Monday, August 14, 2006

Dear Frank:

I realize over the course of a 162 game baseball season, that on some nights, you just simply lose. Tonight's 10-4 whacking by the Atlanta Braves at RFK Stadium was one of them. Chipper Jones unloaded on our mediocre pitching for 3 homers and 5 RBI and Matt Diaz tied a National League Record with his 10th consecutive hit, 4 hits in all, 1 home run and 4 RBI. This one was over pretty early and everyone knew it--and it was OFFICIALLY OVER when Damian Jackson replaced Ryan Zimmerman for the top of the 8th.

But, Frank, what I want to understand is what were you thinking during the 5th inning when Ramon Ortiz was struggling so badly. Everyone knows that your bullpen is not too good. You are trying to get every possible out from your starters to lessen the opportunities for your undependable guys from the New Orleans Zephyrs. Lets retrace the steps during the deciding 5th inning.

With the score tied 3-3, Ortiz continued to struggle, giving up a leadoff single to center by Marcus Giles. Edgar Renteria would hit a lazy pop to Austin Kearns in right for out number 1. Chipper Jones would come up and on a 0-1 count, Ramon tried to sneak a fastball on the outside corner of the plate, that Chipper went with, driving it high into the prevailing wind and it carried well over the left field fence for a 2 run homer (Jones 1st of the night). Making it 5-3 Atlanta. Andruw Jones would follow with a 0-2 count shot down the left field line, doubling into the corner. It was obvious Ortiz was out of gas, but you left him in and Brian McCann crushed a deep fly to dead centerfield that landed just short of the wall on the track--appearing that Alex Escobar might have misplayed, the ball bouncing over the fence for a run scoring ground rule double. 6-3 BRAVOS. After a visit by Randy StClaire, Ortiz was able to get the free swinging Jeff Francouer to strike out for out number 2.

Now--here's where the question arises. There are 2 outs, Adam LaRoche is at bat. You are not going to take Ramon out, because you feel he is your best of the lesser choices. You intentionally walk LaRoche to get to THE HOTTEST HITTER IN THE GAME TODAY. Matt Diaz is one hit away from tying a National League Record. I would say Diaz is determined at this point!! I was surprised you did not pitch to LaRoche. So, Diaz comes to the plate. Yet, Ortiz can not find that plate and gets behind 3-1 in the count. The Atlanta Pitcher, Chuck James, is the next hitter. He has never recorded a hit in the Majors. James has looked foolish at the plate tonight. 2 Outs (thinking out loud here), I can pitch to Diaz, waiting for a fastball you know he is going to hit, OR--I can intentionally walk Diaz and pitch to James as I am sure that Bobby Cox, Atlanta's Manager, will not pinch hit for him?

What would I do? I would walk Diaz to bring up James. You chose to pitch to Diaz, who slammed the next pitch, a fastball to center scoring McCann and closing out the game. 7-3 Braves. Only then do you take out Oritz and replace him with Ryan Wagner. For the Nationals, this game was out of reach at this point.

I am really confused about this one Frank. The managing choices are obvious in this situation, yet you chose the hard way out. Why? Really would love to know.

And this all came after we had just battled back to tie the score at 3 in the bottom of the 4th thanks to Alfonso Soriano playing the GAME CHANGER--knocking in Bernie Castro (who by the way CAN REALLY FLY!!--TREMENDOUS SPEED!! Lets see him some more--PLEASE!!), stealing second, advancing to 3rd on the catcher's overthrow (everyone enjoyed the site of seeing Soriano just jog nonchalantly to 3rd after Brian McCann's throw went about 15 feet behind second, Alfonso knowing he could easily make it without busting it) and scoring on a Felipe Lopez (Surprise!!) single up the middle. This after MICKNATS and I started chanting "DON"T KILL THE RALLY!!, DON"T KILL THE RALLY!!" Over and Over again for Lopez, to those surrounding Section 320's great amusement.

Chipper Jones continued to put on his show by ripping a 2 out shot over the right field wall in the 7th off Wagner, and completed his excellent night by HAMMERING a 2 run shot off Travis Hughes that just missed the Mezzanine Section below 464 in the 8th. I have to say I had to clap for the guy, it was a TREMENDOUS NIGHT for a SUPER PLAYER!!

One more thing Frank--You pinch hit Ryan Church with two out in the 9th to face Braves Lefthander Wayne Franklin. Church CRUSHED a fastball well over the right field fence for his 7th home run of the year. As I have said before, Ryan has BETTER Power Numbers, Average and On Base Percentage against lefthanders. Yeah--he struck out looking yesterday on a 99MPH Heater from Billy Wagner, but he's facing, at that time, one of the BEST in the game. Ryan Church is not YOU in your prime. Not many players will, or ever be. But, Church is a good player. Would you please not continue to put him in your doghouse, when he makes ONE OUT??

Only 21,550 showed up for the Monday Night affair. In fact, Section 320 was left short again when the 4 "Noise Boys" who sit directly in front of Sohna and I, and to the right of MickNats, did not post up for their second straight game. Come on guys, we need your VOICES!! Screech came by early and was surprised to see all the no shows. Maybe the boys are still recovering from RallyTimeRichards Birthday Party from last Saturday Night.

So Frank--What were you thinking???


Bang the Drum Natly said...

Beautiful question, SBF...

I've had quite a few (too many by my count) along the same lines over this and last season, but I think this was an absolutly perfect example of my misgivings of Mr. Robinson. I would love to see a response, but unfortunately don't have the time to dig too deep.

As for my no-show this evening, sorry, but got some serious deadlines this week, and won't be there until the businessman's day special on Thursday, with an old college buddy in tow. Maybe I can call your cell when Soriano's up and you can hold up your phone so I can join in, otherwise, I'm afraid that with Say Hey out of town, along with the various schedules (and possible conflicts therein) of our fellow 320 compatriots, you guys might just have to field a short bench for the time being.

Nevertheless, good post. Damn good post. See you Thursday, I trust.


Anonymous said...

Alex Escobar has now shown on several occasions that he cannot get to fly balls hit over his head. He is not the solution to the team's centerfield problem.

Anonymous said...

"Frank, what were you thinking?"

Frank doesn't think, he mostly sleeps in the dugout. The Nats need a new manager to shake things up but don't count on it happening. I never thought Bowden would still be around and now we are stuck with him long term.

Anonymous said...

As bad as Frank is as manager of the Nats, he doesn't do nearly as much long term damage to the franchise as is done by Bowden.