Tag Archives: Nats

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

UniWatch: DC is 14th best dressed sports city

Once again, Paul Lukas of UniWatch has ranked the uniforms of the big 4 sports leagues and is now organizing it by city. In the past, I’ve tabulated those rankings myself, so I’m glad he spared me the work.

Lukas broke the rankings into two tiers — 3 or more team cities and 2 team cities. He also considered the venues of the teams as part of the overall aesthetic.

D.C. (Nationals, Capitals, Redskins, Wizards) came in 14th (again) out of 20 3 or more cities. Here’s the UniWatch list:

Boston
Pittsburgh
Chicago
Philadelphia
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
New York/New Jersey
Toronto
Detroit
Dallas
St. Louis
Los Angeles/Anaheim
Miami
Twin Cities
DC
Phoenix
Cleveland
Houston
Denver
Tampa/St. Petersburg
Atlanta

Wait – no way are we worse than Miami, the Twin Cities, St. Louis (who won’t be on the three team list after the Rams move back to L.A. or perhaps London if that fails), Dallas or Toronto. So, at worst we’re #9. No bonus points for everybody wearing a shade of red at least some of the time either?

That isn’t to say that our teams could use some improvement. The Nats need to drop the front numbers and reinstate the interlocking DC and navy road cap. “Capitals” needs to be capitalized and some more red on the road whites is in order. The Wizards stand out despite the limited palette of a basketball jersey, but how about some block numbers? The Redskins, well that’s a whole thread of it’s own, but I’ll suggest they return to burgundy pants with the white jerseys. The ketchup and mustard look has grown on me though.

UPDATED: On DC Sports Bog (The Post), Clinton Yates defended DC’s uniforms.

While Lukas is SO VERY WRONG on D.C.’s ranking, he did get something right that too many area MSM’s don’t:

I also considered lumping Baltimore and DC into one metro area. But after consulting with several fans from both cities, I decided to treat them as separate entities. This meant that DC made the primary list of 20 big-market cities and Baltimore was relegated to the list of two-team cities.

As for other cities…Chicago would be my #1. Too many NFL teams messed up their uniforms and hold their city back. I’m looking at you Eagles and Broncos. Oh and when the Rams head back to L.A., they should add some gold jerseys.

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Nats: The Curse of Mr. Walk-Off?

Watching Ryan Zimmerman hit walk off home runs has been an important part of being a Washington Nationals fan. I gave him his Mr. Walk-Off nickname (DC Sports Bog, The Post) back in 2008 after he beat the Atlanta Braves on Opening Night at Nationals Park.

Zimmerman was about the only joy we had as Nats fans for several seasons it seems and I think the a high percentage of DC fans have dreamed of him hitting a game-winning homer to win the pennant/World Series, etc. He’s OUR guy – he grew up with the franchise. I want him to succeed more than anybody else in Washington uniform, any sport. Is it too much to ask for a little divine providence?

There’s one problem though – check out the years Zimmerman has hit walkoffs:

2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2013
2015

There are two years missing there, two pretty notable years:

2012
2014

To date, those are the only two years that the Nats have made the playoffs, winning the division both times.

correlation
From xkcd 552: Correlation

Oh and Bryce Harper thinks he has a bone-bruise and the Nats are 2.5 back of the New York Mets with a finale in L.A. against Clayton Kershaw followed by road trips to San Francisco and Colorado.

Gulp.

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Q&A: Biking for Baseball – Matt Stoltz is cycling to all 30 MLB ballparks; Nationals Park on August 3

Matt Stoltz is cycling to all 30 ballparks this season for the charity Biking for Baseball. He’ll be at the Monday, August 3 Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game. Recently, he answered several questions about his journey.

WFY: What compels a man to embark on an 11,000 bicycle ride to see every ballpark?

B4B: I love baseball, I love biking, and love youth mentoring. Combining all the efforts really turns it into something special and provides an opportunity to really make a difference. I’ve always wanted to visit all 30 MLB ballparks and doing so by bicycle represented a challenge that I couldn’t pass up. On top of that, raising awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters and youth mentoring really presents the opportunity to help bring attention to a noteworthy cause.

WFY: How long did you spend mapping your transcontinental route? Have you been able to stick to it?

B4B: It took a good while to figure out the logistics of the trip. Obviously, the team has to be home when you pull into town in order to attend a game. Thus far, I’ve been able to keep to the schedule and haven’t had any delays [knock on wood]. The route has had some difficulties with weather while riding in the form of snow, flooding, lightning, and the like, however, I’ve been fortunate not to have had
any postponed games.

WFY: Tell us about the charity you are supporting through your ride, Biking for Baseball.

B4B: Biking for Baseball works alongside the motto that every kid needs a coach. Whether that be a teacher, parent, coach, whomever, we realize the importance of youth mentoring in the lives of youth. We encourage people to sign up to become mentors, to make a difference in a life of a youth, and really help change a life! We also encourage people to donate directly to Biking for Baseball as well work to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, and assist us in supporting youth mentoring programs!

WFY: How much training did you do before beginning the trip?

B4B: I did a lot of training before the trip on a stationary bike through the Wisconsin winter. However, nothing really prepares you for the real thing. You just gotta get out and start riding. After you do that, everything else will fall into place.

WFY: Which has been the most challenging part of the ride thus far?

B4B: The Month from Hell as I dubbed it was undoubtedly the most challenging. I had to ride 3,050 miles in 29 days to make it to each ballpark in time. That’s crazy! I was exhausted, tired, and drained, but I made it in time to every ballpark!

WFY: For the gear heads, what do you ride?

B4B: I ride a Novara Randonee, it’s held up pretty well considering all the miles that have been ridden on it! Can’t complain!

WFY: Why doesn’t MLB more aggressively market bicycle jerseys? I know they briefly sold them, but I didn’t get one in time.

B4B: I’m not sure. It sure would be cool, and if this trip proves anything it demonstrates that there are a lot of baseball and biking fans out there! You hear that MLB? Make those jerseys!

WFY: Which ballpark has been the most bicycle friendly thus far?

B4B: Most bicycle friendly? I would have to say San Francisco. But that’s a really tough one.

WFY: How many of the ballparks had you been to prior to this trip?

B4B: I had only been to five. AT&T Park, Marlins Park, US Cellular, Wrigley, and Miller Park.

WFY: From time to time, I’ve done Q&As with fans of the teams the Washington Nationals were playing. What happened to the Milwaukee Brewers over the last few years? They seemed like the were on the edge of contention, but have generally been middle of the pack. What’s the best part about being a Breweres fan? What’s your favorite Racing Sausage?

B4B: As a small market team we aren’t able to keep our big name free agents, nor are we able to sign big name free agents. What you’ve seen recently is the results of signings of players who are just past their prime (Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Aramis Ramirez) and once they age all at once, you have a drastic fall off in production. Thus this year, and as you’ve seen recently we’ve made a number of trades to try to replenish the farm system and stay competitive for future years.

Best part of being a Brewers fan is the tailgating. Every game, rain, cold, snow, sleet, sunshine, whatever it maybe. You’ll find some fans tailgating. I’m always down for a bratwurst and some cheese curds.

Hot dog. Always the hot dog. Most aerodynamic suit, thus the greatest chance of winning the race.

WFY: When do you get to DC? Are there any events scheduled?

Yeah, I’ll get to DC tomorrow, and there are some big pregrame events scheduled at local bars to help raise money and awareness for Biking for Baseball. Check out Half Street Irregulars on Twitter for the details!

WFY: I’m looking forward to biking over there Monday night!

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Nats bullpen is bad, Matt Williams won’t help and Aroldis would only be the 3rd most popular Cuban Nat anyway

The All-Star break is in the rear view mirror by over a week and the big concern of the Washington Nationals offseason – the bullpen and manager Matt Williams use of it is still The Big Concern. That, and as the Nats opponents’ batting practice music says “Everybody Hurts,” but this post will not examine the unfortunate injuries, maiming, deaths and possible resurrections of Messrs. Werth, Zimmerman, Rendon, Span and Strasburg.

We knew the bullpen would be a a problem. Rafael Soriano and beloved “7th inning guy” Tyler Clippard were gone. We miss Clipp, but even with the apparent fatal wrist injury suffered by Yunel Escobar (acquired in that trade) the other day, it seems to have worked out. Another bullpen depletion that came after I asked beat writers the questions below was Jerry Blevins, traded to Flushing for Matt den Dekker because despite playing in New Amsterdam, the Mets, exceeded their Dutch surname quota. How’d that work out for you, Amazins?

Craig Stammen’s tragic illness has at least a year of corpse reanimation recuperation as well. He’s been a big loss.

Thankfully, for Washingtonians, the Nats play in the NLeast and the patchwork lineup of 30 year old rookie Clint Robinson, Michael A. Taylor and the shortstop having the worst contract year since time immemorial, Ian Desmond, has not prevented them from having a 3 game lead as of Thursday morning. The rotation, not quite historic all season long (but in spurts), has been good enough to overcome all of these calamities (injuries, depleted bullpen, Matt Williams) as we approach August.

Prior to the season, I asked every Post baseball writer I could about situational bullpen usage, starting with the rookie from Yale:

Q: Relief roles

You mentioned earlier in the chat that the two pennant winners had relievers with locked-in roles. As a fan, I’d rather see a pitcher better suited for the matchup than “well, he’s our seventh inning guy.” How do players feel about it? Would they rather have the “seventh inning guy” more than the pitcher that matches up the best to the batter(s)?

A: Chelsea Janes

This is something the Nationals relievers have talked a bit about in camp already — and by they’ve talked about it, I mean we’ve asked them about it. Craig Stammen, who has come to the park for the past couple seasons without any idea of what inning — if any — he might pitch that day said he thinks it should be easier when you know what inning you’re going to pitch. I think most guys agree because they can develop a routine. One-batter lefties know they’re going to be called on short notice. Thornton, for example, said that while he didn’t know exactly when he would pitch, he could see situations coming that would call for the hard-throwing lefty. So he could prepare mentally for those. The locked-in roles help, to some extent.

But I can see how Nationals fans would be uncomfortable with the idea of locked-in roles, particularly in the playoffs. Some argue that was one of the main things that cost the Nationals the NLDS last season — sticking to the pattern of bullpen use they’d relied on all season instead of adapting to the heightened circumstances and maybe changing things to match the situation. Whether in Game 2 or Game 4, those things came up, and sticking to the season-long plan, to established roles, didn’t work in that case. That doesn’t mean it could never work, it just didn’t in that case. So maybe there’s an argument to be made that locked-in roles help during the regular season, but all bullpen bets are off in the playoffs when arms are tired and pressure mounts and one at-bat determines the fate of a season. Not to be dramatic on February 26, but that question could end up defining the Nationals season. If the starters do their job and the hitters do theirs, Washington should have leads late in games. They could have those leads late in games late in October. At that point, those leads probably won’t be substantial. They’ll have to protect them. If this team makes the deep playoff run people project it should, it could all come down to the bullpen, to who comes out of it and when.

…but there’s a long way to go before that. The Nationals are a week away from their first spring training game. More questions will arise, and James and I will be back to answer them some time soon. That’s it for now, but thanks so much for reading, and stay warm! I won’t tell you how chilly it is in Viera right now, and instead remind you that in 38 days, there will be baseball at Nationals Park.

Long answers that are not really comforting, but illuminating. It’s not all on Matty.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Q: relief roles

Are relief roles as ingrained in the players as much as the reigning NLMOY? Would it take an organizational and or cultural shift to get to situational bullpen usage instead of Clip is my seventh ining guy thinking?

A: Thomas Boswell

Matt Williams was talking last week about the possibility of using “match-ups” at times in the eighth inning this year.

I had two thoughts. 1) He’s flexible. 2. “Ut oh!” If you have multiple quarterbacks or closers, you “don’t really have any.” I expect Janssen will grab and keep the job. If he doesn’t, it’ll get interesting fast.

These responses suggest a few things– players seem to like knowing their role and perhaps long-tenured baseball columnists feel even stronger about it because despite impressive bona fides, they are looking at this like it’s football.

It seems that an organizational/cultural approach that would need to change to embrace that not all relief appearances are equal. A 9th-inning up by two facing the 6-8 hitters is very different than a 7th inning up 1 with a runner on and hitters 2-4 due up. The focus on saves as the primary metric for evaluating relievers has obscured that high leverage situations should result in the best available pitcher instead of the “X inning guy.”

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsSo, in short, the Nats bullpen situation will not improve through strategy and it’s not entirely because Matt Williams (or Boswell!) is unimaginative and underwhelming in general. It’s just mostly his doing. This just amplifies the siren song from the Queen City (of Cincinnati -because lets face it, there are several Queen Cities in the U.S.) is being heard throughout the Natmosphere. Aroldis Chapman, throws about as fast as Jayson Werth drives and is being completely wasted on the lowly, but tots realz baseball towne Reds. There is lust in the hearts of curly W fans for this flamethrower that Mike Rizzo infamously claimed to come in second place for way back in Olden Times. I too, would like Chapman to ply his trade on South Capitol Street, but I don’t see how the Nats could make it happen. Actually, I do and I am not willing to part with wunderkind Trea “Ian who?” Turner. Michael A. Taylor even up though!

I don’t condemn coveting Chapman, but I take issue with my distinguished colleague that he would be the second greatest Cuban Nat ever. Obviously, the people’s champion and special assistant to life skills coach Rick Ankiel (what ever happened to that?) is ¡LIVAN! We love #61 like he loves second breakfast and I won’t take that away from anybody. However, there was once another Cuban junkthrower in this town:

Connie Marrero won 39 games over 4 years for DC back before color television, starting as a 39 year old rookie in the majors. He lived to be a few days short of 103 years old, taught LIVAN! the curve and wore an outstanding t-shirt along with his curly W cap. Then he died and about a year later, our sweet land of liberty and his homeland resumed diplomatic relation. Marrero, no relation to Chris, died and all of the sudden, we’re cool with Cuba again. His sacrifice made this happen, if only by his astute fashion sense.

Here’s more:

So, despite what you have read elsewhere Chapman to the bullpen would be wonderful, is impossible and still only the third best Cuban connection in Washington baseball history. Don’t forget that, ever.

Now, it’s onto August and hopefully a Mets team that outright quits while the Nats wait to get healthy in the hope that maybe it’ll work out better in the fall.

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