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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.")

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 8, 2009; 7:55 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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'"More like Triple A baseball, the way we were executing," Ray Knight said.'

This is insulting to the AAA players.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 8, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Was a cyber attack by North Korea responsible for the Chat Fail yesterday?

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | July 8, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

oww and wow.
Thats all I can say.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 8, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I left the DC area a year ago for Atlanta. Here, the mediocre Braves are treated like a team the city doesn't want, often times with more anger than anything else. It is nice to check in on my Nats daily and see a team that the city doesn't want, but not with anger, with despair and a bit of a sense of humor... until you remember how much that stadium cost.

Posted by: law3 | July 8, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

If I were convinced they could lose frequently in a spectacularly bumbling fashion I might start watching Nats baseball.

Posted by: boutros23 | July 8, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"3) Joe Beimel fields a custom-made double-play ball, and throws it to a middle fielder standing on some random patch of dirt, who relays it on to first for a bing-bang-bong everybody's safe."

I'll add something to this. If you watched the game, they showed a replay where as the ball was going up the middle and Beimal picked it up, Harris at second was moving toward second base to get the ball. He was at the base just as Beimal turns around, but it was supposed to be Guzman's cover, so Harris backed off.

Much of the blame seems to be given to Beimal, but the actual fault here lies with Mr. No-Cup Harris. He's already at the base. It doesn't matter whether it was Guzman's cover, it was Harris' responsibility to call Guzman off and initiate the double play turn. Guzman slowed up getting to second expecting this, and Beimal threw it to Harris expecting this. Instead Harris backed off the base. Carpenter stated during the broadcast that Harris was only "backing up the play", which was wrong (and neither Dibble nor the post game crew corrected this) and only shows how poor sometimes the MASN analysis of the Nats has been.

Posted by: prokaryote | July 8, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"who relays it on to first for a bing-bang-bong everybody's safe." haha I can't help laughing, great line

Posted by: Moco1 | July 8, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Morgan had such a cushion at third that he could have stolen home, went in the dugout, grabbed his glove and then came back out and caught the pitch.

Posted by: tha_prophet | July 8, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

My wife, after being forced to read this post, who was, fwiw, all region in softball back in the proverbial day:

Her: "Are the Nationals in the Riverdogs' [our local single-A team's] league?"
Me: "No, they're in the Majors."
Her: "Like the Blue Jays?"
Me (luckily only thought): "The Blue Jays? You start with the Blue Jays as the archetypal MLB representative?"
Me: "Yep, or the Yankees or Mets. Yes."
Her: "Is there a mercy rule in the Majors?"
Me: "No, but I don't think it'd apply for really bad play."

Posted by: WorstSeat | July 8, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I plead ignorance because I did not see the game, and am a bit rusty on the rules and traditions of baseball. Doesn't the bumbling double play almost hearken back to the old "in the neighborhood" out at second base. It used to be that you really didn't need to be close at all at second to get the guy out, especially on double play attempts. The ball just had to be in the second baseman's glove with him at least in route to second before throwing to first. That distance has seemingly shrunk over the years, but one of those shots (pitcher perspective) looks like that would've been "in the neighborhood". Was Harris not close enough to at least get the second base out?

Posted by: law3 | July 8, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

.296 winning % and people still have jobs?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | July 8, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

.296 winning % and people still have jobs?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | July 8, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

from the photo, Harris isn't within even 3 feet of second, could even be 5 or 6 feet away, so that is definitely not in the neighborhood.

It is an amazing season, all those games early where the Nats would score 8 runs and lose. Now the team is losing just as often when the pitchers are able to hold the other team to 4 runs or less. This team is bad enought hat it might get first pick in draft 3 yeasr in a row. I don't see how it is going to improve much for next year.

Posted by: Pensfans | July 8, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: AWWNats | July 8, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I love the "a-team-the-city-doesn't-want" talk...please. Remember how excited everyone was to get this team? This is typical DC...a few bad seasons and you wanna get rid of 'em. It isn't a politician, it's a baseball team. Have fun while they suck so we can have even more fun when they are good.

Posted by: bizzleboy | July 8, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Exactly the words that came into my mind as I finished watching the game last night, "comedy of errors". Another in a long list of games lost if we performed to even average level of professionalism.

Posted by: gatsu | July 8, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I try so hard to back these guys.... so hard. It's near impossible. I bet some of the softball teams that play on the mall could give them a run for their money.

Posted by: epostell | July 8, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

epostell is by far the biggest Nats fan I know of. Sorry bud. At least you're not betting on this team like me. Ugh...

Posted by: Barno1 | July 8, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

What is the record of the Nat's AAA affiliate? If they are better, then all the position players should be promoted and replace these over-paid lame ducks (including Zimmerman!). At least the AAA players will play hard and honest defense which is all the pitchers are asking for! Pitiful! I saw only one play in the game and turned it off right when Zimmerman grounded into a double play with no outs and the score tied 4-4! All he had to do was sacrifice to advance the runners for Dunn, but nooooooo!!!!

Posted by: JohnWWW | July 8, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Two things that piss me off: North Korea and Austin Kearns

Posted by: chillsonic | July 8, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"...who relays it on to first for a bing-bang-bong everybody's safe."

Heck, after this game, I NEEDED a bong...

Posted by: Juan-John | July 8, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Have fun while they suck so we can have even more fun when they are good" my mantra now. Thanks, biz.

Posted by: Chris_Tecala | July 8, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm 53 years old. Is it too much to ask to see September pennant-race baseball (much less postseason baseball) in this town in my lifetime?

Posted by: VPaterno | July 8, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Why, when the Morgan trade neccesitated getting rid of an outfielder, did we demote Elijah Dukes and not Austin "Can of Corn" Kearns? Anyone? Anyone?

Posted by: danacruikshank | July 8, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Kearns isn't really a player that you send either play him, try to trade him, or release him...

JohnWWW, I'll take what you said with a grain of salt in hopes that it was mostly a joke. Yes, let's send everyone down, especially our only All-Star who is on pace for 30 HRs, 200 Hits, and 100 RBIs. Good call. Genius.

Posted by: bizzleboy | July 8, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh man, I forgot about the "can of corn" call from Dave Jageler. I was calling him Can of Kearns all year after that.

This stuff will all be funny one day, right?

Posted by: JohninMpls | July 9, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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