I got a package in the mail today, addressed to my daughter. Now, I was trying to convince my wife that it would be mail fraud for us to open it, since it wasn't addressed to us, but her. I argued that we should wait to let her tiny, five-month old hands open the package herself. But, no. As is the all-too-frequent case, I lost. We opened it up. And what was in there? Tiny Nats socks, a pink "My First Nationals Tee" T-shirt, a baby cap, and a Curly-W bottle. Cute. So now the baby can get all jazzed and thrilled for the Nationals season. Unlike her dad.
But my lack of excitement was before I read Cousin Mark "Billy Carter" Lerner's opus magnum (or is that magnum opus?)... 50 things to look forward to in 2011
After reading that, everything is different.
HAHAHA. Almost had you there for a second. You don't come to this blog for serious analysis -- at least not in at least 5 seasons. You come here because you want to read an A-hole making cheap throw-away jokes. So here goes!
1. Opening Day. Packed house, a big win over the Braves. I had to list this first, right? (Yes, because you couldn't say this last year, could you?)
2. Jordan Zimmermann's evolution in first complete season since having Tommy John surgery.
3. The buzz at Nationals Park when Henry Rodriguez hits triple digits on the radar gun.
(Or the grumbles when he walks the bases loaded then gives up a bases-clearing double off the base of the wall)
4. The number of ways Jim Riggleman can pencil in Zimmerman, Werth, LaRoche in the 3-4-5 slots. Or will it be just one?
(3*2*1=6. But if you want to factor in all the potential double switches he could make, we could be here a while.)
5. Witness day-to-day Pudge's march toward 3000 hits.
(If you've ever wanted to experience what Sherman's march felt like from the other side...)
6. The new food options opening up during the season at Nationals Park. This won't be a small list.
(Wow! More places to spend money, and not pay attention to the lousy pitching! Huzzah!)
7. How much has Screech worked out this offseason? Will he again be svelte Screech?
(Note: This is No. 7 on the list of a major-league team)
8. Our outfield defense. You have to think it will be really strong under almost every alignment Rizzo and Riggleman come up with.
(This is Jim Riggleman we're talking about. Can't wait for the Morse/Ankiel/Stairs outfield)
9. Ian Desmond's defense. With a year of maturity and experience under his belt, and LaRoche's vacuum-like glove at first base, how many fewer errors will he make without compromising his elite range.
(I'll take overwrought superlatives for $400 Alex. Also: weren't only like 10 of his errors throwing errors? Some of those, nobody was getting to, so...)
10. Will Sean Burnett continue to be as good a left-handed middle reliever as there is in MLB? I bet he will be with continued good health.
(LOOGY FEVER: Expect It!)
11. Jayson Werth's professionalism and its affect on our clubhouse. And how his presence in the middle of our lineup will positively affect our run production.
(Wouldn't that first one be "effect" not "affect"? I assume the "How will we overcome Dunn's missing bat" question comes later.)
12. Roger Bernadina or Nyjer Morgan, who will have more bunt hits.
(Are we counting their stats in Syracuse and for the Long Island Ducks?)
13. Who will lead the team in hustle hits (aka infield hits)? My bet is on Ian Desmond. But watch out for Danny Espinosa, plus he gets more than half his at-bats from the left side.
(Who's going to hit weak squibbers the most? I can't WAIT!)
14. When will we see Rick Ankiel's legendary outfield arm pay dividends for the first time. Cannot wait.
(Legendary, huh? Arms are great, and a good one is exciting, but it's what? A 10 times a season sort of play?)
15. Will Tyler Clippard stick with "Peaches" as his intro song. Hope so.
(I wonder what Cousin Mark's intro song is)
16. How will Jim Riggleman use his bench, which is as talented and as deep as we have known here.
(Shouldn't that "use" be "overuse"? Morse... Yer outta there!)
17. How many pinch homers will Matt Stairs hit? How many of those will be game-changers.
(Far fewer than you're imagining... They'll really cut into that 5-run deficit)
18. Does Michael Morse put it all together? His prospects look good, don't they?
(No real mocking here, but the "He's the next Werth1!!!11" fanboyism is... well, just that)
19. How noticeable and tangible will our renewed emphasis on baserunning be? Should be really fun seeing a lot of first-to-third, first-to-home on a double, etc.
(Small Ball, FTW!)
20. See Livan throw a 'Bugs Bunny' changeup that registers in the low 60s on the radar gun?
(Low 60s? That's nothing. It's the 54 MPH ones that rock.)
21. Will Ryan Zimmerman win his 3rd straight Silver Slugger?
(Let's aim high!)
22. Can Ryan rightfully reclaim his Gold Glove? I bet "yes." Having Mr. LaRoche as a target won't hurt.
(Having him MOVE HIS GODDMAN LAZY FEET WHEN HE THROWS WOULD TOOO)
23. Interested to see Wilson Ramos' arm and, for kicks and giggles, ask Bob Boone how it compares to Pudge's when he was 23 years-old.
(Was Bob Boone alive when Pudge was 23? Wouldn't he have to ask Gus?)
24. With his new mechanics in mind, watch Ross Detwiler take the next step in his career (so far, so good this spring)
25. Watch who gets the majority of our saves.
26. Good weather, maybe highs in the 70s with plenty of sun, for Nats Fest on Wed., March 30.
(Take off work now!)
27. Want to watch the Mel Antonen, Tom Davis, Dave Johnson and Phil Wood pre pre-game show on MASN from 5-6:30pm weeknights. Also excited about Charlie and Dave on 106.7-WJFK FM. Good to be back on FM again!
(YEs! MORE PHIL WOOD!!!!)
28. Multiple All-Stars for the Nationals for the first time since 2005 (Livan, Chad Cordero).
(Hope you're not holding your breath)
29. With a small lead in hand, see who will pitch the 9th inning on Opening Day against the Braves.
30. Can Collin Balester clone his Sept. 2010 performance and reproduce it in 2011?
31. How many home runs will Bryce Harper hit in the minor leagues?
32. See who Mike Rizzo and his talented network of scouts pluck with the 6th and 23rd-overall selections in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
(Now that they're fully staffed)
33. Excited to experience F.P. Santangelo on MASN 10 times in 10 days during a May road trip.
(Is that an entendre?)
34. Time (via a stopwatch) how long it takes our fans to fall in love with Jayson Werth and Jerry Hairston, Jr. Oh, and Todd Coffey and his sprint?
(Wow! Jerry Hairston! Kids, it's Jerry Hairston!!!!)
35. Further good health and prosperity for Jesus Flores, who deserves both.
(Wait, is this a wishlist, or a reason to get excited???)
36. Fewer trips to the mound for Steve McCatty as our starting pitchers consistently go 7 innings.
(The pedant would point out that it's the manager who takes the SP out)
37. Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond become the best and most athletic middle infield tandem in the NL. Heck, why stop there. Let's say best in MLB.
(And hey, let's pretend that I was the one who was lucky enough to be born the son of a billionaire. Hey, pretending is fun! Where's my damn pony!)
38. Adam LaRoche to be named as one of the sneaky-good signings of the 2010-11 offseason.
(Wish list again?)
39. Perhaps have a young opposing player swing twice when seeing a vintage Tyler Clippard changeup for the first time.
(Vintage. I'm not sure that means what he thinks it does)
40. With most of Taiwan watching, have Chien-Ming Wang make the first of his 20+ starts for us in May.
(I WANTED A PONY!!!!)
41. Read about an opposing player like Chipper Jones, Chase Utley or David Wright lauding the consistent hustle and effort of your 2011 Washington Nationals.
(Yes. Meaningless platitudes in response to banal beat writer questions make the heart swell with pride every time. "Well, we beat their asses in, but they hustled, even when down by eight.)
42. Require a calculator to tally the number of errorless games we string together in 2011.
(Get your head out of the damn spreadsheet and watch a game for once, statdork!!!)
43. Watch to see how we grow as a franchise through the prism of social media.
(BUZZWORD goes here)
44. See if Nyjer Morgan can regain his 2009 Mojo.
(Can I reuse the Long Island Ducks joke here?)
45. Watch Danny Espinosa homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.
(That was totally awesome when Jeff King did it. I'll never forget reading about it!)
46. Have Livan Hernandez rightfully claim his first Gold Glove.
(Will he hit enough?)
47. See Tom Gorzelanny make 30 starts and regain his status as a double digit-game winner.
(While trying to ignore the 140 walks)
48. See winning records and postseason berths in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Auburn, Viera and the Dominican Republic.
(Hear that, coaches? Screw development. Ownership wants a winner!)
49. Be present as Stephen Strasburg pitches in mid-September, a la Jordan Zimmermann in Sept. 2010.
(Hear that Strassy? The owner's goofball son is urging you to hurry back!)
50. Will Teddy win? I sure hope so! Maybe I'll ask Todd Coffey if he can work with Teddy on the fine art of sprinting.
(At least this one's in the right spot... dead last in importance)