How the Nats Lost Last Night
Yesterday evening, I wrote that one of the reasons you have to keep watching this baseball team every night is because of the chance "that you'll see something the universe has never seen before." That was well-timed.
"In a weird, out of body experience way, I'm glad I got to see a sequence of somethings that I'm not sure anyone has ever seen before or could ever see again," one Nationals Journal commenter wrote not six hours later. It was definitely compelling in its own way. I missed the grounder that Ben Goessling brilliantly said "hit Willie Harris in his, uh, Willie," but I managed to see the game's three other defining moments. (For full Willie Willie coverage, see The Nationals Enquirer, which grabbed the above image.)
1) Cristian Guzman kicks a ground ball from the third base side of shortstop all the way over to the second base bag, allowing a runner to advance from first to third.
TV Reaction: "That might be the second ball in this series that hit him in the leg," Bob Carpenter said. "That is not fundamental defense right there. You're speechless, aren't you?"
"I...can't describe that play," Rob Dibble said. "I don't think I've ever seen that at this level. He didn't even get his glove down low enough for it to hit his glove....Honestly, if I saw that and I'm Manny Acta, I, I would have pulled him off the field and put Alberto Gonzalez there."
"See, you know what I think Rob, I think that's what happens after you play all those years on Astroturf," Carpenter attempted to argue. "There's never a bad hop. Guys get into nonchalant habits."
"No, that's just lazy right there," Dibble said. "There's no excuse for that....I'm not buying that. He has not been on turf in years. That was just lazy."
"Well I'm not blaming the turf," Carpenter conceded. "I'm blaming the player."
Glad we got that straight.
Online reaction: "Hey, Goozie. They've raised the postage a couple of cents. So it's 43 cents next time you decide to mail it in."
Bad joke: And now, "Gold Cup tonight at RFK" can be applied to both Guzman and Harris. Get it?
2) Austin Kearns takes off for second, is picked off, dives midway to the bag as if he were sliding towards an imaginary middlebase, and eventually is tagged out, allowing a Rockies reliever to get a win without throwing a pitch.
TV reaction: "We'll try to figure out how to describe that while we go to the bottom of the eighth," Carpenter said.
Online reaction: "Kearns should resign."
Best version: This yakety creation.
3) Joe Beimel fields a custom-made double-play ball, and throws it to a middle infielder standing on some random patch of dirt, who relays it on to first for a bing-bang-bong everybody's safe.
TV reaction: "And right back to Beimel," Carpenter said hopefully. "Gotta be two. And they miss it. Guzman had the ball sail by him, caught by Willie Harris. And that is un-be-lievable. You couldn't ask for a better double-play ball back to the pitcher....And folks, we're trying to sit here and not feel like this game is slipping away, but it's really tough right now."
"I think the only person trying tonight is Manny Acta," Dibble said at some point in here. "I don't know about the rest of the guys. Eeeesh."
Online reaction: "the ol' 1-4-3 FC? [expletive] this team sucks. send them back to montreal!" (via @needham_chris)
The onslaught continued in the post-game chatter, which included what might have included the most distraught comments from a team's paid announcers that I've ever heard. Among the highlights:
"And there aren't many nights lately when we've been able to say the Nationals did not deserve a ball game. They did not deserve this one tonight," Carpenter said.
"Incredible the way they lost this ballgame," Johnny Holliday said, later adding "this was like a highlight film of Major League Baseball with plays gone wrong."
"More like Triple A baseball, the way we were executing," Ray Knight said. "And the errors tonight were just stupid errors. They weren't forced errors. It's just like throwing away the basketball when you're coming down the court, the guy's standing wide open and you throw it over to the coaches....[The botched double play], I don't know what happened here. I mean, you just can't do that. This is the Major Leagues, you work on that day in and day out in spring training. It makes me sick."
And in Nats Journal comments, we got stuff like this:
"All ABOARD to DFAtown....This team promotes alcoholism....there are no words....C'mon, people, lay off these guys. They could have been content to be just mediocre or lousy. But, no, they've chosen to make the extra effort to be truly craptastic. Where's your gratitude?"
And that's just one of the reasons why you have to tune into the games every night. Because you never know.
(Here's how the Denver Post summed up the night: "There was no Barnum and no Bailey. But there was an Austin -- he was the guy who stumbled on the pickoff play -- and a Willie, who took a bad-hop groundball to the groin. There was no bearded lady. But there was a bearded reliever who threw to the wrong infielder at the worst possible moment. Welcome to the circus, where the Rockies beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Tuesday night under the tent at Coors Field. It felt more like an oddity than a victory.")
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