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Hill, Detwiler and a win to wrap up the circus

So the Nationals take this 3-1 victory to get a split in San Francisco. I chose, as those of you who read the $.35 edition (or the free version here online) to write about the bullpen in the gamer. Five guys -- Ray King, Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero -- combined to throw 3-2/3 innings of shutout ball in a game in which the offense was non-existent, save for Felipe Lopez's two-run homer.

I don't want to tip my hat too much on what's in the gamer, but I will say this: The relievers' ERA since July 1 is now 2.04, the best in baseball. Did Cordero blow a save the other night? Sure, he did. But did you see the singles on which he blew it? Saul Rivera is developing into one of those perfect middle relievers you never talk about because he's rarely blowing anything. He got a huge double-play ball. Rauch took on Bonds and beat him, Ayala pitched a perfect seventh, Cordero got his 25th save -- which, on a last-place team in August, is a pretty fair total.

But perhaps the more important stuff:

Shawn Hill threw five innings of four-hit, one-run ball for Class AAA Columbus Thursday night. He didn't walk anyone and didn't strike out anyone. He needed all of 54 pitches to get through those five innings (39 of them were strikes), so I'm guessing that what Jim Bowden said before the game -- that Hill would throw Tuesday in Washington against the Phillies if all goes well -- will happen.

(I have a slight crush on Hill's sinker, which is my favorite pitch on the Nationals' staff. But seriously, is it just me, or does anyone else think it's important this guy pitches well the rest of the year so he can go into next season healthy and, finally, ready for a 30-start big league season?)

Also: We had intern Steve Yanda (which rhymes with "Honda," not with "panda") in Fredrick tonight to cover Ross Detwiler's first start for Class A Potomac. Problem: It got rained out. The Honda is going to stay on the Detwiler beat, though, and you should get one or two nice stories from him on Detwiler within the next week. (Bitter Barry alert: How many stories have we had on the Orioles' first-round pick?)

(Happy Barry is back.)

I will talk to you from Phoenix on Friday, where a nifty little occurence will take place -- Livan Hernandez vs. Matt Chico, two pitchers traded for each other last year facing each other in the majors. Love watching Livo pitch. Chico needs a good start. Should be fun.

Have a nice Friday, and I'll check in from the desert.

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 9, 2007; 9:30 PM ET
 
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Next: Chico vs. Livo

Comments

I couldn't wait for the 35-center, I just had to peek tonite. Great stories and stats, but is the snippet below a knock on the physical appearance of our pitchers or merely a knock on their relative anonymity? Because maybe the Wookie's a little scruffy sometimes but he seems like a really nice guy, and... Oh. Never mind. ;)

---

The Nationals pitching staff -- who could be used in most cities as extras in police lineups -- now has an ERA of 3.67 in 37 games since June 28. That is the best in baseball over that span.

Posted by: Emily Litella | August 9, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Take Ray King out of those list of relievers that pitched well today. Once again he took a **** on the pitching mound and nearly cost us the game.

Posted by: uvarocks | August 9, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

... another frustrating night on the ice. Summer hockey means I get to play against twenty-year olds, and that's no picnic in the park.

... back to baseball. We've spoken a great deal lately about pitching and Nats pitching in particular. We've worried ourselves about the guys who are of a certain vintage but still haven't secured a full-time spot; we've discussed the young upstarts, and how to balance their development time in the minors versus the value of staying in the bigs.

... I guess what I want to say to Jim, Manny, Randy et al, is to do what you have to do with the vets: if they go down, so be it; if they go to another team, same thing. But in the matter of the young guys, my view is that a greater effort must be spent on bringing the future of the team along at the precise rate and balance of rest and work.

... I'm not a coach, but I can say that if a veteran arm is used improperly, that's too bad; if a young arm is similarly worked, that's a team disaster. Be careful with the young guys.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 9, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

No biscuits in the basket tonight, Natscan? Bummer if not, man.

Right on re the pitching eval, both on Natscan's part and on Barry's. Hill needs to pitch (and be managed) *smart* if he's to be a useful cog in the '08 wheel.

Our dreams could come true in a hurry in '08 if all is done right in the rest of '07.

Posted by: Hendo | August 9, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

No mention of Bergmann's outing with the GCL Nationals? We need to get a feel for how close he is to being back, as early as late next week perhaps? Bowden said he'd have one more start in the GCL so that will probably be Tuesday and then possibly Sunday vs the Mets or Monday at Houston?

Posted by: estuartj | August 9, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

"Five guys -- Ray King" = burgers.

Posted by: I'm hungry | August 9, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

JennX: I just watched the replay of the Flores full on body block against Roberts. I CRACKED up!! Roberts didn't get anywhere near the plate. His pinky finger didn't even get by Flores!!

Posted by: NatsNut | August 9, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals pitching staff -- who could be used in most cities as extras in police lineups -- now has an ERA of 3.67 in 37 games since June 28. That is the best in baseball over that span."

Which just goes to show we need better hitting.

Posted by: Ed | August 9, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Ed, very true.
Get to know these names, you'll be hearing a lot about them all winter and will probably see one of them in a Nats uniform next year.
Aaron Rowand
Adam Dunn
Carl Crawford
Willy Month Pena

Posted by: estuartj | August 9, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals pitching staff -- who could be used in most cities as extras in police lineups -- now has an ERA of 3.67 in 37 games since June 28. That is the best in baseball over that span."

Wow. Another backhanded compliment of the team, which is the only kind the Post is capable of giving to the Nats. You'd think the paper would get tired of writing the unrelenting negative slant on this team. I sure get tired of reading it.

Anthony D. Langford

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2007 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Langford, and others before you who have derided the press (and the Washington Post in particular) for 'negativity',

... what you perceive as a negative slant, is in fact, evidence that the media is doing exactly what it is designed and expected to do: to provide an image and evaluation of the subject, for those who haven't been fortunate enough to have had first-hand exposure, in as clear and impartial way as possible, thereby leaving the reader (or the fan) to come to his/her own conclusions using his/her own intellect. It is NOT to be a promotional vehicle for the subject - in this case, the Washington Nationals - in any way.

... Barry Svrluga has done a masterful job in doing just that, and he will continue to do so, I fully expect.

... if there is any discomfort within the reader after reading the reports, it stems from the readers' own discomfort with the situation and circumstances, not with the media. Do not allow yourself to yield to the temptation to shoot the messenger on account of the message.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 7:10 AM | Report abuse

No GB/A due to the travels of Sect. 506, but I couldn't help but notice that at present 8 teams have worse records than, 1 team is tied with, and 1 team is barely ahead of the "worst team in baseball." Oh, and that one of the worse teams is The Team Just Due North of Us Whose Name Shall Remain Unspoken to Maintain the Fragile Truce Yada Yada Yada...

Go NATS! Go MANNY!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Natscan....Barry has done, and will undoubtedly continue to do, a great job covering the Nats in a fair and professional manner. The note about the Nats' ERA being the best in the majors since late June was amazing. If Manny Acta isn't given serious consideration for NL Manager of the Year, there's somethign drastically wrong with the selection process. The players deserve the credit for producing, but Acta's handling of the staff (and the entire team) has been superb. This was supposed to be a historically bad team and outside of a horrible April, they've played a solid brand of baseball.

Posted by: Hondo Lives | August 10, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Question for those of you who have been to games at Pfizner: the website lists the ticket office hours as 9-5 on Fridays. Does this pertain to game days as well? That is, would I not be able to purchase game-day tickets in person on a Friday unless I got there 2 1/2 hours before a game (and I believe that the gates do not open until 1 hour before game time)?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Never mind re. the Pfizner ticket office. On further perusal of the FAQs on the team site, I learned that on game days it opens at 9 a.m. on Monday-Friday (noon on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday). Posted here in case anyone else was wondering. (I have vouchers for tix which is why I don't want to order online.)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

You can buy tickets right up to and through the start of the game

Posted by: Brian | August 10, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Brian. We must have been posting simultaneously. I also learned that the box office is open until the game ends.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"(Bitter Barry alert: How many stories have we had on the Orioles' first-round pick?)"

Well, let's take a Google to try to relieve bitterness. Here are search strings and hit counts:

site:www.washingtonpost.com detwiler - 1,100
site:www.washingtonpost.com wieters - 71
site:www.baltimoresun.com detwiler - 3
site:www.baltimoresun.com wieters - 401

Others are welcome to wring opinions from these numbers. I'm just the messenger, in this case.

Posted by: Hendo | August 10, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Okay, here's the spin, guys. Barry is saying that we have the Murderers' Row of pitching staffs. Gee, thanks, Barry! ;)

"The Nationals pitching staff -- who could be used in most cities as extras in police lineups -- now has an ERA of 3.67 in 37 games since June 28. That is the best in baseball over that span."

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I think we are finally seeing the 'New Wave' of pitchers coming in... There are no longer staffs full of household names like Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux... Teams are going out and getting one good pitcher then overpaying for a couple solid pitchers (see Ted Lilly) and filling in with guys they are 'hoping' can get the job done... Right now I see a staff full of Lillys...

Posted by: natrat | August 10, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse


natsfan1a: "Maintain the Fragile Truce...?"

Whatever! Bring on the rivalry. It makes perfect sense. End of last season, in the middle of the night, a game that meant nothing to the Nats, and we beat them out of contention? The signature late nights and extra innings that we seem to always win? Utley's hand by a rookie kid barely out of A-ball? "Kill John Lannan" Fan Club? Obnoxious fans at RFK? Same division? Like I said before: O's SchmO's. We've already got the perfect rivalry already brewing just "Due North of Us".

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I read that back and it looks like I never completed a single thought... Point is, pitching looks good but it would be nice to throw one stud in front of them... Unforunately there are about 16 stud pitchers in the majors right now and too many teams.

Posted by: natrat | August 10, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

So basically (if you use 70 and 400 instead of 71 and 401)... and you use 4400 as sort of a common denomonator...

The Post mentions the O's rookie 280 times for every 4400 times they mention the Nats'.

The Sun mentions the Nats' rookie 33 times for every 4400 times they mention the Os'.

Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

NatsNut, I think the "The Team Just Due North of Us" that natsfan1a was taking about was the O's, not the Phils. I can't speak for everyone else on here, but I already despise both teams, albeit the Phillies quite a bit more.

Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to keep talking about this ya'll but I can't stop cracking up about the video clip of Flores blocking Roberts. I mean, Roberts gets stopped cold. And then it looks like Flores gives him another little shove with the glove just to make sure he doesn't think about touching the plate. I think it's my favorite clip so far.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I was referring to the Blo's, by means of a turn of phrase used at one point by Sect. 506, I believe it was. Sort of a blogger homage, if you will...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Matt: Oh. Right.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

... according to ladson this a.m., Felipe Lopez is playing much better now, because he dealt with a few family issues during the AS break. Well, I want to be as tolerant and understanding as the next guy, and I have a real positive feeling for Felipe; I like him. But it seems to me that in recent years, "family problems" has become an all-too frequent and terribly convenient way of saying, "I was lazy and somebody kicked my ass over it." Whatever the problem was, it seems to have been fixed.

... same thing with Nook Logan, I hear now. Jim Bowden took the little fella aside and whispered a few sweet nothings in his ear; things like "Suck it Up ... Now!" "Quit jerking us around, and get back to playing ball!" Now again, I am quite satisfied when a player receives a slight nudge in the right (or left) direction. But in this case, it causes me to wonder. Where is the hitting coach? Where is Manny Acta? Why was it left up to JimBow to do the dirty deed? Or perhaps I ought to ask "Why is Jim doing Manny's job? Why can't he stay out of it in the first place?"

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

natscan, on the other hand, I love our guys and believe that they play with a lot of heart overall, but such stories always cause me to wonder why a professional, major league, player should need a kick in the [RF] from anyone in order to be motivated to consistently give his best effort.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Outrageous! I direct myself to the sports page on washingtonpost.com, and what do I see?

"David Beckham makes his long- awaited MLS debut...in the Galaxy's 1-0 loss to United."

Loss to United? Isn't this the WASHINGTON Post? Shouldn't this have read something like "United Crushes Beckham's Debut Dreams" instead?

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 10, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

natscan, after a second reading of your post, I suspect that my "other the other hand" was misapplied, as your first paragraph seems to indicate that you may have been thinking along the same lines as me.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Possible replacement headline, just for grins, "DC Dooms David's Debut" :)

---

Loss to United? Isn't this the WASHINGTON Post? Shouldn't this have read something like "United Crushes Beckham's Debut Dreams" instead?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Same thing happened with Bergmann. He really struggled in his first two outings, and Bowden came down and yelled at him for walking too many guys. His next starts were the post productive of his career.

-----

Why was it left up to JimBow to do the dirty deed?

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 10, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I would like to point something out...

When discussing the "best/toughest divisions in baseball", (correct me if I'm wrong), the NL East is almost NEVER mentioned. However, the two teams tied for last in our division both have 53 wins. There's only one other division in baseball whose last place team even has 50 wins (the AL Central).

You could make the arguement that this says more about the talent at the top of other divisions than it does about the talent at the bottom of ours, but I would submit to you that you might not be able to find a tougher top-3 teams in a division than NYM, ATL, and PHI.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Ah, I absolutely adore aliteration.

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Possible replacement headline, just for grins, "DC Dooms David's Debut" :)

Posted by: John in Mpls. | August 10, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

(I mean alliteration. My English degree was just revoked for that.)

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 10, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, me too! Sadly, due to my ignorance of pretty much all things soccer, I couldn't use any of the lingo in my head...

---

Ah, I absolutely adore aliteration.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

John, nah, you get bonus points for noticing and correcting. :)

---
(I mean alliteration. My English degree was just revoked for that.)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

natscan, on the other hand, I love our guys and believe that they play with a lot of heart overall, but such stories always cause me to wonder why a professional, major league, player should need a kick in the [RF] from anyone in order to be motivated to consistently give his best effort.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 09:43 AM


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

... I agree with you on this point, natsfan1a. I am a firm believer in professionalism. It's for that very reason that I have no quarrel with a kick in the pants as an impetus. For a professional, it ought not to be required, but for that very reason, for a professional it ought to be used sooner rather than later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Same thing happened with Bergmann. He really struggled in his first two outings, and Bowden came down and yelled at him for walking too many guys. His next starts were the post productive of his career.


Posted by: John in Mpls | August 10, 2007 09:49 AM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

... right you are John; you've reiterated my point in regards to the frequency of the situation, but the question still remains: "Why is it JimBow that takes on this role?" Shouldn't we read instead that "Manny reamed the guy out"?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I have no idea. I think it's a disturbing trend, though. In the Bergmann incident, I originally thought Bowden was out of line, stepping far beyond his role as GM. Now I'm starting to wonder.

-----

... right you are John; you've reiterated my point in regards to the frequency of the situation, but the question still remains: "Why is it JimBow that takes on this role?" Shouldn't we read instead that "Manny reamed the guy out"?

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 10, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Bitter Barry sez: "How many stories have we had on the Orioles' first-round pick?"

Why the bitterness, Barry? Do you wish you were being assigned to write about the Orioles' first round pick instead of covering the Nats and all the attendant Bonds hoopla this week?

Seriously, though, since it was me who raised the whole "why is the Post covering the Orioles so much instead of covering the Nats?" issue in the first place, let me chime in now to give the Post its props. During the HOF weekend I opined in this blog that the Post ought to emulate the way Cal ended his streak (i.e. no advance hype, no fanfare, he just did it) to end the streak of excessive O's coverage in the Post by doing its Cal HOF blast and then dialing the O's coverage back to Ravens level. Guess what? That's exactly what the Post has done. Kudos to them for doing that. And if the Post wants to claim that this was The Plan all along, and give myself and others no credit for prodding them in the direction of actually covering the HOME team, well that's okay with me. I'm just happy they have finally seen the light, and I hope it continues into next season. The annual Baseball Preview section will be the acid test, though, won't it? This year, it was evenly split between Nats and O's. Will that be true next year? Let's hope not!

Posted by: Section 419 | August 10, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

estuartj, I dearly hope that Willie Mo Pena never touches the outfield grass in Nationals Park (or RFK for that matter). He is just a terrible defensive fielder and if he is not hitting a home run he is striking out in horrific fashion. I don't think even killing a chicken is going to help that guy. Dunn is pretty much that same thing (altough with admitted more pop). While we need a homerun threat it should not come at the expense of baseball fundamentals. Rowand and Crawford - now those are two players I'd like to see in Nationals red and white next season.

Posted by: Nats Fan In KC | August 10, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Few, if any, perform well without *some* guidance. That applies to some degree no matter how many zeroes are at the end of the salary check.

And, after all, that's part of what coaches and managers are for.

Posted by: Hendo | August 10, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday's line-up was very intersting. I hope Manny continues to tinker with the line-up here and there to take advantage of hot batters. You don't want to change up the line-up on a whim, but you shouldn't be locked into a line-up if it's not producing.

My vote for tonight (since we have probably 6 hours before we'll know);

1. Lopez (SS)
2. Logan (CF)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Young (1B)
5. Belliard (2B)
6. Kearns (RF)
7. Church (LF)
8. Schneider (C)
9. Chico (P)

Posted by: estuartj | August 10, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I can see your points about these guys being professionals, being paid huge bucks to be motivated. But I understand their ups and downs. No matter who you are and what you're being paid, it's impossible to stay up that high, consistently, day-in and day-out. I had one week where I went to 5 ballgames. It wore me out and I actually felt like I needed a break. It was the first time I got even an inkling of how long the season must really be for them. Plus, they're human.

As for JimBow intervening. He's not doing anyone's job for them. Sometimes mom can talk, lecture, cajole, and scold til she's blue in the face, but one stern word from dad sets you straight. That's how I see it anyway. A ballteam can be a village too.

The one thing that stood out for me on the JimBow story: "Logan said. 'He wanted to let me know that people know what's going on, even if they are not in the dugout. They saw my body language and everything.'"
Was JimBow talking about us?

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"While we need a homerun threat ..."

Nats Fan in KC,

... au contraire, mon ami. I think that a home run threat - another one - would be useful. But what we need is a defensive-minded, quick-as-lighting center fielder.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

re Bowden giving a kick in the pants to slackers like Logan or Bergmann or even FLop (if he indeed did so), I have no problem with that. I do not think he is usurping Manny's role in doing it, either. Look at it this way: Logan enters the season as the starting CF, but gets hurt and underperforms when he returns. Manny gives him the appropriate kick in the pants by platooning him with Langerhans (no stud he, either) and Logan continues to underperform. What else can Manny do at this point? Scream and yell? What good would that do? A word from Bowden, though (which may or may not have been "Hey boy, you know you're _real_ close to the edge of not being on this team any more if you don't step up and perform the way we were expecting you to when we brought you here") seems to have lit a fire under Nook. What's the problem with that? Could we get JimBo to have a similar chat with Fick, Langerhans, Kearns, etc, etc - even if it means putting up one of those "take a number for faster service" things next to Bowden's chair in the clubhouse? Please, could we?

Posted by: Section 419 | August 10, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

We need Torii Hunter.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Hendo,

... agreed insofar as your use of the word 'guidance'. I fear however, our disagreement likely arises in our understanding of 'guidance', and more to the point, 'guidance' towards what.

... coaches at the MLB level must provide guidance in terms of how to evaluate the opposition, how to anticipate the play and respond at this highly evolved level. They are not expected to spend their time or talent providing guidance - to professionals - about motivation, enthusiasm and energy.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I hardly expect the Post or any other media outlet to be a PR team for the Nationals. They have people they pay to do that. If the Nationals play badly, the Post should report it. And when the Nats do play badly, boy does the Post love reporting it. But, it seems to me that since the day the Nats came to town, the paper has always taken a dim view of the team and there has always been a negative slant to the coverage, even when the team was doing well. I'm not saying the stories aren't well written, but that they all possess a certain tone. The Post isn't obligated to love the team or even like then, but the disdain shouldn't show on the page.

Anthony D. Langford

Posted by: Anthony D. Langford | August 10, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

... I've wanted to, and even looked for opportunities to, post the following as a Nats slogan, perhaps even a T-Shirt:

"MannyActa-Of-The-Year"

... but this morning's discussion, of which I myself have had some part in launching, has caused me to reflect on the managerial style of Manny Acta to the extent that I think I need more evidence that this is HIS team, and that he has unencumbered control, before I can safely urge others to join such a band-wagon.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

It's quite possible NatsNut, that they picked up on our discussing his looking bewildered and lost half the time out there. In that WETA program, they interviewed someone with the Nats Communications Department who talked about how much they monitor fan reactions and that she reads about a dozen of the top Nats blogs every day. (They showed screen shots of the Curly W, Capitol Punishment, and a few others, but, again, no love for the Svrluga. Barry we need an investigation into why the WETA program shunned beloved local print reporters.)

_________
The one thing that stood out for me on the JimBow story: "Logan said. 'He wanted to let me know that people know what's going on, even if they are not in the dugout. They saw my body language and everything.'"
Was JimBow talking about us?

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 10:31 AM

Posted by: JennX | August 10, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to step out on a limb and say that I, for one (and probably only one), have to hard feelings for the Orioles. I grew up going to games and loved the O's teams of the early '90s.

I look on them now in pitty. When Peter Angelos bought that team it was like watching Cuba fall to Castro's Communists. You still love what they were, even knowing it's gone forever.

I cannot bring myself to root for them under any circumstances, but the nasty barbage Anglos has done to DC is nothing compared to what he has done to Baltimore. The final straw for me was the firing of Davey Johnson after getting them to the playoffs. At that point is was quite clear that owning the team was all about Angelo ego and not about winning championships for the city.

It's great to see a team in DC that seems interested in the later, and seems devoid of the prior. Now if the Lerner's could just by the Redskins...

Posted by: estuartj | August 10, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

NatsNut,

... of course no one, even professionals, are at their best every day, every game. But professionals are designed to recognize when such things become unbalanced and are capable (and expected) to take action on their own to remedy the situation.

... IMHO, it is evidence of a lack of professionalism when it becomes necessary for the coach or manager to intervene - in a way as an 'outside influence' - to put a change into effect.

... as you noted from the story: Jim reminded Nook that others have taken notice of his slip in performance. To my way of thinking, Nook should have noticed the situation himself and acted to make changes before Jim (or Manny) ever approached him.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to start a big debate (I like Happy Barry). But I seriously can't see how anyone can say with a straight face that the Post has a negative slant toward the Nationals.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Natscan, I'll gladly go out on that limb. Everything I see about the Nats -- and so much of it is good, however we read the numbers -- to some degree is a reflection of Manny, and on Manny.

Unless this is the biggest con job since H. L. Mencken chronicled the invention of the bathtub, the Nats are absolutely Manny's team.

Posted by: Hendo | August 10, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

How many times have the Nats been the #1 story on the front page of the WP sports section this season?

Posted by: pk | August 10, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Sigh.

While getting ready for work this morning, I put on ESPN's SportsCenter to catch some highlights.

Lo and behold, I see that highlights from the Nats/Giants game are in the first 20 minutes of the broadcast (as opposed to being placed at the very end of the hour or in other cases never shown at all).

However, after the blow-harded lead up to the highlights (which consisted only of them mentioning Bonds sitting this one out), the highlights consisted of:

1) Nook's great diving catch
2) Bonds' pinch-hit popup to Zim

That was it. No Felipe homerun. No Hanrahan double. No Flores wiping out Dave Roberts. No pick-off from first base late in the game. It almost was if the Nats weren't even there.

Oh, and whomever the announcer was on ESPN ended the highlights with this nugget, "Oh, and the Nationals have a better record than the Giants."

Hello! We've had a better record than them for quite awhile now. Can we get a little love?!

Finally, the Beckham highlights on ESPN did not include a highlight OF THE ONLY GOAL SCORED IN THE MATCH! Can we at least see how the ONE AND ONLY GOAL was scored? Oh right, it's much better to see Beckham jumping up and down on the sidelines.

I guess ESPN has forgotten the "SPORTS" portion of their name and just focuses on the "ENTERTAINMENT" aspect.

Sigh.

Posted by: e | August 10, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the Post isn't, and better not be, a PR arm of the team. What stories are covered are very balanced. Negative issues are asked about, answered, and written. When a gem comes through, it's pointed out. Read just about any Svrluga story and you'll find at least one "Wow, that's cool" fact, statistic, or anecdote.
I daresay Swanni would argue Barry's not tough enough on the team.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 10, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Some nameless commenter sez: "But I seriously can't see how anyone can say with a straight face that the Post has a negative slant toward the Nationals."

Obviously, then, you don't read the Post often enough, or haven't been reading it long enough. Especially the print edition. You can't go just by what you see on the web - it's too easy to overlook things on the web, like page layout, article/photo placement and such, which do a much better job of revealing the paper's slant on any particular subject. The Post prints both positive and negative news and analysis about the Nationals, as it should, but anything negative about the Nats invariably gets higher play than anything positive. Negativity frequently spreads from Sports out into other sections like Metro and Style, positivity rarely does. The Post is great about casting negative impressions about the team (poor customer service at the beginning of the season is the subject of weeks of play in the Metro section, a sarcastic Style piece by Linton Weeks at the team's low point in early May, front page coverage of the extremely high price of a very small number of seats in the new park, with no analysis of the entire spread of ticket prices throughout the stadium, etc, etc) but rarely if ever does it follow up to show if these are isolated events or lasting trends. The result? An ongoing negative impression for readers who aren't willing to dig deeply into the Post's stories.

Yes, the Post does have a negative slant about the Nationals. But then again they have a negative slant on EVERY local team they cover, including the Redskins. The only exception might be DC United. Everyone at the Post seems to like them, probably because they (and their sport) are seen as the underdogs in this town. You don't believe me that the Post has a negative slant on the Redskins too? If you can, dig up and read the coverage of the George Allen era Redskins and compare it to how the Redskins are covered now. Night and day difference on how the Post covered the team. This is a whole new era in newspaper coverage of local sports teams. Cynicism, snarkiness and negativity all reign supreme - at least until a team starts winning big, when the press all becomes front-runners. Everyone likes a winner, but nice guys finish last. Especially the nice guy that lives in your home town.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 10, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Just in time. Barry's got a new post folks.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Can we please not be those fans that always complain that their not getting enough attention from the press (Post, ESPN, ETC)?

If we want better attention from ESPN, we need to win more games. If we were 9 games over .500 instead of below, we'd be on every night. We aren't, so we aren't.

As for the Post, it is a national newspaper, that carries over to the sports coverage, which is why we have Wilbon and Kornheiser. The Post considers Baltimore part of it's local area so they cover the Orioles as a co-home team. I don't have a problem with that, if Baltimore had a better owner we could do some great NL-AL cross marketing - there is no reason you can't be a Nats fan and follow the Orioles or go up to see a different stadium (Neeto, Bricks!), different teams (hello yankees!) and a different game (what are their pitcher's handicapped?).

The problem with all this is Angelos, of course the one person on a team you can't fire is the owner...

Posted by: estuartj | August 10, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The Post is not a "National Newspaper" any more than the New York Times or the San Francisco Chronicle or the Baltimore Sun are national newspapers. The USA Today is a national Newspaper.

Wilbon and Kornheiser, like many ESPN talking heads, used to be writers/columnists. Now they are ESPN personalities who occasionally write something for their old paper. The fact that they used to write for the Post and are now on ESPN is not evidence that the Post is a "national newspaper."

The fact that the Post for some unknown reason considers Baltimore to be part of their "local area", and cover the O's as a "co-home team" is what some of us are so irritated with. It is the Washington Post, they are the Washington Nationals. There is only one "home team", and 29 "other teams".

If you want extensive O's coverage, go to the O's website, or subscribe to the Baltimore Sun. Similarly, if you want extensive Twins coverage, go to the Twins website, or subscribe to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (Do I need to do this 27 more times?)

Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I love Livo too.

Posted by: Patty | August 10, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

ESJ writes:

"If we want better attention from ESPN, we need to win more games. If we were 9 games over .500 instead of below, we'd be on every night. We aren't, so we aren't."

Hate to disappoint, but the Nats have one of the better records in all of baseball since June 1 and yet they still are rarely mentioned/shown on ESPN. You'll see more Orioles/Rangers/Reds/Pirates/Devil Rays/Astros and even Marlins highlights on ESPN than the Nats and they all are just as bad overall as we are. Only we started the season poorly and have played good ball for the better part of three months. None of those teams can say that.

Posted by: e | August 10, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Hendo,

H. L. Mencken!

... is there no end to the reasons this blog ought to be elevated to the status of 'relevant social discourse'?

... I hope you're right and I'm wrong about JimBow pulling a number of Manny's strings. I really hope so; I don't want to give up on "MannyActa-Of-The-Year".

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 10, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

e: Just to pile on, be glad that you missed (1) Baseball Tonight last night, where they complimented "Nuke" on his great catch and (2) NBC4's Dan Hellie, who opined that "Nook is a great outfielder, but he needs to pick it up at the plate" (apparently Dan's been too busy moussing his hair to notice that Nook's hitting .347 since the All-Star break).

Posted by: joebleux | August 10, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

That's just cause they're confusing him with Nuke LaLoosh. A common mistake. ;)

---

Just to pile on, be glad that you missed (1) Baseball Tonight last night, where they complimented "Nuke" on his great catch

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post most certainly IS a national newspaper. Try getting the Baltimore Sun in Chicago, San Francisco or Dallas. You can get the Post at any major newstand.

This influence CARRIES OVER to the sports coverage and affects the coverage you get in the sports page as well as the front page.

The real problem is that we don't have an alternative newspaper. At least with the New York Times you can always grab the NY Post or the Daily News to get the real "local" fare that we all wish we could get from the Post (and do get for the Redskins, which is the only part that bugs me, but then again if the Nats won 3 Championships they would command the same type of coverage).

Posted by: estuartj | August 10, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Just because Washington is the nation's capitol, and thus covers more national isuues, and thus is more popular and can be found in more places doesn't change the fact that it is the LOCAL Wahington DC paper.

If it's such a "National Paper", and that CARRIES OVER to the sports page, whay don't we have similar sports coverage to the USA Today, where they cover ALL teams? Why does the Post only cover 2?

There is an alternative, it's called the Washington Times, and they don't cover the O's, which is why I subscribe to the Times paper edition.

Posted by: Matt | August 10, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Just read that Hill is scheduled to make another start in AAA, what's going on?

Posted by: DaveM | August 10, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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