Monday, April 06, 2009


Our one time 2nd Baseman Of The Future and Leadoff Batter in the Starting Lineup for Our Washington Nationals had a career day today. In fact, he was nothing short of MESMERIZING. Sadly, that effort was wasted because Emilio Bonifacio scampered around the bases for The Florida Marlins on Opening Day--manning 3rd base--in a manner not seen in some time from our opponent on Opening Day. Was he ever a pest this afternoon in South Florida.

Bonifacio though wasn't the whole story, but he was pretty tantalizing.

What made these matters even worse--was first the very fact that Washington's New Leadoff Hitter for 2009 was directly responsible for Bonifacio's First EVER CAREER HOME RUN. One of those rare Inside-The-Park varieties, when Emilio launched a rather routine liner over the head of the playing in-close centerfielder Lastings Milledge. A catchable ball by Lastings that simply wasn't. A dive by Ocho-Cinco that resulted in Emilio Bonifacio--jogging out of the box believing his stroked ball would be caught--instead now finding himself ever so quickly turning on his after-burners and screaming around the basepaths in that exhilarating manner so many fans of Our Washington Nationals came to appreciate in late 2008.

Emilio was impressive. The relay throw from Ronnie Belliard on his two run homer wasn't even close at the plate. Bonifacio can fly. He would finish today with four hits, four runs scored, three stolen bases and two runs batted in.

Now, one great game does not make a career--it's a small sample size--but Emilio Bonifacio certainly turned some heads today as an impact player so many scouts have long raved about.

That game changing effect important to winning that Washington struggled this day to harness. Thanks not only to Bonifacio's Career Day, but also some seriously poor pitching out of the block by DC's Team. Washington's Starter, John Lannan, couldn't throw strikes, was always behind in the count and he paid dearly for his control when The Florida Marlins just sat back on their heels and slammed pitch after pitch all over the park at Dolphin Stadium. A bad three inning, six runs allowed performance that had Washington down early and nearly out-- until our revamped batting lineup launched two nice come backs--mostly on the back of Adam Dunn.

The Big Burly Leftfielder cost Lannan his first run allowed of the season when he misplayed a slicing liner off the bat of Florida's John Baker in the bottom of first--scoring Bonifacio, but Adam came back strong with an opposite field double off the leftfield wall to score "The Guz" with Washington's first run of 2009 in the 4th, and eventually seriously back into this game down 8-5 in the 6th when Adam Dunn absolutely HAMMERED a Ricky Nolasco fastball DEEP AND LONG GONE down the right field line at Dolphin Stadium. A three run homer that now found Washington down only three. Our New Power Offense that can mount comebacks and stay close in any game--even late.

That is--if your pitching holds together--which certainly didn't happen today.

Each time Our Washington Nationals fought gallently back into this Opening Day Matchup--their pitching failed. Scoring two in the top of 4th and Julian Tavarez gives them right back in the bottom half of the 4th. Dunn slams his three run homer in the top of the 6th--and Wil Ledezma and Steven Shell (thanks to an error and assist from Ryan Zimmerman) give back four in the bottom half. Shell coming in with the bases loaded and nobody out and allowing a full count Grand Slam, on a hanging slider, to Hanley Ramirez. That Nat's Killer again launching the game deciding blow to the upper reaches of the left field pavilion in South Florida. Ramirez never ceases to amaze me with his talent. That young man is MVP Material.

A once precarious three run lead for The Fish, now advanced to seven, and the final blow to Our Washington Nationals hopes on this Opening Day--2009. When RallyTime!! began off the powerful bat of Adam Dunn, it certainly appeared as if Washington might just make that remarkable and memorable of comebacks. Unfortunately, our pitching let us down. Lannan, Tavarez, Ledezma and Shell--all hurlers given jobs on Washington's staff thanks to their Spring Training efforts--did not live up to Real GameDay Performances.

That needed positive achievement which Emilio Bonifacio and the always dangerous Hanley Ramirez capitilized on this very day. Yes, one game does not make the season or even anyone's career, but it certainly leaves a sour taste in your mouth when one of your former highly touted players--jacks you all over the ballpark and makes you wonder whether, even if for the slightest of moments, trading Bonifacio in the first place was a smart move after all. The African Queen has been asking me all night long--"Why did we trade him away in the first place?"

Emilio Bonifacio was pretty mesmerizing.

Final score from South Florida--where no matter how good The Florida Marlins are they can never draw a decent crowd--34,323 on Opening Day--The Fish 12 and Our Washington Nationals 6. An afternoon were Washington showed they may never be quite out of any game as long as Adam Dunn is penciled into the lineup. But nobody can win if your pitching can't consistently throw strikes and keep the opposing batters off the bases. Even the fasted human alive can't score--if you simply get him out--more times than not. 18 Fish reaching base isn't getting the job done.

Game Notes & Highlights

I actually believe the Bonifacio for Josh Willingham/Scott Olsen trade was a good one at the time. As I explained to The African Queen this evening, JimBo picked up a starting pitcher and starting leftfielder for a switch hitting leadoff hitter. A positive move that has been hindered by the eventual signing of Adam Dunn. Willingham is a pretty good player now without a position. And hopefully Our Washington Nationals can find a positive role for him--or trade him to get that leadoff hitter Washington most definitely needs.

Because Lastings Milledge really bothered me when he swung at the very first pitch of 2009 offered today by Rickey Nolasco. Show some patience Lastings--this isn't a sprint--it's a marathon. And if Our Washington Nationals are going to be as effective as possible--you need to be a baserunner--not a free swinger trying to launch every pitch out of the park.

How interesting that John Lannan, Julian Tavarez, Wil Ledezma and Steven Shell all allowed their first batters faced to reach base? Did you also notice that Tavarez has taken over Garrett Mock's Number 50 and Ledezma as taken over Shawn Hill's former Number 41? Mike Hinkley the only Washington pitcher, of five today, to not give up a run.

Washington pitching allowing four gopher balls today. Besides Bonifacio's Inside The Parker and Ramirez, Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida launched baseballs out of Dolphin Stadium.

Former Marlin Josh Willingham didn't get into this game. His teammate and also former Florida Starter, Scott Olsen, gets the ball tomorrow in Game Two.

Dunn wasn't the only positive note in this first game--"The Guz" rapped out two hits, scored two runs and played some nice shortstop--including two nice picks into the hole--backhanding both grounders and throwing the runners out at first. Cristian Guzman picking up where he left off in 2008.

It was also nice to see Austin Kearns rip an inside pitch down the leftfield line for a double in the top of 4th. Our Number 25 also making two very nice catches at the wall in right. Austin Kearns has always been deft at fielding hit baseballs.

Great ability which Ryan Zimmerman always has defensively--but once again lost concentration on during a routine ground ball hit by Brett Carroll of The Fish in the 6th. One of those TOO MUCH TIME throwing errors by Our Number 11 that was the harbinger of the things to come when Carroll was ruled safe on Zimmerman's bad throw. Bonifacio followed with a bunt base hit right under Ryan's Glove. A now no out--two runners on situation where Wil Ledezma lost control on the mound and promptly walked the very next hitter--The Marlins John Baker--to load things up. Only to witness Our Manager Manny Acta relieve Ledezma for Shell and who immediately was greeted by Hanley Ramirez with his full count Grand Slam--the deciding moment of today's game.

Having been used to seeing Our Washington Nationals play in their Gray Block "WASHINGTON" road jerseys for the past four years, it was odd watching Washington play in their new Script "Washington" Away Uniforms. They are OK, but it seems strange that the uniform trim is red with some gold and the hat is Navy Blue. I know The St.Louis Cardinals wear a similar combination--but it doesn't seem just right. Sort of odd to me--for some reason. Could not the Road Jersey have Navy Blue Trim also if the Navy Blue Cap is a keeper?

And how about Lasting Milledge wearing the double earflap batting helmet? I don't recall seeing that particular protective gear being worn in any Major League Game in recent times.

Early in the game, Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler were in mid-season form on WFED--1500 AM. When Charlie and Dave were talking about an upcoming T-Shirt Tuesday at Nationals Park. Charlie reeled off: "Those free tee-shirts are good. When was the last time Jack Hicks paid for any shirt?" The Jack Of All Things is Charlie & Dave's Radio Engineer on site.

Finally--watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play The San Diego Padres at Petco Park on DirecTV's MLB Extra Innings, The Padres are commemorating their 40th Season as a Major League Franchise. For all of 2009, San Diego will wear a special patch on the right sleeve of their uniform. Interestingly, Our Washington Nationals entered The Major Leagues at the same time as The Padres, but as The Montreal Expos in 1969--along with American League Expansion Teams: The Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots (now Milwaukee Brewers). The Royals are also celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2009. The Brewers are waiting until 2010. 1970 was Milwaukees's first year in The Major Leagues after The Pilots went bankrupt.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Alan Diaz--Associated Press

Milledge, Dunn & Zimmerman Batting photos--taken off MASN's Broadcast.


Tom said...

One game doesn't make a season or a trade. Talk to me in May.

Brad said...

regarding Milledge's double flap helmet: Have you not seen your commercial mate's head gear?

Great blog, love to read it all the time.

Davidson said...

Victorino wears the double flap for the Phils as well.

John R. said...

I wanted to make a comment about one small aspect of MASN's coverage yesterday. I tuned into the game on the radio at 4:00 just as Jageler and Slowes were mentioning that the classic band Chicago would be performing the National Anthem. I still love that band after all these years, so I hurriedly turned on MASN-2.

I realize I'm probably the only one who cares about this, but can't the TV cameras at least have one shot of the actual performers doing the National Anhem? I know it's fashionable to jump all over the place with "reaction" shots of fans and players during the song, this production took that approach to the extreme. Not even one shot of the people at the microphone playing horns and singing the Star Spangled Banner. And then after the song, Bob Carpenter comes on and say, " Oh, I guess that was the band Chicago." Don't the announcers get an information sheet that tells them who is doing what during pregame ceremonies?

I'm beginning to understand why SBF listens to the radio broadcast instead of the TV audio. That being said, I liked Rob Dibble yesterday, but I was only watchng for a few innings.

yazzy1956 said...

The only good thing about the game was your commercial.

The combination of Bonafacio AND the suddenly back from the dead Felipe Lopez made yesterday feel even worse.

I may be in the minority, but I like Dibble. Sutton always seemed to turn his endless descriptions of pitching into quantum physics.

natsfan1a said...

I'm not one of those who finds Dibble annoying (so far, at least).

An Briosca Mor said...

And then after the song, Bob Carpenter comes on and say, " Oh, I guess that was the band Chicago."

Actually he didn't say this. He said something more like "For those who may not have guessed, that was the band Chicago." He knew who they were, he was just letting those of us who heard them but didn't see them know who they were. You know, like a competent announcer should. And they did show a shot of the band as they were leaving the field.

I realize Carpenter's not perfect and gets on a lot of people's nerves, but really if you guys just relaxed and quit obsessing about every word he says you might find yourselves less annoyed all the time. Just tune him out, either mentally or with the mute button, and watch the game. That's what I do. Slowes and Jageler have their annoying mannerisms too if you're someone who loves to be annoyed by announcers.

JT said...

Several players wear the double flap helmet. It's a reoccurring topic on the Uni Watch blog ( which has also touched on such topics you covered regarding the new road uniforms. I agree that the trim and the helmet should match as well as how the front numeral font should match the back numeral font, but I do like the look of the script Washington.

Anonymous said...

In particular, I would think switch hitters would wear the double flap helmet as a matter of course. Maybe Milledge was borrowing someone else's helmet yesterday.

An Briosca Mor said...

Do you think the fact that Emilio Bonifacio is no longer wearing #7 has anything to do with his strange resurgence? As I recall he wasn't wearing 7 when he first got to the Nats last year, and it was only when he switched to that number that he started to suck.

Andrew Stebbins said...

Willie Harris also sports the double flap. As does Orlando Hudson. Hudson I understand, he is a switch hitter, the other two...can't figure out why.

SenatorNat said...

Nationals had a distinctive gray and blue block letters Nationals from 2005 which complemented the home uniform dandy. By keeping the uniform essentially the same from the inception, you have the possibility of it becoming iconic over many years, presuming you win a World Series, or two, along the way. Current road uniform resembles Cleveland Indians and several others. The script underscoring looks like everyone else's. And, yes, the colors do not line up, as pointed out.

Would you be willing to trade Milledge for Bonifacio today? Of course. And would you be willing to trade Rauch for Williamham and Olsen - probably. Would you be willing to trade Snyder and Church for Bonafacio - maybe...Trades are a lottery, but certain teams draft well (Arizona) and others trade well (Florida). So - if you get a draft pick from Arizona, keep him; and do not trade a prospect to Florida. You can trade with the Mets, however, as they are not the best at it, by any stretch of the imagination. (And, if you are the Redskins, please do not even discuss trades with Denver...)

Dukes, Dukes, Dukes: play him now in center. Have Guz lead-off until Anderson Hernandez is ready to play. Milledge is soon to be the target of all fans' angst over the state of the Nats. Fair or unfair, it is easy to see why. He is terrible in center, and is no lead-off hitter. And taking 85 as his number is ridiculous. And he is chronically late to team meetings. Small wonder Mets vets hated his act.

Would be nice if Z-Man shook off the throwing gips, too. Those throws are getting annoying.

Sutton was absurd about analyzing every pitch. Dibble does not dribble - yet, at least...He seems like he is biting his tongue not to tell it like it is about some of the Nats deficiencies.

Slowes hates Kearns at the plate - he barely contains it.

The Nats got a turkey in Tavarez - you can have a rubber arm and still stink; we may be the 600 lb chick who looks like JLo at the end of the night, but he looks like a loser at any time.

Which one of the Olsen twins appears tonight?

Trust in the power of the Guz. All dicey.

Nats Del Negro said...

Great post as usual, I especially love the very telling "Muting" on your tv screen-shots. All hail Mssrs. Slowes and Jageler!

Cheers, and (hopefully) happy baseball!

Edward J. Cunningham said...

One small bright spot this morning. I know I'm probably the only Nats fan who regularly gripes about this, but today--FINALLY--the Post printed the major league standings with the Nats' league--the NL--to the left of the American League.

Looks like the recession has finally forced the Post to cover the Nats as if they were the home baseball team here...

Screech's Best Friend said...

Nats Del Negro: I was waiting for someone to mention the very fact that "MUTING" is on. We always listen to Charlie & Dave. You had us laughing on the comment. Thanks.

Screech's Best Friend said...

ABM--If Josh Bard lasts about 6 weeks or so on the team and gets waived then we know The Number "7" Curse has legs.