Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tonight's The Night

Got my tickets. Got my scorecard. Got my mittens. Gonna get some beer. It's gonna be a great night!

Despite being a cynical bastard here, I'd tab myself as more of an optimistic realist. I can love something with faults. (Maybe because with so many faults of my own, I need a patient person to love me back!)

My head tells me that the Nats are going to win somewhere in the 70s. But tonight's not about my head. It's about my heart. (and my gut full of chili nachos)

You know what? This team really could surprise. There IS a lot to like.

Ryan Zimmerman, protected by actual bats around him, has a chance to relax, work on his pitch recognition, and come close to that Ladson Triple Crown.

Nick Johnson picks up where he left off, getting on-base like a motherhumper, and stroking those line drives up into the jetstream to right that some are already mentioning.

Austin Kearns fulfills his promise and hits those 30 homers that Jim Bowden envisioned when he first drafted him years ago.

Cristian Guzman defies the naysayers, showing that his recent suckiness really was because he couldn't see or swing the bat without his shoulder popping out.

Paul Lo Duca pipes up, keeps the clubhouse in order and focused, while hitting .280 and driving in a bunch of runs with all the runners in front of him.

Wily Mo Pena gets healthy, hits 35+ bombs in 75% of a season, and fuels a long winning streak in June that makes us all recall 2005 fondly.

Elijah Dukes stays clean off the field and takes a step towards living up to the potential that made him a former top prospect.

Shawn Hill shows how tough he is, fighting off pain that's like a constant kick to the funny bone with every pitch, gutting out 140 ballsy innings with an ERA in the mid-3s.

John Lannan comes up in May and picks up where he left off, bedeviling opposing batters with an assortment of slop that adds up to greater than the sum of its parts.

Matt Chico's leg kick gives him the extra oomph on his fastball to raise the profile of his secondary pitches from 'meh' to 'not bad', allowing him to anchor the back half or the rotation with steady innings all season long.

Chad Cordero shows that the ballpark isn't a problem, pitching as effectively as he has each of the last three seasons, and approaching the franchise record for saves in a year.

Jon Rauch pitches in ninety games, racking up hold after hold, and stopping opposing rallies before they ever get a chance to begin.

Odalis Perez finds that a year in the NL and some work with Randy St. Claire is enough to spring him back three or so seasons when he was a legitimate mid-rotation starter, giving the Nats an effort like they got from Loaiza in 2005: Just enough to win, rarely enough to lose.

Would you bet against any single one of those things happening? None on their own seem too far fetched. What if a little magic happens? What if a new home, free from rats, and fears of having their cars broken into helps? Can't you just see it?


  • Game 163 is always the best one of the year . . .

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3/30/2008 11:52 AM  

  • I have them at 76-78 wins and Vegas has them at 71-72. The difference will be whether or not Hill pitches 20 + games.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2008 1:11 PM  

  • 40 degrees, packed house, this could be the closest the Nats come to a true World Series type atmosphere in many years! (although hopefully not that many...)

    Can't wait!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2008 1:33 PM  

  • "You know what? This team really could surprise."

    Started hitting the pre-game booze a little early this morning, eh Chris?

    I've got 'em pegged at 76 wins -- which doesn't mean I'm not hoping for a little magic this season, either. Who the hell knows?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2008 2:26 PM  

  • Wow! Such optimism leaves me speechless. I say 72 wins and Hill disappoints. But we see a base of players to build on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2008 3:44 PM  

  • You will like LoDuca...Milledge is a dog...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2008 7:44 PM  

  • I always knew you had a little kitteh in than doggy heart of yours, Chris.

    Anyway, you could have sent me the text file and I would have been happy to typeset that fake newspaper piece in InDesign to make it look legit. No, really!

    Post back when you thaw out from that glorious Nats Park opener.

    By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/30/2008 11:29 PM  

  • nice game. well, ugly game, but you beat the braves, so im happy. you all get gold stars.

    and great job by paul lo duca. i mean, he did have 3 weak ground outs and a pass ball to tie the game, but man, what a clubhouse presence!

    By Blogger Ken Dynamo, at 3/31/2008 12:03 AM  

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