posted by Chris Needham at
First week of the season notwithstanding, it's time for some drastic measures or we're looking at 40-and-122. Cut FLoP, bench PLoD, demote a couple of pitchers (it really doesn't matter who) and tell Manny to flip over a buffet table or two in the clubhouse (after making sure Ray King and DaMeat aren't lined up for the free roast beef). Clearly, the Plan, such as it is, isn't working. This team blows.
By Friend of STAN, at 4/09/2008 9:31 PM
Yeah, but we have a new park.
By Deez Nats, at 4/09/2008 10:06 PM
By Suz, at 4/09/2008 10:20 PM
In case you were wondering, here's what some of the "would be" Nats did tonight:Grady: 2-5, SBVladdy: 1-3, 3-R HRB. Phillips: 2-4, 2 R, BBJason Bay: 3-5, 2 R, RBI, BB, HRThink any of those guys could be helping us? Too bad Bud and the Conspiracy of 29 wouldn't let us have them.
By Steven Biel, at 4/09/2008 11:19 PM
I attended my first game in the new park tonight. A couple of random observations:- Jason Bergman actually looked terrific the first time through the order (it took him only nine batters), and his Strike/Ball ratio was awesome. It's something I don't really understand how the "wheels can come off" so darn quickly- why'd it take so long until a relief pitcher?- why does the scoreboard show the speed of pitches only about 1/2 the time?- I've been a big fan of Milledge but I was unimpressed at his sloppiness: (a) he made a lousy throw from the outfield that missed the cutoff man (but no harm done); and (b) in the 8th, when he was on first with 3-2 and 2 out -- he took a nice jog with the pitch instead of really running. Yes, they were down by tons at that point, but that's no excuse- Belliard made a great play on a hard hit ball that led to a 4-6-3 DP- Zimmerman got a gift from the scorekeeper -- he muffed a ball which was called a single. From where I was sitting it seemed like an error; later in the game Nick Johnson saved him from a throwing error- concourses, noticably wider (my 13 year old daughter made that observation)- the tickets were a gift from somebody, part of a season ticket plan, and so I had free parking in lot K. Driving in was a breeze. I'm happy that the press made it sound like it's too crazy to drive -- makes it easy for those who _do_ drive (well, _if_ you have parking)
By A DC Wonk, at 4/09/2008 11:26 PM
I went to my first game tonight also. Stadium feels like an airport to me. Outside, sorry, is ugly. A lot like the gross convention center off Mt. Vernon Square. It just screams "corporate."Someone needs to tell Stan that we have some HOF players who actually played in DC. They have "tributes" to players on the pillars in the concourse, and I walked all the way around and maybe I missed it but I saw at least 5 Yankees but no Frank Howard or Walter Johnson or even Frank Robinson.Nats take BP before fans are allowed in the park. If you arrive at 5:30 you get to watch the visiting team. I don't know if that's typical now (I haven't gone to a game that early in 20 years) but it's ridiculous.You can see the capitol from a couple upper-upper deck corners of the park, but you have to look through some pretty heavy-duty smoke from the coal plant.Clint spent most of the game playing grab-ass with some chick I took to be his girlfriend and standing in front of fans trying to watch the game. When I wasn't booing I was yelling "hey Clint! down in front!" That dude needs to go back to the Duke lacrosse team or wherever we found him.
By Steven Biel, at 4/09/2008 11:42 PM
WADR, I disagree that "The Plan" isn't working. Clearly what's going on is that Stan et al are getting young guys, stocking the farm system, and -- as has been obvious from the start -- it ought to start bearing fruit in 2009 at the earliest.There were at least four out-of-this-world pitchers in Vermont last year. Now most are in Potomac or Harrisburg (and one was traded for another youngster by the name of Elijah Dukes). Last years' draft was the best of any team in the majors.Give it time. The Lerners don't want to spend money now because it'll be a waste (why spend tens of millions to get in a position to fight for third place? I don't see how any amount of money could make the Nats equal to the Nats, Phillies, or Braves at this point). My guess is that when these young 'uns come on up, we'll see some money spent.Zimmerman's only 23. Jesus Flores might only be a year away. Nick Johnson, hopefully will still be productive. Dukes (23)and Milledge (22) are pretty young and have real upside potential. Lots of folks are talking about Chris Marrero in the minors, and Burgess, Maxwell, Smolinski, and Daniel have good potential. And we have awesome pitching prospects -- I sure some of the following will be solid starters in the majors in 1-2 years (or worthwhile trade bait): Detwiler, Zimmermann, Smoker, Balester, Willems, and McGeary. (Write down those names: or, better yet, follow their progress in the minors -- I see Zimmermann got his first ever play in the Carolina league last night: 4 IP, no runs, 6 Ks).The Plan takes a few years. Patience, grasshopper, patience.
By A DC Wonk, at 4/09/2008 11:51 PM
"Stadium feels like an airport to me."Well, to each his own. I felt almost claustrophobic at RFK -- and so I really like the wide open spaces in the outfield concourses, and being able to walk to the vendors to get food, etc., and still see the action, and not have to watch out for fear of walking too fast or too slow, lest I bump into 47 people. (I had outfield seats -- hey, they were a gift, I'd never pay $29 for them on my own -- section 105, within 20 feet of two different home run balls). Walking around RFK felt like driving through rush-hour, and, as a commuter, I already hate driving through rush hour every single weekday.
By A DC Wonk, at 4/09/2008 11:59 PM
@ Steven Biel:You didn't walk around enough. There are tributes to Frank, Howard, & Johnson. You can see the Capitol from many parts of the park. Uggg. Gawd, the whining...please make it stop. (Or at least get the facts straight.)Also, BOOOOOO!!11!!!!
By Sean, at 4/10/2008 12:03 AM
Steven Biel-Frank Howard, Frank Robinson and Walter Johnson are definitely there.
By Brick, at 4/10/2008 12:07 AM
"Jason Bergman actually looked terrific the first time through the order (it took him only nine batters), and his Strike/Ball ratio was awesome. It's something I don't really understand how the "wheels can come off" so darn quickly."I heard or read an interview with Bergmann recently where he said that one of the things he was hoping to improve on this season was to get more ground ball outs and fewer fly ball outs. He wasn't doing that tonight. Even though he was getting them out pretty quickly the first four innings, many of those outs were on fly balls, a couple of them quite long ones. (Kearns made a good over-the-shoulder catch on one long one.) I really wasn't surprised when the wheels came off for him in the fifth. Pissed, but not surprised.
By An Briosca Mor, at 4/10/2008 12:07 AM
"Also, BOOOOOO!!11!!!!"I do believe tonight was the first time I actually heard the home team get booed since the Nationals have been here - and I sat through some lopsided stinkers last season in the 22 games I was at. And the booing tonight was well deserved, since these guys aren't playing up to the level they should be. They needed to hear that from the fans, and hopefully they'll take notice and start doing things differently. I only wish that the crowd had not dwindled so much by the end of the game that a sustained loud boo as they left the field was not possible.
By An Briosca Mor, at 4/10/2008 12:17 AM
Wow. I'm kinda glad that DTV MLB package screwed me out of seeing this game tonight.Even the Cubs@Pitt was interesting in extra innings.
By Bote Man, at 4/10/2008 12:43 AM
Considering the much warmer weather for last nights game, the crowd of 23,000 was even more pathetic than Monday nights 20,000.
By Anonymous, at 4/10/2008 6:57 AM
As bad as Kearns looks again this season with the bat, Zimmerman looks even worse. His obsession with hitting to the opposite field is killing him. When he came up at the end of the 2005 season, he pulled the ball and hit a ton. Then batting coach Mitchell Page taught him to hit everything to right field and now he looks pathetic. Most of his at bats result in weak fly balls and grounders to the right side.
By phil dunn, at 4/10/2008 7:04 AM
Box score says that Bergman got 6 fly ball outs and 5 ground outs. He also got three straight K's (end of third, and first two outs of the fourth).No, I think he looked pretty good those first four innings.
By A DC Wonk, at 4/10/2008 7:15 AM
True stories from the club seats:Numerous glitches in the stadium last night.1). Water leaking copiously from the celing in the 200 level club. 2). Lights not working in the men's room, and the handicapped john was busted.3). The $6.50 cheese pizza slice tasted like cardboard. 4). The lighting for the 2nd "N" in Nationals on the scorboard blew out around the 5th inning.5). The crowd couldn't have been less into the game.6). Oh, and the team sucks.For this I paid $55 a seat?
By bdrube, at 4/10/2008 7:41 AM
"Box score says that Bergman got 6 fly ball outs and 5 ground outs."Right. And based on the recent interview, what he's shooting for this season is to flip that ratio to something like 2 to 1 in favor of ground outs. He feels that this is what would make him successful where in the past he might not have been. Obviously he didn't do that last night. Another key for him (and any pitcher, for that matter) is to reduce the walk to strikeout ratio. He was doing that last night through four. But the thing is, it takes four straight walks to give the other team a run, but only one long fly ball to do it.
By An Briosca Mor, at 4/10/2008 7:42 AM
I agree, cut FLop. Bring up Justin Maxwell and play him in CF. Move Milledge to LF. Milledge is no centerfielder.
By phil dunn, at 4/10/2008 7:43 AM
"The lighting for the 2nd "N" in Nationals on the scorboard blew out around the 5th inning."The resulting dimness didn't seem to hurt the Marlins' bats any, did it?
By An Briosca Mor, at 4/10/2008 7:44 AM
For all the talk from the Nats about the great food they are now serving, they still foist that awful Papa Johns pizza off on their fans. It tastes like dried ketchup on a saltine cracker.
By Anonymous, at 4/10/2008 8:21 AM
Fine I take your word for it that Frank Howard, et al are there. Regardless, I shouldn't have to look at ANY Yankees at Nats Park.
By Steven Biel, at 4/10/2008 9:19 AM
What a disappointing performance...I was there on monday (another disappointing performance) and the food service people were a tad slow but that was to be expected...Noahs pretzels gets an A from me, but other soft pretzels tasted like plastic...FYI: Zimmerman on Colin Cowherd today (ESPN radio) wonder if he'll give at least some hope for the upcoming games.
By Lab2King, at 4/10/2008 9:39 AM
Re Steven B's comment on batting practice: it is common practice around the league that the home team takes BP first, then the visiting team, and the gates open while the visiting team is out there. The idea is that the home team gets their work in with fewer distractions.
By Carl the Big Fool, at 4/10/2008 9:43 AM
So last night was the first time I didn't go and watched on TV instead. I'm wondering which is worse for our image:(1) Having the seats right behind home plate empty, as seemed to be the case Monday, or(2) having those seats occupied by young lobbyist wanna-be tools, sent over by Central Casting, in their blazers and pink ties and not paying attention whatsoever to what's going on on the field.If you have a DVR and want to amuse yourself, hit "pause" as a pitch is in the air and look at how many people in the most expensive seats in the house don't have their eyes on the action.
By k, at 4/10/2008 9:53 AM
Re Steven B's comment on batting practice: it is common practice around the league that the home team takes BP first, then the visiting team, and the gates open while the visiting team is out there. The idea is that the home team gets their work in with fewer distractions._________Well then this is just more evidence that MLB doesn't care a lick about fans (why should they, since it's against the law to offer a competing product).Watching the Cubs take BP as a kid in Chicago at Wrigley was the best part of the game for me. I brought every player's baseball card, a sharpie pen, and tried to get as many autographs as possible till my dad made me sit in our seats. The game was way less fun than seeing Ryno and Bull Durham up close.
By Steven Biel, at 4/10/2008 10:26 AM
They're supposed to be opening up the stadium gates early enough this year to allow fans to watch the Nationals take BP. Are they not doing this? Whenever this has been promoted by Stan, it has never been stated but I have always assumed that they meant they will allow fans into the CF plaza and perhaps the scoreboard walk areas early to watch BP from there, but not into the seating areas of the stadium until the 5:30 gates-open time. Did you actually try to go in before 5:30 to watch BP and get turned away, or did you just read the 5:30 gates-open time and assume you couldn't get in before that?
By An Briosca Mor, at 4/10/2008 10:45 AM
I was there last night too. The park most reminded me of Atlanta's (I'm sure Stan had nothing to do with that). You still can't see a lot of the field from the concourses -- especially on the club level. Beer selection seems to be much less than RFK's. They've got Stella Artois & Bass on tap at most of the stands, but they don't have the multiplicity of specialty beer stands (e.g. Guinness/Harp, Blue Moon, Carlsberg, Dos Equis, etc.) that were at RFK.Bergmann looked good for the first 4 innings, but it sure took awhile for Manny to get someone up in the bullpen.Putting the scoring on the scoreboard after every play is a unique feature, but they have some idiosyncratic aspects to it. For example, denoting a sacrifice as "SB" for Sacrifice Bunt.
By Simon Oliver Lockwood, at 4/10/2008 11:07 AM
Nats website says this: Center Field gates will open 2½ hours prior to the start of the game, allowing fans into the Center Field stands and concourse areas to take in the Nationals' and visitors' batting practice. 1½ hours prior to the start of the game all other gates and areas of the park will open. I'm just going to assume from here on out that a lot of what SB writes isn't based on fact.
By Sean, at 4/10/2008 11:07 AM
"Jason Bergman actually looked terrific the first time through the order (it took him only nine batters)"...Brain..wants...to..explode!O.o
By Phishisgr8, at 4/10/2008 1:21 PM
Brain? Explode? First time thru the order only took nine batters?Thanks for pointing that out, one of the few times I actually laughed out loud today!What I meant, of course, was that he got through three innings by facing only nine men. Further, he struck out the first two guys in the fourth.I also ought to point out that he had 6 ground-outs, 5 fly outs, and 4 K's.I'm still amazed, however, at both how completely undone he became in the 5th, as well as how he was completely left out there. Not even a pitching coach visit to the mound. What's up with that? Yes, he was scheduled to lead off the bottom of the 5th, but do you leave a guy out to dry no matter how bad he performs? And, still, not even a coaching visit?
By A DC Wonk, at 4/10/2008 6:26 PM
And one more thing! ;-)After having zero teams in the Dominican Summer League, the Nats fielded two clubs in 2007, one of which won the DSL Championships.But, same theme: even if a number of these DSL guys make the majors, it won't be for a number of years.These things take time.
By A DC Wonk, at 4/11/2008 11:42 AM
Which flavor Kool-Aid are you drinking today?Grape? :)I'm a Purplesaurus Rex kinda guy, myself.
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Bitter rantings by a sometimes-analytical fanboy who loves the Washington Nationals, even though you probably can't tell 3/4 of the time.