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End of the road

So this 10-day, nine-game odyssey ends today, and I'm not sure there's a soul in the clubhouse who isn't happy about that. A disastrous trip, and not really because the Nationals played wretched baseball. Sure, they have at times. But for the most part, they're competitive -- which is to say the games are close. They simply can't get a big hit. No way no how.

We'll use this space as a clearninghouse today. I'll try to get you in-game updates, but what we'll really have is an in-game chat, which starts at 1 p.m. back home, which is just before the game gets under way. All questions welcome.

Last night: You have to have a bit of a soft spot for Jason Simontacchi, who worked his way back from shoulder surgery nearly three years ago, played in Australia, Italy, independent ball, all over, and finally made another big league start. He pitched well, too, save for a poor 1-2 pitch to Prince Fielder (who I will call Cecil in print at some point, no doubt). But he gave the Nationals a chance to win, as it seems every single one of their pitchers does these days.

Today: Jason Bergmann against Claudio Vargas, the former National. This guy may have figured it out. But the Nationals are going to score seven runs in a game, right? Some day, some way, right?

There were some interesting things coming from Felipe Lopez last night in the game story (profanity edited out), which also covers the list of moves made yesterday. More interesting stuff from Robert Fick in the podcast. (Also, you'll note that the podcast page is now linked at the side of any game story or notebook on the Web site, with all those bells and whistles there too. There are links to the Journal as well, so hopefully this will help with navigation. The staff here at the Journal is working hard, and is always interested in feedback, so keep the suggestions coming. We've actually got more improvements on the way at some point, so stay tuned.)

Finally still more interesting stuff from Stan Kasten and Ray King in the notebook.

I'm headed to the clubhouse. Talk to you during the chat.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 9, 2007; 10:39 AM ET
 
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Next: End of road trip thoughts

Comments

"But he gave the Nationals a chance to win, as it seems every single one of their pitchers does these days."

I think there is a certain irony in the fact that the pitching, which was supposed to be so bad, has been okay and the hitting, which should be okay, has been abysmal.

Posted by: Dancer | May 9, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Don't think that the pitching has been good. We're still next to last in runs allowed per game, and nearly a run worse than the average NL team. It's not like we're the 1968 Cardinals all of a sudden.

Sure, it's better than the hitting, but that's not saying much.

Posted by: Chris | May 9, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I wonder where the team pitching would rank in runs allowed per game if you subtracted the blowouts during opening week?

Posted by: JennX | May 9, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"The Plan" is rapidly turning into a HUGE tactical mistake. Turn on Comcast Sporstnet, for example, and the latest pimple on the behind of a second string Redskins offensive lineman leads, while coverage of the Nats playing AN ACTUAL GAME comes right before the closing credits roll.

This is a front-running town, and THE PLAN is quickly reducing the Nats to DC United-levels of apathy.

Posted by: bdrube | May 9, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

bdrube: The Redskins would lead the highlight films if they went 0-16 the season after the Nats won the World Series in four games.

If The Danny can't slay Redskins Mania, it can't be slayed. Throwing money at the Nats as a diversionary tactic would be hopeless.

Posted by: Hendo | May 9, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

bdrube:

Where is your head? The Redskins are paramount because for the last 75 years there's been no competition for attention coming from the summer (or any other) local team sport.

The decisions by the Lerner/Kasten/ Bowden brain trust mean that the lack of fan interest (apathy) in the Nats will continue ad infinitum. They had their chance to build interest in their inaugural season, but by 2008 and thereafter it will be too late to develop interest among the multitude.

What did Zim say? Give us 10 or 20 years? I don't think so.

Watch for the management to send ushers to reclaim foul balls hit into the RFK grandstands. Then we will know the ghost of Clark Griffith is alive and well.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | May 9, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Correction:

Above post intended for Hendo, not bdrube.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | May 9, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Something that concerns me is the Nats propensity for not giving some players more opportunity before they are taken out of the line up. Snelling, Wilson, Logan, Casto etc. get to play one game and if they don't go 3 for 4 and field flawlessly they are benched and then never get a chance to relax and play. But someone like Guzman can go hitless for days on end and make stupid rookie errors and he still gets written into the line up. Shades of Robinson and his short leash. I hope Snelling wins MVP.

Posted by: Dancer | May 9, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh vey !

Who'da ever thunk that Felipe Lopez would be a team's offensive star? (One would think he's channeling Soriano since he moved back to 2nd base!)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | May 9, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

This just makes me sick to my stomach...

Of course, if they were hitting, they wouldn't be in the situation where they're haning on by fingernails in the 8th inning.

Posted by: Wigi | May 9, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic

Posted by: Dancer | May 9, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The nervous knot I get in my stomach in these situations is starting to turn into a comfortable resignation. Don't know which is worse.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Another wasted effort by Bergmann.

Why did they take him out so early?

With the bullpen these days, it would be better to leave our starters out there longer.

Posted by: Ashburn | May 9, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

This one really hurts. And we have a day off to think about it.

Does anyone have any good news about the Nats? I can use anything positive -- anything.

Posted by: BrianH | May 9, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Come on home boys and keep those chins up. We're here for you.

Posted by: All of Us | May 9, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

So "The Plan" seems to be working at to starting pitching, so far. The starters have kept the Nats in the games for the most part (and even Cy Young winners have off games, usually). This seems like '05 when the run production was really low, just that the bull pen hasn't been able to deliver as in '05.

I really appreciate and enjoy the Nat Journal!

Posted by: The plan re Pitching | May 9, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

bdrube is right on!!!

Posted by: swanni | May 9, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

BrianH asks for some positive Nats news. You can get some good seats at RFK for the games by getting below face value tix outside the Metro before the games. And because most folks either don't show up for games at all or leave out of boredom by the 5th inning, you can move down to even better seats.

Hope that helps! Pledge your allegiance!

Posted by: Ed | May 9, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

At least there is hope. There's that little blurb at the end of the assoc. press article about how the Nats are reminiscent of the Brewers from a couple of years ago. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=270509108

Posted by: Patty | May 9, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"It's frustrating," said second baseman Felipe Lopez, who led off the game with a homer. "I hate losing. I think everybody does. It's not fun, even if you're doing good. When you're a team player, who cares about [being an] all-star and all that? If you're losing, it doesn't even matter."

Who is Lopez talking about in terms of All-Star? Is there an actual Nat wondering if he will make the All-Star team? Instead of worrying about wins? Or, is he referring to himself?

Posted by: 6th and D | May 9, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

BrianH, Langerhans' average has gone up from .062 to .088 since he's been with us.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

This sucks...

However, it probably sucks most because the hitting is making the difference between a pathetic-looking outcome (like today) and a win. Fix the hitting, and you'll fix the problem. Look at the last six games, against two teams that are streaking. We were in it all the way to the end in five of six games, hitting as badly as we are... mostly because of really good starting pitching. Cordero had two blown saves... both of which would have been wins with one more run.

I think we're sick to our stomachs because we're a lot closer than it appears on the scoreboard.

How's that for positive spin?

Posted by: Wigi | May 9, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

... the good news is simply this: any movement by this team will be in an upward direction, and when it happens, we will all feel like running up to the rooftops and shouting our glee and our devotion to the immediate world.

... on top of that, don't forget the basic truth of life and the indominable human spirit. The guys who leave their heart and soul on the grass and dirt everyday will eventually encounter the depths of their own personal revulsion, a la F. Lopez' comments. Stan Kasten won't put on a pair of spikes, nor will Jim Bowden oil up a fielder's mitt. Neither Ted nor Mark Lerner will rosin up their batting gloves. No, it will be the guys on the field, those who are entrusted with our hopes and aspirations, who will turn their own game around - not because the management dictates it to be so; not because the media predicts it,; and certainly not because the fans - you and me - clamour for it. It will happen because these guys are human beings and will not go down without fighting back.

... and when that happens, we'll all be the beneficiaries of the Great Recovery ... but our joy won't be anything to match that of the guys who wear the funny uniforms.

Posted by: david f watts | May 9, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

bdrube, you're forgetting that Comcast doesn't own the TV rights to the Nationals -- their competitor MASN does; while I'd like to think they'd put journalistic concerns first, it's very much in the interest of Comcast's front office to encourage a running order of stories that play down both the Nationals and the Orioles.

Posted by: It's TV, Not Journalism | May 9, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"I suspect we'll be a good team sooner than anybody expects."
-- Stan Kasten in February in an interview with Tom 'Screech' Boswell.

Posted by: swanni | May 9, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Stan, you are missing something. From the April 2 edition of the Post:

But if you want to find folks who agree with those assessments, stay out of the Nationals' clubhouse, where a mix of defiance and hope has created an optimism that, when spring training began, would have seemed implausible. They hear: "120 losses." They respond, "Puh-lease."

Most befuddled of all? Try the team president, Stan Kasten.

"Am I missing something here?" he said.

Posted by: swanni | May 9, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

This Just In:

The History Channel has purchased the broadcast rights to the Washington Nationals from MASN.

"The serial-losing Nationals team is history in the making and we want to cover it every step of the way," said network president John Charles.

Posted by: swanni | May 9, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

How about .300 hitters? Japan must be full of them. Just give me 3 guys that can hit it out of the infield.

Posted by: 6th and D | May 9, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Or, you can bypass the scalpers and buy $5 outfield seats directly from the box office.

---

You can get some good seats at RFK for the games by getting below face value tix outside the Metro before the games. And because most folks either don't show up for games at all or leave out of boredom by the 5th inning, you can move down to even better seats.

Hope that helps! Pledge your allegiance!

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 9, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

6th and D, you are right. For all the positive talk about each of the everyday guys individually, the bottom line is very few of those guys hit like an average to above-average MLB player.

Posted by: Ed | May 9, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Well this is the reason we've beefed up our scouting all over the world. Even if nobody in america would sign with the nats after this season, we've still got the rest of the world to bank on.

----------


How about .300 hitters? Japan must be full of them. Just give me 3 guys that can hit it out of the infield.

Posted by: Nats fan Down Under | May 9, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

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