At Least the Nats Are Trying Hard
Getting all of it out of my system before Write Only Good Things About the Nats Week begins....
It's frequently been said that the Nationals try hard. This is a good thing, if the alternative is trying soft. A decent portion of any fan base will, in fact, be satisfied by trying hard, especially by trying one's hardest, because you can't try any harder than that. Which means the only things holding you back would then be bad luck, cosmic curses and exploding sausages.
To some, though, "trying hard" is it's own kind of indictment. Because if you're trying quite hard and you're still as successful as a Kosher butcher in Dubai, then the effort is sort of irrelevant. I mean, George McGovern tried hard. Gilbert Arenas's knee cartilage has tried hard. The newspaper industry is smack in the middle of a particularly nasty bout of trying hard. Do or do not, one might say; there is no try.
Regardless, I scrolled back through the archives to make sure that through this entire ordeal of a season, the Nats have, in fact, been trying hard on defense. Those times, plus a few other explanations for poor defense or general badness, are collected below.
* Yesterday, Elijah Dukes allows two fly balls to land over his head.
"Well, in his defense, he's not a natural centerfielder," Manny Acta said. "Those balls were hit pretty good, and would I want him to catch every one of them? Yes. But he did make an effort."
* Yesterday afternoon, Manny Acta discusses his job status.
"They're playing hard," he said. "That series in Tampa was proof of it, and that's all we can ask for."
* June 10, Josh Willingham, playing out of position, drops a fly ball.
"I thought he did well," Manager Manny Acta said of Willingham's performance. "He had some good at bats. He read the ball good in the outfield. He dropped one, but it wasn't like he misplayed it. It takes a lot of character and courage for a guy like him to make the decision to take a few days and be out there game time and get it done."
* June 5, a blooped ball lands between Cristian Guzman and Adam Dunn in shallow left field.
"Guzman thought that the ball was far out there," Manny Acta said, "and the ball had some type of backspin and kept coming back (toward the infield). And he just, you know, was pointing at it thinking the ball was over there by Dunn, and we spoke to him and said, 'Go for every ball.' "
* June 2, Nats win!
"Those guys are trying," Manny Acta said. "It'll get better."
* May 31, the team takes extra infield practice.
"Isn't Nick a good first baseman?" Manny Acta asked. "He's got five errors. Isn't Zimmerman a great third baseman? He's got six. And they're working. So, you tell me? Keep on working. Keep on working."
* May 30, Adam Dunn makes two errors.
"He tries hard," Manny Acta said. "He plays wherever we ask him to play. But I don't think anybody didn't know that he's a power threat, an offensive player."
* May 30, Anderson Hernandez botches a grounder.
"Nothing lack of focus," Manny Acta said. "The grass, the ball kind of snaked a little bit because of the way the grass is cut. It's a weird play when you're playing in the grass with Howard [because of the infield shift] and he just booted the ball."
* May 20, Adam Dunn misses all available cutoff men and throws the ball into the ground.
"I think all of you guys are witnesses here," Manny Acta said. "These guys, they work hard on everything....[Dunn] works hard, he gives us the best, but here and there he's going to be short defensively."
* April 28, Alberto Gonzalez is optioned to the minors after a spate of errors.
"I don't know what happened," González said. "I'm still working."
* April 25, the Nats make three errors.
"You know, the plays that we're not making are not lack-of-effort plays," Adam Dunn said. "They're not plays for lack of fire...I think everyone is out there playing hard, it's just we're making mistakes that obviously a big league team should not make."
"I've been here for three years now, so I can control my emotions, because I know a lot of these kids -- or all of them -- are trying hard right now to do good," Acta said.
* April 12, the Nats lose after suffering two passed balls and a flyball lost in the sun.
"We're out there and everybody is playing hard, which is obviously a plus," Adam Dunn said. "I can safely say that nobody is not playing hard, because they are. The effort is there."
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