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Didn't Make the Paper, Volume V

Press box temperature when I walked in: 48 degrees. God help anyone coming out here tonight.

Much hallabaloo about last night's DirecTV/MASN snafu. Please read one of the many independent blogs about this fiasco (Capitol Punishment, the Ballpark Guys message board, etc.) if you're interested in in some real rage.

I know some people are upset with me for not reporting on this more heavily. Had that pesky game to cover while this was going on. Here, though, is what MASN spokesperson Todd Webster told me last night (didn't have room for quotes in my brief notebook item, which also included the news that DISH Network customers now have MASN).

Webster said DirecTV was under the impression the game should be blacked out. Not sure why. MASN/DirecTV flooded with calls. Someone realizes the obvious gaffe. Flip is switched midway through the game. "MASN took corrective action," Webster said.

Take that for what it's worth. But as Chris at Capitol Punishment points out (, isn't it about time the entire team/network/food service/city gets stuff right consistently, regardless of whose fault it is?

With the MASN news, that tiny Bernie Castro-suspended-for-failing-a-drung-test item got cut down in my notebook in the $.35 paper. Here's GM Jim Bowden:

"In 2005, he violated the minor league drug policy. Since then he was purchased to a major league contract and never served his suspension from '05. So therefore once we outrighted him off the major league contract, he was now back under the minor league policy, which means the 15-game supssiension he was supposed to serve a couple years ago he serves now."

In 2005, Castro was with the Orioles. With that swing he had, he might be playing in your softball league on the Mall by the end of the summer (depending, I suppose, on what your softball league's drug policy is).

Also talked to Bowden a bit about the decision to move Emiliano Fruto to the starting rotation at Class AAA Columbus (which had its game against Indianapolis postponed yesterday). Here, again, is the GM.

"He's got three pitches. We're short of starting pitchers. We know he can go back to the bullpen. He may be up here in the bullpen at some point. But in the meantime, we need to try to keep developing young starting pitchers. He's got three pitches. The stuff's there. Now whether or not he can handle it, we'll find out. Our development people strongly recommend doing it, but that doesn't mean he won't come up here and pitch out of the bullpen."

He's only 22, and he started 30 games in the minors, but the Mariners felt he couldn't concentrate long enough for six- or seven-inning outings. Maybe he has matured.

Harrisburg lost to Reading yesterday in Class AA action, 7-6. The first start for stud prospect Collin Balester: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. But the problem: Closer Zech Zinicola gave up two runs in the eighth, blowing a lead.

At Class A Hagerstown, top hitting prospect Chris Marrero went 2 for 5 with a double and is 4 for his first 9 on the season, and Justin Maxwell went 2 for 5 with a homer.

Oh, and apparently there's some BREAKING NEWS: There was a scoring change in Shawn Hill's start on Tuesday. Why we're finding this out now, I have no idea. But remember that mess of a first inning, in which Hill hit Hanley Ramirez to start the game and then Dan Uggla hit a ball to Josh Wilson at short, and Wilson tried to shovel the ball to Felipe Lopez at second to start a double play, but the ball never arrived? Official scorer David Vincent (a huge SABR guy and home run historian/guru) originally ruled the play a fielder's choice with no error and no hit. Four runs ended up coming home that inning, and three of them were earned (Dmitri Young made an error later in the inning).

Well, at some point between the end of that game and now -- and, judging by the email that I just received, it happened on Wednesday -- Vincent changed the scoring from a fielder's choice to an error on Wilson. This makes only one run that inning earned, and Hill now gave up two earned runs in five innings for an ERA of 3.60 -- or exactly half of what we had been working with, 7.20.

So disregard the starters' ERA of 9.67 I put in the $.35 edition of the paper. Instead, it's 8.87. But who's counting?

Tonight's lineup. Note the bottom of it, which prevents all those lefties in a row.

Lopez SS
Casto LF
Zimm 3B
Young 1B
Kearns RF
Church CF
Belliard 2B
Schneider C
Patterson P

And, finally, something to warm you up, courtesy of Mark Zuckerman of The Washington Times. Tony Armas's first start of the year for the Pirates:

4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 89 pitches.

Enjoy the game.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 7, 2007; 2:46 PM ET
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Next: Day of rest?


Given the starting pitching debacle, perhaps DirecTV/MASN has the right idea blacking out the first few innings and saving us the agony.

Posted by: Darrin | April 7, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Williams did well last night...the problem was, through the first few innings (and most of the game) Owings did just as well.

Posted by: Andrew S. | April 7, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

Thanks for the update on MASN2....I take it you have no plans to ask Stan about yet another mess? Hope you can at least ask him if he is worried about how wrong he has been about the teams ablity to compete so far....Remember the quotes he has on record about how wrong we all are about the quality of this team and 100 loses? Use them at some point please.

Posted by: JayB | April 7, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update Barry, and good luck staying warm tonight.

Pretty funny about Armas. I can't say that I miss him or any other of our pitching staff from last year at all, though I did see that Ortiz had a nice outing the other day. I am currently just hoping that we can do something similar to the Marlins last year where they started off terrible and then settled down and made a bit of a run. We probably won't be as good as they were, but I do expect that some of these defensive lapses we have been seeing will stop and the pitching situation will shake out a bit and they will all settle down and be reasonable (ERA < 6, anyway...). We'll see, I guess.

Posted by: Brewer | April 7, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Strange that it took so long, but GOOD. Wilson's shovel move was an error on my scorecard, too.

If he had needed to make that move to get the ball there in time, fine. If he had the stuff to make that play successfully, also fine. But he didn't and he didn't and he messed up.

I think Wilson has promise, but in the handfull of times I saw him in spring training and from what I've seen of him up here I think he needs more of something. Is it time, brawn, brains? I don't know, but he still looks triple-A to me. Every time I see him play I see him make at least one bonehead move.

Posted by: i hate walks | April 7, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Austin Kearns had a horrible night. Ronnie Belliard was asleep at the switch too. I say we get a doctor to prescribe Ritalin to Kearns and Belliard. Hey, let's bring up Fruto and give him some too! That way all three can focus into the late innings.. I must say Williams is the best pitcher I've seen so far. With a little defense behind him, and a little offense in front of him, we might have had a win.

Posted by: 6th and D | April 7, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse


If you are up for asking tough quesetions, how about asking Mannie why his team is so poor at basic, fundemental baseball? Poor Baserunning, Not covering bases, missing cut off men, running into outs on the bases, it gets worse each night.....Ask what he is doing about it please!

Posted by: JayB | April 7, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

More arm chair analysis: Three pitchers that the Nats considered but did not sign this winter pitched this Saturday - Trachsel 6.2 IP, 3 ER (not bad), 92 Pitches; Ohka 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 83 Pitches; Armas 4 IP, 6 ER, 89 Pitches. What does it prove? As usual nothing. Except that paying less for the pitchers we have did not necessarily leave us worse off than signing these rejects. (Although I think I would like to have Ortiz and Trachsel and I think it is false to claim that you are financially able to invest more in your future by not paying for the right to have players of this stature. You would only need to sell 2000 more tickets at $20 per home game to pay for Ortiz.)

Posted by: D. Frenzy | April 7, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Your math is off, DFrenzy, but your point is good--there is nothing for a casual fan to pay to see, and only Zimmerman for the serious ones, on this team. But that's not what concerns me most. The apparent lack of attention to detail at virtually every level -- from running into outs and walking leadoff hitters, to tickets a month late, to no serious marketing effort, to raw hot dogs and disorganized parking, and on and on -- is a reliable indicator in any business of later success, or lack thereof in this case. We are a week into the season, and already starting to tote up metrics of historic failure (down 4-0 EVERY DAY??)

Posted by: Cevans | April 8, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"ONLY 2000 more tickets EVERY GAME" to see Ortiz?? I wish they had more pitching, too, and I'm sure Ortiz is a swell guy, but get a grip, he is not going to get 162,000 tickets sold.

Posted by: willie gandabol | April 8, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm big time into the Skins, but baseball was my 1st love so I'm doing more this year than just wearing my Nats hat to be a fan. I live about 2 hours from DC on the Virginia side of things, but I've managed to make it to a couple games at RFK the past two years. I should go to more though, cause the Nats are a whopping 5-0 at games I've been to.

Posted by: Dorf | April 8, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if Mr. Vincent actually paid attention to the game rather than spouting out home runs, he would have seen the obvious error. It doesn't take a genius to score a baseball game and Mr. Vincent seems to remind people of that on occasion.

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