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Adam Dunn: USA HR Hero (Mr. Personality?)

I hope that some Nats fans got to see Adam Dunn's two walks and two-run home run in the sixth inning which provided the eventual margin of victory in the U.S.'s 6-5 win over Canada in Toronto this afternoon in the WBC. Oh, he was the TV star, too. Lot of fun.

As the game went down to the final out, with the tying run on second base for Canada, TV kept cutting to reaction shots of Dunn in the dugout, cracking up his teammates as he took his own pulse __fingers to his neck__ because he was so excited by the game. He'd come out for defense (naturally) after his homer had given the U.S. a 6-3 lead.

"This was like a playoff game, even though I've never been in the playoffs...If the playoffs are better than this...," said Dunn, who had a perfect day at the plate, walking twice against Canada's Mike Johnson and scoring twice, including his homer over the leftcenterfield fence off Chris Begg on a pitch on the low-outside corner.

Asked about taking his own pulse as he watched the last pitches of the bottom of the ninth, Dunn said, grinning, "I get nervous...It doesn't get any better that that." He added that, when the U.S.A.team called the Nats earlier this week, "It was an easy decision. I knew I was going. I'm just excited to be here."

These quotes, by the way, were just written down hastily off TV. But for those who didn't see it, or tape it, I thought it would be better than nothing. The pitch Dunn hit out was a pitcher's pitch (maybe even a hair low-and-outside), but he still got it on the barrell and over the fence in the leftcenter power alley with room to spare.

A few days ago in Viera, Manny Acta said that the biggest surprise about Dunn since the Nationals signed him was "his personality. We didn't know he had one." A joke. But Dunn has gotten relatively little attention Cincinnati, which has been a grouchy baseball town in recent years and seldom seemed satisfied that whatever he did was enough. Since coming to the Nats, he's been very outgoing, especially since the club wants him to share some of the "face of the franchise" duties (and pressure) with Ryan Zimmerman.

Joel Hanrahan pitched the sixth inning for the U.S. and allowed a hit, a walk and one run on his own wild pitch.

Dunn has certainly had an odd career __278 home runs, far more than many famous sluggers at that age, yet it seemed that this may have been the most exciting moment of his baseball life. So far. He definitely enjoyed the theater with more than 42,000 in Toronto standing throughout multiple late-game rallies by Canada.

(Go, Netherlands!?)

By Thomas Boswell  |  March 7, 2009; 5:09 PM ET
 
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Comments

This kind of makes it hard to believe all that talk about Dunn's heart not being in the game. I bet he scared the crap out of Pete Orr breaking up that double play.

Posted by: petey5 | March 7, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

At 6'6, 240 I bet he's made many SS or 2Bs soil themselves going in to break up a double play.

What's not to like about the guy? He plays nearly every game (he averages around 155 games a year), he could probably hit home runs with a broomstick, and, believe it or not, his range factor is at or above the Major League average for LF.

Tack on they're paying the guy 10 million a year average (and only 8 million this year) when last year he probably would've commanded 15-20 million/year, and I'd say the Nats have plenty of reasons to smile.

Except for they're still going to come in 4th or 5th in the division.

Posted by: adampschroeder | March 8, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

DUNN, OBVIOUSLY HAS NOT EXPERIENCED THE PLAYOFFS IF THIS WAS HIS MOST EXCITING MOMENT...OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT. THE U.S TEAM ALMOST LOST TO {{{CANADA}}}.
DUNN WON`T HIT 40 DINGERS FOR THE NATS. WITH A LIFETIME 240 SOMETHING B.A., HE`LL KILL MANY A POTENTIAL RALLY. HITTING HOMERUNS IS GREAT..BUT WHERE IT IS KEY, IS WITH MEN ON BASE. HOW DOES HE DO IN THAT ASPECT? MOST MANAGERS ARE NOT TOO CONCERNED WITH SOLO SHOTS..BUT ARE WHEN THEY COME WITH MEN ON BASE.
THE MAJOR LEAGUE GAME IS PITCHING FIRST..IF YOU DON`T HAVE THAT..YOU WILL OFTEN NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. PERFECT EXAMPLES..LAST YEAR`S RAYS..AND THE 68(OR WAS IT 69) METS..WITH A TEAM B.A IN THE 220`S. BOTH TEAMS HAD OUTSTANDING PITCHING.

Posted by: blazerguy234 | March 8, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I watched the whole thing - a very exciting game. I liked Dunn's breaking up of the double play, too (though also I worried about Orr being injured - he probably saw his life flashing before his eyes). I commented at the time that I'd like to see Dunn do that to Chase (World *&!# Champion) Utley. I also liked Dunn's bit where he was breathing into his cap as though it was an oxygen mask.

p.s. Don't let Acta hear you say that about the Netherlands.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 8, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Mr. blazerguy - what if Adam "You're" Dunn is reborn? You just never know. And that is the beauty of spring where baseball life begins anew and everybody is dreaming about what if.

Posted by: mjwies11 | March 8, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

re: Cincinnati as "a grouchy baseball town" - you got that right. When I lived there I listened to the games on the radio. One of their announcers would just start tearing into the team whenever they were losing (pretty often). I was starting to hate the Reds by June, baseball by July, and life itself by August. DC may not be a great town for baseball, but at least its not a soul sucking pit of despair like Cincinnati.

Posted by: petey5 | March 8, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Blazerguy: "HE`LL KILL MANY A POTENTIAL RALLY"

You're right. The guy just gets on base 38% of the time for his career. Just last year he killed fewer rallies than all but 20 people in the majors.

But that requires you look at On Base Percentage, which you apparently do not. He had the 39th best Slugging Percentage, so he hits the ball REALLY HARD. And he's entering his prime years. Sure he strikes out a bit, but given the choice between a guy who gets on base a lot, hits for power and strikes out vs. a guy who DOESN'T get on base as much, DOESN'T hit for power but doesn't strike out, give me the guy on base.

You don't kill rallies by getting on base.

And you're right. Solo home runs are worthless. What manager in their right mind would want a run so cheaply?

Posted by: adampschroeder | March 8, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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