Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Opportunity Wasted


One of the best pitchers in the game was ripe for the taking. The Arizona Diamondback's Brandon Webb did not have his best stuff. The great sinker not sharp. The sweat rolling off his perspiring forehead looking more like a water fall. Was Webb ever drenched. Apparently, 87 Degree Hot and Humid Weather in The Nation's Capital a far cry from the 100 Degree Dry Heat from the Desert--for the 2006 National League Cy Young Award Winner.

Our Washington Nationals had Brandon Webb on the ropes--four times--this evening at New Nationals Park. Runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out in the bottom of the second--opportunity wasted. Runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in the same bottom of the second--opportunity wasted. Runners again on first and third, one out in the 4th--opportunity wasted. Bases loaded, two outs, in the bottom of the 5th--opportunity wasted yet again. Four times during the six innings that Webb pressed and struggled on the mound--Washington could not score against him. They could not push one single run across the plate.

With Washington runners in scoring position during these three crucial and game deciding innings--these were the results from the hitters in our lineup:

Jesus Flores Groundout.

Wily Mo Pena Strikeout (and badly on off speed stuff)

Roger Bernadina Groundout.

Jesus Flores Strikeout.

Wily Mo Pena Strikeout (again badly looking).

Austin Kearns Fly Out (with the bases loaded).

And remember, Webb was throwing a tremendous amount of pitches. 112 by time his Manager, Bob Melvin, removed him from this affair after the sixth inning. Yet some how, some way, Brandon was still pitching shutout ball. As Webb headed toward the Visitors Dugout slowly walking off the field at the conclusion his final frame--he must have felt like one lucky man to survive. Fortunate to face Our Washington Nationals Lineup, also struggling, on a night he was simply beatable.

Six Times, Four Different Batters for Our Washington Nationals stepped to the plate with the opportunity to knock someone, any one run home. Each time, they all failed. Each time, opportunity wasted to knock a quality pitcher out of this game. Opportunity wasted to beat a GREAT PITCHER.

Honestly, this was the night--that never was. When four pitchers for Washington combine to throw 9 innings of four hit ball--you deserve better. When those pitchers are left watching their fielders make two crucial errors--you deserve better. When you lose by giving up just two unearned runs-thanks to those errors--you deserve better.

Unfortunately, for Our Washington Nationals even one run was too large a deficit to overcome this evening. They wasted every opportunity to move ahead and defeat The Arizona Diamondbacks. And Brandon Webb was let off the hook by Our Washington Nationals. Webb better being buying a whole round of drinks in thanks for somebody. He was lucky to get his 13th Win of 2008.

Final Score from Hot, Humid and fairly uncomfortable (weather wise) New Nationals Park--The Snakes 2 and Our Nats ZERO.

Game Notes & Highlights

Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez has one quick thumb. In the top of the third inning, Hernandez signaled Balk against Odalis Perez--twice. First, Arizona's Chris Burke moved to second when Angel called a balk on Perez. This after Burke was safe at first on a throwing error by "The Guz". A mistake that set up the eventual game deciding run. Chris Young followed with a looping liner to right--scoring Chris Burke for The Snakes first run of the evening. But then, matters got even worse.

With Stephen Drew at the plate, Odalis Perez attempted a pickoff throw to first base--moving Young back to the bag. Immediately, Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez called BALK--again. And Our Number 45 went BALLISTIC!! Right away, Perez started berating Hernandez, yelling and screaming. Later, Odalis would state he's been using the exact same pickoff move all season.

Hernandez waited about three seconds--and tossed Perez from the game. And Odalis WENT NUTS!! Did he ever start giving Angel Hernandez the business. Both Our Manager Manny Acta and Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire rushed out to hold Perez back. No, It didn't help Our Number 45--as he was already gone. But, at least, he could always say, he got the last word in. Manny, in the postgame, stated that Odalis Perez's anger had put Our Washington Nationals in a big hole.

But I have say, in Perez's defense. There was NO REASON for the Home Plate Umpire to toss Odalis. Not without a warning. Not without further explaining his call to the pitcher. Yeah, Our Number 45 was pissed. Cooler heads should have prevailed on this hot night. Sometimes, an umpire needs to let a player vent. Let him get over it. Move on. The quick removal of Our Starting Pitcher sent another shockwave through our already depleted and overworked bullpen.

In this same top of the third inning--The Diamondbacks Orlando Hudson smashed a grounder up the middle, just to the right of the second base bag. Felipe Lopez ranged all the way over to his right, dove at the last second, to stop the hard hit baseball. Then, FLop proceeded to toss the baseball sideways using the glove hand while his chest was firmly planted in the ground--toward Cristian Guzman at second base. The baseball dribbling while "The Guz" stretched for it. A FLop/Flip combination that retired Stephen Drew for the final out and The Defensive Play of This Game.

Jesus Flores made a nice toss to FLop at second to catch Arizona's Connor Jackson attempting to steal in the second. And Wily Mo Pena made a nice running catch to the wall down the left field line in the top of the 8th. A shoelace/snow cone catch over the foul line--right at the green pads down the left field line. As poorly as Our Number 26 has played defensively, you had to give him his due for this catch of a Mark Reynolds drive.

During the key bottom of the 5th--Our Washington Nationals rallied and loaded up the bases. An opportunity that would not have occurred--if not for hustle. With two out and Kory Casto on second base after a pinch hit double--Ronnie Belliard slapped a routine grounder to Reynolds--Arizona's Third Baseman. Our Number 10 did not give up on the play. In fact, he never looked over at third. With his head down, running hard, Belliard was rewarded when Reynolds misplayed the baseball, fumbling it. The result leading to a possible game changing moment--thanks to RUNNING A GROUND BALL OUT. A hit that every single person in the ballpark thought was out number three. No--Washington did not ultimately score--but it goes to prove the point. RUN EVERYTHING OUT!! You never know what might happen--no matter how routine the play may seem. Mark Reynolds' error perfectly reminded everyone of the point.

Saul Rivera was victimized for an unearned run in the top of the sixth--when Roger Bernadina totally misplayed a single slapped right in front of him by The Snakes Robbie Hammock. A three base error that scored Mark Reynolds with the second and final run of the evening. I don't recall hearing such a collective sigh of disappointment from a crowd at New Nationals Park over this mistake. The number of folks throwing up their hands in disbelief over the miscue was quite remarkable.

Finally, and since we are talking about mistakes and errors--Teddy was leading The Geico Presidents Race all the way to nearly the finish line. Only to lose his right shoe, stumble and fall, while Abe jumped over him and through the finish line for the victory. Teddy, what are we going to do with you?



Of course--Abe winning was justified. Tonight for Tee-Shirt Tuesday--Our Washington Nationals gave away Abe Lincoln Racing President Tees--to the first 10,000 fans inside the gates.

PS--Did The Washington Post really send AN INTERN to cover The Gamer last night? Interesting. No matter how badly the team is struggling--I wonder whether The Washington Post would send an intern to write a gamer for The Redskins, Wizards, Capitals or even a DC United Game. Really, I would like to know.

Tonight's InGame Photos
Brandon Webb--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari
Perez, Acta, Hernandez--(Washington Post) Toni L. Sandys

17 comments:

WFY said...

They have used interns in previous seasons as well. I can't get worked up about this one, perhaps because I'm kind of disappointed in Chico Harlan.

janet said...

SBF -- Glad you were able to be at the park last night. But you're right, it was a pretty disappointing game.

Andrew said...

We out-hit them 6 to 4, but the 2 errors really sunk us.

Kevin said...

So much potential, so little accomplished. At least we had a decent breeze in centerfield as the game wore on. Definitely saw some guys trying hard offensively - Ronnie Belliard, Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns. But oh, the feeling of dread that came over me everytime Wily Mo stepped to the plate with runners on...

JayB said...

SBF,

You have a better view from your seats than I but it seems to me that just some good old fashion coaching of Pena would help him. Have you ever seen him move to the front of the Box to set the off speed stuff before the worst of the break. He seems to have a very quick bat so I doubt he would have trouble with a fastball up in the front of the box. Last night was just about the saddest thing I have seen since Frank Crying about Matt L behind the plate. This has to end sooner than later. What is Jimbo thinking by prolonging this embarrassment?

An Briosca Mor said...

Apparently Odalis Perez and the umpire Angel Hernandez have a history of "issues" between them relative to balk calls. I caught wind of it while listening to Nats Talk Live on the way home last night when they played a bit of Perez's comments after the game. Even in his fractured English, it was clear that this was not the first such altercation between Perez and this umpire. Later while surfing the internet after getting home I saw a comment from someone that referenced an earlier altercation over a balk with this ump during Perez's Dodger days. In that case, the manager got ejected, not Perez.

This is the type of thing that a real baseball beat writer would be following up on and investigating. Unfortunately, the Post had an intern on the job last night, and its vaunted baseball columnist Boswell is more concerned with analyzing the team's TV ratings - and still not managing to finger the real culprit: MASN. They're a TV network, and unfortunately they've been handed a subpar show to present this year in the form of Nationals games. A real TV network, given such programming would probably cancel the show if they could. But in this case, they can't. Given that situation, a real TV network would be busy applying lipstick onto the pig of their terrible show and promoting the hell out of it in order to get viewers to watch it, not shuttling it around between three different locations (MASN, MASN2 and My20) from one night to the next and running no promos for it on other networks like ESPN. And then for those viewers who do happen to stumble onto the telecast, a real TV network would not be trying to drive them away to other programming by running screen crawls pointing out that there's an Orioles game currently playing on another channel. The Nats front office may bear the blame for fielding a poor team this year, but the "historically bad" TV ratings are clearly the fault of MASN.

davidson said...

Perez got tossed from the game for saying one of the 10 "magic" words that warrant an automatic ejection. That's why it was so quick. It had nothing to do with their history or the umps quick finger. While I can't say that every ump in the majors would have called both those balks, I can safely say that every ump in the major would have done the same thing and tossed Perez as soon as he said what he did.

Odalis just needs to keep his cool next time (or at least keep it to some "dangs", "fricks", or "shoots")

Anonymous said...

When only 9,000 fans bother to tune in to watch the Nats on MASN on a given night, why wouldn't the Post have an intern covering the team. The team is so bad that they might even consider suspending coverage.

SenatorNat said...

Some interesting sidebars to last night's game:

FLOP gets his uniform dirty for first time as National;

WM Pena makes great catch in left on sinking line drive to his right;

Perez cusses in Spanish - but Spanish-speaking Umpire understands and tosses him - thus, taking away natural advantage Hispanic players have enjoyed for generations;

Acta preserves his record as mildest mannered manager in MLB - voted most sportsmanlike by umpires guild;

Wash. Post hires Geico Geeko to "mail in something by 9 PM this week";

9,000 televisions go out on their own as No. 26 strides to plate as new MASN strategy to "put lipstick on a pig."

Trust in Bud Selig to give classic non-sequitur response. All Good.

Zilla's Friend said...

There is a whole long thread on the Nats Blog talking about MASN and explaining the skewing of the numbers and the whole MASN vs. MASN2 vs. Channel 20 games. It makes sense that the top games are blacked out on MASN and shown on WDCA.

Zilla2005 wrote this...Funny, this is the second thread in 24 hours on this topic, interesting you bring it up as well as Cascada with a similar tone.

As I wrote on the ill-fated Cascada thread, those figures are for games just on MASN and MASN2, not the ones on WDCA or ESPN. If you rely on just MASN numbers, you take out some of the team's prime games (the ones on Ch. 20), and since ESPN's broadcast of the opener was the highest-rated regular-season game since 1998, if added in, those averages go up by a decent amount.

Relying on just MASN figures is basing it on an incomplete overall picture - almost as weak as Steinberg mentioning D.C. United stats, since you're comparing less than a dozen games on Comcast against likely 50-something Nationals games. On the one hand, he mentions the United games on ESPN and ABC, but he doesn't acknowledge that the Nats have games on WDCA and ESPN as well.

Call them excuses if you want (although your tone is strikingly similar to the banned one for some reason), but the owners of MASN have a vested interest in making one team look more popular than the other, and that's a relatively easy way to do it by selectively using data.


Here's a link to the long thread:

http://www.forums.mlb.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=61&nav=messages&webtag=ml-washington&tid=25606

SenatorNat said...

Any chance of boosting MASN ratings by re-signing Nook Logan, putting him in center again, and making him "the face and voice of the Franchise" for 2008?

{Serious note: His play would actually improve the team's - that is how bad things have become...}

But, back to being silly: MASN could mike him for the entire game - he could comment on best looking girls at the Red Loft and the Scoreboard Bar, etc.; provide the visibility from there to the upper Red Press Box on cloudy days; ask for Hall of Famer Don Sutton's autograph, and a lock of his hair; offer to race the Oriole Bird; give inside anecdotes of Bow-Bow's adventures in South Beach; and explain why steroid use did not provide one extra ounce of weight or power for him. Yes, Nook's Nook & Notes, live during an actual Nats game, could involve real time interviews with fellow outfielders Willie Mo and Austin as they agree to "switch batting styles" at his suggestion "just for hoots." He could dare himself to race in and back up his own throws from center, too!

Trust in raw speed and great marketing. All Good.

Anonymous said...

Great story about the young man doing the t shirt give aways.
http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/news/2008/jul/03/exceeding-expectations
and a great slideshow of the park on the site. Milledge hit with a bending bat, courtesy of Greg Nash, Fairfax Times staff photographer.

SenatorNat said...

Any interest by those of us who sat in Section 320 and/or comment regularly to Nats320 in an "Adopt a National" program for the duration of 2008? If so, I nominate Willie Mo Pena: should nomination be accepted, blog site and commenters would support him totally - highlighting his accomplishments, if any, negating and ignoring all K's, weak grounders, misplayed balls, errors on the base paths (should he get on over the course of the remainder of the season). Sort of a Mets '62 Marv Throneberry-style hugging by Real Fans of the inept, who are such through no fault of their own. Make them our darlings. Could take some of the sting out of the fan experience. Not sure that I am kidding about this suggestion. Could be fun - we could actually hold a Celebrate Willie Mo Day, t-shirts, etc. later this year near Florida Sand & Gravel. If his average stays over the Berdadina Line (.150), and his fielding average over the Throneberry Line (.900), these accomplishments could be listed, along with a brief description of each of his several home runs in 2008. RBI's could be listed with the names of the several who scored on his productive hits. Special thanks from opposing NL pitchers could be embossed, too. We could stitch a special patch for his uniform: "I miss Adam!" "Tips on Hitting" - new book by Lenny Harris - could be auctioned to raise money for Willie Mo to use for actual hitting lessons in the off-season from a major league hitting coach.

Love the one you're with. All In.

Old Nats Guy said...

I was a die-hard Senators fan -- both editions, and I have experienced (with one exception) the dismay of one losing season after another. Stan has asked us to be patient. So while we're waiting, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that might help you through this rough spell.
1 - As senatornat said, adopt a favorite player. Stick with that player and celebrate the fact that he got two or three hits, made no errors and finished the game without pulling a hamstring, tearing a ligament or running into a teammate and sending himself and/or his teammate to the disabled list.
2 - Approach each game by accepting the fact that your team is going to lose. For example, how many of you actually believed that the Nats would beat Brandon Webb last night? If the Nats do defy all odds and win, it makes the celebration more joyous.
3 - Accept the fact that for the moment, the other teams have more talent, then pay attention to those talented players. While the Senators were being clobbered night after night, I was fortunate to see many Hall of Famers at both Griffith Stadium and RFK. In the past few months, we have seen many talented players come to Nationals Park -- including a few future Hall of Famers. Savor those moments. They won't be around forever.
4 - Remember this team's roots. They were left to die by MLB. It's going to take some more time to undo the damage Bud and his good ol' boys did to this once proud franchise.
6 - Don't abandon all hope. Maybe we will live to see the Nats reach the World Series -- just not this year or next year.
7 - Don't worry about the fact that there is no number 5.

Pollyanna is alive and well and masquerading as a Nats fan.

WFY said...

But there is a #5 Kory Casto! See no worries!

Anonymous said...

What's the old saying about how you can't make chicken salad out out chicken shit?

paul said...

Re the balk/ejection. Terribly inconsistent umpiring to make the balk call. It's the same move Odails has used all year. Why is it suddenly a balk? Have the D-Backs sent tape to the league office? Don't think so.

This is one of those times I wish Manny had a little Earl Weaver in him. Turn his cap around, get in the umpire's face for being such an a-hole.

BTW how about that bullpen? Two nights in a row of lights out pitching now that tonight's epic victory is over.