Friday, May 16, 2008

Windy, Rainy, Cold & Sloppy

The winds were whipping hot dogs wrappers and trash throughout Camden Yards. An almost autumn chill was in the air. But these gusts had nothing to do with Lastings Milledge's circular route to a hit baseball. Nor, did it effect a relay throw from FLop. And that stiff breeze tonight at Oriole Park was also not caused by the whiffing bats of Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes--with the game on the line. Once again--Our Outfield not producing in the clutch in a sloppy affair.

Our Washington Nationals had their chances this evening in Baltimore against The Orioles to win. They failed. And sometimes there can be no more excuses.

Our Number 44 badly misplayed a looping liner to right center by Baltimore's Melvin Mora in the bottom of the 5th. A terrible tract to the hit baseball by Milledge which amazingly found grass for an RBI Double. Lastings simply muffed this fly. In fact, he looked like he didn't even want to pursue the ball--consistently looking at Elijah Dukes running toward him from right field. The Centerfielder needs to take charge on this play. Milledge did not--yet again.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 3rd--Felipe Lopez--looking to turn two and end a rally by The Orioles --crossed over the second base bag--taking a throw from Ryan Zimmerman to retire Mora--then proceeded to wildy throw to first base--well past the stretched glove of Aaron Boone. A crucial error that allowed Baltimore to score their first two runs of the evening and draw even. Yeah--Melvin Mora slid hard into FLop, but he still had plenty of time to make the throw. Our Number 2 rushed when he didn't have to.

Wily Mo Pena continues to be an enigma at the plate. Again tonight--hitless and striking out badly with runners in scoring position. Our Number 26 not helping by walking back to the dugout with his bat on his shoulder. Pena looks completely lost at the plate. Who would have thought--nearly 100 At-Bats into his season--not one single home run.

Elijah Dukes also hitless tonight--although he did knock in one run with a Sacrifice Fly with the bases loaded.

Three times each this evening--both Pena and Dukes headed to the plate with runners on and less than two outs--and only one time did a single runner score for Our Washington Nationals.
Of course, Shawn Hill did not have a good night also--throwing way too many pitches--99 of them before he left after five struggling innings. A eight hit, two walk performance for Our Number 41 that could have actually ended better--if Milledge and Flop had turned the two key defensive plays of this game.

Really there is not much more to say about this poorly played baseball game. On a night the strong winds and whipping rainy mist wreaked havoc around Camden Yards--The Baltimore Orioles overcame this disadvantage--while Our Washington Nationals were blown away.

Final Score from Orioles Park at Camden Yards: Baltimore 5 and Washington 3. The momentum gained in Queens over the past four days--at least temporarily--lost. In fact, this game is just hard to write about. As artistically pleasing as yesterday's victory over The Mets was--tonight's game was the exact opposite--hard to watch.

But you can bet--Sohna and I will be back tomorrow night. We are sitting in Club Level at Camden Yards on Saturday. We want to compare their service (provided by Aramark) to New Nationals Park (Centerplate).

Game Notes & Highlights

This game stared so well for Washington. Three straight hits scored two runs off The Orioles starting pitcher Garrett Olsen. FLop single to center. "The Guz" ground rule double over the left centerfield wall and Ryan Zimmerman with a slashing single down the left field line for two RBI's. Olsen was in trouble with no outs--but Our Washington Nationals could not further capitalize--a trend that continued throughout this game.

Zimmerman had a fine game--three hits, two rbi and smacked a hard hit liner right at Kevin Millar at first base for the final out of this game. For a moment, it appeared Our Number 11 would gather four hits tonight. At least Ryan appears to be coming around--while others are continuing to slump. Even Austin Kearns was held out of this game--reportedly working on his swing in the batting cages.

There was a very odd rundown in the key 5th inning. Right after Mora had doubled--thanks to Milledge's miscue--Aubrey Huff smacked a comebacker to Shawn Hill on the mound. Mora was trapped between 2nd and 3rd. Hill hesitated then finally ran directly at Mora. But instead of continuing to run right at him--Shawn threw to Zimmerman at third--and a way too long of a rundown commenced. Eventually, a 1-5-6-1 recorded out, but not before Huff ran all the way to second base--scoring position--where Aubrey should not have been. Sure enough--Millar would knock him home on the very next at-bat for Baltimore's 5th and final run of the game. Four runs scored tonight by Baltimore that were preventable. Only Luke Scott's rocket shot home run off Hill in the 4th was a sure thing for The Orioles.

Dmitri Young returned to the lineup after his extended absence due to back pain. He received a gift single when The Orioles misplayed a routine pop up in the wind behind shortstop. Other than that--Our Number 21 was not a factor. Although Sohna and I both noticed that Dmitri looked slightly heavier than what we recall from Spring Training.

Finally, on the field-we got to do something about Our Outfield. Pena, Milledge, Dukes and Kearns are under performing so poorly--you just have to wonder what's wrong. There is NO WAY they can collectively be this bad--at the same time.
Of course there was alot of stuff off the field and in the stands tonight worth mentioning.

None better than MY BEST FRIEND!! SCREECH!! on hand at Oriole Park. During the entire 4th inning, Screech came to visit The African Queen and I sitting in The Terrace Box Seats--just off first base at Camden Yards. Having spotted him earlier near Home Plate--I went down to visit him. The second I told him Sohna was sitting three sections away--off he went--to see his Girlfriend. His presence sending our Section into overdrive. Orioles Fans rooting vocally for their team--now turned their attention--totally--to Our Washington Nationals Mascot.

The looks on some of the children wanting pictures and autographs--PRICELESS. One parent telling her daughter after hugging Screech--"You Traitor!!" (That's Good Stuff). We were all having a good time and it was nice to see those not familiar with My Best Friend! enjoying his antics.
The New Scoreboard in Right Center is very colorful. Not as big as the HDTV Scoreboard at Nationals Park--but the content is good and alot of information is provided. Although--unless I just couldn't see it--I did not notice the pitch count and number of balls and strikes thrown by any pitcher on any tally board. Did I miss it?

Also--Baltimore has replaced their out of town wall scoreboard with a better quality one.
There is a new Seafood Stand at Camden Yards located behind Home Plate on the Main Concourse. Charm City Seafood served up some good offerings this evening. The $4 Maryland Crab Soup with spices--EXCELLENT. The freshly made Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich with Old Bay Potato Chips equally as good. This Crab Cake melted in your mouth. $13 and worth it. Of course Teddy's Pretzel (located behind the first base side) still sells the best melt in your mouth soft pretzel we have EVER tasted in any ballpark. Whether you choose Cinnamon, Buttery or Plain--a great deal for $4.

Finally--tonight was Friday Night Fireworks at Oriole Park. For this show--Sohna and I moved to the field box seats directly behind home plate. The display was excellent--a good ten minute program. We liked it and the program provided a nice alternative to waiting in line to drive out of the nearby parking garage to head back to Alexandria.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass
All other photos--Nats320


JayB said...

I have to agree........

"There is NO WAY they can collectively be this bad--at the same time."

But then again they I would really like your view on what has caused this situation.

Is the gift of jobs at Spring Training playing a role?

Was Spring Training run in a overconfident way, with no sense of urgency or importance to drill fundamentals?

Did the team fall love with BP sessions with these guys swing for the fences and if so is it not Acta and Harris' responsibility to put an end to that type of "work" in the cage?

SBF, you invest great time and energy and earn the access they give you. Are any of the above thoughts valid?

diane said...

Will you and Sohna be at the game on Sunday? I'll be there with Shawn's family (minus Shawn...he has to work).

I hope the weather isn't too least we'll be in club level.


An Briosca Mor said...

SBF, there are several things that need to happen right away to start moving this sorry team onto the right track. Sadly, though, I doubt that any of them will occur.

First, your best friend Screech needs a bath. Seriously. He used to be white, now he's gray - as evidenced from your photos last night. Next time there's a rain delay, they need to throw a bucket of soap on the tarp and have gim go all Rick Dempsey on it. Entertaining and cleansing, both at once.

Second, Milledge needs to be sent down to learn how to play CF and to regain his stroke at the plate. If he hasn't figured out CF in the minors after a couple of months, abandon the experiment and move him to LF.

Third, since I don't think Pena has any options left and can't be sent down (which he really does need to be) stick him in LF for the duration. If he hasn't turned it around by September, bring Maxwell/Daniel/Milledge up in Sept to play LF, and trade or cut Pena.

Fourth, stick Dukes in CF for the duration. He may actually work out there.

Fifth, there's no other choice than to play Kearns in RF. But if he does a Guzman 2005 the rest of this year, trade him if that's possible, or otherwise Patterson him next spring.

Last, resist all urge to bring up Maxwell or Daniel at this point. Go with an OF of Pena-Dukes-Kearns and Harris/Mackowiak as reserves. This current system of trying to find ABs for five other outfielders with Kearns as a fixture in right is ridiculous.

If they do this, at least by the end of the season they'll know where the holes are in the OF and can fill them with FA signings or trades over the offseason. But as I said, I'm not optimistic that any of this will take place. I'm starting to come around to the position that Bowden is the real problem with this team.

JayB said...


Sad that these are the options..... Sad that after almost two years of new ownership and "building" we are nowhere at all with the MLB roster.

We have two building blocks and Zim was here already.....You are correct...welcome to the club....Jimbo is HUGH MISTAKE, one of the Little Lerner’s own not hire the "cool kid", hire the effective one.

Anonymous said...

Jimbo was the GM who thought it made sense to see if Nook Logan could be our CFer. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the lack of fundamentals is a team problem. I believe it a Lastings Milledge problem. He doesn't call for fly balls (two near-collisions with Kearns earlier in the season and last night's "failure to communicate" with Dukes). He continually throws (weakly) to the wrong base. He watches the ball when he runs down the line to first base. He continually tries to pull the ball with no outs and a runner on second. Plus, he is the biggest hot-dog in the National League. What has he done to warrant this attitude? In general, he plays like someone who should be learning the basics in Potomac or Hagerstown. Until he learns the basic fundamentals -- the ones we learned in Little League -- he should be either sitting on the bench or playing in A or AA, because right now, he does not resemble a major league player.
Isn't it amazing how well the outfield plays when Willie Harris and Rob Mackowiak are in the outfield? However, they will continue to be reserves, because neither of them have the "pop" of Wily Mo (zero HR) or Dukes (one hit, one RBI) or Milledge (a single HR and countless blunders on the bases and in the field).

Jim H said...


What you propose makes sense in a "these guys should be fully developed by this point" kind of way. I know you don't expect that, and the play has been pitiful. But I think they need to leave them out there all year. And bring them back next year (at least Dukes and Milledge...and assuming no Dukes issues off the field. Or on it, I guess.) It truly is on the job learning.

Not everyone is going to enjoy Zimmerman-like "success" at age 23. And he's struggling as well, at least on the offensive side.

What's the typical "peak" year in MLB? 27 - 28 years old, right? On most teams, you pick your spot to put the youngsters in. If there is no established MLB talent surrounding them, they'll struggle at the plate. And since there are so many of them on the Nats, nobody has protection.

I know most of the post was about the defense. I think they have to learn. Sure...send them down if you like, but they can learn to field anywhere. (And I'm at just about all the games at the Park..I understand how hard it is to watch.)

This is a rather scattershot reply, but I guess I'm getting to the point where we are going to watch the babies grow up. And until they do, each mistake is magnified. I think the key will be to see slow progress over months (on the defensive side), with periodic bursts of offense.

Tough to watch. But it might be the only way to go at this point.

I do have to say, I think I'd like to see Mr. Rizzo take over the GM spot, regardless. Jimbo is a mite too hyperbolic in setting expectations. We need a bit more "gonna be a bumpy road watching the youngsters mature. But it takes more than 1/4 of a season...likely more than a season."

I don't know how I'd feel if any of these three were dumped in the off season...unless true viable alternatives were brought in.

The original thought on Pena and Milledge was, "Stick 'em out there for an entire season. Let's see what happens and what their progression looks like." Well, we're 1/4 through...let's buckle down and try to enjoy the ride.

(Now if Lerner does a 180 and starts paying for established major league A-list players, send the kids down for development. That's the route with the pitching. But haven't seen that tendency yet...and we all know The Plan is to wait for the youngsters to develop and add when it will make real impact.)


Anonymous said...

Last year was bad enough and this year’s version is much worse because it shows no progress at all. Milledge is an improvement over Logan sure, but so what. Milledge is NOT a MLB centerfielder now or ever. So we are just wasting time proving it over and over. How much better would Tori Hunter make this team now and in 3 years? The Milledge trade has had a big negative effect and Acta's constant enabling of his behaviors on and off the field is killing team chemistry. Can I prove it, no, can I see it, yes.

Milledge has talent sure but he is not what we were told he was. Acta and Jimbo made a mistake, fine, move on but don't compound the mistake by putting him in a role he has no hope of filling. Send him to AA to learn baseball.

We are paying what we pay $50 a seat for and it is not what we are getting Mr. Kasten.

Anonymous said...

We could see all of the displays in the park and did not see the pitch count. Another point that rubbed quite a few fans the wrong way was that there was no visit from screech behind the Nats dugout. . C'mon, any fan who faithfully follows the team on the road knows that the proper place to sit at an away game is right above the visitor's dugou so they can hear you cheert, how come no visit from our beloved mascot? With so many of us there, he definitely would have felt the love.