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With 52 left, have your expectations changed?


Well, I hope most of you got to see the better part of that game last night. This MASN fiasco is frustrating - beyond frustrating, to be honest. There are lots of kinks in the entire Nationals' operation, but the television broadcast is the team's free three-hour commercial. Messing that up - whoever's fault it is - damages credibility with the fans, and it's certainly made more complicated by the fact that a certain guy up the B-W Parkway owns the rights. The perceptions, for everyone involved, are not good.

Preaching to the choir on "Faith Day," I suppose.

Here's your lineup:

Lopez - 6
Belliard - 4
Zimmerman - 5
Young - 3
Kearns - 9
Church - 7
Flores - 2
Logan - 8
Chico - 1

So putting the TV issue to the side for a moment, let's look at where this team is, which is 50-60 and threatening to move out of last place in the National League East. I was very up-front about my prediction before the season - 62-100, and firmly in last place. (Stan Kasten reminded me of that last night as he bellowed "Wrong!" in my face. I have a feeling that theme will be touched upon from time to time over the last 50 games.)

Anyway, to lost 100 games, the Nationals would have to go 12-40 the rest of the way. Not likely.

So with a five-game winning streak and eight wins in 10 games, I'm wondering what your expectations were before the season, and have they changed at all? Is this a last-place team, and does it matter?

Before I head to the clubhouse, I'll leave you with these pre- and post-All-Star splits:

Ryan Zimmerman: 88 games, .253 average, .302 on-base percentage, .435 slugging percentage, 14 HR, 19 2B, 45 RBI; since then, 22 games, .337/.398/.517, 3 HR, 7 2B, 15 RBI.

Nook Logan: 50 games, .227/.274/.300, 11 runs scored, nine stolen bases; since then, 20 games, .321/.390/.453, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases.


By Barry Svrluga  |  August 5, 2007; 10:28 AM ET
 
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Comments

As of this morning you are half right, the Nats are a last place team. Expectations for this team were so low that exceeding them is not much of an accomplishment. But it is good to see the team winning and I'm very happy that they will not be setting any records for futility. No matter what their final record ends up, sweeping the Os in Camden Yards to win the MASN Cup makes the season a success in my book.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 5, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I think that despite the great play lately we need to keep expectations in line. We all want to see the Nats play a post season game, but that first series will not be played at RFK.

First goal is to get above .500 at home, then pass the Marlins (today?) Then pass STL and maybe then start playing spoiler (kill those damned Phillies!) Then maybe make a push for .500 and maybe 3rd in the NL East.

All those are possible goals, but the biggest key is to finish very strong, especially against our NL East bretheren to set the tone for the off season and next year so we can build momentum for a fast start in the new stadium next year and make a legit playoff push for '08!

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I was so hoping that the Marlins would lose last night, to put the Nats in 4th place. They are playing great, but there is no guarantee they will play better than the Marlins from here on out. I expected the Nats to be in last place, but mainly hoped for them to lose fewer than 100 games. I figured that would be redemption enough. Now they are on a pace to just about win 74 games, which would beat their 2006 season by 3 games.

Here's my question: Joe Girardi led the supposedly awful Marlins to 78 wins last year, and he won the Manager of the Year Award by acclamation. If Manny manages to get the Nats to 78 wins, does he deserve the award? Why haven't we heard a single, grudging good word for him from the national press yet?

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Barry, I posted this comment late in the other thread, so you may not have seen it. Forgive me for repeating it here. But since you mentioned your Tolman notebook piece from this morning's $1.50 edition (remember, it's Sunday) let me ask you to clarify this bit from it:

"And [Tolman] had infielder Felipe Lopez slow up as he came into third, when Tolman was planning to send him home. Lopez was thrown out."

To me, this reads like Tolman first signaled Lopez to slow down, and then waved him home. From other accounts I've read of this play (I didn't see it myself) it sounded instead like Lopez was inexplicably loafing while running the bases, slowing down at an unexpected point, which thwarted Tolman's decision to send him home. In other words, the fault was Lopez's, not Tolman's, whereas the way you wrote it makes it sound like it was all Tolman's doing. Could you clarify this, please? I have personally seen Lopez loafing on the basepaths several other times, so I'd be willing to believe that he was doing it again in this situation.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 5, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the stats, Barry. And thanks for last nights post on Stan's ire. I called the Nat's office and was forwarded to JimBo's office and talked to a nice lady who actually called me back after looking into it. They fixed the Comcast broadcast about the 5th inning, but Verizon (which I have) never received the game. I share Stan's ire. As for the Nat's in 2007: If this is a "Historically bad season", I sure can't see it. I have really enjoyed seeing the team improve as the season progressed. Just the fact that we have so many young arms that have showed promise and players that give their all, on and off the field, have made this team for me truly "My hometown team". Thanks Baltimore, for filling in the baseball gap for 33 years. But Baltimore is not now nor has it ever been my hometown team. In the last five years I have grown to dislike (hate is such an ugly word) the Orioles simply because of Angelos and his efforts to keep baseball out of Washington. I still believe that he will sabotage any effort he can to keep the Nat's from being successful. It takes a little while for a team to earn the hearts and minds of the hometown fans. I believe the Nat's are well on their way to a very large fan-base. Of course, we diehard ex-Senators fans instantly were fans of the Nat's. However, with the character and play of our "Last place" team, I can see that the path they are on (the plan?) will bring them success and many more fans in the near future. Barry, thanks so much for all of your hard work and insight into our Club. Please keep up the great reporting.

Posted by: Nick from Germantown | August 5, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Nick, your thoughtful dedication shows what separates the fans from the front-runners.

But all are welcome aboard. See you this afternoon at RFK (motto: "40,000 Or Bust").

Posted by: Hendo | August 5, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Great writing Barry!

From day 1, my prediction was that the Nats would do better than '06.

Better leadership from Manny and excellent scrap picking by Bowden easily overcomes the loss of Soriano and Johnson.

Is there another last place team from which so many players don't want to be traded.

GO NATS


Posted by: Markus Kamau | August 5, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

No reasonable person should hope for anything higher than 4th place but I'm not reasonable and I believe in Joe Hardy and Roy Hobbs so I'm dreaming higher!

Posted by: Natstivity1959 | August 5, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ah, yes, Section 419, poorly worded on my part. Lopez slowed up voluntarily, not at Tolman's behest. I was trying to say that Tolman had Lopez slow up on him, if that makes any sense.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 5, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Baseball Prospectus (in a free article) wrote that many teams have unannounced deals with draft picks well over slot. If the following is true, the Nats stinking well better sign McGeary and Smoker:

"There appear to be plenty of deals where all the terms have been agreed upon, but they're just not signed and announced yet. All of these deals include bonuses that are far greater than the slot recommended by MLB. For example, Detroit has signed fifth-round pick Casey Crosby for what is believed to be $750,000; rumors abound that Atlanta has agreed to terms with first-rounder Jason Heyward for approximately $1.7 million, and the Yankees have agreed on several above-slot deals, including around $1 million for fourth-round pick Brad Suttle, and somewhere between $750-900,000 for tenth-round pick Carmen Angelini."

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, I was wearing the shirt and was there with my girlfriend. You should have said hello.

She gets "dragged" to a few games a year. She scared me last night when she expressed her love of Screech. Although, she redeemed herself a bit in the next inning when she said "that guy is annoying" in reference to Clint.

On a different note, Tolman should be praised (slightly) for not send Hanrahan home last night on the hit to right. There were a few boos in the stands but it was clearly the right call.
_______________________________
Mr. 300*,

We you wearing a save the meat t-shirt? I was sitting next to a guy on a date who had one on and I couldn't help thinking "is this one of the members of our blogesphere?"

Posted by: estuartj | August 4, 2007 11:52 PM

Posted by: Mr. 300* | August 5, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

It isn't so much that my expectations have changed... My expectations were about a process, and the question for me is how far down the road the Nats are in that process... and they are ahead of where I thought they would be.

That said, they could tank at the end of the season, and unless something drastic happened, I would say that they've still met my expectations.

The fact that the Nats record is better than most expected is really a testament to "The Plan"... they've done all the things that they've said they were going to do... The big question for me would be, does a 75-win season convince Kasten and Bowden that they're ready to make a run at it next year, and based on that, make personnel decisions (acquire players, sign free agents, etc) of a contending team?

Posted by: Wigi | August 5, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm sticking with my pre-season guess of 75 wins.

RE the draft picks, I think they sign one of the two, guess I'd rather it be McGeary so we get a better pick next year, than if McGeary doesn't sign.

Posted by: tomterp | August 5, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Expectations: I must admit that I was expecting 55-60 wins. Thus, they have far supassed my expectations.

I really didn't care about their record this year. I generally think that losing big is part of winning big for teams in our position (see Tigers and Marlins).

The only thing I wanted out of this season was to discover a few new talents and for the team to play hard and with class every game. They have surpassed expectations in both areas.

I firmly believe that this team is one of the most exciting teams to watch in baseball. I always look forward to going to RFK or WATCHING THE GAME ON TV because they seem to do something special every game.

Posted by: Mr. 300* | August 5, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Heading out to the park in 15 minutes taking along some neighborhood kids for a day game and to give their parents a break. I have heard about this Pepsi Family Fun Pack on MASN broadcasts - does anyone know if I can buy the packages at the ticket office at the game?

Looking to bring up the youngsters with an appreciation for a day at the park with OUR hometown team!

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I know Kasten and Bowden are playing things pretty close to the vest and don't want to "create expectations" but I'm dying to see how the plan outlines how to go from re-building to contending to champion. I'm not familiar with Kastens history at Atlanta so I'd love to be educated.

My specific question is when did he decide it was time to go get those one or two players via FA to put the team over the top.

I don't expect that with payrole going up as much as 30 Mil. that we'll go out and sign Aaron Rowand and Carlos Zambrano, but what are the likekly upgrades for next season?

The most basic question I'd like to ask Kasten and Bowden is "how good are we really?"

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Re: expectations -
There is no question this team has exceeded my expectations. And after a horrific April, my initial expectations seemed optimistic.

Mostly I've become sucked in by the heart and effort of this team. Resiliency, and willingness to stick together when everyone could've packed it in - especially when the starting lineup and Guze went down. All I've seen is scrappy fighting every game, until finally the bats are picking up a bit.

I have to say having castaway presences of Da Meat and Ronnie must have something to do with it. Their steadfastness, trying to get back into the game when given up for dead, and leadership have been part of it. Zimm's poise despite a tough first half showed his maturity. And to all the fill-ins who have pitched for the Nats this year, bravo! I'm amazed there's no talk of Manny for Manager of the Year, but there will be.

Re: final record - the W-L in September doesn't matter as much as the experience for the up-and-comers, so I predict a decline in the winning (hope I'm wrong). I'd love to see a breakout August continue. I'm amazed to say I'm thinking 75 wins too (and still hoping that's hit by the end of August!)

I still believe the record may have been in jeopardy had this team been in the AL, especially in the AL East. We're ahead of schedule on The Plan in my book.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I was in a similar boat as Barry at the beginning of the season, I predicted we would go 63-99. Now however I feel that we have the chance to win 70, so I will say 70-90. Which should garner Acta with some Manager of the Year votes.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | August 5, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

RE: Manager of the Year

I think it requires that someone notice the Nats first... I watch almost every game, and half of those are on video feeds from the other team... and certainly the play-by-play guys have not noticed the Nats yet... that is less true for teams in our division... but still, you rarely hear anyone saying, "Hey the Nats are 20 games ahead of where I thought they'd be..."

Finishing ahead of a few teams would help... finishing ahead of last year's record would help... and while I think he deserves it, I just think the Nats are a little too low-key for anyone to notice.

Posted by: Wigi | August 5, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

As low key as we may be (and I completely agree that we are) the times they are a' changing. This morning on Baseball Tonight Belliard snagged the #1 Web Gem for the week on his behind-the-back no-look glove flip to Felipe. Also on MLB.com they call the Nats the "hottest team in baseball".

Either way I am just as proud as I always have been. GO NATS! Sweep the Red Birds!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | August 5, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think if the Nats get to .500 Manny would have a good shot at NL Manager of the Year. Unfortunately so much of his sucess this year has been attributed to the Nats being "not as bad as expected" instead of the efforts of Manny and the players.

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

ShawNatsFan -- by the time you read this you'll know the answer, but yes you can buy Pepsi fun pack tickets at the gate. There's a page about this on the Nationals website under Tickets -- that would have been a good place to look first.

Posted by: Fun pack | August 5, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Barry - why does your boy Sheinin take shots at the Nats with every opportunity? In his column today, he uses one of his "3 Downs" to take a shot at the plan. I'm not the biggest Bowden supporter and I don't love the Dmitri signing, but it seems like with the way this season has played out you need to at least give the benefit of the doubt to "The Plan." A lot of teams with higher payrolls and worse records than the Nats in today's standings. Not that I want "homer" journalism, but it's always amazed me that four years ago Sheinin was a baseball writer in a town that didn't have a team - you would think that he would be generally pleased that we have baseball back but he's critical and cynical about this team at all opportunities. He deserves to be stuck on the joyless Bonds coverage and to have missed Cal in Cooperstown last week. Just my take.

Posted by: Dave | August 5, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Why aren't they playing Jimenez more? He looks to be a better hitter than Lopez. Probably a better fielder.

August and September are great months for power hitters in RFK. The ball carries further. I guess we are starting to see some of that.

Bonds might pass Aaron off of a pitch from a Nats pitcher.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

No problem getting the game on DirecTV last night. Saw that the game wasn't going to be on 20 so picked it up on 671, would've been hosed if I'd tried to record it, though. Ditched Comcast in 2005 and will NEVER go back, yes, I can hold a grudge!!!

Posted by: NATS MAN 21 | August 5, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

periculum-

I have to say, it wasn't very long ago that it was frustrating any time Jimenez came to bat, he was hitting so poorly. As it is, Felipe is really starting to turn it on at the plate right about now.

It can be hard to be patient. I wanted Nook Logan to be long gone, but even he is hitting well at the moment. Of course, he is still really clueless defensively, no matter how fast he is.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"Ditched Comcast in 2005 and will NEVER go back, yes, I can hold a grudge!!!"

NO one likes the St. Louis Browns. It would be nice if they went back there. No fan I know could ever get into B-more sports. We could never "dig" the Bullets. They were from Baltimore and still belonged there. Still do. The Wizards name change notwithstanding.

Its convenient (if you have the prerequisite disposable income) to be able to see both AL and NL games in the area. It would be nice if local baseball were portrayed that way. Both leagues with a "home" team entrant.

But personally I could never much stand Cal Ripken Jr. and his milk commercials. He, his father, his brother became a team soap opera. Brooks Robinson, behhhh. I like Frank better. I am and will be happier with a 3rd baseman named Zimmerman and whoever ends up as the NATs shortstop. I am really tired of the "O" during National Anthems. "Bird, bird, bird is the word." Sick of Cal Ripken jr. Ironman plaques and baseballs. Sick of "O"-"R"-"I"
I feel nauseous just typing it!

I am so glad the Nationals are doing all the right things. So right that they will soon eclipse the Orioles and their owner's desire to sell them for a very high profit. Angelos behhhhh.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

periculum-

There you go- Jimenez on deck.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"I have to say, it wasn't very long ago that it was frustrating any time Jimenez came to bat, he was hitting so poorly. "

The guy was hitting .368 in the AAA minors. With some power. Then he came up and sat on the bench. He was a big league starter not more than 2 years ago and did pretty well at the bat. He has played some and as he does his hitting has improved. Feel the same way about Flores. Once he starts playing every day I think he could provide a lot of the power they are missing. In Jimenez's case defense is not a problem. With Flores it was. But marked improvements have occurred. Isn't it time to stop preaching youth and rebuilding the farms and to start playing them? Especially when the starters seem to be floundering at the plate. Jiminez isn't "youth" but starting him at short might light a fire under Lopez. He and Kearns play as if they need another stint in the minors?

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Since Kearns and Lopez are waking up at the plate, and have played pretty well defensively, I am happier to let them play.

The point of Jimenez's minor league number intrigue, me, though. Like Jimenez, Michael Restovich is hitting pretty well, especially for power. He wasn't doing too much up here, though. It seems that there are certain players that can hit really well up to the AAA level, but seem to wilt on the big stage (Kory Casto didn't get a long chance, but also fits).

BTW- Remember that Jimenez was utterly awful defensively in Spring Training, which was most of our first exposure to him.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Expectations: the pitching has improved markedly and may continue to do so when Shawn Hill and Bergman return. Might not ever see Patterson, O'Connor, or Simontacchi again. Defense is still porous in places.

Offensively Zimmerman and Young appear to be trying to light a second half spark. They need another hitter with power.

.500 seems possible if they can run up a long hitting streak or two. With only a couple of players they could stay over .500. They get
Nick Johnson back and he hasn't forgotten how to
hit. They move Young to the outfield and add another player or 2 out there? Maybe Escobar ... but they could do better mayhap? And Flores becomes staring catcher.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"The point of Jimenez's minor league number intrigue, me, though. Like Jimenez, Michael Restovich is hitting pretty well,"

Jimenez is still their top hitter in the stats. Restovich is not hitting over .300. He has hit for decent power. Broadway is finally coming around and his average is coming up. Chalk it up to depression over not making the club. If he had kept working he might be up there now. And Young might have returned to the outfield. Casto is not hitting so well down there while playing 3rd. Most of the club seems made up of guys about to lose all their hope of making it to the majors. 30 year plus ages abound.Columbus is waiting for the infusion that will come from Potomac A and AA Harrisburg. Probably next year.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm with TomTerp. I, too, rashly, and not very loudly, predicted 75 wins. Seemed pretty foolish when they were 9-26. Now my concern is that next year's team may find this one a tough act to follow.

Posted by: Section 314 | August 5, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm ... Restovich now has 20 homers and a .288 average. Brandon Watson and Darnell McDonald are hitting over .300. .320 and .315 respectively. Perhaps not impressive given that Jimenez was hitting .368 until he was called up?

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Numbers don't always tell the whole story, how well are they hitting what pitchers and what pitches? Where are they hitting those pitches? I slap and dash hitter may have a good average in AAA, but will be overpowered in the bigs. A guy who hits fastballs might have good power numbers in AAA, but MLB pichers are going to make him look silly if he can't lay off changeups and sliders.

The managers and the scouts know how a guys doing better than someone just looking at stats.

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

"The managers and the scouts know how a guys doing better than someone just looking at stats."

That is partially true. But stats don't lie. The pitching in AAA is often comprised of former major leaguers trying to make a comeback or rehab from an injury. I note that Escobar's average dropped precipitously when he arrived in Columbus. Coliin Balester's ERA went up over 4. They are seeing some major league pitching and hitting. Particularly the pitching. You will see far more curves and sliders and fewer fastballs in AAA. More breaking stuff.

But you are right. They might recall a Restovich hitting .288 because he hits for power. Pretty hard to do at the AAA level. Whereas Watson and McDonald are basically singles hitters. Still immature. Restovich hits doubles and homers. The sign of a more mature hitter. RBI's show that he can manage the count and get the pitcher to throw him what he wants with men on base.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Nook, nook, nook! Sleals third easy, I take back all the bad things I said about him. I love having that speed in the line-up.

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I haven't joined in the Tolman bashing on here before, but sending the meat from 2nd on such a shallow hit was seriously stupid. Maybe if the had pinch run for him after they took the lead, but the bad throw made that look close, but that was the worst call yet.

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

So I frequently find myself defending Bowden, Kasten, Acta, and any number of players such as Guzman, Fick, etc.... But one thing I abosolutely CANNOT defend is the MASN deal. And although I continue to be an Orioles fan, I absolutely resent and am angered by the big Orioles truck outside RFK and the shabby management of the Nationals productions. I love Carpenter and Sutton, I tolerate Holiday and Knight, I cannot figure out why Baylor has a television job anywhere. I have been fortunate to have DirectTV for the last three years so I have seen almost every game since the team came to Washington. But the Comcast episode, the failures of the cable companies to turn on the games, and the poor quality of the aciliary programming on MASN are huge irritants. One thing we ought to be able to do around here is figure out how to get our Congressional Delegations stirred up. It's time to contact your Congressman, youce Councilman, Mayor, or whoever you choose to represent you. Somebody needs to look into this mess. Put the screws to Angelos, Selig, and even the Nationals. I'm glad Kasten is mad. Now do something about it.

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 5, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I'm predicting 30-22 to finish the year 80-82. That would be about 5 games better than I thought at the beginning of the year.

Posted by: NatBisquit | August 5, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

periculum and Kevin

Bill James did a study that showed AAA batting statistics are the equivalent to about an 82% reproduction in the majors. Obviously there are individuals for whom that doesn't work exactly, but it's a good guide post. Watson is hitting about .320 with an OBA of about .335. That translates to a .260 BA, and a .280 OBA with no power - about what he does when he comes up. He's not really a very effective MLB hitter. A .355 AAA hitter is a .300 MLB hitter.

As far as expectations, I made two friendly bets for dinner with two friends at the beginning of the year on 95 losses/68 wins as the under/over. I took the under on losses. I'm feeling pretty good right now. I would be happy if they went something slightly under.500 the rest of the way and finished with about 73-75 wins. One of my favorite baseball sayings is "streaks breed streaks". This little run is great but the law of averages is such that .500 ball over the last 52 games would be quite an accomplishment.

Manny Acta's effort far outstrips anything Giradi did last year. Let's remember he had Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, and the D-Train. Those three guys have more talent than anyone on the Nats' roster except maybe Zimm.

A couple comments on the game:

1. Ronnie Belliard is fundamentally sound. His technique on the relay throw after Edmonds double was a thing of beauty. That was the play of the game defensively.
2. The Nats need to resign Ray King. He's 33, but these LH relief specialist often pitch into their 40's. He's got at least five years left, and he's a wonderful veteran presence in an otherwise young bullpen. His one pitch DP was huge today.
3. Sutton and Carpy were talking in the 8th about why Jiminez wasn't running on the 3-2 pitch to Belliard - saying that if he ran and opened up 1st, the Cardinals wouldn't have pitched to Zimm. I don't agree, and I'd be interested in people's opinions. I know Zimm is great in those situations, but if they walk him, they are going from a RH .275 hitter (Zimm) to a LH .330 hitter (Young). I think they pitch to Zimm regardless.
4. Sutton made a great point about using Fick to bunt in the 8th. It would have been smarter to use Bacsik to bunt and save Fick for something else in case the game had gone into extra innings.
5. I agree that DAJ would be a good bench guy for next year. He may the small ball guy who can fill in at SS/2b.
6. On Nook and Jesus, we need to continue to stifle our exuberance. Nook Logan is going through a nice stretch here, but he is not the starting CF for a play off team. Jesus is getting more ABs which is good, but I think the opportunity is exposing him for what he is - a young kid who needs more seasoning before he's the full time guy. I stick with a 65/35 Schnieder/Flores split next year. Jesus is not ready to be installed as the starter.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

BTW - the Bill James minor league stats formula is particularly effective for players 25 years old or older.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey, great game to complete the sweep today!

Pujols in the 1st would've been out at any other ballpark. Kearns balanced things out with his shot that would've been out elsewhere too (nice to see him finally get a good few strokes this past week!). Zimm and Da Meat came through in the 8th, but hand it to Nook and DJ for getting it going. I too was curious why DJ wasn't running on the 3-2 count with the infield playing in with 1 out. The only thing I could think was worry about getting doubled-off on a hard liner, since the infield was playing to go to the plate rather than double play.

Obviously I didn't stick around for Mercy Me - I'm curious to hear more opinions from the peanut gallery.

Since I took a couple neighborhood kids, I was sitting out in the outfield seats most of the game. I was amazed how many families and groups of teenagers were just arriving at the 7th and 8th innings. The game was an afterthought, but if it brings new fans, I'm okay with it.

I heard a group behind me saying their pastor requested everyone who could to come to the game to "send a message" to the Nats and the media about the marketability of the evangelical christians in the area. So, that helped explain so many of the late arrivals, although they could've simply grabbed used tickets from departing fans to get into the concert afterwards.

Again, although I'm not thrilled about mixing religion with baseball, my preference would be that the Nats made the group call it "Evangelical Christian Day" or something more specific than "Faith".

(btw, don't even get me started about the whole "God Bless America" becoming entrenched as a 7th-inning stretch song since 9/11 complete with hats over hearts more solemn than the US national anthem...)

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Next time you talk to Stan, tell him the new programs/scorebooks are horrible! For the second game in a row mine fell apart as soon as I folded it open. It's bad enough that I have to pay $5 every game to get a scorecard. Some teams sell programs with all the info for $5 and simple scorecards for less.

Wish the Post was handing out papers with scorecards like they did in 2005

Posted by: Sec 515 | August 5, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Question for Barry: Dude, I know this isn't your call, but MIGHT the lead sports story in the Post tomorrow be the Nats 6th win in a row, maybe, huh?

Throw us a bone here. Y'all got five more months in which to lead with the Deadskins.

Posted by: bdrube | August 5, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

#4-

Thanks for the stats.

i love King, what a character, but left-handed specialists are always around. We should finally make a trade for a prospect.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Kevin -

Well... if they're "always around" then he's probably not worth a prospect. If LH specialists are readily available, why would a team give up a true prospect for one? The Nats might get a prospect precisely because of how valuable he is. I just like to take the known over the unknown. Veterans one can count on are important when building a winning atmosphere.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"I stick with a 65/35 Schnieder/Flores split next year. Jesus is not ready to be installed as the starter."

I think Flores has already shown that he is ready to be the full-time starter. I'd reverse it and say Flores/Schneider split of 65/35 over the next year. As an experiment they should try it over the next month or two. Flores needs to see pitching every day to be effective at the plate as well as behind the plate. He has the potential to be a superstar. Schneider has shown that he is a journeymen and not a starting catcher for a pennant winner. But Schneider is more than competent as a backup. The Cardinal's Duncan has 20 homers. I think Flores is capable of more.

If Acta wants .500 to end the season he is going to have to take some risks to raise their recent winning percentage even higher. The risk of putting Flores behind the plate more often seems a no-brainer.

Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

#4-

Not talking top prospect, but last few years we got Shairon Martis (doing better at Potomac), Jhonny Nunez (decent ERA a little lower) and Luis Atilano (for Daryle Ward- OK, nothing there yet). When we aren't playing for much, perhaps another decent but really low prospect would be worth it. Remember, so many of bowden's "scrap heap" acquisitions were meant to be trading chips, but we have done nothing yet.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

If we are going to trade a picher through waivers, and I'm not sure we should or will, but if we do maybe we should trade a starter. We traded a starter last year,and got a starter in return. IF we can match that value, MLB starter for 2 AA level prospect (and not suspects) I wouldn't mind seeing someone (Redding?) traded.

If we could get decent value for King I would be for that too, but only if it is decent value and if the Brain Trust is sure we won't have to go out and get someone outside of the organization to replace him (ie traber or bowie or a minor league guy).

Posted by: estuartj | August 5, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I am right there with you, Shaw. I am downright angry every time they do it. It should have stopped after Opening Day 2002.

Whose decision is this? Are there any parks that don't do? Or, is this a case where nobody wants to be the first team to stop doing it?
__________________________
btw, don't even get me started about the whole "God Bless America" becoming entrenched as a 7th-inning stretch song since 9/11 complete with hats over hearts more solemn than the US national anthem...

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 05:58 PM

Posted by: Mr. 300* | August 5, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Kevin and periculum -

Thank you for engaging in these discussions with me.

"I think Flores has already shown that he is ready to be the full-time starter."

He's had 100 major league ABs. Nobody has shown they're ready to be a big league starter after 100 ABs.

"Schneider has shown that he is a journeymen and not a starting catcher for a pennant winner."

Well... if you look at championship teams, many have a starter exactly like Schneider - cuts off the running game, handles pitcher well, doesn't hit a lot. Yadier Molina comes to mind. We just saw him. I do think Flores has potential and since Schneider doesn't hit LHP well, it would be a natural platoon.

"Not talking top prospect"

Why give up a proven valuable major league player who has 5-7 years of productivity left for a low/mid-level prospect? None of the names you mentioned excite me much. The scrap heap players Belliard, King, and maybe Jiminez are exactly the kind of guys you need on your bench to compete. This will be a competitive team by '09, maybe next year. These guys are important pieces.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree about the God Bless America "tradition". It is part of the enforced patriotism which can't be removed without repercussions.

I sure do love the song, and as Catholic, I am not bothered by the religious aspect. However, I really love that it is essentially a Tin Pan Alley song written by the beloved Irving Berlin, a Russian Jew.

Again, if it didn't seem so "de rigeur", perhaps I would appreciate the choice to include it. We all respectfully take our hats off for the anthem (no, forget Screech), and shouldn't have to prove anything in the 7th inning.

Posted by: Kevin | August 5, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr 300*

Again, many a conversation or discussion started by the "Save Da Meat" T-shirt today!

Based on your response, I want to clarify something -- I am not opposed that religions stand up for what they believe or to promote themselves. Although I admit I get annoyed when they do, I do believe there is a right to promote or say your beliefs in public. My problem with "Faith Night" events around the league (much more prevalent in the minor leagues, fyi) is that calling it Faith Night implies there is only ONE "Faith" which is not correct.

"God Bless America" becoming a de facto 7th inning stretch song around the league and the NFL, however, is another story in my book. There is no forum for discussion on how this became a song at ball games, nor is there any state reason to play it at them. On top of that, for the official stance of MLB that umpires take their hats off in honor of the song and even requests at many stadiums for patrons to do so, is not correct.

It is not the US national anthem, much less in the face that MLB is not only about the US - and that's without discussing the religious parts of it. Mostly, in relation to baseball, and sports in general, I'm a fan of the Bull Durham's "Church of Baseball" that doesn't need to be a pulpit for ANY other religion than praying for your team to come through... Like the Nats did today!

I'm going to leave my comments at that for now.

p.s. The "obviously" earlier about not attending the Mercy Me concert was implied to mean obviously because the time of my posting was 15 mins after the end of the game. In fact, if I didn't have to take the neighborhood kids home, I would've been interested in seeing what kind of crowd and "experience" the concert was, so I can be informed about this whole movement that is expanding into other parts of the American lifestyle.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Hello Folks,

... now I can spell it correctly: SWEEP! Yeah! Go Nats!

... glorious day at the cottage; good swimming, nice time in the kayak, couple of good beers to go with the burgers. All in all, plenty of reasons why summer is still vastly underrated.

... think of this. If the Nats had gone 17-17 instead of 9-25 at the first of the year, they would now have a record of 59-52; they'd be second in the division and second in the wild card race.

... so looking to 2008, with a whole year under Manny and Jim, and in the assumption that they simply cannot endure the same level of injuries two seasons in a row, and with Dmitri and Ronnie secured, and with a very promising bunch of young hot-shot arms, and with Zimm and Kearns not likely to have another poor year, it seems to me that the 2008 Washington nationals would have to be considered as contenders for the division or at least the wild card even if the CF position is not resolved and even if we don't know how the new park will affect the overall game.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 5, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

At the beginning of this year I truly felt the Nats had the potential to do better than 2006. Then came the injuries to the pitchers. I have been amazed and obviously pleased with the replacements such as Redding, Basik, Hanrahan, the success of Chico and possibly Lannan. Overall, relative success despite underachievement from most of the offense.
I believe, contrary to popular opinion, that next year if, likely an unrealistic if, the team is healthy, and they pick up one free agent(a center fielder) a wild card is not out of the Question. I actually think that the brainthrust behind the team thinks the same way, but could never admit it. Why else would they make such good moves, in my opinion, as signing Young and Belliard.

Posted by: j.Campbell | August 5, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Atta Boys!! Yahooo!!
I couldn't get home fast enough to check the score, and looky, looky there! 6 in a row!!! I really hope this gets good coverage in the Post in the morning.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 5, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

On the Schneider/Flores thing, I'd much rather Schneider calls the pitches being thrown to Mr. Bonds than Flores. If we take out Barry for a whole series, that would certainly get the baseball world to sit up and take notice.

Posted by: SF Fan | August 5, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Belliard seems to have done this behind the back flip a time or two before... Just got passed the following link. (9/28/05, when Belliard was with the Indians)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_13b0XZWkU&NR=1

Posted by: SF Fan | August 5, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

... regarding "God Bless America et al", can anyone tell me why the national anthem is played/performed/sung before a sporting event? What does it have to do with baseball or football or hockey or, ... or, ...?

'... to be clear, the same practice is also common here in Canada, and asking fellow Canadians the same question has brought no reasonable answer.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 5, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

SF Fan

I just watched that link. That's an even better play than he made the other night. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Natscan -

Playing the National Anthem before games was started during WW II, I think, as an expression of patriotism during a time of crisis. This of course is the identical origin of the new "God Bless America" tradition. I'm sure as the US progressed through the 50's with the Cold War, there was no great desire to stop it. Things like the McCarthy era probably didn't help.

As an aside, for those who don't know, the Cincinnati Reds officially changed their name to the Red Legs in the early 50's for a few years because Reds was a slang term for Communist.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

My preseason prediction - 60-102. I thought that Manny had great potential as a manager, but that ownership would lowball the talent and dollars to keep expenses to a minimum because this year was meaningless in terms of W-L and attendance in order to tread water until opening the new park, while finding a few guys who could play when it mattered later. Never thought they could do this. As Don Sutton has been saying recently, they don't play like a losing team.

That Belly is a heckuva ballplayer, isn't he?

To Shaw - Agree that God Bless America should be banned. Started after 9/11, with (to me)ugly undertones of "God likes us better than you evil Muslims." I will not remove my hat for that sentiment. I liked it better before it was co-opted, when it was just a warm, Tin Pan Alley tune sung by Kate Smith. That said, no problem here with Faith day, although it should have had a different name because faith takes many forms. Sorry to be negative about the song, I'm really a pretty cheerful guy.

MASN - You know, just know, that the O's will never amount to anything until they fix their karma. Small mean people never accomplish anything big. Shafting Washington with TV snafus and other second-class treatment will only deepen their future despair as they look up at us in the postseason while they wallow in their muck. And please, how did Don Baylor (former O, of course) get a TV job?

Posted by: Geezer | August 5, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"But one thing I absolutely CANNOT defend is the MASN deal."

Anybody else notice that MASN this early evening showed the Nats-Yanks June 2005 game where Zimmerman got the game-winning homer?

Could it be an effort to appease the masses following MASN's Cluster F- I mean, Charlie Fox last night?

Posted by: Juan-John | August 5, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah -- announced attendance at today's game was 33,000-plus. How many other non-"premium" games have gone over 30,000? If that's due to the Mercy Me concert (which I had no intention of attending anyway), so be it.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 5, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah No. 2: Who hits the go-ahead run today? ZIMMERMAN!!

Was that 8th inning not absolutely gorgeous, despite the blast furnace that was RFK?!?? :-) :-) :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | August 5, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Geezer -

As a female Muslim American who was born in an Arab country that is open and liberated, and as someone who has fallen in love with baseball, I'm happy to tell you that whenever I'm at RFK watching the Nats, and they play "God Bless America", I feel very patriotic. The issue that I'm seeing is that Americans are either too sensitive to the Muslim community or not sensitive at all. There is no middle ground.

What makes you think that when Muslims hear this song, they feel like they are being called evil? Are we a society that is analyzing too much to the point that we analyze a beautiful song that was written many years ago? If we are going to analyze, let us say that there is good and evil in every society whether it's Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu. Let us focus on the bigger issues on how to make the world a better place.

Posted by: royal | August 5, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Royal: Nice post! Well said. I see nothing wrong with playing the song in the 7th inning. It denotes the beauty and wonder of this great nation of ours...politics aside. Why does everything have to be political or about being politically correct? Can't we just enjoy the game and the song for what they are, the greatest game on the planet and a song about the beauty of our country? Just my opinion...

Posted by: Nick from Germantown | August 5, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

To acknowledge that Manny Acta has done a good enough job to be considered for manager of the year, the national media would have to admit that they were dead wrong in their prediction of how the Nationals would finish.

When is the last time those guys admitted they were wrong about anything?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 5, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Royal: Amen! I'm a Catholic who's lived in 2 Muslim countries while growing up. You're right. It IS " the greatest game on the planet and a song about the beauty of our country." Nuff said.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 5, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

On "Baseball Tonight", after Sunday's Nats/Cards highlights:

Buster Olney: I picked the Nats for 50 wins this year -- that was number 51.

Karl Ravech: Buster off on that prediction.

Olney: Just a little.

Ravech: If you have the Cardinals and 50, you could still win.

John Kruc: I think they're going to sweep another one...

So some props (and a mea culpa) for the Nats from the national media.

Posted by: joebleux | August 5, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, Joebleux (love the name, btw).

royal, I hear you, and I also don't see where the sentiment has to do with baseball. with the legacy of the national anthem(s) before games in baseball, basketball, and hockey, I feel there is a legitimately valid place for these songs before an event - they are state-oriented and respectful of the lands where these leagues perform.

I also don't believe that hearing "God Bless America" doesn't have a negative connotation to those of non-traditional ideas of "God" - as someone who has studied and written about world religions and cultural traditions, I think it is important to recognize the difference between the two. I will acknowledge that baseball is a CULTURAL tradition. To automatically append a religious slant to it is overstepping bounds, and the fact it has continued for 5 more years seems overstepping the original intent (however you might feel about that).

I love the cultural heritage of this beautiful yet slow game I love (as well as football, hockey, basketball) and appreciate the role they all play in our North American culture.

That's also why recent events in the NBA with referee influence does make a difference. The Vick scenario to me is more a factor of bad decisions that are relevant, but not widespread like the Juice over the past 15 years. Continuing to love the game after that betrayal by the whole league feels like continuing to love a spouse who had cheated for years and still making peace with it. What remains to be seen is how the reconciliation will happen.

I'm wishing by best to the team going to the west coast, and would love nothing better than a solid outcome (3 out of 4 if not better) without giving up Bonds's record breaker to give some credit where due.

I'd love to hear some "experts" publicly acknowledge the Nats this year. Even if they don't have to eat crow about their predictions, at least to acknowledge how much they've done with so little!

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Could we sing "Allah tabarak Amerika" as a compromise? Boy that would really make some people's blood boil!

I think that it's worth pointing out that the Nats' winning ways correspond with a bit of stability on the team personnel-wise. There's finally leadership and finally cohesion. Leave them alone for a bit and let's see what they can really do.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 5, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I attended Faith Day with a group of friends. I thought it actually took some effort to go to the concert, since it involved a wait after the game, buying tickets between the game and the concert, and re-entering via Gate B. And I think the fact that the visiting team was St. Louis made the atmosphere a little calmer than, say, if it had been the Phillies.

The concert was pretty low key - I was actually able to doze off. Veggie Tale characters put in an appearance, there were videotaped statements by Simontacchi, Langerhans and Batista (maybe 5 minutes for all three combined, and extremely difficult to understand with RFK's PA system) and a concert by MercyMe. It had an evangelical flavor, in that the comments were about faith in Christ, but no altar calls, no sinner's prayers, no testimony cards, no Bible thumping prayers for the heathen.

The group I came with probably would not have come to the game without the concert, and included someone who had never attended a professional baseball game, as well as several who had attended Orioles games, but no Nats games. But they all had a good time, and I think would consider going to a Nationals game in the future.

Posted by: Sect 534 | August 5, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

#4,

"He's had 100 major league ABs. Nobody has shown they're ready to be a big league starter after 100 ABs."

Neither did Zimmerman. Flores was rated just as high by baseball scouts when he was in the Mets organization. My impression is that he has learned a lot this year. Time to see if the talent pans out. And this guy has the potential to hit and hit well. Maybe he just needs a chance?

As far as " top prospects". They have a couple who could be ready next year to perhaps fill out the outfield. But I still think they need to sign someone perhaps like a Guillen or Soriano to anchor the bunch. He should hit for power and have speed. The Expos lost Vladimir Guerrero. That is the kind of guy they probably need to make a serious run next year. Seems like
the FO is good at finding guys like that in the free agent market.

Otherwise they appear to have everything they need both in terms of bench talent, pitching, and team chemistry. Just one guy, the right guy could make all the difference. And they can continue to build the farm system. Replace those aging ballplayers on AAA Columbus with recent draft picks and prospects via trade. That has yet to happen.


Posted by: periculum | August 5, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Ah, MARKETING. The true meaning of Faith.
_____________________________
The group I came with probably would not have come to the game without the concert, and included someone who had never attended a professional baseball game, as well as several who had attended Orioles games, but no Nats games. But they all had a good time, and I think would consider going to a Nationals game in the future.

Posted by: Sect 534 | August 5, 2007 10:44 PM

Posted by: "Bob" Dobbs | August 5, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Amazing what a six game winning streak can do, no? Keep that positive attitude and use it against the Giants for these four, because after that we're on a collision course with the Snakes that could look ugly. At least we'll get to greet Philly for the next homestand. I'm looking forward to some revenge for the razzing of Lannan.

So, the Nats are now on pace to finish 74-88. They'd have to go roughly 23-28 for the remainder of the season, so not even a winning average. An extra treat would have them continue their winning ways for an even better finish.

To the GB/A list. Again, this isn't really for any purpose other than to prove how wrong the experts were at the beginning of the season by showing the Nats aren't historically bad, in fact, they aren't even the worst team in baseball. Actually, you'll notice that the Nats are only 1.5 games removed from not even being a bad team, just solidly mediocre in the middle third of baseball.

30. Tampa Bay (42-68), .382 (-8.5)
28. Pittsburgh (47-64), .423 (-4)
28. Cincinnati (47-64), .423 (-4)
27. San Francisco (47-62), .431 (-3)
25. Texas (48-63), .432 (-3)
25. Houston (48-63), .432 (-3)
24. Kansas City (48-62), .436 (-2.5)
23. NATS!!! (51-60), .459 (--)
22. St. Louis (50-58), .463 (.5)
21. Florida (52-60), .464 (.5)
20. Chi Sox (52-59), .468 (1)
19. Baltimore (52-58), .473 (1.5)
18. Oakland (53-59), .473 (1.5)
16. Colorado (56-54), .509 (5.5)
16. Toronto (56-54), .509 (5.5)

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 5, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

SWEEP! Whee! Winning is fun.

Did anyone else notice that when Logan crossed the plate on Zim's single in the 8th that he picked up Zim's bat BEFORE he touched home plate? If anyone needs an explanation of why this makes me upset, let me know.

Ray King: one pitch, a nicely turned DP .. and the win. Awesome. That execution was surgically precise.

Yay for faith night if it brings new fans. The only saving that I saw going on in the park today at the hands of Cordero (but I know he was talking to Jesus).

And hey, props to both Chico and Wainwright for contributing to their own cause. I'm glad my hometown team is in the NL.

Posted by: i hate walks | August 5, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey 534, thanks for the report (and welcome to the club as I haven't seen your posting before).

506 - I have to agree with your comment about stability. It took Nook to step up and make some plays in the field and at bat, and some stepping up from the guys on the bench (DJ and Batista) and some continued frustration from "what ifs" (Langerhans).

On the Flores vs. Schneider question, I hear you about Flores being a legit talent despite today, but I can confidently offer that Schneider catching this make-shift staff in 2007 instead of Flores is worth at least 10 wins. In fact, with all the moving parts, he could be the team's MVP on the field at this point in the season.

I'd probably consider Randy St. Claire as the team's MVPerson this year so far...

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 5, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

To Barry's question:

No, my expectations haven't changed. I've been thinking that our team would find a way to be within arm's reach of .500 all season. At times it looked tough, but while I was freezing my keester off in April I kept dreaming about weekends like this one. It's cliche, but it's true: it's a long season.

Posted by: i hate walks | August 5, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

ihw: yeah, I noticed Logan picking up the bat before he crossed the plate.

I've noticed a lot of Nats being kind of casual about getting across the plate -- this is going to backfire one of these days when someone gets picked off another base to end the inning before the run scores.

Posted by: joebleux | August 5, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Logan picking up Zimm's bat does not bother me. In fact, given that he was scoring from 3rd base on a two out hit where there will clearly be no play at home, it's what he or the on deck hitter should be doing. Some unscrupulous coaches teach their catchers on a play at the plate to purposely throw the bat into the sliding area to make in more difficult for the advancing runner to slide and score. Nook was trying to clear the way in the case subsequent runners were trying to score - unlikely unless the LF bobbled the ball. I'd feel differently if he was scoring from 2nd or there was 1 out and he had to hesitate before breaking for the plate. Here though his pause to grab the bat costs him nothing. He may simply have beaten Dmitri (the on deck hitter) to the task.

Posted by: #4 | August 5, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the late post, not that the blog suffered a bit. All these discussions (including the one on topic) could fuel a week's worth of entries if Barry never posted another word.

Dashed perfidiously after the eighth to race to Vienna, joining a small group to celebrate a friend's birthday and remission from prostate cancer with a picnic and a little singalong. (Moody Blues at Wolf Trap.)

Now back safely at the hutch and donning the sackcloth and ashes in honor of our speedy CF:

Nattily-battily
Outfielder Logan, Ex-
avier Prente (Nook)
Goes on a tear,

Scores the game-winning run
Zimmerman-poweredly,
Sealing a dual sweep -- a
Feat once so rare.

Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | August 5, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Now on topic... I sliced and diced the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA numbers in March to arrive at this prediction for the NL East:

New York 89-73
Philadelphia 84-78
Florida 79-83
Atlanta 74-88
Washington 64-98

Which shows what a clairvoyant I am. Not only is Atlanta chugging along nicely, but the Nats would have to go 13-38 down the stretch to satisfy my prediction for them.

In my (real) profession I have often been involved in projects where we measured with a micrometer, marked with chalk and cut with an axe. Baseball punditry is not much different, so while Dad's out of the house, let's get out the axe and the glue gun and see what we can do from here.

For an in-progress SWAG, the 9-25 start is as good a place to work from as any.

April 2 - May 9: 9-25
May 11 - August 5: 42-35

Before Dad gets home, let's have fun and really abuse the model, projecting the latter clip of .545 onto the remaining 51 contests. That gives us 28-23 and an ending record of 79-83.

Scary and ridiculous closing thought: Teams have been known to lock down October eligibility with a .545 record. If memory serves, the team that just dragged their sad [RF]es out of the RFK visitors' clubhouse did so, or even a bit less, in the prior campaign.

As I say, that comparison doesn't mean beans for 2007, but it's something to ponder going into 2008.

Meantime, we have business in San Francisco. Go to it, Nats.

Posted by: Hendo | August 6, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Closing it down at the hutch with a lyrical suggestion:

Moody Blues shut down tonight with "Ride My See-Saw," which would be a fitting and energetic anthem (supposed psychedelic subtext aside) for the Nats' 2007 season.

Next time you're planning to attend a Nats game at RFK, load it onto your iPod and play it as you come up out of Metro or motor into the parking lot. And, Barry, could you hint to Stan that this ditty would absolutely rock the house if played between innings or as accompaniment to the pre-game highlights video?

". . . Run, run like a fire, / Don't you run in / In the lanes / Run for time. . . ."

Have a great week, everybody.

Posted by: Hendo | August 6, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Will some Post writer please mention in the paper the Nationals' recent team rankings among all major league clubs? They're really remarkable.

Among other things:

In the last 30 days, the Nationals have had the 14th best team batting average (.277) of all major league teams. Not great, but a lot better than their entire-season ranking.

In the last 30 days, the Nationals have had the third best ERA of all major league teams (3.46).

In the last 30 days, the Nationals have had the ninth best fielding percentage of all major league teams (.987).

And for the last seven days, it's been fantastic:

In the last seven days, the Nationals have the second-highest batting average of all major league teams (.360).

In the last seven days, the Nationals have the fourth-highest SLUGGING percentage of all MLB teams (.537).

In the last seven days, the Nationals have had the second best ERA of all major league teams (2.33).

In the last seven days, the Nationals have had the tenth best fielding average of all MLB clubs (.987).

To see these stats, go to www.mlb.com, click on "stats," then "sortable team stats," then "major league" and "timeframe," then 30- or 7-day time frames.

Posted by: Ed | August 6, 2007 5:14 AM | Report abuse

RE: God Bless America

I have to chime in on this one, too. I have no problem with singing the National Anthem at the start of the game, but I can't stand God Bless America. I find it particularly disturbing that everyone thinks they need to stand up and take off their hat when it is being sung, too. It just reeks of the nationalism in Nazi Germany before WWII to me. I go to around 20 games a year and I refuse to stand during that song. Fortunately, they only seem to play it for day games, but I have actually had people yell at me for not standing during the song. So much for the "Land of the Free"...

Posted by: Brewer | August 6, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Royal and all -
Thanks for the more tolerant perspective on God Bless America. The "our God is better than your God" interpretation is purely my personal reaction. I'm glad it's not universal. When President Bush used the word "crusade" immediately after 9/11 it raised my hackles, and I associate GBA with that sort of religious undertone to politics/war, which I feel is inappropriate and counterproductive.

Now back to baseball!! Per the old comment, "I always thought the last 2 words of the Star Spangled Banner were 'Play Ball.'" I don't recall who should get the credit for the original joke.

Posted by: Geezer | August 6, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I see that politics seems to have reared its head again while I was away. I'm not gonna go ther but re. the thread topic, I'm very proud of the way our guys have played with heart and not rolled over for anyone this season. It's great to see them with a winning record at home now and sneaking up on the Marlins! I don't get into seasonal win-loss prognostications, so I didn't have specific expectations on that front. I was hoping for not historically bad (check), not being the worst team in baseball (so far, so good), and for shutting up or getting apologies from the talking-head naysayers around the nation (crickets...). If they reached .500 overall as per Manny's goal, that would be the icing on the cake, but I'll be behind them no matter what, in good times and bad.

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

make that "there" not "ther"

compulsively yours, I remain,

natsfan(E)1a

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 7, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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