Sunday, June 14, 2009


The African Queen had been out in our yard working her garden, transplanting plants, redesigning and landscaping. She walks in as the bottom of the 8th inning this afternoon was about to play out from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"How are we doing?" she asked.

"We blew the lead and now it's tied at four," I replied.

Sohna states: "When it comes to a tie game, we can't win late."

Her prognosis was dead on correct.

Ron Villone proceeds to allow a lead off double to Carlos Pena.

Then, the real fun began.

With Ben Zobrist at the plate for The Tampa Bay, The Rays Second Baseman fouls a pitch from Our Number 41 down the leftfield line. A potential out that wasn't when--believe it or not--Our 3rd Baseman for this afternoon, Willie Harris, runs smack dab into Nelson Robledo--one of Washington's Bullpen catchers warming up Joe Beimel in the bullpen.

No Nationals Bullpen Member was protecting those working our sidelines. Instead, a Tampa Bay Rays Ball Boy didn't say a word. Who would expect him too? And when Willie Harris was stopped dead in his tracks by a late moving Robledo--letting the ball fall safely to the ground. Maybe the line of the year was shouted out by Dave Jageler on WFED.

"You can't draw it up. You can't draw it up. Snakebit is the only way to describe this."

Even though this latest of blunders didn't come back to haunt Our Washington Nationals (Zobrist would strike out moments later), it was the precursor of just how bad things have gotten for DC's Team. With two strikes on pinch hitter Willy Aybar, Aybar literally threw his bat at a Villone pitch just to stay alive. A resulted two hopper toward third base that HIT THE BAG and bounded in a different direction toward leftfield. A MAYBE infield single that resulted in Carlos Pena scoring THE GAME WINNING RUN.

Unbelievable. Really.

Moments later, Charlie Slowes comments: "We just found out how it would slip away today!!"

But that was just the straw that broke the camels back.

There were other shake your head moments that lead to another disappointing climax.

Earlier, in the top of the 7th--Adam Dunn struck out looking with runners on 1st and 3rd on a pitch too close to take.

Ross Detwiler allowed too many walks (five total) and one crucial two out free pass to Gabe Gross in the bottom of the 6th. Then gave up Washington's second home run in three days to Gabe Kapler to tie this game at four.

Elijah Dukes eventually cost Washington another run in the bottom of the 4th when upon catching a deep fly off the bat of Gabe Gross he threw the baseball to Alberto Gonzalez--the cutoff man standing between 2nd and 3rd--instead of throwing behind the running Carlos Pena to third base and nailing Ben Zobrist at second. It was a bad decision. And Zobrist would eventually score Tampa Bay's second run of the day on a sacrifice bunt by Dioner Navarro.

And although Dukes would score Washington's third run of the day on a double by Gonzalez earlier in the 4th, he was almost picked off by Tampa's Pena on a routine ground out to first base--when he inexplicably ran to third while Adam Dunn was standing there--not moving--knowing any attempt to score would result in an out.

Mental mistakes that were on display all day long in Sunny Florida.

In the top of the second after Alberto Gonzalez singled to plate the first of his three RBI's this day, he also made a bad baserunning decision when he attempted to advance to third base on a single to right by Anderson Hernandez. Easily thrown out at 3rd, and running on his own, Our Number 12 had committed the Cardinal Sin and got thrown out at 3rd to end the inning.

Yeah, Our Washington Nationals had the lead, again for the third straight day against The Tampa Bay Rays. And each time, found a new way to lose in dramatic fashion.

Final Score from Tropicana Field where loss number 45 of 2009, against just 16 wins, will certainly only fuel more speculation about the tenure of Our Manager Manny Acta--The Tampa Bay Rays 5 and Our Washington Nationals 4. Snakebit may well be the word of the day as passed forward by Dave Jageler and Washington may need some fresh Karma--but they put themselves in this position to lose today. And as everyone knows--anything can happen in a tie ballgame.

PS--Interestingly, on WTOP this afternoon at 12:50PM, Ken Rosenthal did a live interview on air. Although he didn't deny anything previously reported, he admitted that changing Manny for Jim Riggleman was swapping equal parts. And that no matter what management decides for the short term--it's not going to help in 2009. He also clearly stated: this is "not the fault of Manny."

As Sohna said after listening to Rosenthal: "He didn't sound as confident about his remarks" as he did yesterday on National Television with The Fox Network. It's going to be interesting what happens, if anything, over the next 48 hours.

And finally--The African Queen and I support Our Washington Nationals. Win or Lose, we are cheering for them to succeed. We suffer alongside them in their losses and rejoice in their wins. We are fans and we are not ashamed of that--as much as a few attempt to blast us anonymously in attempts to hurt us in the comments area. We don't suffer through such foolishness. One of these days, Our Washington Nationals will be a winner and proudly Sohna and I will know we stood behind them during the tough times. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Today's InGame Photo--Brian Blanco (AP)


Matt said...

I agree with all of your points on this loss except for the one on Elijah Dukes.

For the cut off play he did what he was supposed to do
he hit the cut off man. That play was Gonzalez's fault for not being in the right spot, he didn't even move out of his position.

Anonymous said...

Dukes' throw on that play was correct. He's supposed to hit his cut-off man. It was Gonzalez that was in the wrong place.

The shortstop has the responsibility to set the defense on the play. Gonzalez should have known there was no play at third and set up to instruct Dukes to throw to second.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Both comments are true, but Dukes should have known better too. Even with his powerful arm he wasn't going to throw out Pena at third. And he and Gonzalez should definitely realize the play was at second base.

Still the result is the same, it was a botched defensive play.

Screech's Best Friend said...

And sometimes you need to think on your feet--just because Alberto was positioned between 2nd and 3rd, Dukes should have realized Gonzalez was set up wrong. Two wrongs don't make the final outcome right. They need to follow the game, not act like robots.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I hope the Nats will improve to the point where I can confidently watch a Nats game (either in the park or on TV) for nine straight innings thinking we have a CHANCE to hold on to a lead we have. It's getting to the point that if the Nats are up by a slight lead in the fifth, I'll skedaddle for the exits (or turn off the remote) so I don't have to see the inevitable collapse in the late innings.

janet said...

If swapping Acta for Riggleman would be exchanging equal parts, I'd wonder if the Nats FO thinks “A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem”.

I'm *very* tired of hearing "news" about the speculation about whether Rosenthal is right. I first heard the story late Friday afternoon, and, as far as I'm concerned, it got old by Friday evening. I'm looking forward to going back to our regularly scheduled programming, even if it's become "50 ways to lose a ballgame" (Yes, I have Paul Simon's "50 ways to leave your lover" in mind, especially its line "make a new plan Stan")

Before the season, I thought Manny was a class act, and I'm even more convinced now. Before the season, I wondered about the competence of the front office, and a leaked story about something that should be done quickly and to the manager's face doesn't increase my confidence. In fairness to Manny and the players, I think the FO needs to fish or cut bait, or more bluntly, poop or get off the pot.

James said...

Perhaps we used up all the good karma in the 1st half of 2005 or 2007. I have never seen a team have this bad luck.

In the off season, I suggest we bring in Bobby V from Japan

SenatorNat said...

A team is rarely as bad as its record, nor as good, when the record is off the charts - the position players, with the exceptions of Kearns, Belliard, Bard, and temporarily Patterson, are major leaguers, including Gonzalez and Hernandez. The five young starters are showing consistent poise and promise - you look forward each outing to seeing how they will fare. Vallone, Beimel, Tavarez are adequate to good in the pen - Bergmann is gone now for good reason, and Colume should join him when Olsen returns, I would surmise. Defensively, the team is below average at shortstop when Guz is there; adequate in center or right with Dukes; below average at catching for the balance of the year, but fine when Flores gets back in 2010; but have to play someone everyday, Dunn, who should not be in the National League. The third-baseman, second-baseman, first-baseman are good to excellent, and Josh Williamham adequate in the outfield.

The team is hitting .259 overall with 64 home runs, middle of the pack, and has an ERA of 5.34, very high. It is on record pace for errors of 60 - one per game! Yet, as suggested, they should be below average but not pitiful defensively.

The left-on-base numbers, especially those who were in scoring position with less than 2 outs, must lead the majors. And the Nats have only attempted 32 steals with a paltry 19 successful stolen bases. I do not recall one attempted squeeze play or double-steal (perhaps one). Our pitchers and the team as a whole still cannot sacrifice regularly.

All-in-all, the team has no field leaders - I am amazed at how blase both Johnson and Zimmerman are out there and in the dugout - they seem to play the game like solataire masters. And even they demonstrate weaknesses in the field - Z-Man goes to the left side of all hot-shots, and does not attempt to block, while Nick overruns foul balls down right field line.

A new manager would have to see some things he would change with the current core group in terms of line-ups and tactics. I would prefer Rick Eckstein being given the chance, since Riggleman showed last year that he is not the answer, and Rick is the one man in the dugout who has turned a group of guys around for the better. The tag will be interim, anyway, and he can go back to hitting instructor in 2010, unless he turns out to be a diamond in the rough as the skipper. He has a quiet burning intensity, and I think the players would wake up under him. Riggleman will be more of the same sleepy rhythm, I fear.

Fear the same. All are not hits.

An Briosca Mor said...

"The third-baseman, second-baseman, first-baseman are good to excellent, and Josh Williamham adequate in the outfield."

How adequate can he really be, SenatorNat, if you have yet to figure out that his name is Willingham, not Williamham?

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Anybody have any ideas whom the Nats should hire as manager next year? I think it has to be a familiar name. I don't mean shell out a billion bucks for LaRussa or Leyland, but I think the Nats will need somebody who has had experience either as manager or as a major league player.

But most of all, I think the Nats need somebody who will kick them in the butt and DEMAND that they get better.

Karas Fletcher said...

What this team needs is a manager that is hard nosed and old school to get the team playing fundamental ball. Bring back Frank Robinson. He had this team 50-31 a the mid-point in the inagural year 2005. Mgmt and owners disrepected that man and that's when things started to go downhill. Make up for the mistake and help bring displine and fundamentals back to the great game of baseball. Hire Frank Robinson.

Let Frank bring in some hard-nose basics and his own coaching staff. That will shake up things...including maybe some much needed lesson for the Lerners to take better steps in the approach. It's all about the approach and disclipine in order to guide in the right direction.

Matt said...

I'd like to see the Nationals get a fiery manager, because even though I like Acta he doesn't put a spark in this team. Even Frank Robinson lit a match under these guys every once in awhile. I'd like Ozzie Guillen to come here and get these guys fired up, because none of the guys on the team,or it seems, are sensitive and would be offended by his remarks.

SenatorNat said...

ABM - just call me the Steve Spurrier of blog commenters! Just Joshing...

An Briosca Mor said...

SenatorNat, I refuse to let you coach me up. As a blog commenter, I am uncoachable.