Tag Archives: Nats

Posts about the Washington Nationals baseball team dating back to 2004. I was one of the original Nats bloggers.

Just one Nats-Brewers question with @LeavittDC

I’m really busy and haven’t gotten to offer many All-Star break #halftakes on the Washington Nationals. Wisconsin expatriate @LeavittDC isn’t even in the country right now, so he’s spending even less time focusing on the Nats or the Milwaukee Brewers. I still needed to get one burning question in with the DC series starting this evening.

WFY: Is having to cold call people and apologize for using PEDs is a bigger deterrent than suspension, fines and loss of reputation?

@LeavittDC: I’d make a lot of unpleasant phone calls for $105 million. He’s handled things very well, though. I suspect the phone call that was even more awkward — although, again, he can cry into his pile of money — was the one from Aaron Rodgers announcing that their friendship and business partnership was over. I don’t know how dear the 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill was to Ryan, but that public divorce had to have been awkward. Back to your question, it’s not a deterrent, clearly, but if players knew they are risking not only their professional reputation but personal friendships… crap, I can’t finish that sentence. They’d cheat anyway.

* * *

We’ll try to do better next season, but let’s not forget the most important thing:

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2014 Nats vs. SF Giants Q&A with my friend David

I sent these questions out before Ian Desmond ripped apart the San Francisco Giants like he was a cop avenging his dead partner (the day before he was supposed to retire) in a 9-2 Washington Nationals win.

David, who grew up on another court in our Northern Virginia suburb, has been a guest prognosticator in 2011, 2012 and 2013 Nats vs. Giants Q&A and prediction with my friend David.


WFY: After a 52 year wait, the Giants won San Francisco it’s first World Series in 2010. Then, they stunk in 2011 and came back to win the 2012 World Series, followed by a rough 2013. Now, in 2014 they have the best run differential and record in the NL by far. Why are they going back and forth between domination and mediocrity?

DFS: There is rumor that rears its head ever so often that the Giants ownership wanted to maximize profit following the World Series both times. The Giants are owned by a consortium of moneymen, like hedge fund managers accustomed to return on investment, and not an old baseball family. I don’t know if there’s much truth in the rumor, but the team did not pursue marquee free agents in 2011 and 2013 and were content with limited talent starting often. Like many teams that don’t have a recent tradition of playoff success they re-signed and overpaid old veterans out of gratitude rather than thinking of the future. The contracts awarded to Aubrey Huff and Marco Scutaro come to mind. This year the Giants did the opposite and added two big names—Morse and Hudson—and each have had a great, positive impact.

WFY: The team with the second best run differential in the NL is facing your Giants for four games this week. The Nats have been great in June, having come within a blown save of consecutive sweeps to get them into a three-way tie for the NL East. What’s the take on the series from the Bay Area perspective?

DFS: I can’t really say. From the limited media I take in about the team no one has said anything about the Nats other the typical sales pitch of seeing Strasburg. I’m curious because I’m a Sports Illustrated reader and they have picked the Nationals two years running to take the National League pennant. I think the perception is that the Nationals are an underperforming squad that has been hurt by key injuries. For instance, I wasn’t aware that they’re in such tight contention in their division. The talk of the town really has been how great the Giants have been playing and that’s it. The two-out rallies and late inning comebacks have been so much fun.

WFY: Each game of this series has strong starting pitching from both sides, but I have to think the Giants have the edge playing at home and the overall dominance of Tim Hudson against Washington. The Giants get a little lucky that they don’t face Jordan Zimmerman who dominated the San Diego Padres yesterday and has been part of a starting rotation that gave up one walk in the past week.The DC bullpen has been quite strong, but gets a lot of work at times. How is the Giants bullpen?

DFS: The Giants bullpen has been tremendous. Saturday’s game was a good example. Hudson pitched poorly and only made it through the 5th inning. The bullpen kept the Giants in it long enough for the team to come back in the ninth. The Giants don’t have anybody that overpowers batters with 100 mph stuff—the kind of pitcher who gets a lot of attention. Romo is an unconventional closer—a guy that throws in the 80s and relies nearly exclusively on an off-speed pitch: his slider. The fans absolutely love him.

WFY: Way back earlier in the year, we briefly discussed Michael Morse, the former Nat turned Giant LF who is having a resurgence. How big has he been for the Giants? How has San Francisco taken to him? Is he as bad in left as I remember? He was a fan favorite here and until recently, his at bat music “Take on Me” was still being played in the middle of the 7th which was kind of weird.

DFS: I’ve been so pleased with Morse. Last year the Giants left fielder and first basemen hit about 20 home runs combined! Posey represented the only real consistent power in the lineup. Sandoval, of course, can be a fearsome hitter but he was largely ineffective last year. Pence was spotty. With Morse (and an improved Sandoval and Pence) the Giants have real hitters batting 1 through 5. Having Pence hit 2nd has been great too because he’s fast and his speed was not optimized when he was hitting 5th previously. The reaction by the fans and team to Morse seems to have been instant adoration. He plays with verve and joy. It is fun to watch him play because he’s having a good time while still delivering. It has been so great to get production out of left field or first base. Posey can play first base on off days and Morse moves to Left. The prior option at Left was Gregor Blanco who bunts for singles.

WFY: Who is the face of the franchise?

DFS: Posey. The team has a ton of character and characters. But Posey’s jersey is the one parents buy for their little boys.

WFY: Bruce Bouchy has a pretty strong resume having won the division and even a pennant with the San Diego Padres and of course two World Series for the Giants. What is his style of managing? Did he help get the Giants to the promise land? Have old managers like Felipe Alou and Roger Craig ever been heard from again?

DFS: I feel very fortunate that the Giants have Bochy. I think managers’ value generally is overstated. Football is the ultimate coach’s sport where expertise in talent evaluation, film study, game planning, and clock management reveal a coach’s value. In baseball, I think the game has historically been a player’s sport and you have to look more closely to see how a manager may be adding value. Bochy has the confidence to assert himself into the game and take strategic risks. In the 2010 and 2012 playoffs his regular line-up changes seemed to pay off beautifully. To wit, using Ryan Theriot as a DH in Game 4 of the World Series made me scratch my head. Theriot scored the winning run. The Giants have been using the Williams Shift frequently and they realign for each batter’s scouting report in more dramatic ways than I’m used to seeing. Bochy also manages with the long-term in mind. He’s not afraid to sit two of his best players on the same day if he thinks it is prudent to give them rest even if that means a much more likely loss. He elected to have a robust bullpen with only 5 bench players (including a backup catcher that plays at least once a week). That can be a problem in extra innings situations or in games where he goes to the bullpen early. But it has worked very well thus far. Those are the type of things that can be lucky, random trends that may disappear down the line.

WFY: The Nats ripped the Phish “WIL-SON” chant from the Seattle Seahawks for catcher Wilson Ramos. How in the world did San Francisco not adopt Phish’s Wilson for former closer Brian Wilson? Or does The City not acknowledge jam bands other than The Grateful Dead.

DFS: My friend Bill used to complain that they didn’t play the Beach Boys when Brian Wilson came out. Now that he is in LA, the Dodgers really ought to do that. I saw the NFL Films piece on Phish. The band actively campaigned its fans and the team to use it. I had never heard of it before the NFL Films piece. The Giants are a bit more folksy and local with their cross-marketing—like Metallica Night, for instance. My favorite tradition is that they play Tony Bennett after every win while playing a film of scenic and iconic San Francisco locations. I almost always stay to watch it and listen to the song before leaving the park.

WFY: Are the Golden State Warriors still trying to move across the bay to a pier? Is there any fallout from the 49ers leaving for the South Bay?

DFS: The Warriors have purchased land in the city to build a stadium. They abandoned a prior plan that would put it right by the Bay Bridge on a pier. I’m not supportive of the move. I don’t follow or really care about the NBA—although I was delighted the Bullets advanced in the playoffs. But I have a great amount of respect for the Warrior fans. They have filled that house through thick and thin. Oracle Arena is in the same asphalt and steel complex as the Coliseum and lacks the beauty and design elegance that some people have come to expect from arenas. It does not have readily accessible night life like the Verizon Center does in DC. But it has its own BART stop and ample parking. And it’s in Oakland. Everyone knows that long-time fans will be priced out by a stadium in San Francisco and I find that to be deeply unfair to such great fans.

The only people that I’ve heard say positive things about the Niners’ move are those that live in the South Bay. Candlestick was one of those places like Veterans Stadium—where everyone to a man complained about it. But to borrow a phrase from Joe Queenan, it was a temple. If you have the time, give this a read: Closing the Cave of the Winds (Grantland) Looking at it without sentimentality however, I don’t blame the city government at all for letting it happen. Football-only stadia represent a bad deal for American cities. They are dormant nearly the entire year but require a tremendous amount of pavement and traffic control. The early reports on the new stadium bring back traffic nightmare memories of Raljon. Evidently the stadium won’t host any Monday or Thursday games because of insufficient parking on weeknights: they will have overflow parking at surrounding locations on Sundays.

WFY: I have probably asked this before, so forgive me if I have, but how has the fanbase evolved in your decade of living there, late Bonds era to 2 time champ? You arrived just in time!

DFS: When I moved out here Bonds was still playing. He was an obstacle to my full adoption of the team. I don’t despise him and am still in awe of his accomplishments, even if not completely earned. But he rubbed me the wrong way and I had a hard time supporting the team fully because of it. I started to self identify as a Giants fan in his first year of retirement, which means I didn’t have to suffer through much before I enjoyed the rich bounty of 2 championships in 3 seasons. Winning does change things in the typical ways. I certainly see a lot more gear these days. The team also has cultivated a more jovial take to marketing itself. The players all have nicknames and fans riff on that by wearing costumes. The team’s commercials are light-hearted and occasionally funny without being too slick.

I don’t remember seeing that stuff when I moved here. Going to a game was an opportunity to watch Bonds in an idyllic ballpark. You didn’t need much more than that.

WFY: We’re to the point where team gear is kind of silly at times, but I’ll ask anyway — what Giants merch you have?

DFS: I have four items—all of which I received as presents. I have two Giants sweatshirts, one cap and some great orange and black argyle socks. I agree the gear has become ridiculous, particularly all the jerseys. Football fans are the worst. Everyone’s walking around with authentic jerseys that look like house dresses when worn by normal-sized people not wearing shoulder pads. When I wear gear I try to keep it understated. For instance, one of my Giants sweatshirts is stitched black on black. Harkening back to another older conversation, I agree with you that if you’re going to wear a jersey, wear one that has no name or number on it. If you must, go retro and cool like the Raider fans that wear Jack Tatum’s jersey.

WFY: Do you have a favorite Giants cultural, film, literature, television reference? What about favorite book about the Giants? I just learned on Uni-Watch today that Clint Eastwood wore a Giants cap in The Enforcer.

DFS: That scene in The Enforcer has Clint going into a whorehouse where he announces himself as Larry Dickman. That film also includes a scene shot at Candlestick during a game against the Reds. It is pretty cool. I’ve never read anything by Don Delillo, but I’ve been told that one of his novels starts with an extended description of the Bobby Thomson game. I’d like to read that. Robert De Niro made a lousy film called the Fan, where he is a rabid Giants fan that stalks a star player played by Wesley Snipes. Nothing else is springing to mind other than a Peanuts cartoon strip lamenting the World Series lost to the Yankees.

WFY: Who takes this series and why? What about the season series? Will they meet again in October?

DFS: As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have much insight into the Nationals, or any other non-NL West team. So this is pure guesswork. I think that Giants split this series 2 games to 2. They’ve been on such a great run that I feel like they’re due for a few bad hops. This team has the fundamentals for a great playoff run. I think they will take the season series and win the NL West. Meeting in October will be up to the Nationals.

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The Washington Senators had an accordionist, Merv Conn

During yesterday’s Washington Nationals broadcast, Dave Jageler was lamenting that the strike zone was going back and forth like an accordion. A discussion about accordions with Charlie Slowes ensued. I don’t think they know that in the 1960s, the Senators hired Merv Conn to play the accordion during games (I mentioned it a couple of years ago). A brief demonstration and explanation from Conn himself:

That was from local filmmaker Jeff Krulik‘s The Legend of Merv Conn which is available here:

Conn was more than just a musician at RFK Stadium, he was a beloved music instructor and performer, even though “The Beatles killed the accordion.” Here’s a 2007 profile from John Kelly before the documentary came out – A Legend With Oomph — and Oompah

Conn died in 2011, his obituary is here.

As for Krulik, he has made many films but is best remembered for Heavy Metal Parking Lot. We talked about that several years ago during the 25th anniversary of HMPL. While all his work is enjoyable, I suspect that Charlie and Dave would enjoy this award-winning documentary.

MEANWHILE IN THIRD PLACE

So, don’t look at the standings until Memorial Day?

NL-standings-20140527

Maybe it’s supposed to be the actual Memorial Day, rather than Memorial Day Observed.

Between injuries and Matt Williams over-managing and love of bunts and sacrifices, the Nats are struggling. Thankfully, Chicken Man on the case:


After Memorial Day loss, fans plan chicken sacrifice Tuesday at Nationals Park
Let Teddy Win

What took so long?

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Another edition of Nats COLD T8KEZ, swept out of Oakland edition

I know I’ve said it before, but I really expected to see Chico Harlan’s byline for the gamer in The Post this morning awful Washington Nationals series in Oakland. The last time D.C. won a baseball game there — August 2, 1970 (Baseball Reference), the first game of a doubleheader. The Swingin’ A’s took the nightcap on a walk-off, 1-0. Rollie Fingers pitched 8 shutout inning. Joe Coleman went 6 for D.C., but Horacio Pina lost with 2 outs in the 9th.

SOOOOOOOO…

We’re about a Nats loss away from a team meeting, right?

My microcosm of the series:

Another one:

Small sample size, but Gio single-handedly beaten by a game by the guy he was traded for (Derek Norris, 2 3-run homers) doesn’t feel good. Also, Robbie Ray has won his first two starts while the Nats have one start and a loss by Doug Fister. D’oh!

So, this is going to be the week that DC MSM’ers start questioning why Cal Ripken, Jr. wasn’t hired as Nats manager, isn’t it?

Hey, there is a Tom Boswell chat today!

HOW DID THAT WORK OUT?

Having about four innings with the Opening Day lineup this season to date isn’t optimal, but mental errors are preventable. They haven’t played crisp since September 2012 it seems.

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsNo Arizona Diamondbacks guest prognosticator unless I get inspired and ask John McCain and he agrees to do it. Matt Williams lives in Phoenix though, so I guess we’re really talking about MATTSTOWN now. Also, MATTITUDE is really just is Rigglemantude with a better pedigree and less boring media appearances

Ian Desmond isn’t contributing much on the field right now, though Barry Svrluga’s article on his family and how it deals with baseball season is good reading.

The Nats are the 14th smartest spender in MLB over the last five years according to Bloomberg Business Week. Take that Barves!

This has nothing to do with the Nats, but Weezer’s Blue Album is 20 years old as of Saturday.

Of course, a good series in ‘zona would make this trip look a bit different.

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Nats vs. A’s Q&A and prediction with Tom Bridge

The first D.C. baseball trip to the East Bay since August 1971 (the Senators were swept by the AL West winning A’s) begins late Friday night. For the third time, We Love DC co-founder Tom Bridge, a credential Washington Nationals blogger, is here to answer questions about a Northern California team of his youth. Previously Tom participated in Redskins vs. 49ers Q&As in 2011 and 2013.

WFY: Do you still closely do you follow the Oakland Athletics these days? What’s a bigger factor in your level of fandom, the distance/time zone or having a new baseball team a bicycle ride away from where you live?

TB: I still follow the beat writers on Twitter (seriously, follow Susan Slusser, she’s great), so I keep abreast of the news, but with most of the games starting at 10pm Eastern, I tend to catch just the highlights. Being 3,000 miles away is hard enough, but 3 hours behind? I won’t catch much of this series.

WFY: I often ask guest prognosticators what the best book and/or popular culture contribution is about the guest prognosticator’s favorite team, but these seems too easy — Moneyball. What was your reaction to the book and if you’ve seen it, the movie? Are there any other books about the A’s you’d recommend?

TB: If you haven’t read this book, you should really read it. The movie’s a fine telling of part of the story, and the way the 20-game winning streak is treated is a joy on the big screen, but the book is really its own animal and one you should really make the effort to read.

WFY: Billy Beane has built a team that regularly competes, but hasn’t broken through, do you think with his current resources he can win the pennant? As a fan of both teams, do you appreciate that they trade each other players frequently?

TB: So, it’s fascinating. I think there’s a comparison to be made between the Capitals and the Nationals. It’s not that the Caps are spendthrift, but they’re franchise-building only to make it so far. They want the basic playoff revenue, but there’s something about the way things are being run that just doesn’t get them any farther than that. In Oakland, that’s budgetary pressure. In Washington, it’s the front office’s limited capabilities.

It’s kinda fun that the A’s and Nats have found themselves trading partners. I think the deals have worked out well for both clubs, and I think Rizzo and Beane seem to be excellent foils for each other. I, for one, would enjoy watching them fight crime together, buddy cop style.

WFY: How are the broadcast teams? Do you have the A’s MLB.tv package?

TB: I love the A’s broadcast teams. I miss Bill King immensely on the radio. His voice was the sound of summer days, so much so that when I heard him on the At-Bat app, I could smell the tomatoes in the field, and the cut grass, and the chlorine of the pool down the street. He was marvelous. Now, Ken Korach and Ray Fosse are on, and while they’re great broadcasters, it’s not quite the same as it was then.

I don’t catch much of their TV crew these days, though.

WFY: Recent research suggests there is not a single zip code where A’s fans are the plurality, much less the majority. Were the A’s always the second team to that degree and if not, when did it start changing, or at least where you were?

TB: I started following baseball seriously the first year we had season tickets. 1988. The A’s made the Series that year (more on that in a bit) and the Giants were 11 1/2 games out of the Division. While the Giants had been in the thick of it in 87 and would be again in 89, I had no shortage of A’s fan friends, as well as plenty of Giants fans as well.

WFY: The A’s of your childhood dominated won the AL and won three pennants, but only the 1989 World Series. Did they max out or leave more on the table? How strange was the earthquake as an A’s fan and a Northern California resident?

TB: They left the 88 Series on the table. One bad slider. One bad, bad slider. And every time I see Kirk Gibson hobble around those bases…

Sigh.

They were the better team that year, but not after that slider.

The Earthquake was a monumental tragedy for the area. People died on the Cypress Structure freeway, and on the Bay Bridge, and in the fires that followed. It was a nightmare. But that was a day that baseball saved lives. The quake hit at 5:04pm. Right at the start of rush hour. Only most of the city had gone home early to make the 5:05pm start of the game. I can’t even think how many more would’ve died during a heavy rush hour in Oakland.

WFY: The elephant in the room (I’m sorry, that’s terrible) is that those A’s teams had some steroid users. Does it taint the memories at all?

TB: Yeah, it does. Canseco was a problem for the franchise even then, but the roids he was doing was pretty much known. McGwire hurt more. The culture of baseball was pretty broken then, and I’m not sure we’re past it yet.

WFY: Who is the best A of your lifetime and is he also your favorite?

TB: The best? Dave Stewart. Four straight twenty-win seasons from 87 to 90? A forkball that just disappeared? The smoky stare that put fear into the strongest hitters? Totally my favorite. Stewart was a monster. He pitched over 1,000 innings in four years, with 700+ Ks, 375BB, and 7 complete game shutouts. He was the heart and soul of that club and it was a joy to see him out there every give days.

WFY: The A’s are desperate to leave the much maligned Oakland-Alameda Colosseum and it’s sewer leaks, but from a fan’s perspective how is it? I always found the massive foul territory to be a bit off-putting, but overall how does it stack up? I know the outfield upper deck built to lure back the Raiders is a source of anger amongst A’s fans. When did you last attend a game there? What’s the quintessential food and beer at an A’s game?

TB: I last made it to a game there about a decade ago, so my domain knowledge of the Coliseum is less than current. It was a workman’s ballpark, with the simple pleasures, Bud and Miller Lite, colossal dogs, ball park nachos with orange cheese, and hot coffee when it got cold late in the evening. I loved the wide foul territory, and the bullpen just inside the lines. Our seats were down by the A’s bullpen, and we could watch Eckersley warm up late. It was a big place, not intimate like a tiny chapel, but massive, like a cathedral. The concrete, exposed and flat, made it a noise machine, but the view out into the Oakland Hills was majestic.

But that was before Al Davis (may he ever rot in hell) ruined it with the Raiders’ return.

WFY: The Silicon Valley A’s – Do you support the A’s leaving the East Bay for San Jose? From here, it seems like they put in good faith efforts to stay in Oakland or elsewhere in the East Bay, but I have not followed it closely.

TB: I support the A’s getting a good place to play ball. I would hope that would come in Oakland, paid for by the owners of the club, but I suspect they will end up in San Jose. That’s okay, too, but I know a lot of fans who will hate that. It’s not my team as much as it used to be. I’ll leave that decision in the hands of others.

WFY: Which happens first, Bud Selig makes decision on the A’s or Nats TV situation.

TB: The heat death of the universe. Both of those will be decisions made by the next Commissioner.

WFY: Who takes the series?

TB: A’s take the series, Nats win behind Gio on Sunday. Wildcard here is Fister. He can beat Milone, but I worry he’s not 100% yet.

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2014 Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies Q&A and prediction with Kevin McGuire

One of the most prolific guest prognosticators is back to talk about the Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies series. Kevin McGuire, blogs about the Phillies at Macho Row, but is best known for writing for College Football Talk.

WFY: Looking at the standings, the supposed worn-out and elderly Phillies are 13-13. How did the get there?

KMc:The Phillies have been incredible up and down, a team consistently inconsistent. It has been difficult to figure out the offense at times, but we do know that it has a number of holes at key positions. The top of the starting rotation has been fine and just welcomed back Cole Hamels but the bullpen has been going through some growing pains holding on to leads as well. It seems when the pitching is doing well, the offense cannot score runs and when the offense bursts out, the pitching cannot hold the fort down.

WFY: On Wednesday night’s radio broadcast of the Nats game, Charlie Slowes mentioned that the Phillies were essentially going with a three man rotation right now due to days off. Is this accurate? I see Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels are the probable starters for the series, while the Nats still have not announced theirs. We know Jordan Zimmermann won’t pitch, though Gio Gonzalez could on Sunday. The Nats rotation is all messed up right now.

KMc:The Phillies are skipping Kyle Kendricks spot in the rotation this weekend to go with the top three pitchers this weekend. Cliff Lee has had two rough outing but has been brilliant at other times. AJ Burnett has been a solid addition to the rotation and Cole Hamels will get his third start of the season after a rough night against the Mets this week. This is a fundamental change in philosophy that comes with Ryne Sandberg and his staff compared to past years under Charlie Manuel. Sandberg is taking a bit more of an aggressive approach by adjusting the rotation so early in the yer but that is because he likely sees the importance of winning division games now instead of trying to catch up at the end of the season. If the Phillies are going to stay afloat and in the conversation, winning games against division opponents is the way to go.

WFY: What have the Phillies strengths been thus far? How good can the 2014 Phillies be?

KMc:I think the offense, as a whole, has been pretty decent this season. Chase Utley has been the clear MVP but I feel as though I have seen better at-bats from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard early on by showing more patience. The Phillies lack strength though and have to rely on moving base runners, which has been a problem at times.

WFY: What’s going on with Dominic Brown?

KMc:He is off to a slow start and has been lacking the power we saw at times last season. At this point in his career Brown has not been living up to the hype but if I recall he was actually off to a slow start last season as well before busting out to become an All-Star candidate. He seems to have all of the physical attributes to be a really good corner outfielder in the middle of the line-up, but he needs to cut down on the strikeout-walk ratio to provide better protection behind Howard.

WFY: Who is the Phillies best player, face of the franchise, people’s champion right now?

KMc:Best player? Chase Utley. Face of the franchise? Chase Utley. People’s champion? Chase Utley.

Philadelphia loves Chase Utley and the way he plays the game. His way of preparing for a game is also something fans can get behind. He never appears to take a play off, and Philly fans love a player who hustles. I have always been more of a Jimmy Rollins fan but Utley is without a doubt the player most fans would consider the face of the franchise right now.

WFY: Is GM Ruben Amaro’s job in jeopardy or is that just WIP caller’s wishful thinking?

KMc:The pressure is on Ruben Amaro, that is not just hot sports take radio at work, but I honestly do not see the Phillies making a change at the position even if this season results another season without a playoff game. The reason I suggest that is because the Phillies have long been a Phillies family-oriented organization, and Amaro is as much a part of that family now than anyone. Firing one of their own is not a decision the Phillies do quickly (Ed Wade was general manager for eight years, Amaro is in year six). Bad contracts (notably Ryan Howard, Jonathan Paplebon) have restricted some of what the Phillies can do, and that falls on Amaro, who has acquired Cliff Lee twice and may have to be put in a position to trade him once more if things go south.

WFY: How are the new Phillies broadcasters working out?

KMc:Just so everybody understands, Comcast has more say in the Phillies broadcast teams now that they signed a new rights deal last year. That meant broadcasters handpicked by the Phillies before were no longer safe. That led to the removal of longtime Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler and former player Gary “Sarge” Matthews. The Phillies kept Tom McCarthy as the TV play-by-play voice and Comcast added former Phillies Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs in the booth. So far the new team seems to work well, although there are still some rough spots that are being worked out for the broadcasting rookies. Moyer and Stairs each bring a unique approach to the broadcast and nobody in the booth seems to want to fill all of the open air. McCarthy gets a bad reputation by some but I honestly feel he is doing just fine with his new partners. Moyer and Stairs split the games for the most part but sometimes are both in the booth.

KMc:I have not had a chance to really digest the Sunday home broadcasts, when Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt joins the broadcast as well for Sundays with Schmidt.

WFY: What’s the best book about Philadelphia baseball you have read?

KMc:The 2008 season brought a number of books to my collection, as you might expect, but the The Rotation co-written by longtime beat reporter Jim Salisbury and the well-respected Todd Zolecki may be my favorite. The book focuses on how the Phillies put together the starting rotation in 2010 that included Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and that other guy (Joe Blanton).

WFY: Who takes this series and the season season? How do you think the NL East shakes out?

KMc:I actually feel pretty good about the chances the Phillies have this weekend, but I would still lean on a healthy Nationals team to take the season series by a slight margin. My thought about the division remain the same though, and that is the team to beat plays in Atlanta. I think the Mets and Marlins will be pesky for everyone, but I think the division goes Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets and then the Marlins, who have two of the best players in the division by the way (Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton).

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13690586843_801e566e69_c

Nats #COLDT8KES: 22 games in

I don’t blog about (anything) the Washington Nationals as much as I used to and this week or two was a good example. I have a new desk in my condo though, so perhaps further inspiration is coming. Here are some thoughts running through my head.

A – The Scarlett letter. The Nats are 12-10 overall, but a pathetic 2-9 against teams that wear the letter “A” on their caps, the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim Anaheim Angles. They don’t have to play a team with an A until May 8 when head to Oakland to play the Athletics, so get ready for .900 ball until then! Then they play the Arizona Diamondbacks, who sometimes where an “A” right after the Oakland trip. Overall, they have 21 games left with teams that potentially wear an A cap. #fancystats

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsMATT WILLIAMS sounds better in pre-game radio previews than he manages at this point. Better than the post-game interviews too (BRYCE HARPER BUNTING WITH TWO STRIKES IS OKAY?!). Like a lot better before the game starts. We have a term for umpires who think the game is about them, so what’s the Ump Show equivalent? Manager Show seems to long, Skipper Show is not much better. Maybe #SkipShow is what we need to use for when managers that just have to constantly remind everyone they are managing a team. It’s early though, Jayson Werth even said so! (Nats Enquirer)

ANTHONY RENDON was probably not too upset about Bryce Harper not touching first base the other day, since it obscured the brutal error he made that cost a game. Speaking of errors…

IAN DESMOND is in a bad place right now. At least he homered in the 9th of Monday night’s loss. That’s a Ryan Zimmerman trademark, good to see somebody pick up the late solo home down several runs while Zimmerman heals.

DANNY ESPINOSA seems to have learned from his dreadful 2013 or more likely healed.

TYLER CLIPPARD is having a Desmond like stretch on the mound. I’ve been expecting his arm to fall off for a few years now, so that time may be here and that makes me sad.

WHY DO THE BARVES HATE FREEDOM?

BALTIMORE ORIOLES BILLBOARDS near the D.C. border aren’t a really a problem, but I understand why some fans think that they are — I suppose they are a problem because why weren’t the Nats advertising on them? The real problem is any reporting on them neglects to mention the Orioles franchise voting against D.C. baseball and of course the MASN situation. The animosity Nats fans have for the Orioles is earned and not petty inter-city tribalism. The D.C. MSM needs to do a better job reporting on that aspect, but probably never will.

ENOUGH OF “TAKE ON ME” It’s time to put 2012 in the rearview. While there is no tangible correlation between holding onto to memorable, but doomed seasons too long doesn’t always work out. Carlton Fisk’s Game 6 homer as a great moment for Boston Red Sox fans, but the Cincinnati Reds won that World Series and it was almost 30 years until the Red Sox could say the same. Nats fans, like me, were probably too nostalgic for 2005 for too long, Senators fans for ’69 and so on. Let’s save #natitude for special occasions too and not every good thing that happens.

CHARLIE SLOWES AND DAVE JAGELER ought to dial back the homer stuff a wee bit. Their constant griping about the umps drops them to an A-. Still great having them back.

THE BEER MAP! Cheers to Charlie at The Nationals Review for putting together the beer map again.

RIP CONNIE MARRERO – He was awesome, learn more.

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Highlights: Nats sweep Marlins

After a disappointing opening series with the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals bounced back to sweep the Miami Marlins.

THURSDAY

Stephen Strasburg strikes out 12 and Ian Desmond hits and 8th inning grand slam in a 7-1 rout. Jayson Werth’s homer in the third was the difference.

WEDNESDAY

Jordan Zimmermann has a terrible start, doesn’t complete 2 innings, but the Nats come back on Bryce Harper’s 3 run blast. Werth hits a grand slam in the 8th after Anthony Rendon gets walked in front of him. 10-7 win

TUESDAY

Gio Gonzalez is sharp and the Nats shutout the Marlins, 5-0.

The Nats are 7-2 and go to Atlanta for a big series with the Braves.

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MLB_replay

Nats home season begins with literal dumpster fire, figurative one narrowly avoided

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a literal dumpster fire before the game, the Nats had a figurative dumpster fire on the basepaths. Add in the replay equivalent of the Nats baserunning on the strange over-ruling of Ian Desmond’s inside-the-park home run and it had the makings of being a frustrating afternoon. It was disappointing the lack of a call by the umpires on the field allowed the replay officials in New York to reward Justin Upton giving up on a play.

However, the Home Opener, even with its long lines and huge number of fans is still always a joy. The clock isn’t working though — no hands left.

SATURDAY


Ryan Zimmerman throws one away and everything goes bad for Stephen Strasburg. He’s hurting. 6-2 loss.

SUNDAY

A no-doubt-about-it homer by Ian Desmond is the difference as the Nats win 2-1 with Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper out of the lineup. Taylor Jordan pitched 6 1/3 innings of 1 run ball.

The Nats are 4-2 which is a good place to be, but it’d have been nice to get some hitting off of starting pitchers in the first week of the season.

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MLB is finally letting you embed all videos! Nats take first two over the Mets

MLB is finally letting us embed all videos as soon as they come out. Yay, they caught up to the NHL after how many years?

Good start to the first series of the year, finale is at 1:10 this afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann on the mound for D.C.

WEDNESDAY

Washington Nationals 5
NEW YORK METS 1

All Gio Gonzalez does is hit homers in the second game of the year.

TUESDAY

Washington Nationals 9
NEW YORK METS 7
10 innings

Yay, Opening Day! Nats come back and win, even though Stephen Strasburg faltered early. Poor Wilon Ramos.

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