Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Deja Vu All Over Again
"We can't influence the outcome from here--can we?" pondered Radio Broadcaster Dave Jageler to his broadcast partner.
"Well, tell that to our listeners!!" replied Charlie Slowes on WFED 1500AM.
On consecutive nights at Dolphin Stadium--Dave Jageler had inadvertently jinxed the outcome of the play on the field. And considering how poorly Our Washington Nationals have performed to begin 2009, it's time to consider all possible causes!! Now, I am just kidding and playing with Charlie & Dave, but how strange that yesterday, when Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th for The Florida Marlins--Dave mentioned "Hanley Ramirez has never hit a Grand Slam in his career."
Less than 60 seconds later, Ramirez was trotting across home plate to a standing ovation from his home fans. The recipient of that first 4 RBI Home Run. The decisive blow in yesterday's 12-6 loss to The Fish.
Then, this evening--with Washington already down 3-0 again to Florida and Scott Olsen struggling on the mound in his return debut against his former team--Dave mentions that "at least Dan Uggla hasn't done anything so far in this series."
Less than 60 seconds later--it's Deja Vu All Over Again--Dan Uggla belts out a two run homer that pretty much seals the deal on Game 2 of 2009. Jags had done it again and Our Washington Nationals were headed to their second consecutive loss to begin the season.
Later as Charlie and Dave reflected on the irony of those two called plays, Jageler wonders whether his radio calls might have any "collateral damage" on Charlie's Play-By-Play?
Charlie responds: "I am here in the bunker with you Dave. I am pulling the pin out of the grenade and you get to throw it!!"
Both of The Boys Of Summer laughing at themselves.
Which is exactly what Our Washington Nationals have to do when it comes to the first two games of The 2009 Championship Season. They are going to have to forget about these two miserable losses, pull themselves back together, laugh it off and come back with a fresh and even more determined attitude.
And in doing so--some players are going to have to take a hard look at themselves.
Scott Olsen barely reached 89MPH on his fastball tonight. At times, he was throwing the same pitch over and over--consecutively. And bouncing many of them in front of and off the plate. That tough, determined fighting spirit that many had witnessed when Our Number 19 was a Marlin--was not on display tonight. Losing the velocity off your fastball is never a good sign--especially when you've lost your mental edge as well.
Thinking about what you need to do--which Lastings Milledge again flailed at when he muffed another liner headed directly over his head, on the second consecutive night, by none other than Emilio Bonifacio after Uggla's two run homer. Playing slightly farther back than last night, Milledge found himself chasing down Bonifacio's drive in the bottom of the 3rd under similar duress. A DeJa Vu Moment of his own. And this time the ball ended up glancing off his glove--sending Emilio on another tear around the basepaths. Another sure Inside-The-Park Home Run, until his 3rd Base Coach Bo Porter inexplicably stopped Bonifacio at 3rd. Too late though--as the final damage had already been done and Our Washington Nationals were down 8-Zip.
A good outfielder catches that baseball slapped by Emilio most every single time. Lastings MIlledge takes poor tracks to hit baseballs. He is not an instinctive fielder. He's an athlete and very much a work in progress. On the other hand, Elijah Dukes may well be struggling with his bat over the past few weeks leading up to Opening Day. But Our Number 34 would be a much better centefielder than Lastings Milledge. That--I have no doubt. Elijah's presence in Our Lineup would also help solidify Our Batting Order.
Dukes could bat later in the lineup, especially if Our Manager Manny Acta permits Willie Harris to play second base--he's the perfect leadoff guy for a team struggling out of the gate--in need of an infusion of excitement.
Thrills, which Ryan Zimmerman usually provides but the first 18 innings of 2009 have found him pressing. He needs to relax. A second throwing error in consecutive games seemed to effect the rest of Zimmerman's game tonight. Like early last year, Ryan appeared at the plate and was swinging at everything thrown his way. Outside, inside, and any rising fastball sent over the plate--Our Number 11 was just swinging and getting himself out. Ryan, you have Cristian Guzman hustling in front of you. Adam Dunn & Nick Johnson behind your back. Just--relax.
Be comfortable just like what "The Guz", NJ, Austin Kearns, Jesus Flores and Julian Tavarez all showed tonight.
Guzman continuing to get on base, score runs, drive in one and play some solid defensive shortstop.
Nick Johnson--three solid singles tonight. The power will come later, but it's important to see his batting eye and hitting stroke coming back.
Austin Kearns flat out CLUBBED a blast into the 4th deck of Dolphin Stadium in the top of the 8th off Leo Nunez of Florida. A two run shot that had the Wow!! Factor to it. That was a shot. An RBI Double and Two RBI Homer in two games so far this young season for Our Number 25. And Jesus Flores with four hits in 8 At-Bats.
That was all the good stuff, along with Tavarez being sent out to the mound by Manny when Olsen failed after three poorly thrown frames and proceeded to stretch the game and our bullpen with three terrific innings of work. Mr. Rubber Arm performed the exact role Our Washington Nationals brought him onto the active roster to do--save everyone's else pitching arms early when Our Starters falter. Tavarez struck out four and had his sinker really working well. And made a very nice hustling run from the mound to cover first base on a dribbler hit by Bonifacio in the bottom of the 6th. Knowing there was no time to lose--Julian ran hard, with his head down, all the way to the bag and trapped the toss from Nick Johnson to record the out--by a whisker--of the gazelle speed of Emilio. Easily, the Defensive Play Of This Game.
But unfortunately, that was about it.
Final Score from South Florida where the good stuff came way to late to turnaround another large early deficit for the second consecutive game--The Florida Marlins 8 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Tonight's Deja Vu All Over Again moments stirring up an eerie start to the 2009 Championship Campaign. Time to laugh it off and move forward. Are Our Washington Nationals Listening?
So Dave--any chance of keeping some of those thoughts on the opposing team's players non-accomplishments to yourself?
You know The African Queen and I love ya. But those play-by-play calls were ironically funny.
Game Notes & Highlights
Is there noting better than watching Nick Johnson attempt a slide? He's not afraid to get down and dirty, but its just he can't do it well. And you've got to love watching him try. Tonight, running to second base attempting to take out Dan Uggla on a ground ball hit by Ronnie Belliard--NJ slides as Uggla comes across the bag in an attempt to relay a double play. His throw is late to get Belliard at first--but the very sight of Nick Johnson sliding feet first and STOPPING easily 10 feet from the bag--downright hilarious. Our Number 24 is the ultimate professional--he always give his best. He just can't slide. Tonight it appeared as it his spikes got caught in the dirt. Too funny.
The Marlins' Johnson--starting pitcher Josh--throws SMOKE!! He was reaching the high 90's all night. Johnson didn't walk anyone, struck out 8 and gave up 7 hits in 6.2 shutout innings. Washington was getting on base against him--they just weren't doing any damage. Daniel Cabrera has similar capabilities. The difference--Josh has control. Daniel consistently does not. If Cabrera can give the same performance tomorrow as Johnson did this evening--Daniel Cabrera would be life saver for Our Washington Nationals.
The Quote Of The Night: Leo Nunez is on the mound for The Marlins in the 8th inning. Charlie & Dave are discussing how Nunez's pitching motion is very similar to K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez. Dave Jageler mentions that Nunez's "delivery is so violent, he caught Milledge swinging at his motion." I nearly feel out of my seat laughing. But it was an accurate statement.
And Oh Yeah--Where's Josh Willingham? Alberto Gonzalez might be the 25th Man. But Josh Willingham?
11,124 the attendance tonight in South Florida. When Florida becomes The Miami Marlins in 2012 and plays in their first game in Little Havana at the Old Orange Bowl site--their fans better start coming out and supporting what has consistently been a pretty exciting and talented club operating on a shoestring budget. It's quite remarkable what Florida's President Larry Beinfest has accomplished on virtually no budget. They have traded so well and so consistently it's scary. They've got some good talent. The Marlins just kill us--much like The Mets.
Tonight's In-Game Photos--AP (Alan Diaz)