring position, good for worst in the National League. Sickening, isn't it?
  • *Screech's Best Friend has a great outline of virtually every Nationals-era Bowden gaffe. I agree with almost everything that he says, with one exception. He implies that Bowden's tendency to deal for/with the Reds is further evidence of his incompetence. I've seen this implication offered on several other blogs, too. I personally don't see this as a problem. Bowden spent 10 years in the Reds' organization and thus has firsthand knowledge of the entire careers of Kearns, Lopez and others. I'd rather see him pursue guys he's had a long time to evaluate than take a chance on random players he's never heard of. If you were a manager at your job and you had to hire a bunch of positions, the first people you would recruit would be the best people from your old job, right? I would certainly start with people I knew before I started rifling through Monster.com submissions. Now, the issue of Bowden's competence in placing so much faith in Kearns and the like is another story, but let's not demonize him for going with guys he knows. That's just how the world works.
  • *What do Winston Churchill, the Village People, Steak n' Shake and the movie Memento have to do with the suckery of the Nats? Read Nate's post at Nats Triple Play to find out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

5 Questions With the Marlins

It's time for another exciting edition of 5 Questions With...

The Nats begin a three-game set with the Marlins in Florida starting tonight. This time I traded questions with Craig of Fish Stripes. You can read my responses to his questions about the Nats at this link.

Here are his responses (in italics) to my questions (in bold):

The Marlins aren't having a great season, but they've far surpassed the dismal expectations that many had for them before the season. Are you surprised at their (relative) success?

Yes, I am very pleasantly surprised. I knew the rookies would show flashes of talent but I didn't expect them to be this competitive so quickly.

Which team's poor season surprises you more: the Braves or the Phillies?


The Braves by far. The Marlins had one of their patented fire-sales in the off-season and they have a chance to finish ahead of the Braves for the first time ever. Now, that's a surprise.

In your opinion, why do the Marlins draw so poorly in South Florida?

I could write a novel on this subject but I will try to keep it short.

The stadium is located outside of Miami and is situated an equidistance between the two population centers in South Florida. Making it a long drive for everyone. This works for football where there are only 8 games and it's an all day event on a Sunday. But for baseball where the majority of the games are played on weekday nights this is inconvenient. Also given that it is an open air stadium and the amount of rain the area gets, you never know if you are going to get a full game for the effort of going to the stadium.

The Marlins do have fans but they stay at home and watch the games on television.


We in DC certainly sympathize with the angst that Marlins fans must be going through with the wrangling over a new stadium. How do you see this situation playing out? Do you really think the Fish will leave Miami?


I think that the Marlins, MLB and the local politicians will eventually strike a deal and a new stadium will be built in Hialeah. If it all falls apart, it is with in the realm of possibilities the team would leave but I sincerely doubt this outcome will occur.

The 14-year dominance of the NL East by the Braves is coming to an end. Do you see parity in the division for the future or are we entering an era of Mets dominance?

The Mets should be very good for a number of years but I don't think it is a, the King is dead, long live the King situation. The Marlins should be able to challenge in a couple of years and the Phillies, if they can ever find the right track, have the potential to be quite good.

Thanks Craig for answering my questions!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

DFA: Back in the Cut Edition

I'm back in D.C. after a brief stint in Richland and Spokane, Washington. Nice country up there, I can see why Farid likes it. I actually did make it to Idaho for a few hours. My boss and I had some time to kill before settling into Spokane for the night so we drove the extra 30 miles or so to Coeur D'Alene. What a beautiful place! Drinking bourbon on the lake was nice.

Now I'm back in the land of bugs, humidity and bad but beloved baseball teams. In a never-ending effort to come up with new content in a lost season, I'm starting a feature called DFA, like Designated for Assignment. These are snippets that are not major-league quality, so I give them the one or two paragraph minor league treatment. Make no bones about it: this is a blatant ripoff of Capitol Punishment's Fouled-Off Bunts and Just a Nats Fan's Discarded Peanut Shells. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what does that make outright piracy?

Without further ado:

  • Screech's Best Friend goes to Philly and gives us an excellent gameday recap from CBBP. He reports, to our great shock and abhorrence, that Phillies fans are obnoxious, knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnons. Take, for example, the nine-year-old boy screaming "Washington sucks!" at Screech's BF and his wife. Ya gotta read this post, it's great. Nats 320 is becoming my favorite new Nats blog of 2006.
  • The Nats continue their win-one, lose-one water treading that they've been doing since the All-Star break. They won 6-4 on Friday and lost 11-2 last night. Yawn.
  • Soriano hit his 40th home run of the year. He gets a gold star. Now he just needs 10 more stolen bases to be a 40-40 guy.
  • Jose Vidro is back in action. Waiver time!
  • Just under two weeks until the Nats games are supposed to be on Comcast. Does anyone care at this point? Does anyone even believe that they will actually be on come September 1st?
  • Join me tomorrow for another exciting edition of 5 Questions With... as I sit down for a fireside chat with Craig at FishStripes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

5 Questions With the Phillies

It's time for another exciting edition of 5 Questions With...

The Nats begin a weekend series with the Phillies at CBBP starting tonight. This time I traded questions with David Fischer of The Good Phight. You can read my responses to his questions about the Nats at this link.*

*I'll post the link to my responses at the Good Phight as soon as I get the link. Stop back later for the update!


Here are his responses (in italics) to my questions (in bold):

At the end of 2005, it looked like the Phillies would seriously challenge the Mets for the NL East title this year. What's gone wrong?

The big problem has been the pitching. jon lieber, our Opening Day starter, had an ERA north of 6 for most of this season. Brett Myers, the #2, has been pretty good on the mound--but he missed three weeks after getting arrested on domestic violence charges. Young starters Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madson were terrible and both are now out of the rotation. Our current #5, Scott Mathieson, is in his first season above a-ball and he's having a rough time. Cory Lidle was somewhere between mediocre and competent before he was traded. Randy Wolf was hurt until this month.

Recently, Wolf and Lieber are pitching better and rookie Cole Hamels has been unhittable for the last three weeks. Along with an offensive explosion, this explains why the Phils have gotten back into the wild-card race. But obviously it's tough to trust young pitchers and expect to win.

How's life after Bobby Abreu? How did you feel about the trade?


Bobby Abreu was probably the unofficial god of The Good Phight. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that we started the blog to proclaim Abreu's greatness. even so, given his age, cost, evident decline and the need to change the culture of the team, most of us didn't mind that he was traded--only that Pat Gillick got absolutely nothing back, aside from salary "relief," for the best hitter and the best pitcher who were dealt in late July.

It was a horrible shock to see just how meager the return was. what's bearable about the trade, though, is that to this point David Dellucci and Shane Victorino have been playing great ball.

How would you rank the NL East teams in order of greatest rivalry with the Phillies?

Most Phillies Phans would probably put the Mets at the top of the list, followed by the Braves and Marlins in either order. The Nationals are probably too new, in their current incarnation, to merit a lot of fear and loathing. I'm sure that will come in time...

Are you surprised to see the Braves in the tank this year?

On a theoretical level, not at all. Between the law of averages catching up with them, the age and fragility of some of their best players, and the loss of Leo Mazzone, it was probably easy to predict.

On a day-to-day level, though, it's deeply strange to look at the standings and not see them on top.

We're about to get a new stadium in DC in 2008. What's biggest thing we have to look forward to when we have a new park?

In terms of fan experience, better ballpark concessions and sightlines. In terms of team competitiveness, a likely big boost in payroll as ownership tries to use the new revenue to put a winner on the field. Not that it worked for the Phils (or the Pirates, Reds, et al), but sometimes (Cleveland) the stars align.

Thanks David for answering my questions!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Great Game Indeed

Last night was father-sons night for me at RFK. I took my 4yr old twin boys to the game. We saw a great one.

Disclaimer: I never attended a game when John Smoltz was pitching before tonight. The guy is a legend and it was a baseball privilege. The best of all possible worlds: John Smoltz started for the Braves and he took the loss.

We started in section 501, above the first base line. A great view. We had lemonade (dad had something a little harder).


Top of the first from section 501.

Barry Svrluga called it a 'strange night,' and he was right. The second inning was the best and the worst. The best was Esco, Schneider (obviously over the chair-throwing episode from Sunday), Orioles cast-off Bernie Castro, Sori, Felipe, RyZim and Nick Johnson all hit, scoring a total of four runs. RyZim pulled in a classic headfirst slide into first, ducking a tag on a hit to third. The crowd goes wild.

The worst was watching Sori get tagged out at third on Felipe's double. Either Felipe took one too many bases or starting pitcher Billy Traber, who walked to get on base and then was moved to second by Sori's single didn't go home when he should have. Whatev, the ball came back to the infield and Sori was trapped between Felipe on second and Traber on third. Tagged out like a little leaguer. 4-0 Nats.


Soriano knocking in Schneider in the second (section 501).

We moved on to section 454, dead center. We had cotton candy.

The fourth was a bad horoscope day. Traber was obviously getting tired, which is when you need infield support. On the first batter, RyZim threw wide left on a play from third, allowing a base runner that upset the space-time continuum. A single, a double, a hit by pitch and another single later, it's 4-2 Nats. On the next batter, with the bases loaded and no outs, Felipe took a hot one, checked home (no play there), tagged second and threw wide left to first, allowing the runner. Traber worked his way out, so no further harm done. 4-3 Nats.

RyZim knocked a two-run dinger (fireworks!) in the 4th, scoring Felipe, who was btw 2 for 4 with 2 runs and a BB. We'll take that thank you Wayne Krivsky.

Billy got through the fifth on put-outs, and got dinged in the sixth for another run before being relived by Saul Rivera, who allowed another (unearned) run on something I've never seen before. Andruw Jones had a broken bat hit to shallow left. RyZim faded back to grab it, but the shattered barrel was on the exact same trajectory as the ball, blocking RyZim out at the fielding point. He almost got brained. 6-5 Nats.

From center field, the boys spotted vacant and high seats over third base. We wandered to section 522, where we got hot dogs.


The view from section 522, the highest point on the west side of the stadium.

Fast forward two good innings for Rivera. Nick Johnson walked, and Marlon Anderson, hitting for Rivera, walked. Brian Schneider came up and...ding, three run homer. 9-5 Nats. Fireworks!

John Rauch came in for Rivera in the eighth, and Adam LaRoche had a solo shot for the A-Braves to make it 9-6. In the bottom of the eighth: baseball karma. RyZim made it to first on a throwing error by Chipper Jones from third. Even steven.

Ninth inning, enter the Chief, who grabbed his 22nd save.


View west of the Capitol and Washington Monument from section 522.

We were home by 10:30, and the little ones were out within 15 minutes. A terrific night of baseball.


All photos by me

Chopping Wood

I'm in eastern Washington state for business and I've been up for over 20 hours. Forgive me for mailing this one in:

-The Nats beat the Braves again, 9-6.

-Zimmerman broke out of his 2-16 slump by driving in three runs.

-Brian Schneider atoned for his outburst the other day by hitting a dinger. If only he could channel the energy he directed at the chair the other day, perhaps he'd have more than just four home runs.

-Jose Vidro will be back with the big club soon. He's making his last rehab start at AA Harrisburg tomorrow. I'm not-so-secretly hoping that he gets put on waivers and traded. In the immortal words of Motley Crue: "don't go away mad; just go away."

-Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports claims that Alfonso Soriano has been placed on waivers. Part of me is hopeful that he can be traded, thus averting the impending fiscal crisis that would result from re-signing him. Part of me hopes he won't be traded, because at this point Bowden would be likely to get a sack of magic beans.

Can we just take our draft picks and be done with this Soriano nonsense? We need that money to sign pitching. Anyone who can't see that pitching is this team's most dire need is simply not paying attention to the box scores. The Nats don't (usually) have problems scoring runs. The problem is that the pitching gives up so many runs that we have to put up huge numbers to win. Tonight's game is a great example of that.

Bear with me if I don't get a post in tomorrow; it's going to be a long day. I'll definitely be back on Friday for the next edition of 5 Questions With... I'll be posting questions with the fellas at The Good Phight. If you ask me nicely, I might even sneak a Sal Fasano facial hair question in there...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

About Face

One night after being beaten like a red-headed stepchild, the Nats turned around and shut down the Braves' bats. Pedro Astacio emerged from nowhere to pitch a two-hit shutout and the Nats' first complete game of 2006. The Nats won 5-0. Yay Nats, yay Astacio.

A nice win, and a nice performance by Pedro Astacio. I wouldn't be upset if the Nats re-signed Astacio and Ramon Ortiz to one-year contract extensions for the right price. Neither has been atrocious and both are capable of turning in some good pitching performances.

Bringing them back could really provide some stability in a ravaged pitching staff. Think about this array of starting pitching options for Frank* to choose from next March in Viera:

-John Patterson
-Brian Lawrence
-Mike O'Connor
-Ramon Ortiz
-Pedro Astacio
-Jon Rauch?
-Bottomfeeding Free Agent Signee
-Bottomfeeding Veteran Acquired in Trade for Vidro

It's not sexy, but it's a far cry better than what we're dealing with now. What do you think?

*If Frank is back next year...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

End the Misery

The action on the field at this point in the season has been reduced to pure, unadulterated tragedy. The games that the Nationals are playing these days are as pointless as the NFL preseason games that we're all watching instead.

The hometown nine got absolutely demolished by the Braves tonight, 10-4. Chipper Jones hit three dingers and some no-name Braves journeyman tied the NL record for ten consecutive hits. Hey Bowden! Where the f___ are all those pitchers you promised us? To quote the immortal Pokey Reese: "if Jim Bowden's lips are moving, he's lying."

We can point to dozens of reasons why the Nats are so unbelievably desolate right now, but I just can't stop thinking that this suckery is most directly the result of four years of brutal MLB stewardship. Now that we're in the weird twilight zone of baseball and football season overlap, I can't help but wonder at MLB's incredible ability to sap every last drop of good out of everything in its orbit. Can you imagine the NFL just letting a franchise rot like this? Everything the NFL touches turns to gold; everything MLB breathes on turns to shit.

I've enjoyed having baseball back in DC, but that's not good enough for me anymore, and it shouldn't be good enough for you, either. This season needs to be put out of its misery. Let the reconstruction begin.

*****

I was never very good at math. I hated the subject in school and typically squeezed by with Cs. Of course, the other day I was dumb enough to craft a lengthy post on the Nats' attendance woes that used a lot of math, and made a big error.

The Nats season ticket sales are down about 5000 from 2005, and total attendance looks like it will be down about 522,000 from last season. I incorrectly calculated that 5000 seats x 80 home games equaled a decline of 40,000 over the season from lost season ticket sales. Of course, as my anonymous commenter pointed out, 5000 x 80 is 400,000. This means that 77% of the decline in attendance can be attributed to lost season ticket sales. Obviously, that's a huge number, and the club needs to search for ways to get some of those people back this winter.

I'm hopeful that a winter free of drama and bitter acrimony will help bring some fans in out of the cold. The problem is that baseball will be quickly forgotten by many in the Washington area after the new football season supplants a vastly forgettable baseball season. Things may change, but I think 2007 will be another pretty bleak year as the new owners spend the whole season ramping up the marketing and taking advantage of the TV deal.

Does anyone see anything but another last-place season in store for the team next year?

Monday, August 14, 2006

5 Questions With the Braves

It's time for another exciting edition of 5 Questions With...

The Nats host a four-game series with the Braves at RFK starting tonight. This time I traded questions with Martin Gandy of Talking Chop. You can read my responses to his questions about the Nats at this link.

Here are his responses (in italics) to my questions (in bold):

Do you think this is Andruw Jones's last season in a Braves uniform?

The Braves realize they need to rebuild their old pitching staff, and the best value they could possibly get in return would be for Andruw Jones. They also realize that there is no way they can resign him for what Scott Boras wants them to pay. Not with the ownership situation in flux. That being said, if they don't get exactly what they want for him, then they probably won't trade him. But they sent out some strong signals to teams that he is available.

The Braves have dominated the NL East for 14 straight years. Is 2006
just an off year or are the Braves entering a rebuilding phase?

Hey, every 16 years something like this is bound to happen. Atlanta fans have become a bit spoiled with all the winning. Now we get to see who the real fans are.

How would you rank the NL East teams in order of greatest rivalry with the Braves?

I'd say the Mets are our biggest rivals over any other team in baseball. After that, I'd probably say the Phillies and Marlins are tied for second. Realistically, the Nats probably rank below even the Red Sox or the Astros in terms of rivalry with us. Of course, that could all be different if not for the '94 strike. That would have been one hell of a race between the Braves and the Natspos.

Much was made of the departure of Leo Mazzone for Baltimore. Has his absence had a notable impact on the Braves this year?

I think Leo's style had gotten a bit tired with some of our pitchers, namely Hudson. It was probably time for him to go. It obviously looks like we really miss him what with our team ERA being almost a run higher than it was last year, but injuries and the journeyman scraps that Roger McDowell has been handed would be virtually impossible for anyone to turn into a top-flight staff.

Would you be willing to trade AAA affiliates with the Nats? We'll give you New Orleans in exchange for Richmond...sound good?

Actually, that's not a bad idea at all! I really like this idea quite a bit. The Braves have always been about having a presence in the south, and with our AA club in Mississippi, it seems logical that we could extend that fan base to the crescent city. Question is, would Peter Angelos allow it?

Thanks Martin for answering my questions!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

We've Been Had

That figures. The day after I craft a long-winded post on the team's attendance woes I go to RFK Stadium and find it absolutely jammed to the gills. An announced crowd of 42,507 was on hand to see a last place team play a first place team in the middle of August. What was that the Mets fans were saying the other day about our "sad" fan base? Unsurprisingly, Mets fans made up a very large minority in the stadium so the cheering was loud and raucous from both sides. Check out Nats 320's recap; Screech's Best Friend does a great job of capturing the spirit of the night. I can't wait to go to a Nats-Mets game in a few years when both teams are good and competing for the division lead. Each game will be a playoff-type atmosphere.

The game was so well attended that my friends and I arrived at 6:15 to find Lot 8 completely full. The lot was absolutely jammed with tailgaters, but we were ushered under the bridge into Lots 6 and 7, and set up our pregame festivities there. This may sound hard to believe, but Lots 6/7 actually provide a much better environment for tailgating than Lot 8. There is a very large swath of grassy land that stretches back to the Anacostia. Several acres immediately adjoining the river are marked off as a nature preserve, so I almost felt like I was camping. The evening was beautiful and we had a great view of the setting sun.

We rolled into the game at about the third inning and took up residence in the outfield yellow seats. We didn't have three tickets together so we crashed the only available section that seemed to have space to spare. I had never sat out in center field because there's usually no reason to do so, but it was a really interesting experience. Man, there are some salty characters out there in the cheap seats. My favorite was a drunken Nats fan who stood up and started taunting the Mets in the 8th innning. He got up, turned around and started yelling "I got some whoop-ass! Who wants some whoop-ass? F__ the Mets!" F the Mets, indeed.

The Nats actually made it interesting by tying up the game 4-4 in the sixth. Sadly, the whoop-ass would run out in the top of the seventh. Chris Schroder, recently of New Orleans, came on and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran. Carlos Delgado grounded out to advance the runner to third, then Schroder beaned David Wright to put runners at the corners. Then came a classic example of Frank's questionable management.

Jose Valentin came up with one out and runners at the corners. Incredibly, Frank let Schroder pitch to him, and of course Valentin singled in Beltran. Then came a sacrifice fly by Michael Tucker to put the Mets up for good, 6-4. I have no idea why Frank didn't have Schroder IBB Valentin to get to Tucker. It seems to me that Tucker would have a better-than-average chance of hitting into an inning-ending double play, but oh well.

We headed back out to the car after the game and kept tailgating for another hour or so. Somehow, that made the loss a little less bitter.

*****

I hate losing to the New York teams more than anyone else. Maybe it's the smug sense of superiority surrounding most New York sports fans. Maybe it's the way they pack our stadium with their fans. MetsBlog.com sponsored a pre-game tailgate last night...in Lot 8. Whenever the Nats play a higher-profile out-of-town team like the Mets, I'm always painfully reminded of how far this team has to go to win the hearts and minds of DC-area sports fans. There are a LOT more baseball fans in DC than there are Nats fans, and that's unfortunate. I know this is a "transient area," but you don't see FedEx field full of Giants fans, do you? It may take a generation growing up with the Nats to truly establish them as an institution in this town.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Taking Attendance

Remember back in April when the Chicken Little types were all in a kerfluffle over the Nats waning attendance figures? Many predicted certain doom at the gate for the Nats in the wake of lobbying scandals, a bitter winter of discontent for the team and a natural decline in demand as enthusiasm tapered off in the team's second year. Others, notably eternal optimist Tom Boswell, chalked the low attendance figures up to kids still being in school and lingering cool spring weather. We're now far enough into the season that we can test these hypotheses and see what the real impact of these factors were.

The Nats play 80 home games this year. The total home attendance through August 9 (the 52nd game) was 1,410,283, or 27,120 per game, good for 20th overall in MLB. This puts the club on pace to finish with 2,169,643 for the season. In contrast, last year's total attendance was 2,692,123. If the above projection is correct, the Nats will have suffered a drop in attendance of 522,480 from 2005. That's over half a million people!

My breakdown of the percentage impact of each factor is as follows:

-Sophomore Slump: 50%
-The Team Struggling: 42%
-The Bob DuPuy Factor: 6%
-Lobbying Scandals

Sophomore Slump: Many people correctly observed that a decline in the team's second year was inevitable. The team was a novelty last year and I think many casual fans and non-fans came out to at least a game or two just to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, when they got there they found surly service and threadbare amenities, so there wasn't much to bring them back.

Fortunately for us residents but unfortunatly for the Nats, the Washington area is a large, thriving metropolis with literally thousands of attractions. There are many entities competing for the entertainment dollar in the region, and the only real differentiator for the Nats is that they offer National League baseball. If you don't care that much about National League baseball, you'll probably spend your money elsewhere unless the team can add more value (cue Stan Kasten). The fickle nature of the consumer cannot be underestimated. I'm going to say that a full 50% of the half-million person decline can be attributed to the sophmore slump.

The Team Struggling: Amazingly, the Nats were in contention for the NL wild card until the very last weekend of September last year. That kept fan interest even higher as exciting baseball rode the crest of the inagural season wave. The team is terrible this year, which has a clearly discernable effect on attendance. I attribute 42% of the decline in attendance to the Nats' last-place showing in 2006.

The Bob DuPuy Factor: Many also speculated that fans were attending fewer or no games due to the constant barrage of negative publicity surrounding the team from November 2005 to May of 2006. The bad stuff didn't help matters, but I don't think that those things did too much to curb walk-up demand for Nationals baseball. The Nats were barely home at all in April (only 9 home games) and by the time May rolled around the stadium deal was set and the Lerners had been awarded the team.

Season ticket demand was almost certainly hurt by these shenanigans more than walk-up sales. Season tickets must be renewed over the winter, and fans received renewal notices during some of the darkest chapters of the offseason. I'm sure that more than a few tossed them right into the trash with the credit card solicitations. Based on my analysis of above, season ticket demand accounted for only 8% of the total decline in 2006 demand. Since we're attributing 25% of the season ticket drop to lobbyists, we'll give the other 75% to individuals who chose not to renew. This still only accounts for 6% of the total decline in attendance.

Lobbying Scandals: Lobbying firms are primarily consumers of season tickets, and many speculated that these companies were not renewing their packages in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Season ticket sales dropped "by 5000" from 2005-06, according to a July article by Thomas Heath in WaPo. For the sake of our analysis, let's assume he means 5000 individual seats and not 5000 season ticket packages. Over 80 home games, a decline of 5000 seats would account for 40,000 fewer people through the gates in 2005. Apparently, lobbying firm cold feet seems to account for less than 8% of the total decline.

This percentage shrinks further when you factor out average-joe season ticket holders who did not renew in 2006. Since there is no way for me to readily determine what percent of the 5000 belongs to firms and what belongs to individuals, I'll have to hazard a guess. Judging by the constant stream of lobbying firm tickets I've been offered this year (I don't work for the government) I'm going to say that lobbying firm fright accounts for only 25% of the 5000, or only 2% of the total decline in attendance from last year.

So there you have it. Anyone have any other ideas on the attendance slump? Anyone think my assumptions are hogwash?


Friday, August 11, 2006

Lot 8 Pregame Saturday 8/12

I'll be at tomorrow night's game at RFK and plan to tailgate in Lot 8 with some amigos before the game. I'd love to meet some readers if any of you are going to the game. If you're interested in meeting up, send me an email at bkriner at gmail dot com or drop a comment.

The Dream is Over

Jim Bowden fell short today in his relentless effort to re-sign one of 2005's hottest bench players.* Carlos Baerga, a member of the inagural Nationals team, has decided to call it a career after 14 major-league seasons. I just...I just don't know what to say...the Cheeseburglar himself is gone.

I guess this means we'll have to...RE-SIGN SORIANO!!!111!!!eleventy!!1 #

*Consuming raw or undercooked sarcasm may be hazardous to your health

#Post was processed on machinery also used to process snark and mockery

5 Questions With the Mets

The dog days of summer are upon us, the Nats are in the doghouse, and it's getting harder to come up with worthwhile posts. To freshen things up, I'm starting a new feature called 5 Questions With... I'll be trading questions with fellow bloggers from the opposing teams that the Nats face for the rest of the season.

I recently traded five questions with Matthew Cerone of MetsBlog. You can read my responses to his questions about the Nats at this link. I think Nats fans will find the comments in that post particularly interesting; it gives good insights into how the Nats are perceived by fans of more established teams like the Mets.

Here are his responses (in italics) to my questions (in bold):

The Mets are running away with the NL East. They were the clear favorite to win the division before the season started, but did you expect the rest of the NL East to make it this easy on them?

No. The Braves and Phillies have clearly been a disappointment. On the flip side, the Marlins have been sensational for a while now. Had they played this was from the start of the season, the division would have a whole other look to it right now.

Which team's poor season surprises you more: the Braves or the Phillies?

Atlanta. I mean, I though Bobby Cox was God. I guess the experts were wrong. Oh well.

How would you rank the NL East teams in order of greatest rivalry with the Mets?

Braves, Braves, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Braves, Nationals. However, for what it's worth, I feel a larger sense of rivalry with the Cardinals, because of the 1980s, than I do with Philadelphia.

After the Nationals get their new stadium in 2008, Shea will probably become MLB's most replacement-worthy stadium. Is there any talk of a new stadium for the Mets? I know Yankee Stadium is going to be replaced soon.

The Mets have already broken ground on a new stadium that is scheduled to open in 2009. For more, go here.

The 14-year dominance of the NL East by the Braves is coming to an end. Do you see parity in the division for the future or are we entering an era of Mets dominance?

I'd like to think the NL East will be dominated by the Mets, but I don't. The Marlins are going to be a problem – they already have a good pitching staff, and they're all young and under contract. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Cole Hamels in Philadelphia will be cause for concern, as well.

Thanks Matt for answering my questions!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Spinoff!

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you an unabashed blogpimp...

Are you a Redskins fan? Can't get enough of the Curly W? Well we have the solution for your late-season baseball blog boredom!

The authors of the Curly W are proud to announce the launch of our Redskins blog, The Curly R (http://curlyr.blogspot.com). We'll be covering the action on and off the gridiron with the same snarkalicious slant you've come to expect from our Nats blog. Think of it as the Boo-Berry to our Count Chocula...one just isn't enough!

Please join us this preseason and all season long by visiting the link above or clicking on the banner in the sidebar of this blog. See you there!

We now return to our regularly scheduled Nats programming...

Bass Ackwards


Nothing's blocking this view

Tom Boswell came out yesterday in a lather against the Miller plan for the stadium. From his column:

Some ideas are so dumb you assume they'll collapse of their own weight. That's what we hope will happen to Mayor Anthony A. Williams's cockamamie brainstorm to construct two vast 13-story towers -- filled with condos, shops, garages and a hotel -- just beyond left and center field of the new Nationals stadium on the Anacostia waterfront.
The yada yada is that the open zone of the stadium, facing north, was supposed to capture the Capitol Building in the background. The 'new' design includes twin condo towers right in that space, one with internal VIP parking and the other for retail or some such.

It only took him a month to figure this out.

Nats-Marlins interjection: just saw the final two innings of tonight's game. Escobar, Lopez and Kearns, the New Kids on the Block, all figured into tonight's win. Back to tonight's rant.

HTF did you think this was going to turn out? Here's a link to jdland's stadium page. She has gathered as many materials as he could from the Zoning Commission meeting in June. If you have been following the story, this plan was formally presented to the ZC on July 6, but JD has this stuff dated June 26, so I'm guessing that's when the deal was sealed between Lame Duck Tony and Herb Miller. Lerner and the DC Council were given 10 days' courtesy to get used to the idea.

This is a huge cluster at this point. The stadium was designed to open out to the north, with left field views of the Capitol Building. JD:
Looking from the southeast--you can see how they've removed any bleachers in the outfield to allow for views of the Capitol.
The picture at the top of this post is from an original rendering of the stadium showing six-story parking garages on the north side. You'd be able to see over them.

Here is a revised set of images, all from the vantage point of the top row and opposite the Capitol (large):



In both rows, the left side image is a representation of current and under-construction structures, with the red building denoted for reference. The center image represents 'allowable' construction, which I take to mean the types of buildings that can be zoned there. Assume they will all be of max size to the zoning. The right side image represents allowable construction plus the Two Towers in place. The result is a teensy, tinsy little corridor where folks on the first base line and on the upper concourse or in the upper deck will be able to catch a glimpse of the Capitol. And for no extra charge, JD posts the HOK / DCSEC PDFs of the towers/garage and stadium renderings.

So let's sort this out and forgive for a moment that if the role of the journalist is to inform, Boswell is behind the curve.

Don't blame Herb Miller for placing his towers where they are. He's a developer, and his job is to make as much of everything that he can. Don't get pissy about the disappearing Capitol view. That area is zoned for office and high-rise buildings, so as you can see from the center images above, that view was pretty much hosed anyway in just a couple of seasons.

If a Capitol view was paramount, the DC Council has the power to propose, and the Zoning Commission to approve, changes in zoning that would have preserved that open corridor. Then you have an argument for telling Miller to take his towers and shove them. But this is the city's stadium, and the city's health is what the mayor and the Council care about, at least nominally. This part of DC is going to be generating a lot more tax revenue than it has, and the stewards of the city are doing what they should. Lay this dog at Tony Williams' feet.

The time for Boswell to point out to the masses that the 'vision' thing is already getting fucked up would have been back in the first week of July, when Lyndsey Layton and Thomas Heath were reporting the Council and ZC meetings in the Metro section. It's likely the mayor, Miller and the ZC would have gone on with their plans anyway, but there would have been a window to register negative public opinion on the matter prior to signing the papers (hello wishy-washy WashPost editorials).

The right way to have designed this stadium would have been to point it out to the Anacostia River. It would still be a couple of blocks off the water, so no SF-style kayaking for homerun balls, but you'd still see the water, and the 1200-acre Anacostia Park is just across the river. And opening the stadium up to the east side of the city and on into Prince George's County would architecturally acknowledge the reality that the immediate DC area is mostly black and mostly lower income, that the Nationals success is not going to be about white people from Northwest DC, Fairfax and Montgomery Counties, that everyone, inclusive, in DC has a stake in making this team a success.

Top image: HOK / D&P
Stadium views image: HOK / DCSEC (hat tip JD for keeping this stuff current)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An Exception

Ok I normally don't link up to a single post. But Chris at Capitol Punishment lays wood on Wayne Krivsky over Gary Majewski. Maybe the bloggers are all shriek, anger and bitterness.

Or maybe they know some shit about baseball. (cue Harper)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Livan on a Prayer

I came back from an abridged vacation yesterday (taking an 8 month old camping = dumb) to find that the oft-maligned Livan Hernandez had been traded to the Diamondbacks for two AA pitchers. Huzzah! Hats off to Jim Bowden for snookering yet another team into taking our overworked, threadbare pitchers.

For all the grief I give Bowden on this site, I really have to give him credit for this past month's trades. He has managed to get rid of four of my least-favorite Nationals (in order of contempt): Mike Stanton, Royce Clayton, Livan Hernandez and Gary Majewski. Not that I have anything personal against any of those guys, but they were exactly the kind of ballast that the Nats needed to dump overboard to right the sinking ship.

Hernandez will be missed, kind of. Well, maybe for five minutes. Wait...lemme think...no, I won't miss him at all. Why? Because he's erratic, irrascible and expensive. His performance had improved of late, but before the All-Star Break he was allowing opponents to bat .308 against him. That's dreadful. Guys will have rough patches now and again, but this was supposed to be our number one pitcher. It's not entirely his fault; he's been asked to carry on the "workhorse" thing way too late into his career, regularly going over 200 innings for a season. He'll be on the Diamondbacks' DL in no time.

Livan would also go into odd, melodramatic funks where he'd say ominous, cryptic things to the media and then go silent. Put Hernandez and Jose Guillen together and that's too much headcase in one clubhouse. Finally, shipping his $7 million salary to Arizona will permit Jim Bowden more creative license with offseason signings or re-signings (WE SHOULD RE-SIGN SORIANO!!!!111!!!1). Whether this is good or bad no one knows.

And finally, we have the oft-promised prospects we've been hearing about for so long. Garrett Mock and Matt Chico both seem to be pitching well at the AA level, which portends well for their major-league readiness in a few seasons. The question now is, of course, who will pitch out the rest of the string for the Nats since their entire staff seems to be on the DL. The team has called up reliever Chris Schroder from New Orleans to take Hernandez's spot, but this is just another stop-gap fill in for the rest of the year.

Trading Hernandez gives Jim Bowden little choice this offseason: he has to acquire free-agent pitching. He can't just say "pitching, pitching, pitching" and then go sign the latest Reds castoff. The Nats have only John Patterson, Shawn Hill and Mike O'Connor under contract for next year. Bowden will have to spend the savings on Livan's salary (and maybe more) to get another 2-3 free agents on board and/or re-sign Astacio or Ortiz.

The RE-SIGN SORIANO!!111!!!11 crowd should think about this over the winter before they go batshit. Spending money on quality pitching is more important and a better investment than re-signing Soriano. Soriano can hit all the dingers he wants; if the Nats starters can't get out of the third inning again next year, Frank (or whomever) will chew up and spit out our entire bullpen again. Not good. Feel free to leave a comment with a differing view.

******

Gary Majewski is on the disabled list with the Reds. Is anyone surprised? Astonishingly, Reds GM Wayne Krivsky is. Krivsky publically intimated his opinion that the Reds received damaged goods in the trade, but backed down after an MRI revealed no structural damage to Majewski. Everyone knows that Majewski was overworked and overtired, and Krivsky should have known this when he made the trade. Caveat emptor, pendejo! The trade keeps getting worse for the Reds and better for the Nats by the minute. Chris has a great post on this topic over at Capitol Punishment. Check it out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lost















How does a planeload of runners just disappear?

Today's Svrluga piece in the WashPost goes to some length to note many things that happened in yesterday's game against the Pods, and wraps up on the fact that the Nats left 12 batters stranded, scoring only two. But the Pods left 8 on the same island, scoring only three.

Back in mid-July, I was reading about how Soriano does all his big hitting with the bases empty, and that the Nats have a tendency to leave runners on base. I thought I'd do one of those things bloggers are supposed to do, that is, go back and take a closer look. I went back and looked at some recent series and see if the Nats are leaving running on base any more than their opponents. What I found was interesting

Last seven series, going back to the All-Star Break:

@ Pittsburgh (1-2)
Nats LOB: 12 14 12 38
Pirates LOB: 8 12 10 30

@ Florida (1-2)
Nats LOB: 3 8 7 18
Marlins LOB: 7 9 5 21

vs Chi Cubs (3-0)
Nats LOB: 10 8 5 23
Cubs LOB: 5 8 7 20

vs San Fran (3-0)
Nats LOB: 2 11 6 19
Giants LOB: 4 5 3 12

@ LA Dodgers (0-3)
Nats LOB: 9 8 9 26
Dodgers LOB: 8 5 8 21

@ Giants (2-1)
Nats LOB: 10 5 9 24
Giants LOB: 10 7 6 23

@ San Diego (1-2)
Nats LOB: 3 5 12 20
Pods LOB: 11 9 8 28

W-L over these seven series: 11-10

Total stranded runners, 21 games:
Nats: 168
Opponents: 155

Average stranded runners, 21 games:
Nats: 8.0
Opponents: 7.4

Number of games Nats left fewer on base than opponents: 8
W-L for those games: 6-2

Number of series where the Nats stranded net fewer runners than opponent: 2

Heuristic analysis:

So this is about as wonky as I get, and it seems to be all over the place. For example, these stats tend to indicate that the Nats will likely win the game if they strand fewer runners than the other team. This is a little like saying the team with more first downs will usually win the game. Kind of a 'well duh' stat.

The stranded runners thing from last night might have been a good lede for Barry's story, but it does not look like the Pods are the best team to use for this example. In Fri and Sat's games, the Pods left 20 more runners standed than the Nats, versus 4 more for the Nats in yesterday's game.

Further, in the homestand against the Pods July 7, 8, 9, the Nats stranded 7, 5, 4 = 16, where the Pods stranded 11, 7, 11 = 29. And the Nats lost all three of those games.

Is stranding runners even a problem? It seems that way to look at the individual games' or series' totals, but the net difference, 13 runners over 21 games, averages out to .6 of a runner in the opponents' favor per game. It would be interesting to see a real regression analysis of team scoring relative to stranded runners, and I bet someone out there has a heuristic resulting from such a review, such as the fractional number of runs statistically lost per runner left on base.

If it is a problem, what can the Nats do about it? It has always seemed to my lay self that stranding a lot of runners means the lineup can get on base, but needs shuffling to get the runners home once on base. Sori has 23 more runs and 63 more total bases than RyZim, but only two more RBI. Does Sori need to come down in the order to create more RBI? Who comes up? Time to start thinking about batting order and such for next season.

Anybody wonkier than me or with more insight, I'd like to hear your take.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Last Full Measure

Well I'll be darned. Out of nowhere, Comcast and MASN made nice yesterday and agreed to carry Nationals games starting September 1st. The games will come to homes like mine who have heretofore been unable to get MASN, just in time to watch Kory Casto and...and...um...whoever else they call up in September. Hooray, kind of.

I find it interesting that this agreement, the terms of which had been so bitterly contentious, fell quickly into place mere days after the establishment of MASN as a 24/7 network. The lack of programming on MASN was always presented as an issue by Comcast, but the main point of contention seemed to be Comcast SportsNet's legal rights vis a vis Orioles broadcasts. Comcast hammered their assertion to Orioles broadcast rights over and over again, and used MASN's limited programming only as a supporting argument. Now it seems to be the last full measure that MASN needed to win the war.

Maybe Comcast just got tired of the fight. The cable giant's case had already been thrown out of court twice, and MASN clearly wasn't going to be destroyed in a war of attrition. Everyone from Congress to the FCC had gotten involved, and arbitration was staring the company right in the face. My guess is that in some lofty Comcast boardroom, the executive calculus was that the direct cost of endless litigation plus the indirect cost of widespread customer rage had become more expensive than making room for MASN. Well, duh!

The terms of the deal were't disclosed, which is too bad, because it would answer some still-outstanding questions about the ultimate RSN alignment in the Mid-Atlantic. Is this deal some sort of precursor to a merger of the two networks? Who will show Orioles games in 2007? We'll find out at some point, I suppose.

Like everything else surrounding the Nationals franchise, this "victory" comes at the heels of so much ill will that it feels a bit hollow. Still, the television situation was the major outstanding issue left over from what I will henceforth refer to as The Bad Old Days of September 2004-August 2006. Despite the horrid outing on the field, 2006 has been huge for the franchise, as all the pieces for long-term prosperity and stability have (apparently) fallen into place.

I think the 2007 season will begin a new era for the team. The casual fan can now watch games on TV and get motivated to come to more games. The word is out that RFK is now a friendlier experience, and people have responded to that even these last few homestands. If we re-sign Soriano (a casual-fan favorite), so much the better. This is a good day. I'm looking forward to watching the games at last!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Off Day Outtakes

It's an off day on a West Coast road trip. The trading deadline has passed. The ownership situation is resolved. Hell, there's even something airing on MASN right this minute. It's a new era. With these developments in mind, here are a bunch of Nats-related thoughts that I've been having recently. None of them are worthy of their own post, so I'll just package them for wholesale and post them all at once.

The Trade Deadline: The zero-sum result of the trade deadline still rubs me the wrong way. Judging by some of the comments I received, I didn't do a good job of explaining myself the other day: I'm fine with the fact that we didn't trade Soriano. Only time will tell if Bowden's decision to stand pat will hurt or help the team, but in the short term, Soriano's continued presence helps the team. What bothers me is that Bowden was unable to unload any of the myriad creaky veterans that are dragging this team down (except for Stanton). I've read a lot of reasoning along the lines of "well, those guys are injured or not producing very well." That may be true, but we somehow managed to get rid of Mike Stanton and Royce Clayton, the poster children for aged suckiness.

There's no reason we couldn't have traded Livan, Ortiz, Armas or Astacio for some farm talent. At least if we don't re-sign Soriano we'll get two draft picks and save some money. If we don't re-sign the pitchers I just mentioned, we'll simply have to spend similar money on other pitchers of their ilk. Blech. That's money we're going to spend anyway, so we should have squeezed a prospect or two out of at least one of them. Even a AAA guy would have been acceptable at this point, since the entire New Orleans roster is now playing in Washington. And that's all I have to say about that.

Jim Bowden
I grew up in Cincinnati, former home of Jim Bowden. Every time I go back, my uncle and my cousins all ask me "how's Bowden?" while choking down hysterical laughter. As if I would know how he is, right? But seriously, the man's name was in the headlines almost constantly for the past month. His constant attention-seeking behavior and grandiose pronouncements make him a lightning rod for criticism and almost certainly undermine his ability to make deals. He is vaguely embarrassing, like that dad at the birthday party who tries just a little too hard to be "down" with the kids. You just wish he'd mellow out and be like the other GMs.

RFK Food Court
Man, that mother is hard to find, especially when you've knocked a few back and you're on the prowl for munchies. If you ask an Aramark employee where the food court is, they'll send you to a cluster of carts on the 300 level near the team store. Don't fall for it. The Terrace Food Court (as it is known) is on the 400 level directly above the main gate. It is a virtual cornucopia of tasty nubbins, and a nice place to catch some fresh air. I highly recommend it. I just wish the team would put more signage througout the park to help people find it.

Curly W Lot 8 Tailgate
We haven't locked down a date yet, but Ben and I have decided to sponsor a tailgate in Lot 8 before an upcoming home game (date TBA). I know that many of you, like us, enjoy having a frosty beverage before the games, and it would be great to meet some of our readers and fellow bloggers. We will be handing out free beer to readers 21 and over. Look for an official announcement soon on this blog.

Ted Lerner Sighting
I definitely walked right past Ted Lerner and an entourage last week (probably sons-in-law, he seems to have a million of them) on Connecticut Avenue NW, just south of Dupont. Mr. Lerner was on a cell phone or I might have approached him and introduced myself. None of the guys with him looked like they would try to (or be able to) beat me up. The Nats must not have chosen an official franchise wireless provider yet, since Lerner's cell phone, unlike Bowden's, was not on fire at the time.

Earth to Comcast: You Lost.

I don't watch much TV anymore. I have a job, a family, friends, a house, and endless things to do in the evenings and on weekends (including sharing my thoughts on TV in a public forum). Television has become a news and sports delivery device. In terms of serialized TV, I basically only watch 24 (which does not come back until January), and that's pretty much it. With Netflix and the rise of TV shows on DVD, if I see something I think I might like, I just Netflix it.

Correct that. I watch a lot of TV. It's just that it's all news or sports or sporting news. MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, ESPN(s). I even listen to TV on Sirius and XM (have both). Baseball, football, college hoops, futbol, hockey, even a little NBA. My DVR is regularly filled with sporting events I scan through or never get to watch. I've DVR'ed most Nationals games, and usually look at the box score the next day, read the recap and zoom to the exciting parts.

So I was pleased to hear that MASN is finally coming on line as a 24 hour sporting network. Although I am a Cox customer, and therefore get MASN on cable, as well as Comcast SportsNet, Comcast customers still don't get MASN.

As a result of MASN going 7x24 now, and with improved programming (including a Nationals postgame show that should be fun) coming down the pike in a couple months, Comcast just lost one of the main two pillars of its argument with MASN, that being that MASN was too pricey to carry based on 20 hours of dead air. On its face, that's an argument I can get behind, even if Comcast's beef is really about getting pwn3d by MLB in the Angelos wars.

Comcast is running out of options for continuing to cockblock their customers off the Nationals, and should just make a deal and get over it. Thomas Heath in the Washington Post:

...cable giant Comcast Corp. has refused to carry the network. Comcast serves approximately 1.3 million households in the Baltimore-Washington market, but it has sued the Orioles to prevent them from leaving Comcast SportsNet next year for MASN. The case has been thrown out of Maryland Circuit Court twice and is under appeal.
That's right. Thrown out twice.

The legal eagles out there can inform me of the contours of the suit, and the best piece I could find on Comcast's original argument is here.
Whiny Brat
Shorter Comcast: even though our contract to show Oriholes games runs out after the 2006 season, we still demand right of first refusal for any future contract arrangement. Plus, dude WTF if you think we're going to run another cable sports network when we built our own.

So far, the law has been on the side of MASN, and it's MASN's call right now whether to bring in a commercial arbiter or an administrative law judge to render a summary judgment. Any suckers out there want to bet me a dollar this turns out well for Comcast? I'll even give furren readers a favorable exchange rate.

This sad story is really about the increasingly unregulated and noncompetetive landscape of programming delivery, but that's an argument for another blog...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Washington INTER-Nationals

A lot of traffic has been generated by the trade non-deal(s), and I just wanted to make a quick follow up to my post the other day about readers around the US and around the world. Thanks to eveyone that posted in comments. Here are some of the interesting places I've run across looking at traffic in the past week or so. Please add your location in comments if you are a regular, or if you just randomly stopped by:

Ryde, New South Wales, Australia
Benguet Province, Philippines
Thailand
Taiwan
Nairobi, Kenya
San Cristobal Province, Dominican Republic (just to the west of Alfonso Soriano's home province of San Pedro de Macoris)
Vancouver, British Columbia (one of my favorite cities in the world)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Bangalore, India
Dili, East Timor
Amstelveen, Noord Holland Province, Netherlands
Hohenems, in the western province of Vorarlberg, Austria
Malm, Skane County, Sweden
Saint-Lambert, Quebec
Kilauea, Hawaii (ok, so not a foreign country, but really effing far away)

Update:
Dublin, Ireland
Dusseldorf, Germany
Suffolk, England
Tokyo, Japan

I've also seen England, France and Mexico in the house.

There's a decent spread of US readers, clustered, as one would expect, on the DC area. Outside DC, we've seen some clustered activity in NY/NJ, and some in CT/MA (Northampton rocks!). You folks in the Flyover Territiories and the Lefty Coast, what's your deal? DC runaways? Prurient interest in portly pitchers? Rubberneckers?