Thursday, July 26, 2007
Jesus Arrives--While Lannan & Manny Leave
Never has he embarrassed himself--despite the fact that he had, not once, played a baseball game above Single A Ball. Many, so called experts, claimed he would be over matched on The Major League Level. Yet, Jesus Flores has done nothing but show an emerging talent all season long. From the very first days of Spring Training, Our Washington Nationals Rule V Draftee has shown a cannon arm, power at the plate and the ability to call a good game behind it. A Confidence well apparent today, when he was the difference at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the 8th, Our Number 3 stepped to the plate and hammered The Phillies Mike Zagurski's very first pitch to him over the left field fence while sending Many Washington Nationals Fans on hand into a FRENZY. I am sure many watching at home, or at work-- were jumping for joy. I know I was. The Sight on TV of this one Philadelphia Fan booing a bunch of Nationals Fans enjoyable to see. Jesus Flores Second Home Run of this season was a three run shot, scoring Robert Fick and Austin Kearns with the tying, go ahead and important insurance run in today's 7-6 victory. A Win that could only bring comfort to many followers of Our Team, after last night's debacle.
A relief "The Chief Cardiologist" made very interesting in the bottom of the 9th. Allowing one run to score and putting the tying and winning runs on base. But, unlike last night, Chad Cordero's defense behind him DID NOT LET HIM DOWN!! Our Number 32 recorded his 20th save of 2007. But Curly "W" Number 43 will be remembered for Flores' Clout and one of the Most Stunning Ejections you will ever see in a baseball game.
For some time now, Jesus Flores has impressed. Each and every time Our Manager Manny Acta gives him the opportunity to play--Flores does something that makes you appreciate his young talent. Yeah, he fails from time to time, that's baseball--but never does he appear lost. I just love his rifle arm from behind the plate. Many of Our Pitchers claim he calls a decent game. And, everyone has come to realize--THIS MAN CAN HIT--For Power--with the game on the line. An ability Jesus also showed last night when he pinch hit in the 9th and, at that time, knocked in the apparent winning runs--before Two Ryans got lost in left centerfield.
There is NO DOUBT that JESUS FLORES is a KEEPER--and most likely--starting material behind the plate, far sooner than anyone first believed. If Our Washington Nationals are looking for parts in 2007--Our Number 3 has been added to The Jigsaw Puzzle--Permanently . A Maze that each and every day is slowly being pieced together. Far more deliberately than many may wish. But, as far as I am concerned--Jesus Flores can start more--not just for Sunday Games and Day Games following Late Night Games. He Has Earned Those Additional Chances. And, that in no way should reflect on Brian Schneider's abilities. Our Number 23 has taken a beating behind the plate this season. Nicks and Scrapes most every night. Stunning at times, that Brian Schneider continues to play most every night, under the circumstances. Schneider is a gamer, which I can appreciate.
Now--How About Those Ejections.
Our Washington Nationals, continuing their 2007 effort give tryouts to every single possible candidate, called up fast rising youngster John Lannan to make an emergency start this afternoon. In the wake of Jason Bergmann pulling a hamstring and Jason Simontacchi going on the Disabled List--Our 2005 11th Round Pick became Washington's 22nd Pitcher to appear on the mound this season. Wearing Number 26--the crafty lefthander from Siena College in New York State--was basically what you would expect--NERVOUS. Nothing to be ashamed about. And, when Ryan Howard SWATTED OUT HIS 14th Career Home Run against Our Washington Nationals in the bottom of the 3rd--you couldn't be surprised. Lannan may well become a good Major League Pitcher--he just needs to settle down--get his feet wet.
But, when Chase Utley came up to bat again in the bottom of 5th--a series of events took place that continue to prove--baseball always surprises you--when you least expect it. Trailing 3-2, Lannan appeared capable of making his Major League Debut last, a full five innings. At least until Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendlestadt inserted himself into this game. With one out, Our Number 26 let go an off speed pitch that hit Utley right on his hands. A pitch that rewarded him first base and then The Disabled List later (as it turned out, Chase unfortunately broke a bone in his right hand).
An adversity that got ever worse--when John Lannan plunked Ryan Howard on his back with his very next pitch. There was NO QUESTION that Lannan had just lost control. There was NO QUESTION Lannan was not throwing at anyone--on purpose. At least to everyone save Hunter Wendlestadt. Today's Home Plate Umpire EJECTED John Lannan from his VERY FIRST GAME. An affair that featured Our Washington Nationals being down by just one run with a Big Inning possibly emerging for Philadelphia. What in the world was Hunter Wendlestadt thinking?
He must have been the only person at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon that felt the ejection was warranted. Even the ever persistent Phillie Faithful seemed stunned. A Shocking Decision that Our Manager Manny Acta came to argue vehemently and rightly so. Obviously, Hunter Wendlestadt was not in an accommodating mood today. Manny Acta was then EJECTED for the very first time as Manager of Our Washington Nationals. Don Sutton on MASN2 went ballistic. "Sometimes you have to use Common Sense and realize the situation," he continued. "There is NO WAY John Lannan is deliberately pitching at Ryan Howard, in his very first game, a game he is trailing. The Job of an Umpire is to let the ballgame play out in front of them. Not inject themselves into the action and change its possible outcome. Hunter Wendlestadt is simply not thinking." Don went on his soapbox for some time after those comments. And, deservedly so.
Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendlestadt's decision was WAY OUT OF LINE!! And, ejecting Manny, for arguing, is the sign of someone covering their butt. I don't care if Hunter's Father, Harry, was a long time respected arbiter in the game. Harry's Son must not have learned the nuances of not directly becoming involved. Just a ridiculous decision. A move that, if MLB had any guts--would investigate and reprimand. You can't have an Umpire changing the face of the game--without good reason.
Now--How About those Dimitri Young Rumors?
Various reports claim Our Washington Nationals are close to a two year contract extension with Dimitri for anywhere from $2 Million per season to $5 Million per season--plus an option year. If the deal is for $2 Million or so--Fine. But, at $5 Million per--how does this further This Franchise? As much as I like him--Young is having a Career Year. How many more such seasons is he capable? At $2 Million per--he's a very tradable commodity, at any time. Same with Ronnie Belliard. I can understand such a signing--under those circumstances. But, do Our Washington Nationals really want to guarantee $10 Million (IF TRUE) for two more seasons of an All Hit, No Field Player? The Suggestion of placing Dimitri Young in the outfield is laughable. And, is there an underlying concern that Nick Johnson will not return, healthy--even next year?
Every Move Our General Manager Jim Bowden has completed as Our General Manager always seems to be in conjunction with possibilities and opportunity down the line. There has got to be something else going on. Why would you lock up two of your, supposedly, wanted commodities--less than one week before the Trading Deadline?
Not being directly involved, I am not going to speculate on player moves--but something's up. Jimbo's On The Prowl.
That, I AM SURE!!
PS--This has been sort of a Wild Day for me. While watching the game on and off on from Our Satellite Truck, I have been covering Michael Vick's appearance in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia on Dog Fighting Charges. What a scene when Vick walked out of The U.S. Marshall's Van. Was he ever booed!! As Bad as Barry Bonds EVER HEARD IN ANY GAME!!
I am not judging here, just reporting. But, Just An Amazing Scene To Witness.
Today's InGame Photo's--(AP) George Widman
Last Night's Dimitri Young Photo--(AP) Rusty Kennedy