Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Getting Nothing In Return
During the third inning last night at RFK Stadium, Atlanta's Willie Harris was at the plate and fouled a pitch from Jerome Williams. The lofted ball's trajectory heading toward the back row of The Box Seats, directly to the left of Section 320. It just so happened that Team President Stan Kasten was sitting in that row on the aisle with a colleague, talking. Noticing the ball heading his way, Mr. Kasten knew he was in trouble, not due to the impact of a hard moving baseball, but because seven folks, all standing in or near him, began to jump, push and shove their way through him, glamoring for the baseball. Mr. Kasten jumping up, laughing, looking right at me, knowing I saw it all. It was funny. He knew it. And,I knew--Those people had no idea who he was. That's what made it so special.
But sad, nonetheless.
Because four of those 7 folks were ADULTS, over 25 Years old looking to take a baseball away from 3 little kids. What in world are people thinking of sometimes? Granted, its a big thrill to catch a foul ball and be cheered on by adoring fans for your effort. Back in 2005, when I got a foul tip at RFK Stadium (The First Foul I Had EVER CAUGHT as a Fan), I rejoiced in the moment and the cheers--and still retain the ball today in a special protective cube. But, to see Grown Adults knocking down little kids in a failing attempt of pick up a rolling, bouncing Major League Baseball, how stupid do you have to be? For acting like a fool, you get nothing in return.
Iris & I were talking about just this subject after last night's 6-2 loss to The Atlanta Braves. "If you are an Adult, just go to the store and buy one--if you want it that bad," she stated. I couldn't agree with her more. Its one thing to catch a ball coming your way at your seat. THAT'S FUN!! To run over, through and under folks, especially kids, just to retrieve a baseball--silly and embarrassing. And, those that do so, normally get booed by fans,when they refuse to give the ball to a youngster. Sympathy, which I have none for folks like that.
Now, with the editorial out of the way, here comes another. Yeah, I know,last night's game with The Atlanta Braves was not much. With Tim Hudson on the mound for Atlanta, throwing bullets, Our Washington Nationals had little hope. Time after Time, A Nats Batter stepped to the plate. Time after Time a Nats Batter grounding his splitter right into the dirt for a easy out. Hudson going 7 strong innings, heading into the 5th with a Perfect Game, and except for that one weak inning, retired the side in order throughout every other inning he pitched on the mound. Tim Hudson is making a early charge for Cy Young Award. Except for an injury last season, he has consistently been a TOP PERFORMER, both in Atlanta and with his original team, The Oakland Athletics.
Which always makes me wonder about many Major League Teams and their General Managers. If the FINAL GOAL of any Professional Team is to WIN their Championship, why in the world would you trade a STELLAR TALENT like Tim Hudson? You can say all you want about "MONEYBALL" invented by A's GM Billy Beane. In some respects, I love his ideas and aggressive ways. No doubt, Beane can build a winning team, his formula has merit. Yet, in the long run--HOW MANY TIMES HAVE THE OAKLAND ATHLETICS WON THE WORLD SERIES, under his leadership?
Thinking out loud? "AAHH--NONE." I don't care if your team is a Small Market Team, when you win, you draw fans. Fans SPEND MONEY, BUY MERCHANDISE & TICKETS. And, as most any follower of baseball understands, a Major League Team makes a run in the playoffs with PITCHING. So, really, WHY WOULD YOU TRADE TIM HUDSON? Has Billy sending Number 15 to Atlanta really helped Oakland? Simply, No--All three players returned in trade: Juan Cruz, Charlie Thomas and Dan Meyer are NOBODIES.
Dumping a Cy Young Caliber performer just because you THINK you can't resign him, or ARE NOT WILLING to Resign him, to me, is just as naive as trading him for, well, nothing in return. Billy Beane might as well have traded for MickNats, RallyTime Richard, BangTheDrumNightly and myself. At least we would have provided some noise-not much talent on the field, though. But, people would have remembered us. (Just kidding, now).
Anyway, with Hudson's splitter fooling Nats Hitter each and every time they came to the plate, this game was over early. Especially, with Jerome Williams having nothing, leaving early in the 3rd with a strained right rotator cuff, but not before a ton of damage was inflicted on the scoreboard. In the first Edgar Renteria would ROCKET SHOT a liner to left for a two run homer. Then, 4 more singles off Williams in the third, before he was relieved of duty followed by one Sacrifice Fly and single off Micah Bowie put Our Washington Nationals behind 5-0. A momumental lead, with Hudson showing his finest tonight. Really, Tim Hudson is a FABULOUS PITCHER. And, quite honestly, seeing players like this, in person--another of the GREAT JOYS of watching Our Washington Nationals, even when we don't win. We may be still be in last place, but I LOVE THE GAME, especially watching quality performances.
Later, Renteria would absolutely HAMMER a line drive on a fastball from Ray King that JUST CLEARED the wall in dead center field for his second home run of the night and the sixth and final run of this game for Atlanta. If that Centerfield Wall was not there, that baseball would have hit the Green Concrete Wall that supports the Upper Deck Seating Bowl and bounced BACK INTO THE INFIELD. That ball was SMOKED!! As pissed as he was, even Ray King had to admire that stroke. Renteria made a PERFECT SWING!!
Hudson's Perfect Game was ended in the 5th when Brian Schneider would draw a two out walk. And, as is always the case when a No Hitter is most likely broken up--a weak hitter, in this case, Robert Fick did the honors, singling to right. And, when long time Brave, now National, Ryan Langerhans singled to center scoring Schneider, his former teammate and friend, Tim Hudson, had not only lost his no hitter, but shutout. Once again, The Baseball Gods had spoken. "No No Hitter tonight".
Our Washington Nationals 4 Game Winning Streak came to a SCREEECHING HALT (But, not because of Screech, My Best Friend), a 6-2 loss because last night, Tim Hudson was TERRIFIC!!! I wonder what Billy Beane would think of this post?
Game Notes & Highlights:
In the top of the 3rd, with Williams in trouble, tonight's pest, Edgar Renteria would SMOKE another liner (HIS GAME WAS ON TONIGHT AT THE PLATE) right back to Jerome in the box. Having little, if anytime, to react, Jerome took the hard hit right off his rear end. He recovered nicely, but couldn't record the out. Glad to see he was physically OK from the rocket hit. The play though was funny to see.
A little bit later in the same half inning, Brian McCann would loop a liner into left centerfield, Langerhans continues to impress with, well above average, defensive outfield skills. Ryan dove, running to his right, diving for ball to make the catch. Although Willie Harris scored on the Sacrifice Fly, Langerhans made The Defensive Play for This Game.
Tonight's contest also showed a great contrast in EFFORT. Also, in the 3rd, Andruw Jones popped a ball between Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns in right. No one took charge, Kearns thought FLop would take it. FLop gave up on the ball. Then, in the 4th, Hudson would loop another in basically the same spot. FLop, gave a half effort, and was booed mightily. As Janet, visiting us in Section 320 so rightly stated: "If he's not going to run hard for the ball, why not just not go at all." It was a correct statement, because FLop half running made Kearns slow down. No one caught the ball. Later, in the 8th, Scot Thormon fouled a pitch down the left field line, two rows into the stands. Ryan Zimmerman, with the game fairly out of reach at this point, GAVE HIS ALL, ran hard--a good 20 yards to the stands, until seeing the ball land two rows into the seats. What a contrast, from two players. One GOING ALL OUT, no matter what. The Other, playing unsure, no matter what.
Chad Cordero got one inning of mop up work in during the 8th. His first appearance since going on The Bereavement List. "The Chief" was humming his fastball, reaching the low 90's. Throwing easy and relaxed, yeah he walked one batter, but he look good. Maybe, the most promising sign of the evening.
Even before being removed for his Rotator Cuff Strain, Jerome Williams had NOTHING. At 0-5 for the season, you have to wonder whether he shall be counted on to return. Joel Hanrahan, who has been lights out at AAA Columbus, would be here right now, if not for a groin strain. Having lost 3 starting pitchers to the Disabled List in the past 10 days--Our Manager Manny Acta is running out of options.
Finally--Sorry for the late post. The African Queen FORCED ME to go to bed, and rightfully so, when we got home last night. When I was in my early 20's, I could go 5 nights on 3-4 hours of sleep. At 47 Years of Age, I may well be as "Deranged" as Dan Steinberg from The Washington Post called me online the other day. In Fact, Sohna and I ran into Dan as we entered RFK Stadium last night at Gate A. He is quite the entertaining guy. We had met before and I introduced him to The African Queen. All three of us chatting for some time.
Last Night's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari