Thursday, March 20, 2008

John Patterson

He had his moments in a uniform for Our Washington Nationals--none better than August 4th, 2005. On that steamy night at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street--John Patterson pitched the greatest game of his Major League Career. A 7-0 Complete Game Shutout of The Los Angeles Dodgers. As Our Number 22 slowly walked off the field that night to THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE--there was not a person in attendance, among the 35,484, that DID NOT BELIEVE--John Patterson was going to be one excellent Major League Pitcher. A True Find.

He showed it all that night. There was nothing in his arsenal, that did not scream--Big League Star. His long flowing curly locks added to the mystique. John Patterson, seemingly, was in The Majors--to stay.

Over the entire 2005 Inaugural Season of Our Washington Nationals--Patterson was dominating--at times, overwhelming--although unlucky--his teammates couldn't hold a lead for him. Arguably, John was one the best pitchers in The Major Leagues three seasons ago. Most every team in baseball wanted him. He was that good. The wicked moving fastball, big house curve and sharp slider--he exhibited--were the makings of an All-Star. Who within Our Washington Nationals didn't believe that the man with The Jim Palmer looks and Corresponding Number 22 Uniform--was not a Number 1 Starter? Our Young Team that first season--decimated of talent by Major League Baseball--had supposedly struck gold. Washington Fans were rejoicing.

Then, just as quickly, it all fell apart. A forearm injury in 2006 needed surgical repair--ruining his campaign. Inflammation in his elbow--destroyed 2007. Who would have believed his last win as a member of Our Washington Nationals would occur on April 30th, 2007? John Patterson's final victory in a Nationals Uniform. A six inning effort won 3-2 at Petco Park in San Diego. A final win saved by "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game." Yes, Chad Cordero closed the door that day. Shortly thereafter--John Patterson's elbow problems returned, and not only took a turn for the worse--but took him on a trip to Canada. You see--Patterson refused surgery and wanted a whole healing method. Non surgical treatment used by Oakland's Huston Street on his elbow. Despite all the claims otherwise--the doctors treatments north of the border--failed. John's pain persisted and Our Washington Nationals quietly held their tongue.

Eventually, Our Number 22 went under the knife--once again. Finally stating, it was the right thing to do. A few months later--supposedly healthy, happy and newly married--John Patterson came to Spring Training in 2008 ready to reclaim his lost glory. But, the magic didn't return--at least not yet--in 2008. Today, Our Washington Nationals had seen and experienced enough. Patterson's much slower 85 MPH Fastball and mixed results at Florida Camp, led to a most stunning development. Our Washington Nationals released John Patterson. Our Now Former Number 22--free to sign on with any other team in baseball.

When I first read the news--the only response was--Wow! The African Queen stunned when I called her. A pitcher considered at one time--A Cornerstone Player--was no longer even wanted. In fact, Management felt John Patterson was not even worth trading to another team. Cast aside and not even considered useful to receive a minor league prospect or two in return.

Sad is the only description--because John Patterson hit rock bottom today.

Acknowledged as a top of line starter--just a few short seasons ago--this Native Texan was no longer even desired within Our Organization. Injuries--his resultant struggles, the inability to turn his career around--now finds Patterson, on the outside looking in. Out of a job and out of baseball--at least for the short term.

Surprised to see him move on? No--not really. Our Washington Nationals have downplayed his talents for some time. Obviously--support within Our Team was sagging. But it's absolutely amazing Our Washington Nationals will receive NOTHING in return for his services. You just know--many other teams will take a chance on him. Just look at Chris Carpenter and his early--injury plagued career. Carpenter subsequently won a Cy Young Award, but who could have known? No one.

Every situation is different and this Thursday Night--no one honestly knows what will happen in John Patterson's near and long term future playing Major League Baseball. But, his sudden departure is very baffling. Just nine short days before the start of the 2008 Season--could there have been another outcome? Is there more to this situation than publicly known?

Just three short years since The Return To Washington Of Major League Baseball--one of MLB's 2005 Best Competitors finds himself on March 20th, 2008--simply competing to survive in the game he loves. How far could someone possibly fall?

Sohna and I only wish him the best--because nothing can take away from his OUTSTANDING 2005 Season at RFK STADIUM.

PS--John Patterson's performance on that August 4th, 2005--is one of my FAVORITE NIGHT'S EVER at RFK STADIUM. On that evening--not only did Brad Wilkerson hit the First Grand Slam in Team History--but the belief was still viable--that Our Washington Nationals would make the playoffs. Was Our Nation's Capital ever Jubilant over a Baseball Team. Every Washington Fan left the ballpark with glee after this thriller. That was one joyous night at The Old Ballyard.

You can take the performers away--and even the stadium--but you can NEVER take away the MEMORIES. No--no way--not possible. It's why I love the game so much and will always remember John Patterson. For his 2005 effort alone--he gets a nice ovation from us. Good Luck John--in your baseball and life pursuits.

Of course--Sohna and I will also miss seeing him at Carrabba's. The special night when JP told us: "We (The Nationals) need more fans like you two."


An Briosca Mor said...

Releasing Patterson today makes perfect sense when you consider all the factors at play in the decision. Nothing sinister or hidden away at all. Once the team came to the realization that Patterson's fastball will take quite some time to return, if it returns at all, then the problem arose of what to do about it. You don't want him rehabbing his way back by pitching every five days for the Nationals. Clearly he had to go somewhere. Presumably Bowden has been shopping him around all spring to no interest. Other teams' scouts have seen him pitch this spring and know what it is they'd be getting, and no other team was willing to cough up even some prospects for him in trade. He was out of options and couldn't be sent to the minors without clearing waivers, meaning that he would be lost with nothing in return if some other team wanted to grab him. Why not then let him go with a bit of dignity by simply releasing him, allowing him to negotiate on his own with other teams rather than facing the quick rejection of the waiver process? If after a time no other team signs him, the Nationals can still bring him back with a minor league deal - the same outcome they'd have had if he cleared waivers.

And why today? First, because the deadline for releasing him without having to pay his full season salary is rapidly approaching. But mainly because he was due to pitch tomorrow. Once the decision was made that he wouldn't be making the team, they'd have had to pull him from the start tomorrow anyway, whether they released him today or not. And as soon as they did that, the questions would have begun. So today was the day he had to be released. It's all very simple. Sad and unfortunate, yes, but really it was inevitable. There was no other choice.

Jim H said...

When I heard the news, I too was initially stunned. I think that's primarily because it seemed S Hill was the most at risk. We'd heard Patterson was healthy and theoretically feeling good. Very cautious optimism, of course, given his history.

As ABM does make sense. In some ways, I'm hoping we do get a chance to have Patterson sign a minor league deal and see if he truly can regain his stuff.

One other notes: I've been reading your updates and posts and thank you again for your regular contributions to the period between old and new. I've eagerly consumed the photos of the new digs and am eager to get there.

We'll see you at the club!

Mark Hornbaker - History's Perspective said...

Good Story! I believe the Nationals stuck with John Patterson as long as they could. Like you pointed out the fastball is maxing out 85 mph, and I do not believe he will ever be a quality major league pitcher unless the fastball improves.
It is sad to see one of the original Nationals leave.

paul said...

I really liked Patterson, partly because he appreciated playing for Frank Robinson perhaps better than anyone.
My lasting memory of Patterson is game #2 at RFK in 2005. I had never seen him pitch before, and he was lights out. If memory serves, that was the night the Nats started leading the division, a position they held until August.
Good luck, John.

thunderstrucknatsfan said...

Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the video of JP's August 4, 2005 game. My VRC malfunctioned and so I have no tape of it. Of course, I saw it, but would like to watch it again from time to time. I have tried everything I can think of to find a copy and have had no sucess. Thanks for any suggestions.

I still feel that the Nat's gave up too soon on Patterson. I would love to see him stay in the organization and come back either later this year or next season. However, it may not be in his best interests.