Thursday, April 09, 2009

Smooth As Glass


Between real work, the statue unveiling and heading down to Woodbridge, Virginia for yesterday's Media Day for The Potomac Nationals, there was no time to watch Game 3 of the 2009 Season for Our Washington Nationals. But while shuttling back and forth in the car listening to Charlie Slowes & Dave Jageler on WFED, not mentioning the fine effort Elijah Dukes performed starting in centerfield yesterday in South Florida would not be right.

More than once our radio broadcast team commented on how deftly Our Number 34 tracked many hit balls his way at cavernous Dolphin Stadium. At one point, I believe Dave (as it turns out it was Charlie after playing back the radio broadcast on mlb.com) said this about Dukes defensive play: "He's as smooth as glass out there." Later, when I was watching some of the game highlights on mlb.com, Dukes made a nice sliding stop and instant recovery on Dan Uggla's game breaking double to deep right centerfield in the 5th inning.

With the stroked ball already past Elijah, he used all his athletic ability to cut the ball off at the pass--the same god given athletic skills which Lastings Milledge also possesses. But here is the difference in the two. Once Dukes got to the rolling baseball he used his baseball instincts to slide his glove to the ball, while conducting a perfect pop-up slide to quickly get to his feet. Immediately, Elijah Dukes was firing the baseball back into the infield with his powerful arm.

Not only was Elijah smooth as glass, he performed as if he was sliding on ice and was able to stop on a dime.

That was a very nice play on Duke's behalf, probably lost on many due to the very fact it was the decisive turnaround moment in yesterday's third consecutive loss to begin 2009. In the past, others have told me their concern with Elijah Dukes playing centerfield has been the worry that his tightly wound body and muscles (physical makeup, not mental makeup here folks) may be a disadvantage to his long-term ability to man the middle of the outfield. And in fact, Nationals Farm Authority's Brian Oliver and I had the same discussion at Pftizner Stadium yesterday during The Potomac Nationals Workout.

The concern has merit, but its worth the worry to send Elijah Dukes out there every single day until he proves otherwise. Our Washington Nationals were apprehensive over his recurring knee issues in 2008, always placing Dukes in rightfield last season to protect his body--less physical strain. For 2009, Dukes looks healthy and rearing to go--chomping at the bit. Clearly, he's the best centerfielder we got. Only Austin Kearns can possibly be considered a better gloveman among the outfielders currently on Our 25-Man Roster.

When it comes to patrolling centerfield--Elijah Dukes Is Smooth As Glass. Pencil him out there every single day until he proves otherwise. Our Number 34 is the best choice we have right now to win.

10 comments:

Sec314 said...

I am sure I am the first of many to agree. Lastings Milledge may be a nice guy, but he looks no better in CF this year than last. It's time to pull the plug on that experiment.

phil dunn said...

I agree, give Dukes the CF job. If he has physical problems, then put Kearns in CF but never put Milledge out there.

JayB said...

Milledge is in CF because Acta is too prideful and stubborn to admit he was wrong. About a month ago he made a bad decision to give Milledge the job and he is too pig headed to admit he was wrong. No amount of data is going to change his mind. It is Acta's Achilles heal. He is too young and insecure to admit his mistakes. He just compounds them with stupid statements like Lastings is our CF and WE like him there. Translated this means I am smarter than you and I don’t make mistakes in judgment so he will stay their until he proves me right no matter how long or how many loses it costs the team.

yazzy1956 said...

In looking at the new statues I thought it might be a good idea to add one of Lastings Milledge since he plays centerfield like one.

Anonymous said...

Great observation SBF, I witnessed the play as well and concur with your point. But let's not kid ourselves there is something underlying there that may not be solved until the off-season. I didn't like the post game interview of our man in charge. IMO, when it came to Dukes, it was like pulling teeth from him. Elijah has been nothing but aces for us, yet some continue to minimally slight him.

I love this team, but my main reasons for going to games (up until this point) has been Elijah Dukes and Ryan Zimmerman. I respect our Skipper, but I cannot and will not support his feelings/treatment of Dukes, no matter how much he tries to sugar coat it, it's beyond obvious.

I think your blogs are fair and balanced. Have a great day!

Groundskeeper Willie said...

We hope you're right. But Manny says it's Lastings' to lose.

http://www.halfstreetblues.com/2009/04/breaking-news-lastings-milledge-is-our.html

SenatorNat said...

Right on comments: it seems as if Nats shall be digging a hole by insisting on 85 in center and leading off, rather than 34. I would bet that Milledge will be at Syracuse by June; that Hernandez or Gonzalez will be playing second and leading off. 2009 is going to be the last year for Young and Belliard, freeing up some cash for Strausberg signing, and Z-contract.

Dukes should bat 6th in a revamped line-up, and play everyday: Gonzalez; Guzman; Johnson; Dunn; Zimmerman; Dukes; Kearns; Flores. Bontifacio's performance in these first three days was astounding and demoralizing - he was a cross between Maury Wills and Kenny Lofton in their primes - at the plate; on the basepaths; and in the field. The guy can play 3rd; Right; and second: AND HE CAN LEAD OFF! Would it be worth trading Jon Rauch for Williamham and Olsen? Sure! But what if you traded Rauch for Bonifacio? Should you keep him, Mike Rizzo, since you scouted him for Arizona? Probably - but Mike was not the boss at the time the deal went down...

Statues - first impression - Oh My God!! The Matrix meets MLB - and it is a bad combo. Now, having thought about it, and looked at the pictures again, I get the artist's point - make bronze "come alive." I intend to let them grow on me. They, are, at a minimum, the most unusual baseball statues at any ML ballpark! Dick Heller, a traditionalist, in the Times gives the artist's bringing the action to life rave reviews. Like the Vietnam Memorial, they are not traditional, but they are thoughtful and intriquing, and they are not static.

In the past 10-15 years, HOK has erected many retro stadiums around the majors, and now, as nice as they are, the more assembly-line (sic "not unique")they appear. Fortunately, the D.C. Sports Commission had rejected a Camden Yards redeaux look by HOK for Nationals Park, favoring a more iconoclastic ("Washington Modern") look with sharper exterior I Pei styled angles. The sculptures are in keeping with this modernist concept, as are the mobiles. Non-traditional, but in harmony as each a bit more impressionistic, less traditional, in nature.

Trust in Elijah Dukes - non-traditional centerfielder. And, All That Jazz...

Old Nats Guy said...

Perhaps someone can explain this, because I sure can't figure it out. You play with a guy for two months last season, and time after time you watch him show no patience at the plate and you watch him strike out far too many times on pitches in the dirt. So why would you throw strikes to this guy? John Lannan threw the only pitch in the dirt and predictably, Bonifacio missed it. That was it. ONE PITCH in the dirt! Lannan and every other pitcher seemed to serve up nothing but belt high fastballs, which our former "second baseman of the future" crushed. I don't get it.

phil dunn said...

I attended a game in 2006 at Shea Stadium and Milledge was the right fielder that day. He botched two easily catchable fly balls that day. I'll bet the Mets wouldn't take him back, even up, for Ryan Church.

paul said...

Paraphrasing LBJ, If we've lost SBF, then we've lost Nats Nation.