Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yesterday's Past/Cabrera Gone

Breaking News--Daniel Cabrera Designated For Assignment tonight after the game--not a surprise. Got to love Mike Rizzo's Comment: "I was tired of watching him."

The sight of Vintage Livan Hernandez, circa early 2005, pitching for The New York Mets tonight at Citi Field brought back many a fond memories this evening for The African Queen and I. There was no player more larger than life during The Inaugural Season of Our Washington Nationals than Livo. He threw the first pitch in team history at Citizens Bank Park on April 4th, 2005. Old Number 61 then tossed the first pitch in the very first Regular Season Major League Game in over 33 years played in The Nation's Capital on April 14th, 2005 ("And here's the kick and the pitch and it's In There for strike one!!"--Charlie Slowes on the radio that night).

Livan Hernandez was one of DC's first All-Stars, along with Chad Cordero, representing Our New Nats in Detroit that summer for The Mid-Summer Classic. He helped lead Washington to the top of the standings at that All-Star Break. The Greatest three months in Our Washington Nationals Short History. The Feeling Of Joy!! which resonated throughout DC that magical first half season of 2005 not to be forgotten. EVERYBODY WAS TALKING ABOUT OUR TEAM.

You know that to be true. Night after night, Our Washington Nationals played before packed houses at RFK Stadium in 2005. The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street became a SPECIAL PLACE AGAIN!! Rejuvenated, alive for a little while longer--a renewed venue for Major League Baseball. The Jumping Seats along the 3rd Base line. The Crowds. The Excitement--it didn't get much better than that.

A Fan Base Was Born. So was The VERY LOUD AND ALWAYS CHEERING Section 320--where this blog began.

And Livan Hernandez had alot to do with all that passion.

Confident and relaxed--with the ability to go so deep into games--Livo was always willing to throw 150 pitches any time out on the mound attempting to go the distance. He was so fun to watch. It didn't hurt that The Burly Cuban could hit too.

For all those reasons, and I am sure many more--we can never root against Livan Hernandez--or say anything bad about him. If baseball is entertainment--Old Number 61 stands on Center Stage. Hernandez is attractive and fascinating even if he is on the downside of one very interesting professional career. Forever, Sohna and I will fondly remember him for his work as a National. We've always believed, no one enjoys playing baseball more than Livo.

Tonight--Livan Hernandez shut down Our Washington Nationals for his 46th Career Complete Game. He was spotting all his junk, including that 60 MPH Whoop-DI-Doo Curve. His slop, when on, can have most any hitter lunging and falling all over the plate. Effective enough to toss in a mid-80's fastball to create even more confusion.

Vintage Livan Hernandez on display this evening for The New York Mets--and Our Washington Nationals really didn't have a chance.

Livo was just too good.

Nick Johnson 0 for 4 (the ending of his 9 game hitting streak).

Ryan Zimmerman 0 for 4 (the ending of his 43 consecutive games reaching base streak).

Only Adam Dunn touched Livo for his 15th Home Run of 2009--an opposite field shot to left in the 7th.

Livan gave up his usual large amount of hits (9), but he walked only one. And like the '05 Hernandez of Our Inaugural Season--when runners got on base against him--Livan was able to make just the right pitch to get out of trouble. Nothing worries Old Number 61 and Our Washington Nationals subsequently opposed little threat to him this evening in Queens.

Final Score from Citi Field where one of The Original Faces of Our Franchise re-emerged on baseball's Biggest Stage--The Big Apple--and shutdown one of his former teams and teammates. The New York Mets 6 and Our Washington Nationals 1 in nine special innings. Like on nearby Broadway after a command performance, Livan Hernandez walked off the field tonight to a standing ovation. And watching from our home in Alexandria, Virginia--deep down in Our Hearts--we were sort of cheering for him too.

That Wonderful First Season Of Washington Nationals Baseball Flashbacked To Life Tonight in Our Mind's Eyes. Thoughts Of Yesterday's Past--the very reason so many Washingtonians, Virginians and Marylanders were so THRILLED in the first place upon Baseball's Return To DC. Wonderfully Remembered This Evening--All Thanks To Livan Hernandez.

We Can't Wait for Those Happy Days To Return Again.

Game Notes & Highlights

Craig Stammen got roughed up a little bit in his second Major League Start. Facing a injury depleted Mets Lineup, he allowed seven hits and 2 walks over 5 complete innings. Stammen was OK, but Livo was far better. Craig's first Away Game In The Big Leagues was a learning experience--nothing more. He could have also been helped in the bottom of third on a grounder to Cristian Guzman hit by Fernando Tatis. Moving to his left, it appeared "The Guz' could make a play and possibly turn two with Mets runners on first and second base. Instead, the baseball scooted past Our Number 15's glove, between his outstretched hand and body for a run scoring single. The resultant non-defensive play quickly led to two New York Runs.

Jason Bergmann pitched a solid 6th, then got torched by Gary Sheffield on a screamer of a three run homer in the bottom of the 7th. Sheffield's second home run in as many nights, put this game out of reach. But unlike last night's controversial round tripper--this one had no doubt.

But that didn't mean The Umpire Crew got away without a little controversy again tonight. Josh Bard was attempting to score from second base on a two out single by Craig Stammen in the top of the 5th. With Stammen's bat lying in the baseline and Angel Pagan's throw from centerfield beating him to the plate--Bard attempted to deke his way around the rear end of home plate. New York's Catcher Omir Santos originally missed the tag. As Josh dove for the plate a second time--Santos snuck down his glove on Bard's fingers as he touched home. Home Plate Umpire Dan Iassonga appeared as if he was going to call safe--then gave the out sign instead. Josh Bard argued. Our Manager Manny Acta didn't come out to question. One replay from up high behind home plate--showed Bard's fingers on the plate an instant before Santos' glove touched him. But it's still not clear because another angle showed the catching mitt shoving Josh's finger from the plate.

Our Washington Nationals hit into three rally killing double plays tonight.

Cristian Guzman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham all had two hits apiece.

13 Wins & 32 Losses after 45 Games. We don't think anybody expected such a poor record.

Catcher Luke Montz being recalled as an emergency replacement for Josh Bard--who is leaving the team temporarily to be with his wife having induced labor in Denver. Jesus Flores caught seven innings tonight for AA Harrisburg, scheduled to play nine more tomorrow. He is expected to be activated on Friday in Philadelphia, Saturday the latest. No corresponding roster move for a pitcher expected--Washington will go with their now current 12--five starters and 7 relievers.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Kathy Willens (AP)


NatsGuy said...

I like Manny Acta but I wish he would fight for his team a little more. His calm approach is great for a winning team not so much for a young losing team.

John R. said...

Reminiscing about the 2005 team is always enjoyable. The key to that team's surprising success was the pitching. Where are they all now? Livan Hernandez, of course is still pitching. John Patterson - retired due to injuries. Tony Armas, Jr.? Esteban Loaiza? Chad Cordero? released and still not pitching.

But Iooking at Hernandez gets me ready for the inevitable clamoring by the Fantasy Baseball types who will say that we should trade our quality players for "top prospects." This season, it is Nick Johnson that these "experts" say will be such great trade bait. Often, they will say "The Nats are in last place with [insert name of player here] so we might as well try to build for our future." We heard that with Soriano, Hernandez, Corderero, Rauch, and others as well.

But look at the Hernandez trade. Matt Chico and Garrett Mock. It's fair to say that both of these guys have had their chance to prove themselves at the major league level and neither will ever be what Livan was last night. A complete game! Wow! That is one great way to deal with a shaky bullpen.

We need to keep Nick Johnson because he is a great player and it is unlikely that we will hit paydirt and land successful prospects if he is traded. Let's build off of our strengths right now -- the top four in our batting order. Johnson brings great fielding, a great attitude, and he is an excellent hitter who helps set up Zimmerman and Dunn.

Besides, we are guaranteed two of the top ten prospects in the June draft. We just have to pay them a lot of money. Yes, these guys won't be guaranteed successes either, but at least we do not have to give up on proven success to gamble with potential.

So, let's end the trade speculation now and sign Nick to a new contract for the next few years!

Unknown said...

possible Nats steroid scandle:

Screech's Best Friend said...

Yeah, we read about this steroids story this morning. But it's best to wait. The Sheriff just throwing two teams out in a press conference without any proof other than the suspects claiming is odd. It doesn't mean it's not true, but you would think the investigation would go a little farther before implicating anyone person or team. All this does is ramp up speculation--deserved or not.

Unknown said...

agreed. Very sketchy and speculative at this time. Also there is no time frame for the allegations. It could involve players that are no longer with us. Although, if it was someone that was on our team last year I would hate for that to taint our wonderful 59 win season.

Screech's Best Friend said...

And remember--both Nook Logan, Paul LoDuca and Jose Guillen have been named as steroid users--all former Nationals.

Unknown said...

I've said it before in this blog, and I've submitted questions to Bill Ladson of MLB.com about it... I have no idea why the Nats didn't sign Livan for 09' The response Bill Ladson gave was that Livan wanted too much money, but after paying Paul LoDuca $5 million last year, and being about to eat $2.6 million for Cabrera this year, I can't believe the Nats couldn't have made a reasonable offer to Livan at some point over the long period when he was a free agent. Watching him throw a CG against us, and seeing he still has his "stuff" was easily the most frustrating game of the year for me. Livan would've been a great anchor for our young pitching staff, and guaranteed us 200+ solid, if not great, innings. Hopefully players like this won't be allowed to slip through the cracks during the Rizzo era.

Sam R said...


I've been beating the Livo Drum since he left. Back in 1999 he gave a then 1-year old Lexi his warm up ball heading to the Dugout to pitch a game for the Giants against the D-backs and I've always thought he was great with Fans and just a true workhorse on the mound. I even thought he might pull out game seven for the Giants in 2002. Last night he definitely showed management what could have been....

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!


SenatorNat said...

Cabrera had an "over-under" among a few of us chatting in the stands on Opening Day of June 1 - I took the under. Next is Colume - Stammen may replace him in the bullpen, but eventually I predict, again, that Olsen will be relegated to the pen.

Livo could win 8-9 wins a year, seemingly forever, no matter where he pitches. I love him, but would rather see his spot in the rotation used this year for developmental purposes. The five starters currently going out there are pretty steely types - they are not going to be emotionally decimated should they not win, or even get touched up. Note that Stammen got a nice base-hit which should have scored a run, and he only gave up 3 er's. His ERA is high, but he showed poise. I want to see these five feel it is their collective responsibility to give it a major league effort each and every time out.

Bergmann grooved one to a great hitter who is hot right now - jury still out on his promise as reliever, but worth hanging in there with him, since he didn't walk or hit anyone!! 503 shots like that before last night, most undisputed by Sheffield. Mets have quite a B Team, don't they?

Manny being Manny. He just cannot bear the idea of getting a reputation as a Latin hothead, a la Ozzie in Chicago; but, he has gone overboard correcting what he was told was a major impediment to his moving up the ranks when he first managed in the minors. The team gets no spark from him, ever; and the conservative, totally by the book approach is adopted by Listach, who should have sent Maxwell twice in the 8th - c'mon, let's Get Smart. As Dibble said, this is a team which is 13-31 - let's force the perfect throw and force the action a bit.

Bless the Bard Family: and then dispatch him directly from San Diego to Syracuse when Flores returns, of course. His throws are perfect to second - should the runner be a catcher, he would gun them down everytime!

Guz needs a bigger glove - seriously - they go under it when he goes left - very frustrating. Knight points out correctly that he is better going to his backhand than to his left.

No one loves Nick Johnson more than I - his return to health and his play as close to The Natural as reality gets. But, if Nats can get a high-quality pitcher (starter or reliever) it may be worth it. It has to be someone like Matt Cain, though, a truly serious pitcher who hasn't inexplicably lost 10 mph off his fastball suddenly. Doubt other teams willing to chance that just after the trade, Johnson wouldn't be hit by lightning, or Kearns breaking his back accidentally with his good-bye hug...(Giants coming to town, so if this is going to happen, talks should intensify next week.)

Williamham is not Kearns. Williamham, should he play everyday, will hit .260 and produce some clutch hits and hit some home runs. Kearns has got to be the least feared hitter in the NL - he is a great guy and terrific fielder just like Longerhans; like Langerhans, he should play everyday in the minors. Williamham is a major leaguer, and I am confident opposing managers smile when Manny gives them a line-up card with Kearns on it v. number 16. Josh is not a bust - he needs to play.

Dukes/Flores return to regular play should restore Nats to averaging almost another run per game than since they went on DL - presuming Listach is largely ignored. (Just explain after your slide home that you thought "he was doing the wave.")

The goal is to generate one more run per game, and allow one fewer - within the realm of possibility, certainly, with the right management.

Over-under on Manny's departure is now All-Star Break. I say: "during," which is a push.

Trust in the roster eventually getting the best 25. And someone with a better feel for the deck. All good.

Rancy Neagan said...

I hate to even think that our current players and even in the past used steroids. If that's so, then either the roids didn't work or it's no big deal. Come on...win 59 games last year and sitting on a blazing 13 wins so far...obviously the steriods are duds.

Support the team, but NOT the roids. Just say no.

Anonymous said...

I was just catching up on the comments from the Mets series and noticed that in the pictures with Bard trying to score that it appears the ball is in the hand of the Mets catcher, not in his glove. Did he tag Bard with his bare hand and the ball, or did he switch the ball to the glove?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Anonymous at 10:21--The Mets Catcher transferred the ball into his glove before touching Bard's fingers near the plate.