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The case for the bullpen


Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Church -- 7 (back after two days off with the bruised forearm)
Kearns -- 9 (might he need a day off?)
Young -- 3
Schneider -- 2
Logan -- 8
Simontacchi -- 1

So let me get this straight. Say Jon Rauch, who pitched a nice clean seventh inning Saturday night against the Orioles, had followed it up with a scoreless eighth, protecting what had been a 1-0 lead. And then say Chad Cordero - and yeah, this is supposing a lot, but just imagine - had worked a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Nationals won that game, 1-0.

And then say - and this is far more realistic - that Rauch had come into Monday night's game in the eighth, and instead of giving up three runs, including a two-run homer to a pinch-hitting catcher, had protected a 7-5 lead, and Cordero had closed it out.

That's right, your Washington Nationals are two clean Jon Rauch innings away from having won 10 of 12. That would be a legitimately hot team, instead of the current well-they're-hanging-in-there bunch.

Before we complete that thought process, here's last night's Felipe Lopez gamer, discussing his struggles and his outburst in the 8-4 victory over the Reds. And here's the notebook, which I would like to expand on sometime. In short, if you watch the Nationals' outfielders, they seem to position themselves in much more dramatic shifts than most teams do. Instead of shading guys three steps in one direction, they're a good 10 steps around. There's a reason behind it, which is touched on in the notebook but would be worth a longer discussion if people are interested.

Other bells and whistles: the podcast page to get to the podcast from last night's game, and the mini-minor league notebook that runs in the $.35 edition. I'm going to try to do an expanded weekly minors notebook in the future in the Journal, but I have some meeting to discuss the future of blogging to tend to this morning, and then please join me for the weekly chat at 1 p.m.

OK, back to the what-if-Rauch-had-pitched-two-more-scoreless-innings theory. Yes, the easy person to blame is Rauch. But I believe all of these problems trickle down to the depleted rotation. Rauch hadn't allowed a run in his last nine appearances, getting his ERA down from 6.23 on April 27 to 3.63 before his outing against the Orioles. That's the kind of production they need from him.

But look at it this way. Rauch is tied for the major league lead in appearances with 25. A guy like that shouldn't be asked to pitch two innings very often. But with the state of the rotation - he was on in relief of a brilliant Mike Bacsik Saturday night - the relievers are being asked to do double duty. Billy Traber and Jesus Colome (23 appearances, also among the league leaders) were unavailable Saturday night. Manny Acta didn't want to use Saul Rivera, either, because he had pitched six of the previous eight days. Why were there so many guys who were unavailable? Because Micah Bowie and Levale Speigner are in the rotation. It's as simple as that.

Acta and Randy St. Claire right now are like circus jugglers. Each day when I go into Acta's office a few hours before the game, there's a chart there that has all the pitchers listed, their appearances over the last few days. Some guys are marked green, which means they're available that night. Some are marked red, which means stay away if at all possible. Acta says he manages to win each and every night, but with the way the rotation is, he has to keep in mind the overall toll on these guys. Getting six innings out of a starter now is such a huge victory, because the pen just has to throw three.

The bullpen's ERA is 3.67 overall, which ranks eighth in the National League, right in the middle. But no team in the N.L. has more bullpen innings - 169 - than the Nationals. That's 3-2/3 innings a night. You're asking your relievers to get 11 outs every single day. You don't think that takes a toll?

Yet in the 17 games since May 5 - which was John Patterson's last start, the day the rotation began to unravel - Nationals' relievers have combined for a 2.51 ERA. Yes, had Rauch, as he puts it, done his job, the club might be sizzling right now. But looking at it another way, the relievers might be all that's allowing them to even marginally stay afloat.

One last thing, which shows how the bullpen has contributed to the overall competitiveness of this bunch. Since the team began an eight-game losing streak on May 1, the Nationals have 12 losses. Eight have been by one or two runs. None have been by more than four.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 23, 2007; 11:03 AM ET
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Next: It might be American, but it's not so Great (And Welcome Back, Gary Majewski)


I must say our boy Barry is one of the hardest working journalists I've ever known. In addition to his print articles, he's filling these blog pages with daily info -- often much better than what's in the paper itself. Kudos to Barry.

As for the bullpen, thank God for it.

Posted by: swanni | May 23, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse


Hope all goes well at the 'blog' meeting, because this excellent analyisis is the best example of how a Post blog can function!

Posted by: ken | May 23, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Gotta wonder if the scribes in the newsroom are happy with the pressure to blog, blog, blog.

Posted by: swanni | May 23, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse


... not thrilled with the way Jon Rauch has been singled out as the fall guy, but I realize that was not your intention. Rather I suspect he provided an excellent example on which to frame the whole issue of the 'pen.

... and you nailed that issue quite well. To be honest, I'm astounded it has been able to take the team this far without breaking down completely. How can anyone discount the magic Manny and Randy have done with these guys.

... but the obvious relief is wrapped up in the return of the legit rotation. So tell us: what's the status of Hill, Bergie and JP?

... now about this blog. DON'T MESS WITH IT! IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!

Posted by: NATSCAN REDUXIT | May 23, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Excited to possibly get some more coverage of the farm. Marrero is just killing it right now, along with Maxwell and Mike Daniel. Would love to see these guys get up to High-A this summer.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | May 23, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Say it ain't so, Barry!


... now about this blog. DON'T MESS WITH IT! IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 23, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure that a few contending teams would love to have this bullpen. If the starting 5 ever become healthy for any length of time, can you imagine, with proper rest, how they might perform. As far as the rest of the team, they just aren't as far from being a solid group as you might think. While depth is an issue, the foundation is not. Sure, they could use some tweaking here and there, but it just isn't as bad as most non-nat fans realize. They could surprise in the second half and cause some contending teams quite a bit of trouble. It all hinges on the starting staff returning to contribute quality starts. Now, as far as the blog is concerned, I hope this meeting is to get information from you as to how it has become so successful. I would suspect other papers in baseball towns would want to model this type of journalism after yours. We fans just love it, can't get eneough of it.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Only change I'd make to the blog is putting the link on the first page all the time. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing because Barry is doing a great job.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

And maybe adding Barry's picture like all the other bloggers.

I mean, come on, Mr. S. it can't be THAT bad, can it?

Posted by: Section 502 | May 23, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

... now about Frank, featured on the videocast:

- he got a raw deal from the Lerners and Stan the Man Kasten. He was treated with disrespect.
- he had an illustrious career which should be celebrated by every baseball fan no matter their team loyalty.

... but
- he was not a quality team manager
- he was tainted by his front office MLB job.
- he does not have the grace to be quiet about his discomfort over the blatant firing last year

... and wearing the shirt promoting the MasterCard $100,000 Backyard Sweepstakes is reminiscent of the extent some former players claim they need to "make ends meet". All I know is my ends get met on a lot less, and I don't get to play golf five days a week.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Re: the bullpen heroics. Randy St. Claire has to be either a masterful genius or just plain lucky to get the production of his bullpens in 2-1/4 years of NatDom.

As unremarkable as the starters have been the past two years (and remarkable for other reasons this year), the bullpen has been no-names (except Stanton for a bit) who have played above their histories and abilities as Nats. DESPITE Frank's burning up of bullpen mileage.

Remember Majewski's productivity was a cause of "The Cincy Steal" and he was a passing thought before being a Nat. Let's give props to the bullpen team and hope they piece it back in conjunction with some starter stability.

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

Frank didn't get a raw deal from anyone associated with the Nats. He was a lousy manager and the Nats were stuck with him by Selig. Nobody owes him anything (unless it was Selig); he was (and is) widely celebrated as a great ball player, but he is showing absolutely no class whatsoever by using his prowess as a ball player to get sympathy. As I recall reading, Babe Ruth did much the same thing when he couldn't get a job as manager.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Bullpens that are getting spread thin, albeit out of necessity in the Nats' case, in May usually implode sometime in the second half of the season. Hopefully we'll start getting six plus innings on a fairly regular basis when Hill, Bergmann and Patterson come back. On second thought, maybe I should say "if" instead of "when". It has been nice to get to watch Griffey Jr. swing over the past few days. He's not the player he once was, but his swing is still the prettiest in baseball in my opinion.

Posted by: Hondo Lives | May 23, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Bullpens that are getting spread thin, albeit out of necessity in the Nats' case, in May usually implode sometime in the second half of the season. Hopefully we'll start getting six plus innings on a fairly regular basis when Hill, Bergmann and Patterson come back. On second thought, maybe I should say "if" instead of "when". It has been nice to get to watch Griffey Jr. swing over the past few days. He's not the player he once was, but his swing is still the prettiest in baseball in my opinion.

Posted by: Hondo Lives | May 23, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt that we'll get Patterson back and if we do he might become an adequate 6th starter. He just cannot be counted on to take a regular turn. On another subject, maybe the Nats can give Speigner to the Reds to shut them up about the deal last year.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

(You know I was just about to congratulate swanni on posting a 100% positive comment, then read on to see that the agitator was still at work 2 posts later. Still, its progress. Genuine appreciation expressed for a job well done is appropriate.)

I like Frank. He made up for his unusual strategies by keeping players ready to play. Hard nosed and stubborn, he was the right man for that 2005 team. I like Manny and he may be the right man now, but I am still trying to decide whether to describe him as 'restrained', 'cautious', 'understated', or simply 'nondescript'.

One note on the bullpen -- I remember how slow some of the pitchers used to work Felix Rodriquez for example used to take up to 35 seconds between pitches. (I timed him). Given that he needed to throw alot of pitches, it was excrutiating. Abreu was interesting last night. He'd end up at the bottom of the mound, wait for the ball, march quickly up the mound, turn, pause for the call, and fire. That's gotta be helpful to the defense.

And speaking of the defense as it relates to pitching it would be nice if only twenty seven outs were required per game. This tax on the bullpen is exaspertated by sloppy defense. The coaches can position the players, but they can't catch the ball for them.

Posted by: NatBisquit | May 23, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the better the bullpen does, the more we can get for them in trades at the deadline.

Posted by: Section 426 | May 23, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Frank was a successful MLB executive who stepped up to take on the bizarre task of managing 25 of the undead. Only, it turns out, they weren't slated to die at all.

In a flash, Frank's job goes from locum-tenens to actual by-golly manager of a team with a future, with all the trials and tribulations thereto appertaining.

He is part of the history of a real team, our real team. Whether you think he deserves recognition from the Nats or not, you can't blame him for feeling a bit injured, even if he's doing OK for himself now.

Though I'm 100% a Manny guy now, and have been from the time he was hired, I'm grateful for all Frank did for the club and hope we get to see him some time this season.

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you 100%, Hendo.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 23, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Excellent post, thanks.

Posted by: JHM | May 23, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, I agree that your post was excellent. I just wish Frank would have shown some class and gracefully retired.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

You know, Barry. I come away from a given block of games with a general sense of how things are going, i.e., bullpen's doing well, hitting's improving, not so many errors, etc. But your research and clear analysis of actual numbers like this are simply awesome and I really appreciate it. It paints a clearer picture and gives me great sound bites to throw at dissenters. (And don't worry, I always cite you)

Posted by: NatsNut | May 23, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree Hendo - I will always have special place in my hear for Frank during those first two years. I also now look fondly on all those times when I found myself screaming at some crazy move he made (or did not make). I wish his departure more graceful (from both sides) because he could have been a wonderful ambassador to the DC community for the team.

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 23, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hi Hendo et al,

... I guess my displeasure about Frank comes from a rather different perspective from most on our list. being an Expos fan, I had fallen madly head-over-heels in love with Felipe Alou, the very best manager the team ever had (IMHO), even considering Gene Mauch, Dick Williams and Buck Rodgers. As an aside, Felipe suffered the same boot-out-the-door (at the toe of Jeffrey Loria) that came to Frank last year.

... one of the best things about Felipe was his efforts to embrace Montreal the city and its fans (admittedly not the easiest thing to do by a sports figure), so when Frank was deposited in his place by Bud and the gang, it was a let-down. Then Frank compounded it by going public and making it clear he was there in a care-taker role; that his allegiance was to MLB, not to Montreal or its supporters. How could anyone who had any love for the team, watching it die a slow, painful, drawn-out death, be positive to that message?

... so when I see or hear Frank, I see a ball player whose time has come ... and gone.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Barry, to continue the last point from your chat, that "Mediocre American Ballpark" looks like a Triple-A Stadium on TV. Do people have any fun there? Why is it not "Great?"

I ask because I'm scared our new ballpark will fall short of expectations.

Posted by: BrianH | May 23, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Didn't make it to the chat in time, but re: MASN - I can only think that the people griping about MASN last weekend were watching the Orioles feed of the games on MASN. Carpenter and Sutton were on Channel 20 all weekend with the Nats broadcast, and the graphics on that broadcast had "Nats" instead "of "WSH" on the on-screen scoreboard.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | May 23, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Natscan, your perspective is (as far as I can tell) rare among us, in being that of one whose team was wrenched away... OK, native Washingtonians of a certain age have suffered that too, but I'll bet not many of us on the blog fit that criterion. Your reminiscences and observations in that regard are welcome.

I will, however, reserve the right to show no deference to Gene Mauch, destroyer of teams and men, may he rest in peace.

In a way it's a mercy that author Mordecai Richler, Montreal chronicler nonpareil, passed away before the Expos were relocated. But in another way it's kind of a shame (besides that of losing his unique pen and perspective); what he would have had to say about the matter would have been priceless.

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Comments on the chat:

Instead of "Mediocre American Ball Park," how about "Average" or "Middle"? (Depends on what the modifier is for, I guess.)

On MASN, it doesn't have to say "Nats" but it should NOT say "O's" on the Nationals broadcasts. WSH/BAL is fine.

Posted by: Cosmo | May 23, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey Svurgla

How about a little love for Matt Chico? Nats are 6-4 in his starts. Just win, baby.

Posted by: MATT B | May 23, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The game of baseball, while still great, is vastly different than it was when I fell in love with it in the late 50's and 60's. I attended my first game at Griffith Stadium. Losing the Senators to Minnesota was heartbreak, but at least we got the expansion team. Then losing them again to Texas, we had to endure it all over again, this time waiting 33 years for its return. I know how the folks in Montreal felt that sad day in 04. I listened via internet to the last game played in Montreal, with great anticipation of them coming to Washington. I'm sure most Washingtonians welcome the Expo fans to continue cheering for there old team. It took me a while to stop following the Rangers. I suppose the changes in the game over the past 50 years have been the result of the dollar. Seems teams got along quite nicely with four man rotations without a lot of arm problems as a result. Umpires used to call games only in the league they were assigned. NO DH. Guess we'll never go back to the way it used to be, which is sad for the young fans of today.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse


(a personal reflection if allowed - others can read or not as the spirit leads)

"Natscan, your perspective is (as far as I can tell) rare among us, in being that of one whose team was wrenched away... "

... yes my team was wrenched away so I hope all of you can get a sense of how important it is that it continues in its Washington incarnation. But I am plainly aware that for a great many people, the Nats are a new team or the reincarnation of the Senators, and I do not want to rain on their parades.

... as for Gene Mauch, my memory of those times is much like those I have of Felipe, only more dim. Gene was the first manager of the Expos, the first MLB team to be situated outside of the US. You may not have a strong idea of what that meant; to imagine the sense of pride, excitement and anticipation that development brought to me and to many Canadians who love baseball. The later success of the Blue Jays paled in comparison. Canadians had achieved a huge step up in the sporting fraternity, and therefore in the world. (This is incredibly important to a people who must constantly judge themselves in terms of how they compare to their big brothers to the south.) So Gene may not have been the best 'man' but he was our man, the first on the job and I cannot forget him for that.

... enough of the socio-political lesson for today. Where's Les Nessman?

Posted by: natscan reduxit (for Hendo) | May 23, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

My introduction to baseball was the arrival in Milwaukee of the Braves from Boston and the stir it created. I grew up with pitchers like Newcombe, Roberts, Spahn and Ford. I don't recall any of them being out with sore arms and Spahn threw a screwball and pitched into his forties,(Ford threw a scuff ball) and Roberts and Newcombe threw lightning.

Both Senators teams deserved better in the way of management, which is why they left town. Short was a thief and Cal Griffith was cheap. Usually, when a team leaves it is poor management that allows/causes the team to fail so they go somewhere else and reap the profits. Tampa Bay and Florida will fail eventually. The Nats will prevail because they have smart management.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it is important to remember that while Frank and Manny had (have) the same job titles, they had (have) very different jobs. The thing I am struck by about Frank is that there wasn't a moment that he wasn't absolutely trying to win... You might not agree with his choices, but you never thought he was slacking. Unfortunately, I think that makes him rather unsuited for the current job... which is not to say that Manny isn't trying to win all the time, too... but Manny has another, larger task to attend to, and that is the development of the young players (and fostering a positive team chemistry).

Frank was put into a situation where there was no possible way for him to win (both personally and as the manager of the Nats). Moreover, I think that Frank was more skilled at counseling recalcitrant prima donnas (Guillen, and to a lesser extent, Soriano) than to tolerating rookies and journeymen. He got along with Zimmerman because he saw greatness in him... but I just think he was too old-school for the 2007 Nats.

I am not saying that the Nats treated him well at the end, but Frank is one of those people that leaves his mark places, and having him in a position of influence on team chemistry would have been a mistake, and I think that Bowden and Kasten recognized that. Perhaps they could have been more graceful (and I would have loved to see a Frank Robinson Day), but it is hard to be too critical of it all without knowing what the inside politics were.

I miss Frank, but the garden is well-tended.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Nicely done Wigi.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting question in response to Nats Fan: Is there anything better about today's game than there was 50 years ago? Clearly, it's a lot easier to follow your team wherever you go and the computer really helps with the stat-fixation. But with the game itself, anything?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | May 23, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Section 506: While waiting for Nats Fan to answer, I'll offer my thoughts. The game is faster but except for the pitching issues, I think the game is not that different. I prefer "small ball" so I am not as enamoured with home runs as most fans seem to be. IMHO The beauty of baseball is that it is pretty timeless. A great fielding play by Zimmerman is the same as one by (B)Robinson or (J)Robinson.

Posted by: Dancer | May 23, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Section 506

... the big difference for me is the vastly different kinds of baseball the DH has brought about. Before that silliness, both leagues palyed a similar style. Now the AL sets up their line-up differently; uses its pitchers ina very different way; and most of all, plays for the one big inning. The NL has perfected the double swith; has maintained the 'small ball' type of game; uses speed in a different way.

... those are some reflections.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

to Dancer13: Thanks!

To Section 506: I am not sure how I feel about your question... I would say that the DH detracts from the game (I remember as a Senators fan as a kid, listening to spring training games on the radio, thinking that the games were 'fake' cause the pitcher didn't hit). A lot of people prefer the current divisions and postseason. Lots of people like inter-league play. Perhaps from a fan experience standpoint, more postseason is better. If you're a Mets fan, there's probably nothing better than taking five of six from the Yankees every year... but it seems to me that I would much rather see two teams play in the world series that haven't seen each other (for sure).

Most other professional sports are adjusting their rules on an annual basis, in order to improve the game... Baseball mostly isn't doing that. That should say something.

I like that I can watch every Nats game on the Internet, except on Saturday, when I have to watch the Mariners on TV instead, because the Saturday afternoon Nats game is blacked out.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I feel such disdain for the DH that in thinking about the question, I never even considered the American League's version of baseball. I guess they'll switch to aluminum bats soon.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Not that I was around 50 years ago (although damn close), but the viability and visibility of today's game amaze me, particularly when you consider today's competition among sports.

Fifty years ago, baseball was the king of U.S. sports. Yet fifty years ago almost to the day (actually May 29), barely 3,000 fans paid to see the Senators host the Yankees. (The Nats won their second in a row to improve to 13-28.) Not many more paid on that day to see the Pirates -- who were in the process of building the team that would become the 1960 World Champions -- host the always-tough Brooklyn Dodgers.

Neither the Nats' nor Bucs' prospects for the current season are any better than they were fifty years ago. But on any given night in 2007, almost any given team will have at least four times the paid attendance of those teams on that day in 1957 -- and this in a world with any number of sporting and entertainment alternatives unimaginable in the 1950s, including enjoying the game on the 50" flat panel from the comfort of one's couch.

Baseball is resilient, thanks to good product and good marketing, to be sure. Resiliency, however, does not equate to immortality, something I hope Bud and the Lords keep in mind as the sport deals with PEDs, inner-city player development (or rather the confounding and shameful lack thereof), and other ongoing issues.

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

(I really don't care to work today...)

Hey, the Nats pitchers have gotten some timely hits recently, haven't they (more than 1 in ten times, it seems...)?

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, you bring up an interesting topic. Fifty years ago, an annual attendence of around 1 million would have been great for most teams. The Braves drew less than 300,000 the last year in Boston. I've often wondered what brought about the increase.

Wigi, one of my favorite plays is when the pitcher gets a hit. Somehting you don't get to see in the "other" league.

Posted by: Dancer13 | May 23, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Hendo go buy Dave Winfields new book "Dropping the Ball" it has great insights to what many having been thinking about the game for a long time but where afraid to talk about.

On a sad note; Its a shame Frank Robinson has to shill for MLB with a Master Card/Home Depot promotion. I figured BudCo would have the guy doing something more substantial like the things Winfield talks about in his book. The truth is, Selig is so afraid of upsetting the owners apple-cart when it comes to doing anything that might infringe on the owners ability to rake in the cash even if the product is at times inferior.

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | May 23, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Yes Hendo, you're right. There is little doubt that games are better attended today. I think that the ability to watch all the games on TV has been very instrumental in that. Plus, marketing today far surpasses the way it was marketed 40 or 50 years ago. The population has grown substantilly as has the median income. Easy access to stadiums by rail, expressways et all has made it an easier venture also. Yes, baseball is much the same as it was, with some adjustments to the way it was. I forgot to mention the lowering of the mound, which IMO should be raised back to where it was. I wonder if that might have contributed to the arm injuries of today. Just seems that throwing more downhill would be less stressful to the body.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Section 506,

... on my walk home from work, I thought of a couple other differences. First, I would say the guys are in better shape now. I recall watching guys like Smokey Burgess and Moose Skowron, and others - even Yogi Berra. Those guys would not blaze up the base paths let me tell you. In fact I think it wasn't until Johnny Bench that catchers began to be able to run and field as well as squat.

... the equipment is different (not necessarily better) today. Fifty years ago, a fielders glove did for all positions but 1B and catcher. Today some guys wear hai a'lai baskets in the outfield. And bats today are lighter but stronger.

... after the season, straight to the WS. Because there were only a few teams compared to today, there was no need for a playoff system, so the AL and the NL champs were the one team in each league which finished first.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"I think that the ability to watch all the games on TV has been very instrumental in that."

... and let's not forget the internet. With blogs like this one, I can be a fan of a team and keep in touch with co-fans no matter where they are (which reminds me: whatever happened to 'down under'?).

... in my office, I can follow the feelings of Nats fans, all the while kibbitzing with my collegue who is doing the same with his Yankees. Then he will go home and watch the NY games on a satellite dish, and I'll follow the Nats on my computer.

... attendance is up in places where MLB games are played. But fan interest is also up in places where there is little hope in hell of getting to more than one game a year ... if that. All thanks to the phenomenon of global communications.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Natscan Reduxit,
Don't forget Elston Howard. He was a fast catcher.

Earl Battey, however, was not.

By the way, Barry, did you ever fix that typo on Horace Clarke in the next edition of your book? You spelled it "Clark."

Posted by: swanni | May 23, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse


... what's the result of the blog-o-metre meetings today? Just think about this: one of the reasons this blog is so successful is that the Post doesn't micromanage it. Look at today's traffic for example. The topics all started from your initial report, but we went all over the baseball sphere - from fat catchers to Frank treatment - all in the name of community building and support of the Nats.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

And quite a community it is, stretching all the way from Australia to the Maritimes. Take that, Orioles Nation!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse


I am in Alaska... so I have this end of the continent covered.

In three years, I've had only one person stop me when wearing Nationals gear.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Holy cats, sit 'em all down for two days. Way to go Churchy!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

... you know, I'm sitting here watching the game and feeling somewhat astonished that I'm not surprised when things are going good for the team; almost as tho' I've come to expect good things to happen. And I do, because I know there's every likelihood they will. Take tonight's game for example. Simonizer is performing well on the hill; Flippie steals a bag; Churchy smacks a dinger; Nookie (oh how I love to write that one) gets another ribbie, and all's right with the world. Now I realize it's only after two and there's no assurance anywhere to be found that a win is imminent. But I've come to expect one.

... so here's the point. Why do I still assume this is a losing team? It's because of a lack of consistency. That's the fundamental feature yet to be achieved and perfected. One night it can be a whole team effort, but more often than not, it's a couple of pieces working well, while another couple are struggling.

... but what a team this will be when all cogs fit well together, and the engine begins to take on a unified life of its own.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your interest in/concern about our blog meeting. Interesting discussion with the boss(es) and fellow sports bloggers Steinberg, Maske, La Canfora, Goff and El-Bashir. (Nationals Journal No. 4 in latest power rankings, by the way, behind Redskins/La Canfora, Steinberg, and Goff/Soccer.)

They want us to keep at it, to see if we can build an audience while continuing to produce quality work for the paper. We'll keep massaging the product, I'm sure.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | May 23, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, Barry. You're to be commended for embracing the new medium and making it work effectively, yet simply.

Folks, how about Meat and Schneid puttin' some curly numbers on the board!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse


The blog is happenin'...

We should be able to get to number three no problem... lots of season still left... We'll never pass the Redskins blog, but I think we have a shot at the wildcard.

Remember, it is the same with blogs as it is with "The Plan:" Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Move that Great American Ball Park to the Great Southwest of DC!

Posted by: swanni | May 23, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, Barry. I'm happy to hear that the blog will continue. Don't worry about the blog rankings. I'm sure things will improve for you once we're in the new stadium!


Thanks for your interest in/concern about our blog meeting. Interesting discussion with the boss(es) and fellow sports bloggers Steinberg, Maske, La Canfora, Goff and El-Bashir. (Nationals Journal No. 4 in latest power rankings, by the way, behind Redskins/La Canfora, Steinberg, and Goff/Soccer.)

They want us to keep at it, to see if we can build an audience while continuing to produce quality work for the paper. We'll keep massaging the product, I'm sure.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 23, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Attaboy, Churchy! Attaboy, Schneiderman!

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 23, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Good news on the blog, Barry. The podcasts and the blog added to your beat coverage is a bit much, I'm sure. (Especially if you're not paid extra for the extra work.) But it will pay off in the long run with undying loyalty from Nats fans. (i;e -- write another book. :)

Posted by: swanni | May 23, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, you may have 4th place in quantity, but you're 1st in quality. Surely WashPost can see how witty, thoughtful, knowledgeable of the game, and considerate your base readership is? (even swanni has his moments)
On another note, I was being facetious on your chat today when I asked if Bowden is considering Mark Redman now that he really stinks and the Braves have released him. Wasn't there interest in him before the Braves got him? Or was that someone else?

Posted by: NatsNut | May 23, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

... understatement of the day:

"Ryan Zimmerman is a keeper."

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

... so is Ryan Church. I can hear the cries now, coming from around the NL east:

"Break up the Nats!"

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, NatsNut; swanni has some great riffs... but, swanni dude, have you ever written a book? I have. Please don't wish another one on poor Barry so soon......8^)

Zimm and Churchy combine for another big inning! It's becoming a laugher, but I'm holding the laughs back just now...

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I love this...

Watching the Reds feed on MLB.TV... the Reds are getting shellacked... give up back to back homers... losing 9-1, and pretty much looking outclassed the whole series (so far)... and instead of talking about how the Nats are better than their record, they're talking about the Diamondbacks!

Hope they're snoozing next year, too.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Wigi, let 'em snooze. It'll be our little secret, but not for long.

BTW where are you in Alaska? I'll probably be in Anchorage in July, and am hoping (praying) to find a good sports bar with satellite dishes where I might catch a Nats game or two. Advice is welcome.

In '05, my curly W cap caught some attention in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Didn't accept any offers to sell, though... the bandwagon boards early here!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

ACK!!! Hendo, take it back, take it back. Too soon yet to laugh. 6 or more runs still doable in 2+ innings.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 23, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, go to Humpy's. Beer battered Halibut is to die for.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 23, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Saul... and here comes Adam Dunn.

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Hendo: I am in Anchorage. There are a few sports bars, but you'll be hard pressed to find one with the Nats on... I'll see if I can find some solutions for you.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, Zimm gets hit right in the 1's. (On his back.)

Stanton in. This is fun.

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

HR. HR. Bases clearing double. I think Ryan Church's arm is feeling better.

Posted by: bob | May 23, 2007 10:10 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NatsNut | May 23, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

This Ryan Church kid is kind of good. Where'd he come from? Is he new to the show? We should keep him around for a while. Seems like it might be worth it.

Also, the RZA totally should have charged the mound. Punch HIM in the kidney!

Posted by: Atlanta | May 23, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse


Amazing what you can find on Google.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

No doubt, Wigi, but when I search "anchorage 'sports bar' baseball", I get a bunch of irrelevant hits. Same if I include "nationals" in the search.

Good lord, Big Jon, just let's get 'em put away!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Manny may have to activate himself for cryin out loud. Glad our staff is in RFK half the time. HANG ON...a tie for worst NL record is on the line. Well, thats something isn't it?? We could win this one and tomorrow and take a step up, look back, and see REDS.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Egad... if there's such a thing as an ugly win, I hope this is as close as we come to it.

Never mind. Awesome job by Everyday Colome! Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | May 23, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

... well the game is over, and I think we should take it as an object lesson. The time has arrived when the bullpen is showing its tatters and tears. It took eight runs to better the Reds, and we're not likely to raise that many every time out.

... so send out a search party; we gotta find those starters; we gotta give the pen a rest.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | May 23, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Nats win, Nats win!!

Say, Barry, inquiring minds want to know. Did you ever try the chili?

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 23, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

No, natscan reduxit, we surely won't ring up double digit runs often, but, we also wont be in laughable america matchbox but for one more game this season either...and thank goodness for that.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 23, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Q: What's the worst thing you can say to a pitcher?

A: Pack your stuff, you've been traded to the Reds.

Posted by: Wigi | May 23, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Nats win, and it STILL takes them six pitchers to do it?!?!?

Who needs fireworks? I'm just waiting for their arms to explode...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 24, 2007 2:06 AM | Report abuse

I have written two books -- and I agree that it's more painful that spending an hour alone with Jack Bauer. But the royalty checks help heal the wounds.

Posted by: swanni | May 24, 2007 4:55 AM | Report abuse


Who owns the mix tape that played in the background of your podcast?

It was 1991 all over again! MC Hammer, 2 Live Crew, and A Tribe Called Quest. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that "old school."

Now I'm starting to sound old...

Posted by: BrianH | May 24, 2007 5:32 AM | Report abuse

This is a great time for Barry to write another book, what with the brand new ownership's first full season, rebuilding from scratch, and the surprises that are going to happen after all the low expectations. Hmmm....what would we say if we had to choose between Nats Journal and another book about this season and next?

Posted by: NatsNut | May 24, 2007 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Nats Journal. Hands down. But I'm biased.

Posted by: Hendo | May 24, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

NatsNut wrote,

"Hendo, go to Humpy's. Beer battered Halibut is to die for."

And I want to say he is very, very correct. Their weekend brunch eggs benedict made with halibut instead of Canadian bacon is killer as well.

If you're into microbrews it's not just the best beer bar in Anchorage or even in Alaska, but it regularly makes beer geek magazine lists as one of the top ten beer bars in America, and they make an excellent bloody mary as well.

To give this a baseball topic, even if only in passing, are you going north next month for one of the midnight baseball games played without lights at various locations around Alaska?

Posted by: Section 502 Agrees With NatsNut on Humpys | May 24, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Section 502, thanks for validating my Humpy's comment. But I'm a she.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 24, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

My apologies for the misidentification.

Posted by: Section 502 Blushes | May 24, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

In the immortal words of Johnny Lee Hooker: "Boom, Boom, Boom..."

A fine display of power last night.

Posted by: NatBisquit | May 24, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Who'd have thought that there would be a discussion of Alaskan microbreweries on this blog...

There are several microbreweries in Anchorage, and also in Fairbanks. All are excellent.

The Midnight Sun game is played in Fairbanks, starts at 10:30, with no lights on June 21. Check out Alaska League baseball is very good... lots of big leaguers came though here.

Hendo: try again...

Posted by: Wigi | May 24, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately I'll miss the Midnight Sun game, as my dates are set for July. However, I see on the ABL website that the Anchorage Bucs will be in town the week I'm there, so I'll strive to make it out to the ballyard.

Wigi, thanks a million for the cool link. Quite the star-studded roster has passed through Alaska.

Humpy's seems to be the "people's cherce," so I'll check that out also. Thanks to all for chiming in!

Posted by: Hendo | May 24, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Last night on Sportscenter, when they were giving the Nats highlights, Stuart Scott in an African American preacher's voice said "If ya want runs, ya got to go ta Chuuuuuuuuuch!"

I thought it was pretty damn funny, he did it a couple times.

Posted by: G-town | May 24, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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