Thursday, April 21, 2005

To Err Is Human, To E6 Is FanFreakinTastic

What a freakin' miserable day for a miserable freakin' ball game. It was cold, windy, constantly rainy. I think I now have pneumonia, or some sort of ailment. And it was all for naught.

I really don't know who to make the Lame Duck. It's really a tossup in my mind, so I'll throw it out to the crowd, even though I suspect I know where you'll go! (Just leave your choice in the comments)

To me, the choice is like a bizarro 1985 MVP race. That year, Rickey Henderson got on-base like some sort of omnipotent being. And Don Mattingly knocked him around like he was Wil Cordero's wife. Who gets the award? The man who does the setting-up or the man who does the delivering?

1985 Don Mattingly: Cristian Guzman

-- A soul-crushing, hands-on-your-head, gutteral-NOOOO-inducing throw.
-- A miserable craptacular offensive performance with another pointless sacrifice.

-- The field was as sloppy as I've ever seen it. You could literally see the lights reflecting in the puddles on the infield.
-- It was a bad throw, but Nick Johnson probably could have done a little more to knock it down, or come off the bag sooner. Ron Darling said that the mud was caked on the ball when he threw it, which would be a big factor.
-- I was at the game, and I thought that Vidro gave up on the play -- that he didn't make an A+ effort to get to second for the game-ending forceout to give Guzman an out. Watching the replay, I'm not sure if that was the case.

1985 Rickey Henderson: Chad Cordero

-- After trying to give up the game last night, he did his damnedest to do it this afternoon.
-- Walked the freakin' go-ahead run!
-- Allowed hits to the first and third batters on 0-2 pitches. 0 and freakin' 2! And neither hit was a blooper. The second hit was so hard, in fact, that Chipper didn't even think about scoring on it.
-- Is it really fair to give an arsonist credit for fighting a fire?

-- Sloppy balls in his hands.
-- If Guzman makes the play, he survives.

As the obnoxious TV personality says, "What Say You?"

WTF Frank Senior Moment
Frank Batting Guzman second no longer qualifies under this category. It's just accepted, much as gravity is.

4th inning nil-nil. Brad Wilkerson leads off with a double and Guzman bunts him to second. I turn to my friend and start whining.

I know I have some bunt fetishists amongst my readers, so let's walk through it. We're going to make some assumptions that we can hopefully all agree on.

1. Guzman hits mostly groundballs.
2. A ground ball hit to the right side would move Wilkerson to third.
3. When he bats left-handed, as he did against the right-handed Smoltz, he's more likely to hit a ball to the right side.
4. There's a chance that a ball hit to the right side could produce an error or go through the infield for a hit.

Given that, why have him bunt? He's probably going to slap it to the infielder anyway, and the net result would be the same.

If they had let him swing away Wilkerson might move to third, or if the Gods are in a particularly zany mood, might even come around to score on a grounder to the outfield.

Even worse, the bunt contributed nothing. The run scored, but it would have regardless of the bunt. Jose Vidro scorched a grounder to Marcus Giles, which held Brad. And Jose Guillen's base hit, would've scored Wilkerson from second anyway.

The bunt contributed zippo to the inning, other than an easier-than-usual Guzman out.

Other Nats Crap

--They've made some improvements to the game-watching experience. The music is much quieter. They now display the game performances of batters on the video screen. Pitch speed is now displayed on the god-awful K-Kounter. And the centerfield ribbon boards each display a different league's out of town scores, instead of mirroring each other. Well done!

--John Patterson looked solid. He had 5 Ks, but none after the third inning, relying on a bunch of groundouts. He seemed really uncomfortable with the footing on the mound, but he survived.

--Hector Carrasco looked solid in his season debut. (His first game since 2003) I was surprised that Frank threw him right out in the fire, but he definitely earned a second look at filling the job that Antonio Osuna was signed for.

--Bobby Cox made a double switch to bring in Andruw "Gold Club" Jones and Danny Olb ('Cause there's no K, Vidro excepted) in the place of Ryan Langerhans (who really needs some more As in his name to be authentic). Jones made a terrific sliding catch off a Carlos Baerga liner. Langerhans isn't bad, but I'm not sure if he would've had that one. If that drops, we've got the tying run on first, or maybe second. It didn't. And we didn't.

--Blogger is a tool of satan. And it's post-eating ways must be destroyed. This is about the third time I had to write this. Thankfully, I had some of it saved!


  • I think my comments in the open thread probably make it clear who I think the lame duck should be.

    If not, my co-workers could attest to my anguished cries.

    But, just in case you missed it, I'll reprise:


    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/21/2005 11:46 PM  

  • Okay, I've seen the highlight now. It was a fairly difficult play, it would appear, especially given the conditions. ESPN showed a close-up of Guzman's right hand bracing his fall and . . . coming up with a clump of mud in his hand. So, I guess Darling was right.

    If anything, the wise play might have been for Guzman to have just held the ball. Then again, he'd look like a wuss.

    Nonetheless, since Guzman is one of those perennial choices for Lame Duck, I'd say "Guzman." Cordero---what he did was not much different than what closers sometimes do, which is get in hot water and get bailed out by his teammates. His teammate didn't bail him out, so I say his teammate is the goat.

    Just saw Nat'ls Review Josh on The Four Letter, btw. Cool.

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 12:01 AM  

  • I'm going to go with Cordero. Understanding the conditions on the mound were suspect at best, however, Cordero was up 0-2 on Giles and decided to challenge him with a pitch right down the middle. Waste a pitch and hope he swings at it on 0-2 and if he holds off, you can challenge him on 1-2. The walks in th 9th by your closer are unacceptable unless your name is Mitch Williams, and the Nats really don't want a modern day Wild Thing.

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 7:53 AM  

  • I haven't seen a crowd ignore someone's sins like this since Barrabas! ;)

    It's 2-2! C'mon anonymous readers... chip in!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 8:26 AM  

  • I have been having trouble with Blogger too, but it is only eating part of my post.

    Also, this one is on Guzman. He is only in the lineup because of his fielding and he completely blew it. It looked to me like he panicked out there.

    By Blogger WFY, at 4/22/2005 9:16 AM  

  • Consider that Guzman also "contributed" last night in the inning that we scored. A real hitter in the #2 hole and that inning would have played out differently. Sure, maybe we'd have only scored one -- maybe we wouldn't have scored at all -- but I like our chances of putting more than 1 on the board a lot more if we're not spotting them an out.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 9:16 AM  

  • I'm not counting your vote twice Yuda! Stop stuffing the ballot box! :)

    Guzman certainly panicked. The best move clearly would've involved him eating the ball. And I think he had more time than he thought he did, but he hurried because his feet slipped.

    I just can't let go of the fact that the closer caused a bases-loaded 0 out situation. What's the run expectancy on that? 1.5 runs or so?

    3-2 for Guzman, so far!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 9:20 AM  

  • Last season, expected runs with the bases jammed and nobody out was 2.2897.

    We won't know what it was this season until the end of the year, obviously. ;)

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 9:54 AM  

  • Of note, Cordero got himself to bases loaded, two outs before the error with those strikeouts.

    Expected runs at the time of the error? 0.8276.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 9:54 AM  

  • I didn't realize it was that high. I would've guessed 1.8 or so.

    So, if it's 2.2 runs, can't we say that Guzman saved us .2 runs then? ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 9:55 AM  

  • Yeah, he gets credit for the two clutch Ks, but that's much less significant than the 3 runners he allowed.

    After a drunken night of debauchery, if your friend pukes on your shoe, do you give him credit for wiping it off?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 9:58 AM  

  • With apologies to Seinfeld [through clenched teeth, with disdain]:


    By Anonymous Nick doesn't stretch (apparently), at 4/22/2005 10:01 AM  

  • As much as I'd like to, I can't blame Guzman for that play. I was shocked he even got to the ball--it looked like a basehit to me--and coming up with a muddy handfull of ball it's really tough to fault him for a bad throw. I would've preferred if he had just held on to it and left us with a tie, but meh, I wouldn't be saying that if he made the throw. He was at least trying to win the game for us.

    In the Guzman-Cordero race, I have to cast my vote for Cordero--you can't let three men on base to start the 9th and blame someone else for a blown save. But I would also nominate the umps for the Lame Duck award. That game really should've been called, there were huge pools of water on the infield, it clearly was not in playable condition. And it's always more fun to blame someone who's not on our team.

    By Anonymous JamesL, at 4/22/2005 10:07 AM  

  • Unfortunately, I'm only awarding it to the players.

    Otherwise Big Frank would be at about 3 now! :)

    Actually, I'd probably give it to that L'enfant guy. That damn bastard built the city in a non-draining swamp!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 10:10 AM  

  • I clearly need to fire up the highlight reel...

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:14 AM  

  • ...yeah, still Guzman. He had time (not a ton, but enough) to make a better throw, even with a wet ball.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:19 AM  

  • Can we please give Joey Eischen an honorary Majority Whip for his ESPN quote regarding Peter Angelos last night?

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:20 AM  

  • What's the quote?

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:21 AM  

  • "He's just going to have to suck on it and like it."

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:23 AM  

  • replace "downloa" with


    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:24 AM  

  • Brilliant!

    (also, the full URL was there, just "hidden" under some white space. When I highlighted, it scrolled over and let me grab the whole thing.)

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:25 AM  

  • Hrm -- philosophical question:

    Let's say Guzman makes that throw. Do you give the MW to him for saving the game, or to Patterson for pitching lights-out for seven innings?

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:26 AM  

  • Patterson ... he pitched as well as the conditions would allow

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:27 AM  

  • I suspect you're trying to trap me Yuda, but it's Patterson in a pretty easy call.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 10:31 AM  

  • Well, according to local sports talk caller "Nationals Bill," the Lame Duck award should go to . . . John Patterson.

    That's right. Patterson.

    Sez Nats Bill: "I'm sick of these millionaire baby pitchers going six and seven when, when I was younger, the starters were tough and go eleven or twelve for a win."

    Aside from the issues that Patterson pitched a hell of a game, is not a millionaire by any stretch, and has an application to the Chronic Arm Damage club sitting on his end table, I guess Nats Bill has a point.

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 10:33 AM  

  • Disagree wholeheartedly with "Nationals Bill." His point about pitchers going longer is moot. They don't do it. They don't train that way in spring training. They are conditioned on their off days to work out enough to be ready to give 100-120 pitches. Patterson was at 105 after 7, he clearly tired and it would make no sense to bring him back out for the 8th. If he had "Nationals Bill" would have ripped Frobby for leaving him out there too long.

    A betterquestion is this, do you have to stick rigidly to your closer always comes in for a save situation in the 9th? Carrasco pitched well (and briefly) in the 8th. Would anyone consider it wrong to bring him back out for the 9th?

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:44 AM  

  • Carrasco looked solid, but I was shocked they threw him out there in a one-run game in the first place.

    I don't have any problem with bringing Cordero in in that situation. He IS our best reliever (hypothetically).

    It's not like they were bringing in Joe Mesa just because he's a 'proven' closer.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 10:46 AM  

  • I guess I'm just not a member of the camp that says you HAVE to bring the closer in every time. I as well thought Carrasco was an odd choice in the 8th but he seemed to be OK with the horrendous mound conditions whereas Cordero seemed uncomfortable out there. Just playing the 20/20 hindsight sportstalk question.

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:49 AM  

  • I think if you've got a (non-overworked) Ayala, say, you might leave him out there. But a one-run lead with the top of the Braves order coming up? You've got to go to Cordero, rather than the guy who's pitched for the first time in two years at the major league level.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:54 AM  

  • I have no problem with the fact Cordero was brought in yesterday but sometimes I think managers fall into a pattern of just going to closer regardless. Sometimes sticking with the hot hand is the way to go.

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 10:56 AM  

  • Oh, I agree 100%.

    I'm still hoping Carrasco can give us a decent season of middle relief -- and that he's rewarded for it with an NRI to next season's spring training.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 10:58 AM  

  • Yeah, Nats Bill is an idiot, apparently.

    The issue with bringing Carrasco out for a second inning is---and correctly if I'm wrong on this---that he's coming back from an injury year. If that's so, it might be reasonable for Robinson not to want to risk a stamina breakdown.

    Well, that and the conventional wisdom of course.

    And Chris, our best reliever is currently stationed in Double-A. ;-) (j/k)

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 10:59 AM  

  • "Rueckel Held Hostage" enters what day again Basil?

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 11:00 AM  

  • [hijack]

    It's on Day 37 or so. (That's a good idea, by the way. If I can figure out how to do a counter, maybe I can count upwards to the second on how long he's been "held hostage.") He was optioned out on March 16.

    By the way, I just noticed that Rueckel's father replied to me original post. Oh yeah! Feel the love!


    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 11:28 AM  

  • Cordero.

    Ninety percent of baseball is pitching. Cordero was the pitcher. He gets it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/22/2005 11:39 AM  

  • Actually, less than half of baseball is pitching. Half is hitting, and another portion is defense.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 11:39 AM  

  • Also, fantastic that Daddy Ruckles commented.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 11:42 AM  

  • Actually, it's "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical"

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 11:43 AM  

  • Ninety percent? Wow.

    Using the Bill James angle on the subject, that would mean that just about every position player of consequence could be had for dirt cheap.

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 11:45 AM  

  • Geez! What a grumpy bunch of literalists here! :)

    Take your frustrations out on Guzman, not my anonymous commenters! :P

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 11:47 AM  

  • Well, I think yesterday's game illustrates fantastically that you can't win with just pitching. You need the bats, and the defense as well.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 11:53 AM  

  • I'd settle for a closer who doesn't walk the go-ahead run and give up liners on 0-2 pitches, actually ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 11:54 AM  

  • Um, sorry, Anonymous. ;-)

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 11:55 AM  

  • Can we force Frobby to please please please please put Johnson back into the #2 hole permanently? Why the hell was Johnson batting 7th against a RHP?

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 11:55 AM  

  • I think we're getting close to the point where we need to sit FRobby down and have a talk like we would with Grandpa about the new home he's going to.

    (Especially before someone finds him wandering around Anacostia in his underwear!)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 11:57 AM  

  • Chris - I think it's time for co-lame ducks. Spread the love to both Chad and X-tina

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 12:10 PM  

  • I'm hesitant to split it. I'm nearing a decision though...!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 12:27 PM  

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