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?

Like Off-Air?

Just Kidding.

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)


CoverageisLacking said...

So SBF, what do you think about Stan going on Philly radio and personally inviting all those Phillies fans who were so nice to you and The African Queen last Fall to come down and invade Nats Park next week?

Personally, I think it stinks. I look forward to you weighing in on the subject.

janet said...

What's the deal with this quote from Stan Kasten on Philadephia sports radio?

"It will be fun, and I think Philly's our best, closest National League rival. We always have great games with them here, because there's so many Philly kids in college here. So we always have great, enthusiastic crowds, and we hope you all come back again. We have an opening day here Monday, we'd love for all our Philly fans to come down, because I know it's gonna be so hard to get tickets in Philadelphia this year. It'll be much easier if you drive down the road and come see us in Washington."

With all due respect -- fun is NOT a word I use for dealing with fans of any Philadelphia sports. I usually try to AVOID Philly fans in baseball. Next year, I have a full season Caps packages, and the Flyers tickets are the first ones I intend to put on StubHub.

Mr. Kasten may be enthusiastic about Philadephia fans, but I do NOT share his enthusiasm.

VCUAlum Kyle said...

Well from what I can see, the Nats have not sold out Opening Day and Kasten being smart is trying to convice Philly fans to take the day off Monday and drive on down so Washington can get 35,000-39,000in the stands.

I would like to say I like Rob Dibble, i think he is a breath of fresh air so far in this young season.
Manny needs to ad INTESNITY to that clubhouse. If your the Nats and you are down 3-0 in the 2inning, I think the players are giving up saying in there head "Hear We Go Again" and then poof its over.
I know they are young but you need to give them some confidence and cheering, all he does is sit there and talk to St. Claire.

As a fan we are just like the players, we are 0-2 and on are way to another 59-103 season if we dont change it up. If Manny doesnt start heating it up you can say goodbye to him by June.

Kasten/Rizzo team wont let the team be horribe by September, they are alredy going to have a down year in attendance and they WILL MAKE A CHANGE if this ball club wont change its attitude. They can't afford to have another 2008 season

yazzy1956 said...

Great quote today from coach Marquis Grissom in today's Post about Milledge's performance in CF so far. "I don't know if its the lighting or he's nervous, or what it is."

That's it, lets blame the lighting. One day game and one night game so far. That's about all the lighting condition options we have in baseball, Marquis. Maybe Milledge would play CF better in the dark since that is the only option left.

As for Kasten, somehow I can't picture Ted Leonsis inviting all the Flyers fans to come on down to DC even when the Caps were losing. Why don't we throw in a complimentary cheese steak voucher and a six-pack of beer for each Philly fan as further inducement for them to come and ruin our Opening Day experience.

Here's a concept Stan. Put an actual major league quality starting rotation on the field and people might show up. The 5-year grace period is over!!

paul said...

Leonsis actually blocked Penguin fans from coming to the playoffs years ago when they typed in the area code.

I'm not sure anything-for-a-buck Stan understands the concept of building a fan base.

Is the Milledge experiment over, or does he have a picture of Manny in compromising positions?

Anonymous said...

You deserve better than this disgrace of a team SBF. I feel for ya...

That being said, why don't you get tougher witht his team/franchise? You are way too nice sometimes-people need to be called out, a lots of people read your blog.

paul said...

Here is another thought about when the team, if ever, will be ready for prime time. Manny waited until the bases were loaded on Cabrera to warm up a reliever. His counterpart had a reliever ready to come in (to fan Belliard) when the bases were loaded. I'm not sure Manny, as nice a guy as he is, has enough of a computer upstairs.

6th and D said...

I am ready for Justin Maxwell to be the every day center fielder. Just give him a chance to play every day.

Andrew Z. Stebbins said...

We typically "kill" the Mets. Marlins have our number, we have the Mets', and sometimes the Braves'.

Like Stan said, we always play the Phillies tough - those are THE GAMES to watch ;)

Screech's Best Friend said...

Andrew--The Nats are 29-44 overall against The Mets since 2005. And an awful 10 and 27 at home.

Against The Fish: 29-42 Overall. 16-19 at home.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get Kasten's PR stint. How about asking DC area fans to come out and support the home team? How about putting a winning team on the field and making it worthwhile? No, instead we'll ask a bunch of thugs and criminals who bother and intimidate good people like SBF and TAQ to come down and root for their team, drowning out real Nats fans. I just don't get it. Kasten has no conception of public relations as it pertains to his own team and fan base!

Jim said...

As someone who grew up in DC in the 50's, this is the ugliest kind of deja vu I could have imagined. After the tease of 2005, when that hardy group of overachievers contended into September, it's been a steadily faster dive to the cellar than I ever would have imagined. Clearly the baseball people responsible for assembling this disaster should all be fired. The cheapskate owners should sell top someone who still has money and isn't afraid to spend for stars, like Mark Cuban. Please, I'm begging you, I need to see a contending team with WASHINGTON on their jerseys before I die.