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Lo Duca handicaps the Derby -- and lineups

Noted horseman and catcher Paul Lo Duca loves this time of year, when the Triple Crown races begin. As I've written before, Lo Duca owns a large stake in a 3-year-old, Golden Spikes, who was in contention to make the Kentucky Derby field. He ran second at the Illinois Derby last month, and if the field for the Preakness in two weeks (which falls on a day the Nationals play in Baltimore) gets whittled down, they might decide to run Golden Spikes there.

Here's what Lo Duca sees for today's race in Louisville.

"I like Big Brown, Colonel John, Z Humor and Visionaire," he said. "Those are my four horsees."

Why?: "I think Big Brown is the most talented. I think the post position inexperience is going to hurt him. I think Col. John is an unknown, but I do like him. I think Z Humor will like an off track, and is the kind of horse that can hit the board. And I think Dennis of Cork is looking great."

But you beat Dennis of Cork at the Illinois Derby?: "Yeah, he ran fifth there. But he looked good as a 2-year-old, and he hadn't run in a while. So you can excuse that."

Lo Duca also has an emotional pull for Gayego because his good buddy Mike Smith is the jockey there. Nationals currently assembling their Derby pool in the clubhouse.

Pirates are keeping their lineup secret for a while, it seems. Here are the Nationals:

Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Milledge -- 8
Kearns -- 9
Boone -- 3
Lo Duca -- 2
Pena -- 7
Chico -- 1

Also: It's a salute to the Negro Leagues today, with both teams wearing uniforms of the Homestead Grays. The Grays started off in Pittsburgh and moved to Washington, so this is fitting. The guys were enjoying trying on their baggy unis in the clubhouse.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 3, 2008; 11:45 AM ET
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Next: Zimmerman out of lineup for first time in 205 games


woot! wonderful weather! Gotta get out in it ... glad I'm not wearing wool!

Posted by: i hate walks | May 3, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

One more word on last night's game. I have not read the posts but a lot of credit has to go to Pittsburgh's hitters. While Lannan through far too many balls, when he did throw strikes, they made contact and either spoiled them or drilled them. Even when he got two strikes, it seemed they would foul the next 3 pitches off and work the count full.

Does anyone know a site that tracks swing and miss strikes vs. fouls? I'd be curious how many times they swung and missed.

Posted by: ptbnl | May 3, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Ha, ha - I was able to correct this before the grammar police showed up.

"While Lannan through far too many balls"

While Lannan threw far too many freakin' balls.

Oh - Cliffy: pick up your cell phone. Motorhead tickets!

Posted by: PTBNL | May 3, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

the TV guys were allll over how few swings and misses lannan got. as for minor league broadcasting, you can't imagine how provincial the yanx and sox broadcasters are. remember phil rizzuto? as a broadcaster, though not as a player, whadda maroon! i heard the tampa rays' radio team earlier and they sound like a couple of frat guys whining over beers together. so guess what, folks, red barber is dead. we all got lowgrade broadcasters because why? that's who the corporations hire these days... let the record show that i am in the tank for jon miller as being the best baseball broadcaster out there, and wish the lerners would hire him away from SF and ESPN for our very own. one of his many virtues is, he is not a homer...

Posted by: natty bumppo | May 3, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

better late than never?

Nate McLouth 8
Chris Gomez 6
Freddy Sanchez 4
Jason Bay 7
Xavier Nady 9
Adam LaRoche 3
José Bautista 5
Ronny Paulino 2
Paul Maholm 1

Posted by: just catching up for Barry | May 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Can we finally declare the Matt Chico era over?

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 3, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

And will the last Guzman-haters please turn out the lights when you leave?

Posted by: MIB | May 3, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

ok ok ok...Chico era over...please.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 3, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

does anyone here care about a horse race and what paul lo duca has to say about it??

Posted by: love | May 3, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Zim's gotten lucky twice today. Guzzie just missed the cycle. Go Lastings.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 3, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

AK wants a shot at redemption. Don't wanna end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 3, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Boone-dinger, Boone-dinger ...

Posted by: Elwood the Rally Monkey | May 3, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I think I jinxed that. My bad.

Posted by: Elwood the Rally Killing Rodent | May 3, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

yes's done...the Nats have won, son of a gun, ain't this fun...for everyone. I'm done

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 3, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Double reverse lock at work this weekend, Lannan should have been a lock last night, got nailed.

Chico should have been a lock to lose today (and did his best to make it happen) and we won vs pitts best pitcher...

Maybe thing will settle down for a nice boring old 5-2 Nats win tomorrow....

Posted by: estuartj | May 3, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Today was much better and helped me recover from my hangover from last night's hammering.

Interestingly, last year Chico was complete garbage until May 7, after which he was just fine. Hopefully he can repeat that trick again this year.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 3, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, both Lannan and Chico got rocked. Guess the switching of days worked for nobody!

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | May 3, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Sweeeeeet! BANG ZOOM in your piehole Buccos! (with gratitude to natty bumpo's BANG ZOOM in your grillhole, Bravos!) And gratitude is what I feel for Barry Svrluga, our beat writer. A baseball beat writer's life is one of the most difficult in peace-time journalism, and I have heard one say that he would rather become a war correspondent than continue- at least the homestands are longer. (This was not Barry.) Barry is a refreshing, very funny writer. "Somewhere in the South Florida sky, a baseball had reached the top of its arc, and was heading down towards Lastings Milledge." Or, in response to one of the more insanely optimistic Nats chatterati, Q-"It looks like A-Rod could use a change. What would it take for the Nats to get him? Barry, "The National Mall." There is but one surviving image of Aristophanes, the only way we moderns know great Greek comic playwright looked like. It bears a simple explanation: "He made us laugh."

Posted by: flynnie | May 3, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

D'Oh, I thing the BANG ZOOM in yout grillhole was nattaboy's.

Anyhow, whoever it was, Thanks, and welcome Chico Harlan, and "Habla Espanol?"

Please as your first assignment bring rosaries to be blessed by Christian Guzman, who is back to hitting .310 or so, a/k/a "The Miracle on the Anacostia."

Posted by: flynnie | May 3, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow that was an ugly game! Plenty of hits and messy plays. My first experience at the park, no less. That was a fun win, and I love the park, but I'd have been happier if Chico had held out for a solid start.

Posted by: Capybara | May 3, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Elwood, you are a monkey only in your dreams. You are a possum and thanks for finally WWWWWWWAAAAAAAKINGGGG UUUUUUUP!

Posted by: flynnie | May 3, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Give LoDuca credit as a handicapper. His pick, Big Brown, won the Derby.

Posted by: Section 222 | May 3, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Ugly game, fun and great win, and good grief Zimmerman looks awful at the plate. As for Chico, Barry please let us know what the over/under is for his demotion to Columbus.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 3, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

anyone else catch sportcenter just now? the anchors were giving love for the curly w in the grass, they spent most of the highlight talking about it, then gave "mad props" to the grounds crew. almost missed the whole thing because i was shocked into a stupor that there were even nats highlights on espn.

Posted by: love | May 3, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

btw just wonderin what the heck is goin on with 1 ryan church? has there been even 1 game where he hasnt had at leasat 1 hit and probably 2. just 1? seriously this is ridiculous. since when did he turn into peter rose.
hey frank look at me now. wanna still send me down. what a joke.

Posted by: dk | May 3, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

whew, that was too close for comfort.

Lo Duca looked decent at the plate. Still can't throw anyone out at second.

Dukes last night went 3-4 with 2 rbi's, a double and a stolen base in Columbus. Seems he'll be ready for a call up any day now.

I didn't get a chance to read any of the previous posts, so forgive me if this was brought up yesterday, but after the game last night we rode in one of those electric golf-carts back to the Nats Express Bus. The guy driving the cart told us that last night was the last night of service! Apparently, their company offered their service to the Nats on a trial run hoping that the Nats would sign into a contract to continue for the season. He said that the Nats decided not to sign an agreement and since the company was working only on tips, they couldn't afford to keep doing the free rides for the Nats Express fans.

Well, I'm a bit ticked off. I thought the cart was a great idea and we used it a couple of times, mostly after the games when my 3 year old didn't want to walk to the bus and I was too tired to carry her on my shoulders.

I don't know how much the golf cart company was asking the Nats for, but I think they should pony up the money (oh man, I hope I just didn't wake up Lerners ARE Cheap). While I LOVE the free Nats Express, the golf cart was a wonderful addition (and not just to me but to the countless number of walking impaired and/or elderly fans that used it as well).

Posted by: e | May 3, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah the Chico era is most certianly over. He is getting sent down tomorrow...

for real...heard it from the horses mouth, don't be shocked if Lehnan is cut to top it off.

Posted by: Sec 126 | May 3, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

lehnan? you mean lanan? he's not going to be "cut." do you mean sent down too?

Posted by: 231 | May 3, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure why you send down Lanan. Sure he had one really bad start but based on what he was showing his previous starts I think you need to through him out there a few more times to see which is the real John Lanan. Unfortunately, I think we know who the real Matt Chico is at this point and it ain't all that pretty. Maybe working on the high leg kick down in AAA will help him and he can be back at some point. This coming from a Chico fan (my three year old loves saying Cheeeco!)

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 3, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Of course they should "thrown" Lanan out there a few more times not "through."

Posted by: Nats Fan in KC | May 3, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

It's Lannan.

Posted by: Spelling gremlins | May 3, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Got to the park late. Buying a ticket in the first inning. Cheapest seat in the park is $38! Just one, not five together. Announced crowd was 34k not bad. Hope I don't continue the tradition of rainy Sundays at Nats park tomorrow. Couldn't find fault with LoDuca's bay today but a "catch and throw guy" would make things better for everyone...

Posted by: i hate walks | May 3, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

It was a gorgeous day at the ballpark. Of course, the Nats pitchers made it interesting, but it wouldn't be a Nats game otherwise, now, would it?

Posted by: Juan-John | May 4, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Really nice article in the WP this Sunday morning about Emmanuel Burriss, out of Wilson High School, now playing for San Francisco - thanks, Dave.

Posted by: Traveler | May 4, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I read the article on "Manny" Burriss and promptly picked him up in my fantasy league despite the fact that all of the notes said he wasn't ready and that Sabean was an idiot for calling him up. Here's to the day when the Nats call up a homegrown DC shortstop!

Beautiful day for baseball, as it turns out. My girls and I will be there, hope to run into some of y'all.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 4, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Has the Post ever run a profile of a Nats player as extensive as Sheinin's profile of Emmanuel Burriss today?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 4, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Bob L - Oh, how I wish I could be there to see y'all! For me, it's a beautiful day to mow the lawn, and, with the power mower in the shop, with a reel mower straight from the Truman era. The first thought that comes to anyone seeing you and your family is "Goodness." (As the term is used in the beginning of Genesis. Not, "Goodness!" as I just thought after reading Steven on Capitol Hill's breathtaking, though funny, bile bombs. ) May your goodness shine forth on the Nats today, and bring us a win! May Kearns and Zimm roar out of their slumps! May Guzzies' Miracle' on the Anacostia contnue for another 9 inning apparition today! And may the pitching return to last week's form.

Posted by: flynnie | May 4, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, in the heart of the Redskins' offseason, the Post devotes a full page and 3 writers to covering the Skins in today's paper. What a joke. Barry, you sure they need you? Looks like the cupboard is full.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 4, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This morning quoth the slowly-senescing George Solomon (whose mortal sin back when he had a real job was that of hiring Tony Kornheiser away from a highly-deserved, unfortunately-unprolonged obscurity:) "[S]omeone of authority should admit those empty seats on TV behind the plate need filling. How? Cut the price of those $325 tickets."

Now I will never have enough money to be a Republican, but I applaud making them overpay for luxuries the way they make the rest of us overpay for necessities. So $325 for a seat behind home plate sounds about right to me, especially since they charge that rate in New York and Boston and we want to be major league just like the Yanx and Sox, right? If it keeps Dems out, oh well, we're used to social ostracism.

But what appalls me are the intertwined notions that a) empty seats on TV look bad and b) baseball should be responsive to its TV presentation. It seems to me neither position is ultimately defensible.

You want bad-looking? The stinking advertising board in Atlanta behind home plate looks bad. Only if it advertised something embarrassingly sleazy -- like Slavedug Diamonds or Gumrot Chewing Tobacco -- would it be acceptable to have an ad directly behind home plate. Thus the ad underlines the fact that Liberty Media is no different than Ted Turner, who never recovered from inheriting his original fortune from his daddy's highway billboard empire. (He's actually a serial visual polluter: billboards, WTBS, B&W movie colorization and CNN, whereas the sins of Liberty Media are uncountable and irredeemable.)

So there are a lot worse things to see than empty seats behind home plate. The various camera angles on the batters and the on-deck circle give you a pretty good view of the actual crowd, therefore even though the home plate shot is the most frequent, its misleading nature (as to attendance) is unimportant. The visuals of attendance are even less significant when we consider that they do not affect the game itself at all, and it is the game, presumably, that is and should be the focus of attention.

Since the game's the thing, its TV presentation should never interfere with the underlying reality. Conversely, the TV presentation is not the reality, the game is. Therefore a cluster of empty seats, however prominent, is about as important to baseball itself as is a gathering of wombats in the antipodes. Sure it's true, and so what?

For once the authorities have gotten something right and should continue, as Tom Boswell's recent discussion with Stan Kasten hints they will, to ignore the empty seats. They make no difference in any real way, and the supposed marketing shame of their presence is spurious at best. Management should continue to hold out to get its price since, as we know from the case of wages, there is no necessary relationship between the rate that is paid and the value received. Just as Gerald Ford noted, "An impeachable offense is what the House of Representatives says it is," and the worth of a seat is what management charges for it.

Those empty seats are a good thing. They prove DC fans are not suckered by cachet, and that the sports tax break system no longer extends to bribing Congresscritters and staff.

Besides, we're better off looking at empty seatbacks than, if they were full, at preening lobbyists and old-money triple chins. The hullaballoo that has been raised about "how bad it looks for DC baseball" is misguided, irrelevant and wholly negligible.

Empty $325 seats don't look bad. They merely look empty. We just have empty seats waiting for empty suits. How perfect.

Posted by: Natty Bumppo | May 4, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Wow, nice unibomber-esque liberal manifesto.

Exactly what will it take to get all the left-wing bleeding hearts on this blog to avtuall talk BASEBALL instead of geo-politics, civics and bolshevik economics?

Posted by: estuartj | May 4, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Natty Bumpo, permission to quote you in e-mails to all my friends, and sincere thanks for making me laugh out loud, making my grandson laugh, who doesn't need much of an excuse: "Oh, we're having a laugh party? OK! I'm in!
"Now I will never have enough money to be a Republican, but I applaud making them overpay for luxuries the way they make the rest of us overpay for necessities."

Posted by: Natty Bumppo | May 4, 2008 11:03 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

wow natty bumppo.

tell us how you really feel, don't hold anything back this time.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 4, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The praise for Natty Bumpo was mine. Grandson's laugh getting more maniacal. Got to get him to the park.

Posted by: flynnie | May 4, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

the real problem with those $300+ seats, imo, is that they're supposed to be the financial counterpoint to the $5 and $10 seat and how the park still pulls in the same amount of revenue (or at least that's how kasten et al explained it). so let's hope having empty expensive seats doesn't lead to prices being raised on the cheap seats, too.

Posted by: 231 | May 4, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Bob L. -- look for me at the playground picnic tables cracking up as I read natty bumpos post aloud to my cluster of friends ... Who all decided at the last minute that today was indeed a great day for a baseball game. Here's hoping for another 34k+ crowd (so we can afford some real pitching)

I think I got the last row of $18 tickets available today. Wow.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 4, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@ estuartj: happy to see the antediluvian term "bolshevik" resuscitated, wholly inapplicable to any serious discussion since about 1945. while you may not be one of those who deplored the sight of empty seats on TV, i have seen it done numerous times on NJ from various people, enough to be sick of it, so i am not alone in imagining attendance has something to do with baseball. as for the perspective from which i approached it, oh well, "chacun a son gout" as the freedom-fries people say or, roughly translated, everybody hurts their big toe in their own way. i can't help seeing baseball as a social institution vaguely connected with the rest of reality. sorry about that.
@ flynnie: thanks to you and your grandson for improving my day.

Posted by: natty bumppo | May 4, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Empty seat discussion, totally cool (but boring). Ballpark seating economics, also cool (and even more boring).

Political affiliation of VIP seat purchasers? Not cool (and excesively boring).

I suppose of course you would be fine with George Soros or Bill Clinton being in those seats since they can "Afford" to be republicans...

Wait hypocrit alert, I hearby retract the above statement and instead would like to guess that Chico will be demoted today in favor of Mike O'Connor and Schroder will be called up to take O'Connors bullpen slot.

Anyone wish to discus the implications of an all RHP bullpen while Natty Bumppo watches face the nation?

Posted by: estuartj | May 4, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

all RHP bullpen = bad move.

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

Awesome, awesome story on our local boy, Burriss. I almost skimmed over it because it wasn't about the Nats, but I'm so glad I didn't. I hope he's still on the roster when the Giants come here. I'd love to see him and cheer him.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 4, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow, thanks Bumppo. Commercial breaks on face the nation are that short?

I don't like the idea of and all righty bullpen, but calling up Arnie Munoz or (God help us) Mike Bacsik would be worse. I think Schroder is better at getting out lefties than either of those two.

I'm also assuming that swapping O'Connor and Chico's current roles would be unworkable since Chico's mechanics are an ill fit to the bullpen, and (someone please check my stats) he isn't signifiocantly better vs Lefties anyway.

Posted by: estuartj | May 4, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

apparently zimmerman asked for the day off today.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 4, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I certainly don't need to worry about Zimmerman besting Cal's record. I just want the Nats to win.

I am ready to see Chico go down, but only if the team is ready to throw Balester out there. If not, then it is worth having some more patience.

Bring up Dukes. It is time.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | May 4, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

apparently zimmerman asked for the day off today.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 4, 2008 12:28 PM

Who called it that Zimmerman would get/ask for a day off once he had broken Schnieder's record? I know that someone made a comment recently here but it was rejected as doing so would hurt Zimmerman's confidence.

I won't be at the park today. Husband and I decided to exchange out Cubs game (which we couldn't attend and missed the meet-up) for this past Tuesday's game instead of today's so that we could walk the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Turns out that 1) the walk is canceled for the next two years due to construction and 2) we have a family birthday party that we must attend (would prefer to be at the ballpark).

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | May 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Pessemist: Redding better throw a no-hitter withBoone and Machowiak starting

Optimist: without Zim and Pena starting the offense will have 8 fewer strikouts to win with!

Posted by: estuartj | May 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Ditto, NatsNut. I only wish that the Nats could have drafted him. I can't recall whether the Giants had an earlier opportunity to pick than the Nats that year.


Awesome, awesome story on our local boy, Burriss. I almost skimmed over it because it wasn't about the Nats, but I'm so glad I didn't. I hope he's still on the roster when the Giants come here. I'd love to see him and cheer him.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 4, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 4, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie, my first job as a 10-year old was to pilot a rotary mower around the yards of kindhearted neighbors. And thanks for the sentiment! My first thought on meeting you, other than what I said in person, was that "I'd love to sit in the bleachers with that guy." And that thought stands.

IHW, we were in the same neighborhood but I was tending to kids not blackberry at the time. I am in my usual seats (228M) if you're in the neighborhood.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 4, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

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