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An introduction

Substantive or not, I found it unavoidably ominous, and just a tad funny, that on the day I moved to Washington, D.C., to prepare for a new life covering baseball, a Washington Post headline in the bottom corner of the Sports front read, "Chico, Nats, Struggling To Get the Job Done." So there -- I figure we've already gotten the best Matt Chico coincidence out of the way.

My name is Chico, too, and from now on, I'll be handling, or rather getting handled by, the Nats beat writing job at The Post. Here are the biographical basics, which you can freely use as ammunition in my darker moments: I attended Syracuse University (aka, the Harvard of Onondaga County). I'm 25. I grew up in Pittsburgh, working first for my hometown paper, the Post-Gazette. And for much of the last year, I've lived and worked for the national tabloid in Sydney, Australia, where I learned enough about cricket to answer any questions you might have about wicket-keeping, which I hope -- for the sake of interesting conversation -- are minimal.

Anyway, mentioning my nickname (real name is Aaron) is worthwhile if only because it explains much about my present life. Chico is actually a baseball nickname, earned around the age of 6, a point at which I routinely patrolled suburban Pittsburgh infields with an acrobatic fielding range reminiscent of then-Pirates' second baseman Jose "Chico" Lind. Or at least that's the similarity I prefer. I also hit like Chico, who in 1989, with the seasoning of 578 at bats, managed a .232 average. Shortly after my Little League coach, Michael Steinberg, started using "Chico" as a nickname, friends and family followed suit. I suppose nicknames can be weird like that. Sometimes I think they stick with a person simply because others enjoy saying the word, and Chico has an undeniable mellifluence. It sounds good even when your Chico of choice has just struck out looking for the third straight time.

I stretched my baseball career all the way toward the end of high school, mostly because I ignored coaching advice to cease immediately, but let's not over-glamorize things. My teams at Mt. Lebanon High School were good, and even produced future major leaguers Josh Wilson and Donny Kelly. But me? I played second base during practice and scorekeeper during games. Once a month, I contributed biased accounts of our games for the student newspaper.

In college, I learned to love both newspapers and writing. The craft fascinated me, as it still does. Turning an idea or a game or a personality into words -- the right words -- was a challenge that never lost its ability to reward me, thrill me and anger me. In the last five years or so, I've covered anything and everything: grocery-bagging competitions, national championship basketball teams, Joe Paterno, cold-case homicides, baseball and beer-brewing. I enjoy it all, because it ends the same way every time: I sit in front of a keyboard, and write.

So for the next days, months and years, I hope my words can provide a vivid link between the Nationals and those interested in them. This Journal, for better or worse, will receive much of my energy. Let's use this forum not just as a source for information, but as a meeting point for ideas, for questions and for suggestions. When I add too much personality, irreverence and music advice here, call me on it. If I post too infrequently, or perhaps if my posts are too long -- whatever -- let me know. If you're desperate to see more coverage of a certain player or aspect of the team, just shout. And listen -- if you know the best way for blogs to move in concert with the in-print edition, don't even bring the advice to me; call up your local newspaper chain and make yourself a millionaire.

My new gig here would be incomplete without a word about my predecessor. Barry has covered this team for every year of its existence in this city, and he's done so with an eye and energy and enthusiasm that falls somewhere between incredible and frightening. Bottom line, Barry is the man. He's helped me out big-time, even when my final weeks on the ol' Australian work visa delayed his chance to leave the beat and do normal things, like see his wife daily.

So now I've got a summer of baseball to write about. Lots of Manny, lots of outfielder-swapping, lots of Odalis Perez no-decisions, lots of traveling. In short, plenty of topics for the Nationals Journal. And by the way, if Panera wants similar love in this space from now on, it better find something to match Cosi's signature salad.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 12, 2008; 10:18 AM ET
 
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Next: Lineups from Shea

Comments

Welcome, Chico. We've heard good things.

Posted by: Natty Fan | May 12, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Welcome aboard Chico. Good luck. I've enjoyed your articles in the paper so far.

Posted by: 6th and D | May 12, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Chico, welcome. First off, don't worry about the posts being too long - many of us 'round these parts once got upset because 3 posts a day during spring training wasn't enough.

More importantly, we all share your thoughts on Barry but are eager to move forward with you. From the past few gamers and your maiden NJ post, I have been impressed. Best of luck and God speed on behalf of The Constituency.

And, oh yea, don't let Stan push you around.

Posted by: Corey | May 12, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

May I make a suggestion, Chico, as one of your first posters to Nats Journal. How about a moratorium on all things country music?

Posted by: Becker | May 12, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico!

Definitely rock us the music tastes in addition to the Nats coverage. It's always nice to make you seem human instead of a word processing robot.

There are plenty of cranky denizens here, but I think we all agree on our love for the Nationals. So if you keep that in mind, then no one is that bad a guy.

Posted by: NattyDelite! | May 12, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Chico, You're the Maaaaaan! Your gamer today was, once again, fabulous. We learned the good - 96 pitches from a Hill volunteering to go into the 8th(scoop #1); Aaron Boone's HR+triple (I saw a triple!!!); and the bad from Manny (something bad from Manny!!!) about Ayala "We're a little worried." (scoop #2) And we learned the ugly, that you're one of those salad-eating men.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Also, I'm not sure how well you have your finger on the pulse of these things....but if you could also act as Jim Bowden's personal beat reporter in your spare time then that's be appreciative.

Due to the obvious rebuilding nature that is this franchise and the numerous trade pieces currently on our roster - I, for one, would enjoy some rumors, thoughts, hopes, or prayers on the personnel front.

No need to go into any 007 spy stuff on ole Jimbo, just if you happened to overhear something.

Posted by: Corey | May 12, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"So my friend Amy said she's a little uncomfortable with JimBo's increased meddling recently.

I sorta get what she means, but where does the GM's line usually lie? Is it his choice and his alone to send O'Connor down?"

Tell your friend Amy that it's the GM's job to hire 25 guys and make sure they're there and suited up for the game, and it's the manager's job to put together a lineup and manage the players during the game. So if JimBo sends O'Connor down and brings someone else up, he's not meddling. He's doing his job. If he walks into the dugout during the game and tells Manny to pull O'Connor, THEN he's meddling.

Of course there always are (or should be) conversations between managers and GMs regarding player moves, but ultimately the final decision belongs with the GM.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | May 12, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Welcome aboard Chico!

Posted by: ButterSchultz | May 12, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

This was very funny from Boswell today:

When Acta looks at his mammoth team, which should have plenty of home run power after a major muscle overhaul since last season, he just shakes his head. "Look at us," he says. "Are we bigger than the Redskins?"

Wily Mo Peña (268 pounds), Dukes (241), Kearns (238), Johnson (237), Flores (230), Zimmerman (226) and Young (298) are indeed all NFL-size gents. Even the Nats' three middle infielders average 210 pounds. What's wrong with the big lugs?


Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Hullo, Chico! Glad to have you. It's good for you to ask for advice from us, so that when you get it, it won't seem quite so rude. We're looking forward to reading your stuff, you look like an honest-to-god phee-nom, so far, can't wait to get to know your work better.

Welcome

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 12, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Chico, welcome to DC and the Nats beat. I look forward to reading your work in the months and years ahead. Best of luck!

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 12, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Somebody needs to change the NJ portal - the logo that you click to enter this site-to have Chico's name. It says that National's Insider is kept up to date by Barry Svrluga.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Hi Chico. Great post! Nice to meet you. Liked your gamer this morning too. Fewer commas.
;)

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

BTW, hurry up already. It's time for a new post.

(he he)

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Chico, You're the Maaaaaan! Your gamer today was, once again, fabulous. We learned the good - 96 pitches from a Hill volunteering to go into the 8th(scoop #1); Aaron Boone's HR+triple (I saw a triple!!!); and the bad from Manny (something bad from Manny!!!) about Ayala "We're a little worried." (scoop #2)"

flynnie, it's okay to give the guy much deserved props for his gamer, but no need to go totally over the top and verge into the land of shamelessly sucking up. Neither of those so-called scoops you mentioned were scoops at all. They were both covered in the post-game radio and TV broadcasts, which included Manny's post-game press conference. A reporter does not scoop other reporters when they all get the same information at the same time in a press conference and decide to take it to print. Now I never took Journalism 101 (as I'm sure you never did either) but even still I know that's been true since newspapers were invented. Give Chico props if he does a good job, but don't start just mindlessly sucking up to him. That was probably the most unseemly aspect of NJ under Barry, all the mindless sucking up from so many posters that went on. Let's get rid of that in the new regime, okay? If he really does a good job sometime, tell him so. But don't just go all ga-ga every time he writes a word.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | May 12, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Barry: Your excellent writing and prodigious output helped turn me from a casual fan into a full-fledged Nats-obsessive. For that, I thank you. My wife, however, has added "Svrluga" to George Carlin's list of dirty words.

Chico: See, now you've gone and made your first mistake. By sharing your given name, you've made it easier for the Constituency to get all scoldy ("Aaron Middlename Harlan you get back to this blog and post something trivial THIS MINUTE!")

For those worried about a drop-off in snark, this sentence from today's gamer should provide some comfort: "He refused to comment about his latest performance, saying, in English, 'I don't speak English.'"

A rain-out tonight might be just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 12, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

welcome to the Family, Chico.

Posted by: MrMadison | May 12, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This may be an exciting time to be the Nats beat reporter. JimBo's crack about Daniels and Maxwell smells like desperation to me. Or at least hints of some organizational fault lines.

Have at it.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | May 12, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey Cap Hill, Hundred bucks says I can get us a rain-out for tomorrow.

Now, who's up for catching the shuttle to La Guardia, picking up a 6-pack on the corner somewhere in Queens, breaking into Shea, and setting off the sprinklers? - While we're at it we can bury a Nats jersey in the concrete (who we putting in there? Manny? Zims? Frank? Jim's leather pants?)

Posted by: Corey | May 12, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

ABM, I'm sure that even Chico has checked out enough of the NJ archives to know not to take any of us too seriously, with flynnie towards the top of the list. After all, flynnie also says that Bob Carpenter is one of the best play-by-play guys around.

Posted by: Carpenter stinks | May 12, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

chico how and why did you end up in australia?

Posted by: dk | May 12, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Chico -
Good to have you aboard, sir. I'm enthused and encouraged at the Nats Journal's prospects for the future. Barry will be dearly missed (as will his excellent tastes in music) but your passion for the two things I find most enjoyable in this world - baseball and writing - should serve you well. Welcome Home!

Posted by: AJ | May 12, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Now, seriously, it's been two hours, we're ready for another post now. HA!

Posted by: AJ | May 12, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Nationals Journal is dead. Long live Nationals Journal.

Posted by: Mick | May 12, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"After all, flynnie also says that Bob Carpenter is one of the best play-by-play guys around."

What have YOU got against ol' Bob?

Posted by: AJ | May 12, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Chico Suave, lookin forward to your posts. Rumor control is always of high interest, thanks!

Posted by: G-town | May 12, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico!

Posted by: Jason | May 12, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to our little slice of the world Chico.

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 12, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

Ask questions that make people cringe. They provide better answers. I have no history with Cricket but I think your West Pa background will fit nicely with the mentality of stubborn reporting.

Welcome, and ignore the insane individuals that make up the journal. Lunatics abound.

Posted by: theraph | May 12, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Chico - welcome aboard.

As for the $100 bet re tonight rain out, as a resident of the tri-state area, my guess is that they will get a game in only if it's played on the Ark.

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | May 12, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

He's having some warm milk and a panini at Panera, he'll be back soon. New post up shortly

Posted by: Chico's mom | May 12, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"A long fly ball! It's deep! (Insert NL east outfielder here) goes back! See! You! La- and it's caught 20 feet shy of the warning track..."

Posted by: Carpenter stinks, indeed | May 12, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico. And good luck with this group. Most of them don't bite.
Most...

Posted by: section 138 | May 12, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I think DK was attacked by a koala as a young child. He seems verrrrrrry suspicious of the whole Australia thing ...

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 12, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico, and thanks for the explanation on the nickname. Now we don't have to wonder whether your parents were Marx brothers fans. :) Personality, irreverence, or music advice (on any genre) are not negatives, IMO. As you may have noticed, you are likely to get advice from some quarters whether you ask for it or not, but thanks for asking. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

An Briosca Mor, and Stinker, if there is one theme in your commentary it is to crush the happiness of others - to make people feel embarassed for caring or having fun or showing enthusiasm. You find enthusiasm especially distasteful. What toxic grey landscapes must greet you every day! And I cannot imagine the personal hells that got you to where you are. I will pray daily for your joyless souls.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I would think dingos, Cap. Hill.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico. As you can tell from reading these posts, we are a varied and opinionated lot and for the most part very well versed in Baseball.

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | May 12, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

G-day Chico... Best of luck!

Posted by: Son of NatsNut | May 12, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

eh, don't mind them, flynnie, you're A-okay in my book.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

awwww, how sweet

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

though I'm sure he's a nice boy, he's not MY son. ;)
__________
G-day Chico... Best of luck!

Posted by: Son of NatsNut | May 12, 2008 12:54 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

You're joking, right?
______________________
"After all, flynnie also says that Bob Carpenter is one of the best play-by-play guys around."

What have YOU got against ol' Bob?


Posted by: AJ | May 12, 2008 12:33 PM

Posted by: Carpenter stinks | May 12, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico. One ground rule, though: when Syracuse comes to Washington to play Georgetown, we root for the Hoyas!

GU'83

Posted by: Ashburn | May 12, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Ga'day Chico!

Bienvenido to The Constituency!!!

Posted by: Nats=Class,class,class | May 12, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico!!

As a life-long Buccos fan, although they're now #1-A, I'm very familiar w/ the original Chico. I saw him many times when he played here in PW w/ Bonds and Bonilla in 1985.
Best of luck with the Nats gig, don't think you'll have to worry about too many postings, seems we junkies can't get enough!!

Posted by: NatsMan 21 | May 12, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Dad, don't push me away??? I love you!!! ;p

all kidding aside, my father uses natsnut too... he's natnut on natsfanatics.com... so thats why i used it. I will come up with something else to avoid confusion. ;p

Posted by: Son of NatsNut | May 12, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The five hardest words to say, or write, are "I apologize I was wrong." Your stories have just the right amount of Philly-New Yprk-Boston attitude that I read and enjoy daily on out-of-town websites. As Vin Scully would say "Pull up a chair and stay a while."

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 12, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the very friendly introduction, Chico. You are a good guy to take on the job of blog leader for us. Very good work on the gamers. Before the Nats came to town, I bought the dead-trees edition maybe three times a week. Since they arrived, I've bought it every day (even in the dead of winter) so as not to miss a bit of Nats news.

I may be thick-headed, but is An Briosca Mor an unusual name or a play on words that I am failing to understand?

Posted by: Section 109 | May 12, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

As a Mt. Lebanon grad ('57) and long distance Nats fan (in San Francisco, via Montreal), welcome

Posted by: clarquito | May 12, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

So tell me this Chico:

How is Hill feeling after a 90+ pitch quality start? His arm better/worse/same in terms of tightness?

Posted by: Mick | May 12, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Um. I'm a girl.

But thanks for the explanation. Now it doesn't seem so creepy. ;)
________________
Dad, don't push me away??? I love you!!! ;p

all kidding aside, my father uses natsnut too... he's natnut on natsfanatics.com... so thats why i used it. I will come up with something else to avoid confusion. ;p

Posted by: Son of NatsNut | May 12, 2008 1:12 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | May 12, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"I may be thick-headed, but is An Briosca Mor an unusual name or a play on words that I am failing to understand?"

Neither. It's a legitimate phrase in a language that's not English, but which is the official language of a country where English is the common spoken language of the people. That should be more than enough information for anyone to figure out what it means. I'll grant a legitimate scoop to whoever is the first one to do so, if y'all want to play. Even flynnie is eligible. Prize TBD if and when someone wins.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | May 12, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Chico- I look forward to your articles and I'd LOVE for you to be the first and most reliable source for TRADES and potential Nats trades since we're still in building mode.

Thanks!

Posted by: Tim | May 12, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Bring it Chico!

Posted by: mjwies11, Section 320 | May 12, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Chico-

This is good. You are getting a full dose of the local flavor from the Constituency right off the bat.

Some are positive, some are negative, but most are just plain fickle. I personally am feeling pretty grumpy about the team right now, given that 6 games ago dreams of a .500 record danced like sugarplums in my head.

Posted by: Positively Half St | May 12, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico! Great post. I'm an Orioles fan, but I'll try to keep tabs on your Nats journal as well.

Posted by: Joe the Fan | May 12, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

ABM: Just how big of a biscuit ARE you?

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 12, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Young Master Chico.

Good introductory post and gamer. Looking forward to reading your stuff.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 12, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, would love to see J-Max back up here with the big team. Not just because he's a Terp either. He hit the snot out of it when he was up here at the end of last summer. I would love to see him play in place of a certain ball dropping, spin-in-the-batter's-box-when-he-takes-a-strike, hot dog.

Posted by: 6th and D | May 12, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico! Thanks for the background info.

Posted by: William | May 12, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

OK ABM: The phrase is Irish I believe. Just don't ask me for the Celtic/English translation.

Posted by: BIM | May 12, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Re: An Briosca Mor

I think it's a Gaelic saying, but I don't know what it means. Ireland or Scotland would fit the description of the country, though I would wager on Ireland.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 12, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Welcome. And though we're losing a Svrluga ("pronounced just like it's spelled") I assume anyone from Pittsburgh must also have some Slavic blood and a solid appreciation of baseball fundamentals.

Posted by: Bratislava, Slovakia | May 12, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

An Briosca Mor: A great death? If I remember correctly from the Irish Famine memorial up in Boston.

Chico: I wear two red jerseys. One says Milledge. The other says Papelbon. Sorry. Welcome aboard!

Posted by: PTBNL | May 12, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

An Briosca Mor - isn't that Irish? Something about "another cookie please"?

Posted by: 6th and D | May 12, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico (how original),

As a lifelong resident of the DC area, I can impart my one Pittsburgh story. In 1969 my father took my brother and myself on what we have since named it, "The dying stadiums tour". I got to see games in the penultimate summer of both Forbes field and Connie Mack stadium. Ron Swoboda hitting a come from behind grand slam in the eigth inning to beat the bucs and Willie McCovey hitting a monster shot in the top of the 16th to beat the Phils. I just realized that they were two stadiums ago, with 3 Rivers and the Vet both blown up now. Boy do I feel old.

Anyway, glad to have you here Chico and Go Nats.

Posted by: Medium-sized_Mac | May 12, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Panini... There's an old watering hole in Downtown DC that used to be called Boss Hawk's. It was located over the Dutch Mill resturant. Well, I guess a year or more ago somebody bought it and gave it a top to bottom make-over. Stopped in there on Friday for the first time since new ownership took over. Wow! What a sports bar. It's actually called the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. I had a Cuban on Friday. Most excellent.

Posted by: 6th and D | May 12, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Whooops... sorry about that. Yes it must have been pretty creepy. lol. ;p

Posted by: Formally Son of NatsNut | May 12, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico.

The only thing I can tell you is that there's never, ever enough Nationals news.


And, not as a criticism of your gamer (excellent, by the way), but to contribute to the baseball-talk in here: Did anyone notice that Aaron Boone was about 20' shy of the cycle yesterday? His last hit was into the right-field corner and just a little more power and that would have been a double for sure.

Besides Wilkerson in '05, what other Washington National has hit for the cycle? Anybody?

Posted by: i hate walks | May 12, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico.

Oh -- and in addition to the below, don't ever let me hear you say anything nice about the Penguins!
___________________________


Welcome, Chico. One ground rule, though: when Syracuse comes to Washington to play Georgetown, we root for the Hoyas!

GU'83

Posted by: Ashburn | May 12, 2008 1:01 PM

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | May 12, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

An Briosca Mor: sounds Gaelic. By your description, could also be Welsh.

Welcome, Chico!

Posted by: samantha7 | May 12, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Castilla almost did but then he was plunked by (grrrr) Lance Cormier.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Hit for the cycle, that is (daggone postus interruptus).

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I have a few questions:

(1) Do you think Pena is a getting a fair chance by batting 7th or 8th. He might see better pitches at say 5th or 6th.

(2) Do you think we might have made a mistake with Milledge. He comes across as an air head at times in the field plus I think he is a singles hitter at best. I think the Mets hyped this guy as they are known to do.

(3) Do you think Dukes should be given a shot in center. I know he has not had a hit but he has hit the ball hard at least, something Kearns and company have not done. How about Milledge in right and Dukes in center?

Posted by: mjames | May 12, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

off topic / roster management issue

I'm glad that they bit the bullet on O'Connor and called up Schroder. The call up of O'Connor mystified me. It wasn't that he was not pitching well. Rather, it was why call up a hot pitcher and then ice him for two weeks instead of inserting him in the rotation 5 days after his last start in Columbus?

Schroder, OTOH, clearly has been needed. We have two of the leaders in appearances in Ayala and Rivera, and we have started to see that harm Ayala's performance. Schroder is a pretty decent reliever in terms of stuff who performed well last year when he had the opportunity. An extra reliever in the mix with the 3 surviving horses may have spared burn out.

As was the case a couple of weeks ago, our starters are right on the median in the NL for innings pitched, so the idea that an innings eater was needed is perhaps an answer to a different question. They are around a 5.5 innings per start average, a slight drop over that time from 5.6.

It does not look like it is the starters that are causing the burn out. It looks like roster mismanagement. If you are going to go with a 6 man bullpen, you can't afford to waste 2 spots on mop up guys, which essentially the Nats did with Hanrahan and O'Connor/Chico.

Posted by: PTBNL (Poster to be named later) | May 12, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

here ye here ye...on this the 12th day of May in the year 2008...I hereby ordain Chico Harlan as the successor to blogfather Barry, and and to be titled Blogfather II, from this day forward. I saw the white smoke emanating from the press box...welcome #2...welcome and may you reign high for many moons to come.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 12, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Welcome aboard, Chico! Nice first gamer.

Posted by: nats fan in annandale | May 12, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Hello Chico! Good Luck!

Posted by: BigNatsFan | May 12, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

1a:

That's right! I forgot about that. Grr. That was so mean. A classy pitcher would have waited until the next at-bat.


mjames:

1 -- yes, I think he's getting a fair chance. How many times has he been given the IBB? Peña getting pitched to a lot because he swings like a lumberjack. Only, he gets splinters in a different place.

2 --Maybe, but I'm not convinced yet. I don't think we have much to lose with playing Milledge. He's fast, not quite Nook Logan fast, but he gets better jumps on balls and I think he's learning to read them better. The only category I can give him the benefit of "he's young, he'll learn the game" is on the basepaths. If only he could hit...

3 -- No. I don't want to see any more pressure on Dukes until he's had about 100 plate appearances. Left and Right and at the plate is where I want to see him. ...When he's not in the batting cages or shagging flies or practicing Spanish.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL tries to admit when he's wrong - "Briosca" appears to be "biscuit" in Gaelic, so whoever said "A Biscuit More" is probably closer to right than I was. but Googling first would have been cheating.

"An Gorta Mor," The Great Hunger, is the inscription on the memorial. Link to a description: http://www.boston.com/famine/irishmore2.stm

Posted by: PTBNL | May 12, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Even I can forget to sign a post.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 12, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"If you are going to go with a 6 man bullpen, you can't afford to waste 2 spots on mop up guys, which essentially the Nats did with Hanrahan and O'Connor/Chico"

Interesting point. The periods in which Cordero has been on the active roster but not available or not trusted with any kind of leveraged work didn't help, either.

Posted by: Henry Mateo Fan Club | May 12, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

mjames,
I'm by no means a Kearns apologist; however, he has absolutely crushed several balls except right at people. I can think off the top of my head 10-12 balls that were rods that probably didn't have 2.5 seconds of hangtime from bat to OF glove.

Posted by: Corey | May 12, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"but Googling first would have been cheating"? I am SHOCKED that you would accuse me of such a thing. I am putting up my personal best blog-posting numbers through diet, exercise, and legitimate nutritional supplements. The fact that my fingers are twice their old size need not concern you.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 12, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I personally injected some Google into Capitol Hill's buttock.

Posted by: Brian McNamee | May 12, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico.

You're the best Nats Reporter ever!!!

Posted by: How Soon They Forget | May 12, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Aaron.

You might want to drop the Chico for a while. I hear they might send the real Chico to the minors and you wouldn't want them to get confused. You might end up covering the Redskins or something.

Posted by: NatBisquit | May 12, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Is that what that was? Never occurred to me to ask ...

-------
I personally injected some Google into Capitol Hill's buttock.

Posted by: Brian McNamee | May 12, 2008 3:18 PM

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 12, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

welcome, chico. i'm looking forward to reading your work.

Posted by: gretchen | May 12, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

You're a little hard on Mr. Ayala, don't you think? He's pitched in 23 of the 38 games this year (that puts him on pace to appear in 98 games). Next time you see Manny and Randy, please ask them when they expect his arm to fall off.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Chico, don't be discouraged,
The Man he ain't so hard to understand.
Chico, if you try now,
I know that you can lend a helping hand.

Because there's good in everyone
And a new day has begun
You can see the morning sun if you try.

And I know, things will be better
Oh yes they will for Chico and the Man
Yes they will for Chico and the Man.

thanks to Jose Feliciano and Stan "The Man" Kasten

Posted by: 241 Scott | May 12, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico! Great to have you. After the first two gamers and this post, I'm already a fan. Love the Chico headline on your 1st day.

Impossible for the beat writer to have posts that are too long. Only possible for us geeks to have posts that are too long.

Love the music suggestions. Barry turned me on to Son Volt which led me backwards to Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.

Let's get a win tonight!

Posted by: Avar | May 12, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico. I'm in Ft. Lauderdale and a big Nats fan. I grew up in the DC area and used to worship Shirley Povich reporting on the Senators. I just hope you understand that their are fans outside of DC that look for the Post to report on the Nats.

Posted by: Mike Morgan | May 12, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Milledge arm is far to weak for RF. I do not know how Acta could have been fooled on this trade, so I still am hoping he can be a LFer. He will never be a RF or CF. I hope Jimbo asked Acta about him before the trade was made. Acta has been very poor Milledge but more and more it is becoming clear that he is not in the loop. See Post game Mike O'Conner comments and move 12 hours later by Jimbo.

Hey Chico how about following up on this with Acta. He clearly said "we never would make a decision on a guy after on outing".

Seems Acta has no say to me.....

Posted by: JayB | May 12, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Where do you all get the translator feature that enables you to understand posts like the previous one?

Posted by: natty gnat | May 12, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"Did anyone notice that Aaron Boone was about 20' shy of the cycle yesterday?"

Bob and Don noticed it on the MASN broadcast. They were talking about it as soon as he hit the triple. Amazingly, though, Carpenter did not call the triple as "...and Boone hits for the cycle!" before the ball even hit the ground in the outfield. Admirable restraint on his part there.

I would imagine Charlie and Dave noticed it on the radio broadcast too, although I wasn't listening there to confirm. But they do tend to notice stuff like that.

As for the handle, Capitol Hill has the closest guess, but I'm not sure he/she knows the right meaning of the words he/she translated. If you were to go into a shop and ask for it, what you'd get would depend on where the shop was that you did the asking in. And if you spoke the words I'm using in a shop where they could understand that language, what they'd give you back would not be the item that Capitol Hill translated it into literally. So think about it some more.

But I guess it is true that an briosca mor would at least be a partial solution to an gorta mor.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | May 12, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The Great Biscuit.

Posted by: N@sfan | May 12, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

more cookies please?

Posted by: your name? | May 12, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The Irish Famine in the 1800s

Posted by: N@sfan | May 12, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico, to a beat not dissimilar to that of the poor guy who chronicles the losses of Bangladesh cricket team for the Dhaka Times.

Posted by: Trapper John | May 12, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I sure wish Manny would consider parlaying Boone's hot bat into a few starts in left field. What could it hurt?

Posted by: Doctor Joe | May 12, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

let me join those who have already welcomed you to the beat. just be sure to take anything jimbow tells you with a straight face with a block of salt. and don't forget to break brisket with stan the plan man.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 12, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

the gaelic cookie monster?

Posted by: natsscribe | May 12, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

You know, for all the TRY THE BRISKET talk in which we all engage, does anyone know where one can find brisket at NP? Last year, it was at the one BBQ place on the food court level . . . but where is THE BRISKET now?

Posted by: Trapper John | May 12, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@trapper john,

jimbow traded the brisket to cincinnati for two cases of five-star chili.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 12, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

A guy threw a Marlin Home Run back on the field last Saturday and was ejected. I just read the Nats rule book and it says they will eject a person for throwign a ball back on to the field. Isn't it tradition or typical at other ball parks to throw the oposing teams' home runs back onto the field?

Posted by: Section 112 | May 12, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico!

Posted by: misschatter | May 12, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Welcome from a fellow Orange (man) who enjoyed your hoops articles in The Daily Orange.

Posted by: John O. | May 12, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I believe that it's a Cubs fan "tradition" that has been adopted by some fans of other teams.

---

Isn't it tradition or typical at other ball parks to throw the oposing teams' home runs back onto the field?

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 12, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico! I always loved Chico Lind (pretty amazing combination of grace with the leather and ineptitude with the lumber), a gamer without doubt. I am sure that your skills with the pen equally match your name-sake's glove skills. Good luck!

Posted by: dh | May 12, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"I believe that it's a Cubs fan "tradition" that has been adopted by some fans of other teams."

I do wish that if we were going to be borrowing other teams' traditions we'd be borrowing this one instead of Sweet Caroline. I'd venture to say that Sweet Caroline is the most hated thing among the Nats blogosphere other than Jim Bowden. But it doesn't appear that either of those hated things will ever go away, does it?

As for the name, you all have been beating around it long enough that I'll give it to you collectively. Literally "The Big (or Great) Biscuit", but meaning "The Big Cookie". Reasons for me using it are irrelevant to here actually. It just happened to be a Blogger account I already had set up, and I needed a blogger account to comment on Capitol Punishment. (Well, I didn't really need it to post there, but I used it there anyway.)

So as your prize for figuring it out, I will sign the next 15 posts starting with this one as An Bruscar Mor. Many of you no doubt think all my posts are that already!

Posted by: An Bruscar Mor (#1) | May 12, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Section 112 asked:

"A guy threw a Marlin Home Run back on the field last Saturday and was ejected. I just read the Nats rule book and it says they will eject a person for throwign a ball back on to the field. Isn't it tradition or typical at other ball parks to throw the oposing teams' home runs back onto the field?"

Yes, it is. And ejecting fans for breaking this rule goes a long way to show how out of touch with the product the purveyors are. From a baseball/fans perspective this is a huge statement and relatively small interruption to the game.

Meanwhile, I have been to ten games now and at every one I have seen at least one person walking around smoking, not in the parks' designated smoking areas. This is certainly a threat to my enjoyment of the game, as well as the safety of park visitors. Why is it not being as strictly enforced?

I would appreciate a comment from Stan Kasten recognizing that tossing back a home run ball is too great a threat to tolerate from his paying customers or an acknowledgment that this great baseball tradition will be celebrated (or at least tolerated) in Nationals Park.

I wonder how T. Lerner would weigh in on this, especially considering how he portrayed himself as a lifelong baseball fan when the team was purchased.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 12, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

ABM --

You forgot: the most hated thing is Screech.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 12, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm interested to know why the credit card machines were broken in the upper deck near section 401 this weekend, but there was no way to learn that they were broken until after you had purchased food. Then there's the choice of being charged a total of $4.00 to withdraw your own money or wasting food in the middle of a food crisis.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 12, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Chico
-Hoagie
http://dcsportsplus.blogspot.com

Posted by: Hoagie | May 12, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

from the team's 'nats notes' on mlb presspass, some mildly interesting stats tending to indicate that perhaps the local nine do not entirely stink out the joint this year as much as certain squint-minded individuals like to proclaim (that said, they ain't all that great neither):

While the Nationals' 15-23 start does not inspire awe, Washington has posted a better record through the season's first 38 contests than in 3 of the previous 4 years:
YEAR W L PCT PLACE GB
2008 ......................... 15 23 .395 5th 8.5
2007 ......................... 13 25 .342 5th 11.5
2006 ......................... 13 25 .342 4th 10.5
2005 ......................... 21 17 .553 3rd 2.0
2004 ......................... 13 25 .342 5th 8.5

The Nationals have played 8 opponents this season (4 NL East rivals, CHI, STL, PIT, HOU)...7 of Washington's 8 opponents currently sport .500 or better records (PIT is 17-19). Washington's 8 opponents are a combined 164-132 (.554) this season... the Nationals do not play another game against a team with a losing record (as of today) until 18-19 MIL invades DC for a 4-game set, May 23-26.

Posted by: natty bumppo | May 12, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

IHW,

I dont know... I think the MOST hated thing is Clint. Man, I hate that guy.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 12, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The score would have been worse yesterday if it weren't for the wind blowing in with the storm holding several clobbered balls up for Dukes and others to catch. If you move the scoreboard over to where the Canadian flag is, NatsPark looks just like Petco in San Diego, a team Sheinen says can no longer attract hitters because it's such a pitchers' park. This team plays better in small parks like Philly and Houston. Unfortunately, they have the cavernous Shea and Atlanta and Miami in their division.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

"I dont know... I think the MOST hated thing is Clint. Man, I hate that guy."

Yeah, I don't know how I forgot about him. Other than that I've been trying with every ounce of my being to forget about him ever since I first saw him up on the not-so-big screen at RFK, that is.

As for Screech, yes I'm no fan either, but the kids do seem to like him and that should count for something, shouldn't it? But I mourn the fact that Barry left the beat before that bird got the power-washing he deserves.

Posted by: An Bruscar Mor (#2) | May 12, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I don't really hate Sweet Caroline, Clint, Screech, or any of those things. They're kind of peripheral, in my opinion. The only thing I really hate is Philadelphia.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 12, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

#1 hated thing = Clint

Clint = An Amadon Mor

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | May 12, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"The score would have been worse yesterday if it weren't for the wind blowing in with the storm holding several clobbered balls up for Dukes and others to catch."

Odd. Don Sutton said several times yesterday that the wind was blowing balls out, not in. Did the wind shift at some point during the game?

Posted by: An Bruscar Mor (#3) | May 12, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

It's too close to closing time and I'm beat, so somebody else make a Don Sutton blowing balls out joke, right now!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 12, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

hour till game time...lineups...now!

Posted by: love | May 12, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Patience Love,
Line-ups and new post are up.
And a welcome to Chico and a so-long and thanks to Barry.

Posted by: HALjr | May 12, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I was sitting above 3rd and it was blowing hard right in my face - sort of like Stinker's posts against Bob Carpenter.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I have to go with 506 on this one. Those things are all peripheral. I hate Nats pitchers giving away bases and the Marlins, the Mets, and the Phillies (in that order).

So, with that in mind, and with something of a hope for a rain-out tonight, here's a little survey asking about some of the "features" of Nationals Park.

This is not a scientific survey. I am not a scientist, but I know enough to promise you that this isn't scientific:

http://tinyurl.com/49xdmo

:)

Posted by: i hate walks | May 12, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Natty Bumpo - I will forever revere you for your "unabomberesque screed" (to quote esturatj) on the empty diamond club seats. "I have no problem with rich Republicans being overcharged for luxuries just as they overcharge us for necessities." Thanks for the work in comparing the Nats starting stats at 38 games. From it, I conclude:
1) That Barry picked the right year to write a book about.
2.) That this is not a very good team. "ain't all that great" understates it. And I conclude this from listening to the well-informed broadcasts of Bob Carpenter, who describes their failures without being intolerably negative.

Posted by: flynnie | May 12, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Yo...Chico,
First of all, yep, your post is too long.

Re music, look up my favorite local band, thenecessaryband.com, and see how you like it. If you're ever in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, let me know.

Posted by: sc nats fan | May 12, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Mr. Harlan. I hope you find the Nats a congenial beat and produce lots of interesting stories that I will then read in the PHYSICAL NEWSPAPER. Yes, I am the last remaining young subscriber to the dead-tree edition. You'll pry the pulp Post from my hands when I'm cold and dead. Or something like that. Anyway, also please post on the blog when you get a chance or when there's a topic on which you have way more material than you can get in the paper.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 12, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to NJ, Chico. "mellifluence" in your first post - heh. This kid has some impressive tools folks.

Posted by: lowcountry | May 12, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I miss Barry already.

Posted by: grouch | May 13, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Chicko, I think you had a typo in your post. It says you are only 25. That can't be right.

Posted by: SuttonRox | May 13, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

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