Friday, May 25, 2007


Really. You have to laugh. Laugh at so called "EXPERTS" like Buster Olney at ESPN that claimed that Our Washington Nationals were "HISTORICALLY" Bad. So called polished practitioners of the sport, who professed there was "NO DOUBT" Washington would make a run at THE WORST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THIS GREAT GAME. Exactly, how does someone like Buster Olney keep his job?? And, so many others. Yet many believe, their opinions are always correct.

How is it, that so many other "Journalists" proclaimed that same notion. Do they really understand baseball? Why are they considered knowledgeable? How is it that many others blistered Our General Manager Jim Bowden for rifling through the SCRAP HEAP attempting to piece together a rotation, this past off season? A cobbled together pitching corp that is holding its own. How is it that SO MANY said Our Washington Nationals would be a LAUGHINGSTOCK?

Well, I am laughing at all of them, right now. I am laughing at all their silly "expertise". I am laughing at their, so called, understanding and intelligence of the game. I am laughing at how Our Washington Nationals are making all of them eat their words-- Both in Print and Broadcast. Really--You Have To Laugh.

I am. Our Washington Nationals are. And, you should too.

WE ARE FAR BETTER THAN ADVERTISED. Season Three of Major League Baseball in Washington, DC is getting really interesting. And, tonight Our Nationals continued to resurrect their season.

Are they the best team in baseball? No. Are they going to compete for a Division Title this year. Not a chance.

But, Our Washington Nationals are competitive. Their games of late are extremely interesting. They are NOT BEING BLOWN OUT. Our Hometown team is FUN TO WATCH. Yeah, I understand they may well fall on their face and collapse. But, I am not expecting it, nor believing my fear. Right now, I am having a ton of fun watching Washington play baseball. Each and every game of late has been THRILLING, INTERESTING and downright EXCITING. What more can you ask?

Tonight, was just one of those ALLURING ball games. If you started to watch this one, there was NO WAY YOU ARE GOING TO TURN YOUR BACK ON IT. Down to the last pitch, never a dull moment. This game with The St. Louis Cardinals enraptured me. And of course, "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was called on to close this one out.

"The Chief Cardiologist" WAS FABULOUS--with a nice assist from Felipe Lopez in the 9th. But, well before Chad Cordero closed out an excellent 5-4 win, this baseball game was a TEAM EFFORT this friday evening in St.Louis. Micah Bowie pitched just well enough to leave after five innings with a 3-2 lead. Brian Schneider unloaded on the talented, but struggling, Anthony Reyes for a Two Run Homer to right in the top of the 2nd inning. Nook Logan continued to surprise with TWO LEFTHANDED STROKED DOUBLES. His first one, directly following Schneiderman's Homer, resulted in Washington's third run of this evening on a sacrifice fly by Cristian Guzman. His second two bagger, in the 6th-The KEY RUN SCORING HIT OF THIS GAME, when he gaped a Reyes pitch to right center that bounced over the wall scoring both Austin Kearns and Dimitri Young with the eventual game winning runs. Is Nook Logan finally beginning to get a understanding of what he CAN DO from the left side of the plate? Has the light bulb finally turned on? That answer to decide Logan's long term Major League aspirations. And, his career with Our Washington Nationals.

With score at 5-1 at that moment, it was time to strap on the seat belt. Our Bullpen and Defense combined for one wild ride over the last four innings. Never were The Cardinals out of it. Never did St. Louis think Our Defense would win this game. Probably not even after the last out was recorded. But, our Defense continued to keep Washington in the game, and out of some serious trouble. FLop actually made two terrific efforts tonight in the field. During the 5th, David Eckstein lined a sure single to right. Lopez extended all the way to his left--catching the ball a split second before the baseball hit the turf--saving a game tying run from scoring.

In the bottom of the 6th with two runners on first and second and just one out for The Cardinals--Jim Edmonds roped a deep liner to right field, near the wall. Austin Kearns DID NOT GIVE UP ON IT. Seeing he had to dive, Austin lunged headlong on The Warning Track, toward the wall. And, at the VERY LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT, he gloved the ball while sliding into the fence. Still aware of the situation in front of him, Kearns quickly got up to his feet, and threw out Scott Rolen trying to get back to first. This Rally Ending, Inning Ending, Double Play was THE FINEST DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR--So Far. If Austin Kearns does not make the catch--two runs easily score, giving Washington just a slim 5-4 lead. And, the possibility that Edmonds might circle the bases for a game tying Inside The Park Home Run. After colliding with Nick Johnson last September and nearly running into Nook Logan in centerfield twice this past week in Cincinnati--it was a good sign that Our Number 25 has not lost his aggressiveness. What a Play!! What A CATCH!! Just a CAPTIVATING TURN OF EVENTS TO WATCH DEVELOP!! I was screaming so hard with delight The African Queen thought I had FINALLY GONE LOONY. No doubt, our long time neighbor already believes that about me, when it comes to Our Washington Nationals.

In the bottom of the 7th, Saul Rivera got in trouble. With runners on 1st and 3rd with one out--Saul got Eckstein to ground right back to the box. Rivera turned to throw to second. Guzman took the toss, then proceeded to throw the ball in the dirt. Dimitri Young could not handle it. A sure inning ending double play had given The Cardinals a cheap run. The score now 5-3. And, it would have been worse, if when Our Manager Manny Acta called on Ray King to face the lefthanded swinging Chris Duncan--Duncan had not HAMMERED Ray's very first pitch--RIGHT AT DIMITRI YOUNG!! What Luck. What Fortune. If you thought I was laughing before. I was busting out right now. No way, we really should have still been ahead in this one.

Yet, I chuckled some more in the bottom of the 8th. Big Jon Rauch simply had NOTHING. You have to figure his early season overuse has decimated his ability right now. "The Wookie" does not look good. After surrendering three straight hits to St. Louis without recording an out, Manny replaced him with Jesus Colome. Was Number 43 EVER THE LIFESAVER TONIGHT.

Jesus, he of the staff leading four wins--came on with the bases loaded, no outs--THE GAME ON THE LINE. And, proceeded to strikeout Jim Edmonds on 5 pitches. Then, forced Yadier Molina to ground sharply to Ryan Zimmerman at third who stepped on the bag--set himself, and threw to Robert Fick at first for the rally killing double play. Again, The African Queen staring at me in disbelief. You can imagine, I was yelling "YES!!!", pumping my right fist, something awful. And, LAUGHING SOMETHING AWFUL, too. Luck and Skill had got Washington through to the 9th. Jesus Colome may well be Our Most Valuable Player during the early portion of what is becoming a compelling season of Nationals Baseball.

Finally, Chad Cordero came on and WAS FABULOUS--thanks to FLop. Aaron Miles SMOKED "The Chief's" fifth pitch to the right of Felipe toward centerfield. Lopez dove to his right, gloved the ball, stood up and threw out the fast moving Miles at first for out number one. FLop may well be a mediocre shortstop. But, at second base--he is quite the talent. Decent glove. Doesn't have to throw from the hole anymore--can use his range to better advantage playing the the right side of the infield. If he hit more, he would look alot more like the All Star Player he was crowned in 2005.

After retiring Miles, Chad got Scott Spezio to fly to Logan in Center and Eckstein to fly to Kearns in right to end it. Curly "W" number 20 was an excellent ball game. Just the type of game that real baseball fans can appreciate. Some good plays. Some key hits and some very exciting developments--at least for fans of Our Washington Nationals. 11 Wins out of their past 15 games. Our Washington Nationals now have as many wins as the Defending Champion Cardinals.

Who's laughing now!!!

I am. For as long as it lasts. This is fun!!

Nothing like being the underdog-- and succeeding, WHEN NOT A SOLE EXPECTED IT!!!

I am positive our players feel the same way.

Game Notes & Highlights:

In the top of the 6th, My Main Man!! Ryan Church ROPED a liner down the right field line. Cardinals, All World First Baseman, Albert Pujols knocked it down--the ball rolling in front of him across first base. Pujols dove for the ball in an attempt to glove the ball, but keep his foot on the bag. Church running hard would have stepped RIGHT ON Albert's right ankle, breaking it, if he kept stride. Number 19 short stepped the bag, running over it, missing it completely. First Base Umpire Charlie Reliford immediately signaled--safe. St. Louis Manager Tony LaRussa complained, along with Pujols wanting the out call. But, Albert never controlled the ball while lunging off the bag. And quite frankly, The Cardinals should consider themselves lucky. Take the misplay, or lose their BEST PLAYER with a broken ankle for the rest of the this season. Sometimes, you just have to let it go.

Speaking of Pujols, he may be struggling early this season, but he is such a wonderful talent. Always plays hard, a real team player and he can flat out JACK THE BALL. Which he did tonight, crushing a Micah Bowie pitch for a homer in the bottom of the 4th. If The Cardinals EVER get tired of him, I will take him in a heartbeat. What a game changer--On the same page with Ryan Howard of The Phillies. Maybe Our 18 Year old talent, Chris Marrero, now tearing it up in The South Atlantic League for Hagerstown will develop like these two top sluggers.

Our Washington Nationals continued to hit the ball, stroking ten base hits. They showed enough patience to walk five times off Reyes. Its a stunning development that The Cardinals Anthony Reyes is 0-8. Just two years ago, not a single team in Major League Baseball would have not wanted him and proclaimed him their Number 1 Starter. Just amazing. Really.

Chad Cordero received his 7th save tonight. After 49 games in 2006, Washington's Record was 20-29. After 49 games in 2007, their record is 20-29. Which of these two do you believe is the more important achievement? Yeah, I know, I am always more optimistic. You never know how things will develop in baseball. That's why being positive is important to me.

Finally: "If Rolen can't get to it, no one can!!"--That comment made by Bob Carpenter on TV20 tonight when Nook Logan flipped an outside pitch down the third base line in the top of the 4th inning--just foul. This comment came, not one inning after Ray Knight, filling in for Don Sutton tonight, glowed about Ryan Zimmerman, saying that in his ENTIRE LIFETIME of playing and watching baseball, only ONE PLAYER fielded third base better than "Z"--and that was Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt. So, Bob--where are you coming from with that comment? Knight played the game. You, DID NOT. End of discussion. I understand that you broadcast Cardinals Games for many years. But, the last time I checked, you worked courtesy of Our Washington Nationals, and their broadcasting partner. Its OK to praise talent--Good Talent. I understand appreciating excellent play and greater players. Not though, at the expense of Our TALENT!! Our First Rate Quality Talent. Ryan Zimmerman just about the only one we have. Please UNDERSTAND THAT.

For the rest of this weekend, while Don Sutton is away, the TV sound goes down--Charlies Slowes and Dave Jageler's radio commentary goes up.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Jeff Roberson


Crash said...

Re: Church vs. Pujols, the replay showed that Church didn't even tag first base initially, he skipped over Albert's ankle AND the bag, and the official missed it. He came back to the bag, yes, but the Cards had a legitimate beef, just not for the right reason. What a lucky break that was!

Re: Carpenter praising Rolen, I really don't think that Carpenter was praising Rolen at Zimmerman's expense, he was merely acknowledging Rolen as an incredibly accomplished third baseman. In his ten-year career, Rolen has won seven Gold Glove Awards, third in MLB history behind Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, with 16, and Mike Schmidt, with 10. Schmidt himself has said that Rolen is a better third baseman than he was. During the 2006 World Series, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "Let me tell you something about the Cardinals. They've got one of the greatest -- and some people think the best -- defensive third basemen of all time."

I love Zimmerman, but he's not quite there yet. I'd like nothing better than seeing him leave Rolen, Schmidt and, perhaps, even Brooks Robinson all in the dust with his own accomplishments someday. I just hope that our Z doesn't suffer the problem of always having someone just a little bit better (at least in the eyes of the awards voters) take away from his due, as the Marlins Hanley Ramirez did by edging Zimmerman for NL Rookie of the Year.

Oh, and while you are laughing at the so-called "experts" who predicted an historically-bad record for our Nats, please don't neglect Linton Weeks of the Washington Post, who wrote that weaselly article earlier this month about them. I'd love to give him the horse-laugh, right in his face.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about this a while back
ESPN Analyst Jayson Stark

I was listening to Mike and Mike in the morning(ESPN Radio show) and Stark was talking. One of the Mike's was saying before the break, "One of the worst baseball teams of all-time" So I continued to listen. When he came back on the air. Stark said that the Nats rotation was one of the worst of all time and that some scouts have a bracket on how many games the Nationals are going to lose this year. This is what really pissed me off. He said the low was 105 games and the high 130. WHAT!!! 130 losses. I enjoy listening to ESPN but when their 'experts' say something so dumb I just wonder why I do.

I don't think it will be that bad, and I can see the Mets having a much worst rotation then the Nats

Anonymous said...

I've tried listening to Charlie and Dave while watching the TV with the sound off, but the radio broadcast is a couple of seconds ahead of the TV broadcast. So, it's difficult to do this. I know what's going to happen on the screen before it's shown.

Anonymous said...

Mike -

We have that problem too. So we spent the $15 to subscribe to Gameday Audio at MLB -- *that* audio is a few seconds *behind* the television, so if you have a DVR, you can pause the tv for a few seconds and sync up.

Absent technology, though, the delay is an annoying problem.

Bang the Drum Natly said...

Lol, Mike,

I have to laugh at that, because in the top half of the first inning on the tv broadcast, the exact same thing was happening (I'm hearing Carpenter saying "...lines out to left" and then I'm seeing it 3 seconds later). It was very strange for my fragile little mind, and I was about to switch over to the radio broadcast knowing I would probably be hitting some sort of time-space continuum shift there as well (oops, is my scifi geek showing?), but thankfully whatever glitch it was was fixed by the bottom of the 1st...

As for the sports "pundits" (I have to put it in quotes, as the definition is "an expert in a particular subject or field"), I am really really happy that their not-so-correct words of prophecy are being served with a nice tasty side of crow right now... But to be honest, after our Nats started out 1 and (friggin) 8, I was thinking "well, damn, they might just be right." But now we've got a prime example of the wonderful intangibility of baseball. Another one: the NL Central. Milwaukee is in first, 7.5 ahead of the World Champion (a term I have always chuckled at, to be honest) STL Cards.

So for their predictions, the various "experts" have to rely on historical hard facts, numbers, and thus the resulting probabilities. This is why I really don't put much stock in their judgments (show me one person who predicted George Mason in last year's NCAA final four, then I might just pay attention!). Right now, one of the few things I dig hearing from a sports commentator (aside from the "another Curly-W in the books!" of course) is Baseball Tonight's Karl Ravech precursoring their highlights of a game with "yes, THOSE Nats..."

So our Nats are currently a prime definition of the word intangible - you never know what you are gonna get on any given gameday (one obvious example: our current starting rotation of 1-Who 2-Would 3-A 4-Thunk and 5-It), and for us, as SBF said, in these past few weeks, win or lose, we're being treated to some seriously fun games to watch/listen/witness.

Cheers, and happy baseball.

Anonymous said...

An historically bad team is sort of like falling in love. Or out of it, for that matter. It just sort of happens, and it's hard to predict beforehand.

Looking at it from a "stats" angle, it's just so hard to anticipate such a thing. There's a relationship between runs scored/runs allowed and wins/losses, but you really have to rig the RS/RA numbers quite a bit just to get in the neighborhood where something on the order of the '03 Tigers is possible. Anyway . . .

We still could be looking at a 100-loss team for all we know, but I tend to think this 11 out of 15 stretch makes the season, even if it turns out to be the high point. It's a really nice high point. A month ago, we were talking about them being 8-9 after a 1-8 start. Now we're talking about legitimately good baseball. Pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Make no doubt about it, we are a bad team and we will still probably finish in last in the NL East. But like SBF, I am already counting down to win number 63 and WHEN it happens (not if--WHEN) I am going to be demanding some SERIOUS APOLOGIES!!!

RallyTime Richard said...

"Talent isn't everything"

I've been told that I often repeat myself, so I have copied part of my "Talent, Fundamentals, and Discipline" post.

Now remember, when I went on this rant, Our Nats were in their nose dive and had a .186 team average with RISP. Something has changed since then, they've developed better fundamentals and, yes, developed a little discipline. I noted a stat on screen during yesterdays game, for the past two weeks OUR NATS have the fourth highest BA w/RISP in the majors, in company with the Tigers, Indians, and of course my beloved Red Sox.

SBF, I'm also laughing...any good sports commentator should know how true the first line of my rant reads.

"Talent isn't everything. Much of what a player lacks in talent you can make it up with fundamentals. This is a good fix for an individual player, but at the MLB level, individual fundamentals are not always enough. I love fundamentals, and members of section 320 could say that I talk too much about the virtues of sound fundamentals. Well this past week has made me realize that fundamentals aren’t enough. My new theme will be discipline.

Talent is hitting a 94 mph fastball out of the ballpark. Fundamentals can help you make contact and slap that ball to the opposite field. Discipline is not getting yourself into a 1-2 count by chasing the low sliders that will never be a base hit or the first-pitch-high-heat, thus setting yourself up for that two strike fastball. Honestly the high-heat, curve, low-away is not a new innovation in the game. “Work the count!” To do so you need talent, fundamentals, but most importantly, discipline."

This and the rest of the rant was a little foreshadowing of our current streak.