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Calling history

Now that's a tough loss. Tougher still? With the game in extra innings, it didn't make any $.35 editions, which I can't stand. So you have to go to that crazy "World Wide Web" thing and find it on Journalites, of course, can get it here, and also read the Sheinin on Bonds stuff here, but I'm not sure why the Frank Robinson notebook didn't seem to make it online. Strange. I'll look into that.

There are so many angles to this Bonds stuff it's ridiculous. And I guarantee you the national star right now - aside from John Lannan for that at-bat in the seventh (which was, indeed, impressive, and if nobody saw it you can read about it in the on-line only gamer) - is Mike Bacsik, tonight's pitcher. He's such a nice guy and such a good talker, and with his father being a major leaguer and all, he has a sense of history. His best stuff last night: "Hey, if I give it up, me and Al Downing can play cards together."

Bacsik vs. Bonds: 0-2 with a groundout, a popup and a hit by pitch.

Obviously, I've thought about what I would write if Bonds were to hit No. 756 while we're here in San Francisco. (Sheinin, who has been with Bonds for 19 days now, has likely thought about it just a tad more.) But there are some other people who have to think about it before hand, too - at least a little.

"You don't think about a home run before it's hit," said Charlie Slowes, the author of such pieces of the American lexicon as "Curly W" and "Bang, Zoom Go the Fireworks!"

The Nationals have three members of their broadcast team who could make the historic call. Slowes and Dave Jageler, the members of the radio team on Washington Post Radio (1500 AM/107.7 FM, where I'll be appearing at 6:50 p.m. Eastern today), and Bob Carpenter, the play-by-play guy on the MASN television broadcasts.

I asked all of them how they would handle the call, and they were all pretty uniform.

"I haven't written anything down," Carpenter said. "I've thought about what I'd say, but you just don't know what kind of homer it's going to be. Is it a high, arcing shot? Where does it go? What's the situation in the game?"

Slowes echoed that.

"For me, it depends on what type of home run it is," he said. "Is it a line drive? Is it an automatic? Is it into McCovey's Cove? What's the situation in the game? There's too many factors."

Jageler learned from experience that maybe scripting something isn't the best idea. When he was calling basketball games for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, he wrote down what he would say when the and if the 49ers won the conference championship. So when the final buzzer sounded, he had everything he would say.

"And I stumbled all over it," Jageler said. "It didn't work. So I told myself I wouldn't do that again."

No. 756, though, isn't winning the Atlantic 10 or ConferenceUSA championship. This is an all-timer. Carpenter was doing St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts in the summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire was on his pursuit of Roger Maris's single-season mark. He called Nos. 60, 61 and 70 - the last of which you still hear frequently. A couple of those were low line drives that make it hard to do a dramatic call.

"But McGwire used to hit those huge, high ones," Carpenter said. "On those, I could drop a 'See - You - Later!'", his signature call.

Slowes probably didn't have many memorable calls with the old Washington Bullets, and I think the hard-core fans here would argue his most memorable since coming to the Nationals was Nook Logan's base-running blunder against Cleveland ("Where was Nook Logan going?!" etc.).

But in his eight years with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he had a few. He just missed Wade Boggs's 3,000 hit - his broadcast partner got that one, though he called 2,998 and 2,999. He had Fred McGriff's 400th homer, Jose Canseco's 400th homer and even Cal Ripken's 400th homer - but doing the Tampa radio side of that.

Which brings us to something all these guys know, anyway.

"I'm not kidding myself into thinking my call's going to be the one that's remembered, anyway," Carpenter said.

Nope, that'd be left to the San Francisco guys, particularly Jon Miller. But for those of you listening or watching in Washington, your hometown boys will have something to stew about over the next couple of days, too.

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 7, 2007; 12:48 PM ET
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I fell asleep after the 5th inning, woke up to find the game tied in the 9th, watched Dmitri's homer in the 10th, then the collapse. Well, this loss plus the media circus will be a good test of the Nats' mettle. And John Lannan: GREAT JOB! I hope you're here to stay!

Posted by: Union Station | August 7, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone who watched the game on ESPN2 report on how the commentary regarding the Nats and their .500+ past 3 months were put in context over the course of the game?

I hear the Baseball Tonight guys dismiss the team any time they actually do comment on a game, so I am curious if the team, Manny, Zimm or anyone is getting a fair shake, much less some promotion.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 7, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of broadcasters' calls of opposing team's plays generally, I think it'd be great if our radio guys could maybe nonchalant it just a bit when, say, an opposing player tees off on one of our pitchers. I'm on board with enthusiastic calls for our team but I'd prefer if they were somewhat less so for our opponents. I understand that a record-breaking event would be an exception and might engender an enthusiastic call. My own hope is that the broken record won't be on our watch, but if it is then, whoop-dee-do, we'll move on (gosh, do I love Da Meat Hook).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 7, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

... I was thinking about this anyway, and then Barry voices a bit about home run calls, so it was my tailor-made opening.

... call me super-sensitive, and you'd probably be right. I note that the replay of Dmitri's homer last night, the clip on the Nats website, features a call by the "Fox Bay Area" Giants announcer. He simply found it necessary to suggest that Dmitri only got that dinger because that part of the field is somewhat of a short porch.

... ohmigodalready, is there no one in this sport able to mention something of value on the opposing team?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 7, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse


I watched the ESPN broadcast... They were pretty impressed with the Nats... one of the comments they made after Bonds was gone from the game was (to paraphrase): The Nats are relentless... every inning they bring out a new guy that can throw. Someone commented that Manny should be Manager of the Year. They also talked about Zimm as a Gold Glove winner (potentially). The only comment I heard that got me was a factual error: that Dmitri didn't have enough ABs to be eligible for the batting title...

I didn't really enjoy their play by play, but it was mostly OK. It wasn't like some of the ones that I hear where the announcers don't even know the basics.

Posted by: Wigi | August 7, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"It wasn't like some of the ones that I hear where the announcers don't even know the basics."

You mean like on MASN?

Posted by: Chris | August 7, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"... ohmigodalready, is there no one in this sport able to mention something of value on the opposing team?"

That would be Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton, who can't stop raving about the other team. They've been better recently, I think because they're bonding with the team. Except when it came to Pujoles.

I like Charlie and Dave. I think they're fair, while still being partial.

And that wall in right field is 25 feet high. As I heard about 50,000 times last night on MASN.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 7, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Talking about commentators, I watch a lot of Nats games on MASN. Carpenter and Sutton are usually pretty good. Sutton can be pretty funny and Carpenter is a solid play-by-play caller. But I think the hype got to them last night. Sutton kept babbling on an on about pitching technique. At one point (and I laughed for about 5 minutes) mentioning that Lincecum (Giants pitcher) has a delivery that doesn't strain his "elbow muscle". Elbow muscle!?!?

Posted by: kjh | August 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Yes, my job is into intentionally diminish the Nationals. I can't believe you figured out ESPN's master plan to destroy baseball in Washington DC for a third team

::shakes fist angrily::

Posted by: Karl Ravech | August 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"Sutton can be pretty funny."

You're sick. You need help.

Posted by: Matt | August 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The half-full glass...

I predict that 756, legitimate or not, will become irrelevant in less than 10 years (say, 7 or so)...when A-Rod knocks BB of the pedestal. (and to make the glass 3/4 full: maybe he won't still be a DamnYankee then)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | August 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else see Bonds wince and move his hand toward his lower back after that HUGE cut at the 2-1 fastball? His swing after that at the curve didn't look like he was all there. I have a feeling Barry might of hurt himself a bit there.

Posted by: natrat | August 7, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

On the topic of Bonds, great Nick Cafardo article in today's Boston Globe about Lannan, Bonds, and Dimitri Young:

Posted by: CJ | August 7, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

To be clear, I really like Charlie and Dave. I enjoy listening to them. In fact, if I ever convince my husband that we should get FIOS tv (as is now an option for us), I might just turn down the tv sound and listen to the radio instead. However, as noted, I have noticed that the broadcasters of some other teams don't seem to be quite as enthusiastic when calling, say, the dingers of other teams, and I thought this was a good opportunity to mention that.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 7, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

This might be the first time that Bob Carpenter has ever been accused of not being a big enough homer.

Posted by: Chris | August 7, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, CJ. What a great article. I just love Da Meat Hook!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 7, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that was really good.

Posted by: Matt | August 7, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

So, Barry -- Since it probably is Jon Miller's call, as you wrote, what did *he* say when you asked him?

Posted by: cevans | August 7, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the Boston Globe article, CJ, very nice reading. I was thinking that the author could also have mentioned Lannan's debut to further put this game in context, but it was still a good read.

One thing I noticed about the game, is that Dmitri was Lannan's #1 supporter, aside from Schneider of course. Meat Hook was talking up a storm to Lannan, gestures of encouragement, pats on the butt, etc. Clearly, if anyone needed the encouragement of his teammates, Lannan was in that position last night.

Dmitri really is a great teammate.

Posted by: tomterp | August 7, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: ESPN Broadcast

In addition to the post above, they also brought up the fact that the Nationals, after starting 9-25, have a better record than the Mets and the Braves since May 11th. They also stated that they have the best bullpen in the NL since the all-star break.

There were a few Ryan Zimmerman comments about his defense throughout the night, as well as, how the nationals view him as a future MVP candidate.

Also, after Da Meat's HR in the 10th, they were focusing on him and how he has turned his life around.

Surprisingly, nothing negative --except for the constant replays of Bonds AB's at some point each inning

Posted by: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network | August 7, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Not to be a further promoter of conspiracy theories involving Peter Angelos (although he deserves them): do you think that MASN is competently (!) forwarding Nats highlight reels to the national media?

Posted by: Nats fan in Annandale | August 7, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, CJ. I'm glad Young is staying. This will still be Zimm's team, long-term, I guess, but Meathook does seem to have that Stargellesque charisma. And yeah, veterans don't usually have 2 career years in a row, I know, but what if this is the first time he's played sober, happy, and at peace with himself? He was hitting near .300 while on performance-*diminishing* drugs for some time there.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice that banner that a Giant's fan was waving during Lannan's sideline warmups? I couldn't read the whole thing, but it looked something like "You guys are in last place -- pitch to Barry".

Brave talk for a team that needs a 4 game sweep to catch the Nats.

Posted by: joebleux | August 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

tomterp says "One thing I noticed about the game, is that Dmitri was Lannan's #1 supporter, aside from Schneider of course. Meat Hook was talking up a storm to Lannan, gestures of encouragement, pats on the butt, etc. Clearly, if anyone needed the encouragement of his teammates, Lannan was in that position last night.

Dmitri really is a great teammate."

... and that in a nutshell, is why the Nationals Journal is home to such a great group of fans. The vast majority of the people on this blog recognized early on the value as a team-mate (as tom described above) over and above the value of on-field skills and tradeability.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 7, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Cafardo... hmm, must be some kinda perverted deviant or something...

He's a prince in my book, but in Bristol he'd be on the Group W Bench.

Thanks for the link, CJ. That made my afternoon.

Posted by: Hendo | August 7, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the descriptions of ESPN's coverage, and for the link, CJ! While the actual game coverage is expected, I was hoping to hear about the no-name rotation that continues to be rebuilt and rebuilt and still perform. Glad to hear about the positive comments about the record, the bullpen, etc.

I didn't expect anything dismissive, really, from the broadcast - they did need to keep viewers the whole time, not just when BB was up. AND with the Nats having a better record than the jints (and others), they couldn't use the ammo of putting down a lousy team anyway.

Does anyone else notice that on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, Nats highlights either a) don't get shown at all, or b) get less than a cursory clip? Other than the remarkable play (Belliard flip, Zimm walk-off), i'll watch a whole program without even a mention of the game that day.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 7, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse


I just saw a report that Wily Mo Pena, often mentioned as a Nationals trade target, passed through waivers unclaimed. If true, any color on why the Nationals passed? Maybe the reports of the team's interest in WMP just are inaccurate?


Posted by: Ric | August 7, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

WMP going through waivers has nothing to do with the Nats interest in him. If you want him, better to let him go by and then work out a deal than try to grab him and have the Sox pull him back.

IMO there is no way Boston would let him go that easy.

Posted by: estuartj | August 7, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Something to pass along - Manny Acta on ESPN's podcast with Peter Pascarelli today. A five minute interview conducted prior to Monday's game.

While it is classic Manny saying the same things we've heard all year on Barry's podcasts, it's nice to hear it on the national (not Nationals) level.

The interview is from about 7:30 to 12:30 on the podcast -

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 7, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, thanks very much CJ for the awesome article and the others for the ESPN reports. It's so great to hear it being said by outsiders.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 7, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

This is from the monday mailbag on the RedSox website;

"Pena is an affordable hitter with obvious power. I think he mainly serves as insurance in case one of the other outfielders gets injured. The Red Sox also hope that he will make strong developmental strides, though that is hard with the amount of at-bats he gets. I do agree with you that the Sox are short on speed and outfield defense off the bench."

Willy Mo for Nook Logan straight up? We need the power (though I'm not sold on Pena's bat) and they need speed. Plus Pena is only 25 so he has lots of time to improve.

Posted by: estuartj | August 7, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

natscan reduxit,

In talking about Dmitri above you mentioned how he is a great teammate and has value "over and above the value of on-field skills and tradeability."

I hear that and understand the importance of the clubhouse temperature and only a heartless person cannot at least break a grin when you see that big Dmitri mug smiling. However, do you really think that Lannan's performance would have been different if Dmitri would have been traded? I don't believe that for a second.

These are professionals, paid highly to play a game to the best of their ability. It's great to root for a great group of guys like we have here in the nation's capital but a nice smile and infectious happy demeanor is only worth so much (and it's also easier to find than highly-honed on-field skills). I like rooting for Dmitri and enjoy the positive effect he's had on the team but I still say when you are trying to build a winner and an alcoholic with a violent past turns himself into an attractive chip you should probably move him...since there's always a chance he could turn back into a pumpkin anyway. It is a business and a game after all and as much as I like having a group of lovable underachievers I like to think we'll get to root for a bunch of fun-loving winners and soon.

Oh and Wily Mo is ok, but just remember it's about 2+ K's for every RBI he produces and I'm not totally off the Nook wagon plus I would hate for him to go somewhere like Boston and become a lot better.

Posted by: Nick715 | August 7, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse


I read the nj everyday but never post, but I had to today to say that I agree with everything you said (wrote, whatever) and I think I'm going to have some "Nook Wagon" t-shirts made up...

Posted by: praiseworthy | August 7, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

New post

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 7, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sec. 506 about Bob Carpenter. Although he pretends to be a homer by loudly and unconvincingly pretending to root for the team, he never offers praise of anything the Nats do without a backhanded compliment. (Zimmerman's current hitting is characterized as "raising his average after a disappointing start"; Kearns' game winning home run was characterized as "his first home run since May"; etc.)

His love of the Cardinals is ridiculous --I think he is Scott Rolen's grandfather, Carptenter is always taking backhanded shots at Zimmerman by constantly saying that it is Rolen who is the best defensive 3B in the game ("HE never makes a bad throw!!"); referring to the Cardinals repeatedly as the "defending World Champions"; and constantly referring to Pujols as "the best player in the game". Why did you leave there Bob? (At least Sutton admits he was fired!)

But it doesn't end there. The Phillies and the Mets both have the best hitting team in the National League east, the Nats have no reason to think they can compete with them. Carptenter's constant ridiculous praise of Soriano during Cubs games is particularly irksome (given that Soriano spent a year lying about his intention to stay here).

I really hope Carpenter is out after his two year contract expires at the end of the year.

Sutton is getting better as a Nats announcer IMO; he really seems to be rooting for and schooling our young pitchers. His defense of Lannan in his Phillies start was heartfelt and intellegent. Of course, Carpenter didn't say a word to back Sutton up in defending the Nats.

Posted by: Ray | August 7, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I like Carpenter. I hope we get to keep him. I think a pretty entertaining pre and post game would be with Tom Paciorek and Joey Eischen. (7 second rule though).

Tom: "Joey, what are the keys to tonight's game?"

Joey: "We need to score more than the other team Tom."

Tom: "How would you pitch to Barry Bonds"

Joey: "Behind him"

Tom: "That's some pretty serious jammage"

Of course, this would never happen since neither Tom nor Joey were ever on the Orioles roster, but at least the pregame telecasts would be unpredicatable and entertaining.

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 7, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I have no qualms with Carpenter and Sutton; both do a solid job.

Regarding a historical call -- I was in Philadelphia when Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run in 1987, and if you listen to the call of Harry Kalas, he doesn't even say his trademark "outta here!" He wasn't able to -- the homer was a rocket line drive to left. To Kalas' credit, he didn't force his tag line on history; you can't imagine a hack like John Sterling doing that.

Posted by: Vincent | August 7, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Great scenario, NatBisquit! Maybe Robert [RF] Fick could occasionally sit in as guest commentator.


I like Carpenter. I hope we get to keep him. I think a pretty entertaining pre and post game would be with Tom Paciorek and Joey Eischen. (7 second rule though).

Tom: "Joey, what are the keys to tonight's game?"

Joey: "We need to score more than the other team Tom."

Tom: "How would you pitch to Barry Bonds"

Joey: "Behind him"

Tom: "That's some pretty serious jammage"

Of course, this would never happen since neither Tom nor Joey were ever on the Orioles roster, but at least the pregame telecasts would be unpredicatable and entertaining.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 7, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

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