Sunday, June 08, 2008

Listless


Not going blame this loss on the heat.

Not going to blame this loss on injured players out of Our Lineup.

Not going to blame this loss on a rookie--making his MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT on the mound.

And not going to blame "The Guz" for being hit in the head on a bad hop grounder. A sure inning ending double play ball that became a single--scoring the eventual game winning run.

No--I am not going to blame today's 6-3 loss by Our Washington Nationals to The San Francisco Giants on any of those issues.

As Our Team is just disjointed right now. Too much in flux. Too many changes. Too many, if's and's and but's. Some of which are totally out of anyone's hands.

But, I will question how listless the performance on the field was at New Nationals Park this Sunday--after Washington lost their three run lead.
Too bad--because Garrett Mock pitched his heart out until he wilted in the top of the fifth inning--thanks to some key double plays turned behind him. With his 90 MPH Fastball not moving well this afternoon--Mock spent the first four innings of this game surviving on his off speed stuff. And when that curve and slider abandoned his arm--Garrett Mock was in a whole lot of trouble. A balk and seven straight balls thrown by Our Number 50--setting the stage for the game changing moments.
And when Mock issued a bases load walk sending the first run of the game home for San Francisco--Garrett also found out he was being sent to the showers and then being sent on to Columbus. First Day In The Big Leagues--Over. Still--at that time--Our Manager Manny Acta thanked him publicly, on the mound, with a pat on the shoulder. And this Big Texan was greeted warmly by his new teammates and some newly found fans clapping behind Our Washington Nationals First Base Dugout. Our New & Now Former Number 50 had received his Fresh Cup of Coffee in The Major Leagues. Now--he was heading back to The Minors--for more seasoning.

Garrett Mock had stumbled, but at that point was not defeated--in this game. Washington still had a chance to win. They were up by two.

At least until the more seasoned Saul Rivera came on to produce a 27 pitch performance of his own--allowing three more runs to score--all charged to Mock. The eventual game winning run scoring on a bad hop grounder to Cristian Guzman. A deflected ball that Our Number 15 would have surely scooped to complete an inning ending Double Play.

Seemingly, when things are going bad--the only breaks you receive are the bad ones. "The Guz" and Mock deserved better.

With The San Francisco Giants now taking an unexpected 4 to 3 lead--it appeared Our Washington Nationals had run out of gas. For the remaining three and one-half innings played--there was little energy shown. Did The $4 Per Gallon Cost for Gas having anything to do with it? And when Washington loaded up the bases in the bottom of the 5th and did not score--what little juice remaining inside New Nationals Park was zapped away--evaporated into the humid and thick air above.

Even the traditional "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" rendition during the 7th inning stretch had little fan participation. As Sohna said--at the time: "So where's Exxon Mobil (Sponsor of The Stretch) to refill everyone's tank. Anything to spark and revive Our Players and Our Fans."

So very true. So very necessary. Too bad there would no further revivals this day.

The last three innings of this encounter were simply played out. No spark from Our Washington Nationals.

A Strange Day at the ballpark it became. Sadly, even The African Queen and I retired to the cooler comforts of The Stars & Stripes Club in the 8th--just to rejuvenate our spirits--talking with friends--before returning to our seats for the 9th and final frame of this Listless afternoon affair.

Final Score From Game Time Temperature 94 Degrees New Nationals Park: The San Francisco Giants 6 and Our Washington Nationals 3.

Game Notes & Highlights.

Although Barry Zito was credited with the win for The Giants--what's happened to this former Cy Young Award Winner. The one time holder of "The Best Curve Ball In The Game." Two Wins and Nine Losses in 2008 for one of the top lefthanders in the game--just a few short years ago. Moving across The Bay from Oakland to San Francisco has done nothing for his career. Sad really. He was so fun to watch as a member of The Athletics.
To his credit--Lastings Milledge is beginning to hit the ball better and a little more consistently at the plate--although he is not a three hole hitter. Today, Our Number 44 blasted out a solo shot off Zito in the bottom of the first and blooped singled home Willie Harris for Washington's second run in the third. But Lastings had The African Queen and I shaking our heads in the top of the 4th when The Giants Aaron Rowand (Great Player By The Way) hammered a Mock fastball deep to the wall in centerfield. Drifting back, running hard, Milledge showed all the athletic talent he possesses--then proceeded to display the baseball instincts he lacks. With the baseball coming down inside the park--Lastings jumped to catch the stroked hit--well before the wall. Then saw the baseball land Below His Arm. The bouncing hit resulting in a double for Rowand. With similar speed, a good outfielder would have caught that drive. Lastings Milledge needs some outfield work.

By the way--when Milledge hit his Home Run--he proceeded with the Football Handoff, The Pointing to The Sky, then added a new twist to his personal celebration--Lastings turned his helmet upside down and asked for donations from his teammates at the Dugout Step. NO--I DON'T LIKE THAT. Never Will.

On the very same bloop single by Lastings in the third that plated Harris, Elijah Dukes also showed inexperience when--while running from first base and the play in front of him--proceeded to round second base too far--heading toward third. San Francisco Leftfielder Fred Lewis threw to his third baseman--Jose Castillo--who tossed to Ray Durham to record the final out of the inning and kill a potential big inning for Washington.

Speaking of mistakes--if Joel Hanrahan can consistently reach 97MPH on his heater--why in world is he throwing Joe Bowker an 0-2 off speed slider--right over the heart of the plate? Talented and the possessor of a fabulous arm--Our Number 38 needs to harness his power and learn how to pitch. This Two Run Home Run Pitch in the 7th was the distance maker for San Francisco--closing this game out--early.

Despite being hit on the noggin by an errant ground ball--"The Guz" continues to wield a Hot Bat--two more hits today. But, I would love to see Cristian Guzman come up to the plate and take more pitches--with runners in scoring position. Hacking away with a pitcher in trouble--not always the smart decision in the batters box.

Abe won The President Race--easily distancing the field. His lead so great, he waltzed backward across the finish line.

There were a host of Kids Oriented Events today at New Nationals Park.

Before the game began--Little League Teams from throughout the Washington, DC Area--participated in The Youth Parade. Thousands of Players, Coaches and some Parents walked into New Nationals Park from Centerfield onto the warning track--then walked clockwise around the track--exiting from centerfield.

Each child under 12 Years of age--received a specially marked Curly "W" child's size baseball glove as a gift upon entering the stadium.
Kids and Adults alike could participate in Signature Sunday--the 20 Minute Autograph Session held at 12:15 each Sunday Home Game. Today's participants--Jesus Flores, Odalis Perez, Brian Sanches and Charlie Manning.

And Kids Ran The Bases afterwards--another Sunday Home Game Tradition--weather permitting.


Finally, before today's game, Sohna and I attended Our Washington Nationals Winners Announcement of their Father of The Year Essay Contest. 12 Children and Their Fathers were honored in ceremonies in The Party Suites down the left field line at New Nationals Park and on the field before the game. One Deserving Father was named Father Of The Year. As you may recall--Nats320 wrote about this competition earlier this year. And The African Queen and I were there for The Finals.
This was a very moving ceremony--quite touching actually. Much more coming on Our Washington Nationals Honoring DC AREA Fathers later. In case you may not know, Our Washington Nationals were involved in Seven Different Public Service Events over the past few days. As much as the baseball on the field is the primary focus for Our Fans--there is committment being shown off the field by Our Team for those in need--and those in need of being recognized.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Luis M. Alvarez
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mock was told before the game that he was being optioned back down regardless of how he pitched.

His performance today had nothing to do with his trip back to Columbus.

JayB said...

Repost in hopes (small chance I know) you missed this.....

Hey SBF,

Where is Stan in all this? I used to see him in the upper deck all the time in RFK. It was great, you could ask him anything. He has been a no show in my area of the new park. Stan has also said nothing about the team's problems in print or on TV that I have seen. Can you ask him to speak to us, the season ticket base? I think he owes us some kind of response to what we are seeing on the field. Oh and tell him the upper deck still has no onions, napkins, Kraut, and the like after the 2nd inning.

He is going to look pretty dumb, if he waits till renewal time to come out from his suite to ask us all to send in our deposits early.

SenatorNat said...

This is another fine post and good comments. It is said that a team is never as bad as it seems during a losing stretch, nor as good as during a winning stretch, but there are seasons that are fateful for a franchise, as Senators fans know only TOO well.

The walk-up behind the Home Plate Gate fails to mention 1901, when the Washington Senators were a charter member of the new American League, a major oversight. It does, however, commemorate the year 1971, when Hondo homered as a last harrah for the team's departure for good some 70 years thereafter. While 1969 had been the high water mark for the Expansion Senators, with plenty of hope for the future, Owner Bob Short shorted the future entirely with a devastating trade in the off-season of four decent Senators for a washed-up Denny McClain and Wert a terrible third-baseman. He was able to parlay substantially reduced fan attendance due to McClain then losing 31 games and a rag-tag team (coupled with among the highest ticket prices in MLB)into his excuse to blow town...Short did not command fan loyalty, and he did not receive it, then, or posthumosly...

The Lerners-Kasten-Bowden brass have been playing dangerously loose with something they have yet to entirely earn - fan confidence and loyalty. It is a trust once lost that is very difficult to keep from becoming an ever-deepening spiral downward. They were presented a beautiful gift by Bud Selig in the form of a new MLB franchise and a free state of the art downtown stadium - and they have made a business decision to live off of that gift until something they publcily overpromote as the PLAN fulfills its advance billing.

The PLAN, it would seem, is stockpile young pitching and use the MLB collective bargaining agreement to keep all of it young and relatively locked up for years at scalper's rates. Part II of the PLAN is to rely on the new stadium to keep revenues steady at 2.5 million or so - which translates to 3 million or more at RFK, due to the enhanced revenues per seat. Part III of the PLAN is to live very frugally overall - signing to low or no cost K's the very young and restless, the young and troubled, and the old but hopefully serviceable. Part IV of the PLAN, we can surmise, is to unload Guzman since he will certainly draw $5m or more per year based on his performance as afree agent; and sign one BIG NAME (but relatively inexpensive) free agent to try to keep fans patient for the PLAN to materialize.

"The PLAN - the PLAN" should be the call of the new beginning for Fantasy Island. In the meantime, maybe the team will still be able to claim "that since September 4, 2008, when all the starters returned, the Nationals played .500 ball!" In the off-season, as it produces promotional materials for 2009 season ticket sales, I hope the brass will go the extra mile, and airbrush out the iconic baseball over the Red Loft that it scrapped as a cost-savings manuever. And put pictures of all the number one draft picks of the past several years in its place.

For the first time ever in my commentary, I am prepared to say that the Redskins have a better developed and forthright plan than the Nationals, based on what I am seeing and NOT hearing.

Trust in the green-eye shade mentally of Fast Eddie Cohen. All Good.

Steve said...

I read some of your old posts and see that you love the old expansion Senators. I am in the last stages of finishing a manuscript of a book about the 1969 Senators. I can certainly keep you posted on publication plans if you are interested....I have interviewed many of the players and coaches from the team, plus fans.

I was 9 when the Senators left and it broke my heart. I am so thrilled to be able to tell the story of the best baseball team in Washington in the past 60 plus years -- the 1969 Washington Senators!

SenatorNat said...

Look up the Post or Star for fabulous quote from Paul Casanova day after they won the 7th in a row - the so-called "Streak" - "We win like 20 in a row - and then the pennant!!" Adorable. Dad and I and the entourage of my friends went to each game at home during the streak: Dad would, as a joke, refer to Ed Stroud, The Streak, as Stroud the Bum - and we all violently disagreed. And Stroud actually stole home one game during the Streak, as I recall. Coming out of that game, on East Capital, we pull up next to a Buick Station Wagon, and it's Ted Williams and a buddy in it - we all got to call out "Great Game, Ted" to which he gave a thumbs-up and big smile. Wonderful times.

Trust in Number 9. And Number 33. All Great.