Monday, July 31, 2006

Alfonso!! SORIANO!!! ALFONSO!!! SORIANO!!!!!!

Section 320 is a happy camper tonight, after hearing the good news that JIM BOWDEN turned down EVERYONE offered for Alfonso Soriano. Really, how can you be upset about this Dynamic Player not spending the rest of 2006 with the Nationals!! Unless Jimbo and Stan Kasten are total jackasses (JIMBO Maybe, Kasten--no way!!), there has got to be some behind the scenes action going on among these parties to work something out for 2007 and beyond.

Alfonso has come along way in DC in the short time he's been here. Soriano came over from Texas in a very unpopular trade for Brad Wilkerson and 2 others late last year, refused to switch to left field from his normal 2nd base. REFUSED to play in left field during his very first pre-season game with the Nationals. He was named a PARIAH by many, including me. A franchise KILLER!! Many of us just wanted to throw him under the next Metro train, along with JIMBO, and we would have all been happy!! And, he struggled mightily in the field through the first half of 2006. Yet, whenever he's at the plate or making a play in the field--YOU CAN"T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF HIM!! Soriano comes to the plate to SMACK THE BALL, when he gets on--he's a THREAT TO STEAL EVERY BASE!! In the field, he makes YOUR HEART BEAT 5 TIMES AS FAST, because you never really know whether he will catch the ball---And he PLAYS WITH A SMILE ON HIS FACE!!. HE BECAME THE FAN FAVORITE!! Talked to the fans down the leftfield line. IS THE TEAMS LEADER!! Even in bad times, TEAMS need a STAR!!

Soriano told FoxSports Ken Rosenthal: as told by Stan Kasten) "He was ecstatic. His teammates are ecstatic. I'm quite sure our fans will be ecstatic," Kasten relayed. "He wants to be in D.C. — maybe the best player in baseball wants to be in D.C.," Kasten said. "We think that's kind of a good thing."

Bowden on
"We felt the best deal that we could make was no deal for this franchise," Bowden said. "We consider Alfonso one of the best players in baseball. It's a player that wants to stay in D.C., did not want to be traded. He wants to stay here long-term. .."

And then Stan Kasten in the Post:
"There's certainly nothing certain about what will happen after this year," Kasten said. "But we do love Alfonso and what he's done for our team, what he means to our team and what he means to our fans. And if there's a way for us to keep him consistent with building a world championship . . . but we're always going to look at the best of our alternatives. For today, there wasn't anything that was good enough for us to trade him."

Give them credit for not trading for junk!! Not giving him away for a complete uncertain future. They stood by their guns and told EVERYONE what was needed to make a deal. And, they stood by it.

Its a BOLD MOVE!! I am glad they kept him. Soriano will become the FACE OF THE FRANCHISE. The POSTER BOY MARQUEE Player. Alfonso easily could still be around when the Nationals truly come competitive. In the meantime, WE, AS FANS, have someone to look forward to seeing every single time we go to RFK and the new stadium.

Section 320 can continue to lead off the game with the Alfonso!! SORIANO!!! Cheer. And, my wife, Sohna, will continue to attend as many games as possible to see NUMBER 12 play for the NATS. I can't tell you how happy THAT MAKES ME IN MY HOUSE!!

On another note, I found it interesting that neither Marlon Anderson or Daryle Ward were moved before 4pm today. They seem to be perfect role players for a contender. Would love to know what actually was offered for them. Livan just had to stay, HE WANTS TO BE HERE! He's coming around. And, our pitching sucks soooooo much, he might be the only dependable arm we have by the end of 2006. Armas and Ortiz are just not good enough to get anything in return for them.

Of course, there is still the waiver wire deals for August, and these 5 players may still be moved then. You can bet that Bowden will place every single player not named Zimmerman on waivers real soon. Alfonso though, is staying!!
Happy Day in SECTION 320!!

Alfonso!! Soriano!!!!! Alfonso!!!! SORIANO!!! ALFONSO!!!! SORIANOOOOOO!!!!

1 comment:

SenatorNat said...

So much has happened in one and one-half seasons of 21st Century Nationals baseball that we may not have taken time to pause to absorb it. For one, please point out the four people in the D.C. Metro area who do not sport at least one version of the Nats hat?

Two, for the past 162 games, this is about the worst team in baseball, yet for the past two weeks, the four-letter network and FOX and most major dailies gave wall-to-wall coverage of the Soriano saga (the latest redux of Joseph Heller's sequel to Catch 22 - "Something Happened" which the NY Times aptly reviewed: "'Something Happened' - Nothing Happens."

Before that, it was all the hoopla about who would be selected to run the team. And immediately thereafter, all the huckstering by Kasten and his boy Bowden, whom everyone (wrongfully) presumed would be fired as the Kasten's first official action.

And, of course, the persistent interplay of the evil one, Peter Angelos ("There are no real baseball fans in Washington"); the painstaking one, Bud Selig buying off Angelos by making the Nationals, in essense, accessable by short-wave radio only; Comcast playing hardball and putting itself in harm's way with Congress; and many prominent politicians in D.C. trying to play the race card, somehow, out of a baseball team!!

Add the usual Washington Post elite "populism" and bias against the team, and its anecdotal fixation that RFK is a ballpark which can actually cause harm to its patrons, and a shared sense with Angelos that there are (or shouldn't be) any real baseball fans in D.C. {Anyone seen Post wit Mike Wise lately, now that the football team whose name he vowed not to use has started training camp?) And the largest proven no-nothing in sports reporting, Tom L. (is that his real voice?) of the Washington Times is no anedote, certainly...

So how is it that everything about this team just seems to warm the heart of fans and players alike, and creates so much buzz throughout baseball?

Community is the answer - you just cannot engineer it artificially, either. Tom Boswell has it. Frank Robinson has it. 20,000 hardcore Nats fans have it. Jose Guillen caught it. Ryan Zimmerman grew up respecting it. Alfonso Soriano had almost given up finding it in a commercial and cold America - but much to his own suprise, he found it and fell in love with it, apparently. Kasten is adapting to it, as manna from heaven for a sports franchise. Mark Lerner has it - Bowden is trying to claim it...

The Senators liked playing here, to a person. There has always been something special about the D.C. baseball fan - the teams were rarely good since about the mid-1950's on, but the fan was supportive and positive, and truly loved and responded to a player, who, while imperfect, gave what he had completely. This was certained exemplified by Hondo Howard - our true Hometown Hero. (Sorry, Gary Carter!!!!- is this a joke or what!!!!)

D.C. baseball fans have not had a player as complete and solid as Ryan Zimmerman since perhaps Micky Vernon; they have not had a true superstar since the 1933 team and before (Joe Cronin,and that gang; and before that, Walter Johnson) - thus, they cannot quite believe that Alfonso Soriano wears a Nationals uniform, and is indeed a superstar, one of the five best everyday players in the National League...That is probably why most had resigned themselves to his departure, and like me, had begun the grieving process, but were prepared to pore over the minor league statistics of the players received for him, and even listen to some false hope promises that the Nationals would be in the bidding war for him to return, after the season. (No way that would have happened, in reality, of course.)

Community and continuity: ironically, Kasten keeping Bowden, and Bowden not dealing Soriano, or Livo even, spells continuity, even were it just serendipity...The major problem, obviously, with the Expos has been the lack of it - no permanent place to play, no certainty players could stay and learn to play with one another, no permanent owner, etc.

The only true constant has been the manager through all the club's vagabound years - Frank Robinson, himself a superstar who found glory when he changed leagues at 30 to play left field for the Orioles with a rock at third base named Brooks Robinson. So, in two regards, perhaps the Nats are now reminiscent of the O's in 1966, with four major exceptions: superb (future Hall of Fame) starting pitchers who shut down the LA Dodgers 4-0.

The Nationals now have a solid line-up, and some versatile guys on the bench. With Vidro playing, albeit he hits a "soft .300" - it (still) adds a .300 hitter to the current line-up!

By signing Soriano for $65 million over 5 years, for example, the Nationals face the problems of paying Livo $7 million, and Guzman another $4 million (yes, he got that this year, too!). Those three alone would constitute $24 million of a (tops) $85 million payroll for 2007. {almost 30%}

The team currently has NO reliable starting pitching, and a very thin bull-pen. If Kasten-Bowden presume that all four arm surgeries go perfectly for Patterson; Lawrence; Dreese; and Ayala; and that Livo's knee has mended (how about a bit of a diet ordered to take some of the stress off it!?), that would still leave the team needing to enter the free agent market for one number 2-3 young starter, and one bona fide reliever.

Kasten and Bowden and the Lerners believe that the spirit on the club and the splash of signing Soriano long term will endear them to free agents generally, and especially Dominicans, to whom they are clearly trying to build a pipeline.

But, where does the $$$$ come from for these two sorely needed signings? I suppose some of it comes, perhaps, from trading Vidro for a reliever who is reliable. But, the team has no one, besides Castro, to slot in daily at second.

Community, continuity, confluence of good luck,and, finally, a commitment of fans to attend games are all requirements to sustain progress. The latter was a note sounded by Bowden by announcing no deals made yesterday - reminded me a bit of Bob Short chastising the fans for not supporting a woeful team in 1971, after he had dumped all the good young players for Denny McLain. But, he is right: the Lerners need to be able to rely on 2.5 million a season, at least, to make an $85 million payroll viable.

This is why pushing the MASN-Comcast agreement should be Job Number One. You simply cannot have a winning franchise with a 45 year old stadium and NO television...All the community, continuity, and confluence of good luck is eclipsed by the absence of it, in the final analysis.

And what better face to have on television 162 games, plus post-season, than the Nationals 21st Century superstar, Alfonso Soriano!! SenatorNat