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Prepare to welcome a new beat writer

Sitting high above the field here at Nationals Park on what looks like it will be a beautiful day for a ballgame. Only Joe Torre's Los Angeles Dodgers, on a six-game winning streak, have won more games in a row than the Nationals have. Imagine if Washington's 5-15 start was more like, oh, 8-12. They'd be flirting with the division leaders on the NL East.

I come here now, though, not to talk about baseball, but briefly about baseball coverage. As has been discussed before, I'm leaving the Nationals beat, and while that plan has been in place for a while, we finally have the details of how the transition will work. I thought I'd share them with you.

First off, if you see a young man wearing a Syracuse T-shirt wandering around Northwest looking for an apartment and saying, "G'Day" to everyone, that must be Chico Harlan. He has been hired by the Post to cover the Nationals.

I have to say: I have not met Chico face-to-face, with good reason, which we'll get to. I have, however, had several very interesting phone conversations and e-mail exchanges with him. He is excited about taking on the Nationals beat, about meeting the newsmakers and telling the stories. He is an exceptional writer, one who should be able to craft game stories that tell you not just what happened but why, and how it fits in the larger context of this franchise. I'm really excited he's the one taking over. (He's done some writing for the Post Magazine, and you can read a terrific example of his story-telling ability here.)

Chico has been in Australia for the past year working for the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. A Syracuse grad and crony of noted Postie Eli Saslow (the Orange have a recent history of cranking out absurdly talented writers), he worked for his hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after graduation, covering, among other things, Penn State football. He has never covered major league baseball before. Nor had I.

Chico just wrapped up his stint in Australia, and that's the reason for the delay in this transition - he had to finish there before he could start here. Now, though, he's in town. His first day at the Post is Monday, and he'll go through the usual orientation all next week. I'll take the road trip to Houston, and on Friday and through the weekend, Chico will join me at Nationals Park for the series against the Marlins. The two of us will then travel together to New York for a four-game series against the Mets - and then he'll be your full-time guy.

At that point, not only will he be delivering the coverage in the paper, but he'll be handed the keys to Nationals Journal. He'll likely put his own stamp on the thing (I mean, he might go an entire spring without eating at Panera, as inconceivable as that might seem.) Please make him feel most welcome.

I'm here through the weekend with the Pirates. Will get you lineups and such as soon as I have them.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 2, 2008; 3:00 PM ET
 
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Next: Lineups vs. the Pirates

Comments

I am the first to say Welcome to nats baseball!

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 2, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

this should be rich

Posted by: love | May 2, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how long it'll take him to adjust to the game how we play it - can we expect some cricket terms throw in here and there.

God Speed Barry, and to you too, Chico

Posted by: Corey | May 2, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hello Chico! We promise you're not the one we want sent back to AAA to try to work out some technique issues!

And thank you, so much, for all you did to build this community Barry. Unlike mafia dons, blogfathers get to move on and make welcome appearances at the family picnic to dribble potato salad down their shirts and tell stories about the old days that we've all heard a thousand times before. I'll look forward to reading your stuff from Beijing!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I had started hoping the delay meant something different, like we'd keep you Barry. It should be a prerequisite for the beat writer to live within walking distance of the stadium and to frequent the Tune Inn. I've felt that I had a personal beat writer with you Barry and it is going to be very hard to adjust. Please use your seniority to make sure Chico at least doesn't get digs in some place as out of touch as McClean. We need a DC guy walking the beat.

Chico, hello mate!

Posted by: CapHill Section 112 | May 2, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Chico, on behalf of the Constituency, welcome to Nationals Journal. I look forward to getting acquainted. (Make sure you don't miss the snark tutorial during orientation.)

Barry, there is no adequate way to thank you or to say goodbye and good luck. You will be missed.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Welcome. Just remember to run things by that Steven on Capitol Hill guy and you'll be fine.

Posted by: nat-chural | May 2, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico. Don't mind us. We're mostly a self managing mob of unruly baseball nerds. You'll feed us topics to discuss and we'll run with them or completely ignore them depending on the tides and the moon's gravitational pull.

Thanks Barry for everything you've done to make this thing we call NJ (the Planet not the State) what it is. Thanks for seeing us through the first years of baseball's return to DC. It's too bad you're moving on just before things get interesting. I know you're going to the home of the original Bandwagon, but we'll keep a seat warm for you when the NatsWagon starts warming up.

For those interested, a photo of our new shepherd can be found here:

http://www.pittsburghquarterly.com/pages/pq_contrib.htm

Posted by: MKevin | May 2, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

barry replaced by a crocodile dundee knockoff. who would have ever guessed? is the nats beat so odious to current post writers that you had to get an import? weren't there better connected and more baseball-experienced writers who would have loved to come to washington top cover the nats? CiL and SoCH are right. the post treats this team like the red-haired stepchild of the city's major sports.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 2, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I have finally accepted that Barry will leave the Nats beat. But a Syracuse grad to replace him, really!?
Seriously, welcome to Nats baseball, Chico.
Hoya Saxa! Go Nats!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

What a minute, someone moving from Pittsburgh to take a job here? No way!

Harlan had some gems on the Penn State beat.

Posted by: WFY | May 2, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

We'll miss you, Barry! Can't say enough for all you've done.

Welcome, Chico!

Posted by: samantha7 | May 2, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

For those interested, a photo of our new shepherd can be found here:

http://www.pittsburghquarterly.com/pages/pq_contrib.htm

-----

Can we get Carolyn Kelly, too?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

can we set up an quiz for him to test his baseball acumen. CHICO...1. Please describe to me the circumstances of the infield fly rule. 2. How does the rule 5 draft work? 3. Define Gork. 4. Who said "I believe there should be a constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter"? 5. Who's the best player of the past quarter century?

i know the last one is subjective, but god help him if he comes back with cal, jeter, or clemens

Posted by: love | May 2, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to NJ, Chico!

-----

barry replaced by a crocodile dundee knockoff. who would have ever guessed? is the nats beat so odious to current post writers that you had to get an import? weren't there better connected and more baseball-experienced writers who would have loved to come to washington top cover the nats? CiL and SoCH are right. the post treats this team like the red-haired stepchild of the city's major sports.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Barry, we will indeed miss you. From one of the main lurkers on NJ - good luck and I look forward to reading your articles on the Skins and the Olympics (where I of course lurk as well). You are the main reason I got hooked on Nationals baseball - a similar situation for many, I suspect.

Welcome Chico!! I hope you enjoy reading the comments of the NJ faithful as much as I do.

Posted by: Patty | May 2, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

...or the red-capped stepchild of the city's major sports.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 2, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

More importantly, how's his grammar?

Does he enjoy reading Haikus?

Has he ever had, you know, feelings for a particular pitch?

-----

can we set up an quiz for him to test his baseball acumen.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

chico, welcome aboard. you probably have no idea what you're getting yourself into, but i'm sure you'll have some fun along the way.

barry, i hope you won't disappear completely and will consider some occasional guest appearances here (and maybe a random occasional appearance in the $0.50 version writing something about baseball to help "flesh out" the coverage a little more). and maybe you'll truly get to experience the games more as a fan now.

Posted by: 231 | May 2, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"i know the last one is subjective, but god help him if he comes back with cal, jeter, or clemens"

C'mon, let's be honest here, love. God help him if he comes back with ANYONE. No matter what, there will be a vicious debate. I'm looking forward to it.

The sharks are circling...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I for one welcome our new beat writer overlord. I'd like to remind him that as a long-time lurker, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in the Post's underground sugar caves."

Posted by: Cap Hill | May 2, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

how do you go from pittsburgh to australia and why? hmmmmm watson.

Posted by: dk | May 2, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico and goodbye to the Man. Barry will be missed.

Posted by: Alan | May 2, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

This is a terrible move by the Post! Now we are going to have to qualify all of our blog rants against Chico with the paranthetical (the pitcher, not the writer). It will be like if we played Spring Training games at a place called Jupiter . . .

(I'm just not ready to say good-bye yet, Barry)

Posted by: lowcountry | May 2, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

lemme get this straight....

the post needs THREE GUYS to cover the snydermen.
the post needs TWO GUYS to cover the whizzards (three, if you count gilbert's caddy and coat holder, steinbog).
the post has ONE GUY covering the caps.
the post has a NEWBIE covering the nats.

it just don't add up.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 2, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

So what is Stan's impression of Chico?

Is he licking his chops?

Posted by: Corey | May 2, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico!

Barry, you will be sorely missed. So as to appease the Skins fans, when will you do your first harsh piece on Jason Campbell so that he can then throw for 400 yards and 5 TD's?

Posted by: e | May 2, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"the post has a NEWBIE covering the nats."

natsscribe, go educate yourself. Read this dude's article, it is a damn fine piece of journalism.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Leader in the clubhouse for post of the day!

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

Now we are going to have to qualify all of our blog rants against Chico with the paranthetical (the pitcher, not the writer)

Posted by: lowcountry | May 2, 2008 3:46 PM

Posted by: MKevin | May 2, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Not to take anything away from the consonantal thunderclap of "Barry Svrluga," but "Chico Harlan" -- now, THERE'S the name of an ink-stained wretch, chasing the story with only his Fedora, his battered typewriter, and a pack of Chesterfields to keep him company. Welcome, Mr. Harlan. The shoes you are filling are large, indeed.

Posted by: Capitol Hill | May 2, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

and we all know what big shoes mean...

big feet.

from jason stark's blog today:

STRIKE THREE -- USELESS SCHEDULE-WEIRDNESS DEPT.: And here, in our final Three Strike barrage, we ask: What the heck is going on with the schedule? Has anybody else noticed these bizarre schedule machinations:

• The Braves made three trips to Washington before May 1 -- on opening day, again on April 11-13 and again this week. That's as many visits as the other 28 teams made in that span combined. Well, you don't see that kind of itinerary much. The Braves were the first team to visit any city three times before May since the 1932 Philadelphia A's did it -- also to Washington, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• In a related development, Tim Hudson has made as many starts in Washington this season as he has in Atlanta (two). But it's not just him, and it's not just his teammates that can't figure out this schedule.

Posted by: 231 | May 2, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

506,

he's a newbie in this town on this beat, o pedantic one.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 2, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"This is a terrible move by the Post! Now we are going to have to qualify all of our blog rants against Chico with the paranthetical (the pitcher, not the writer)"

Alright, JiMpls isn't the only one who can put two and two together around here: (1) Clearly, a Chico/Chico scenario would be insupportable (2) This nonsense about "oh, our new beat writer was in Australia..." to account for the delay in replacing Barry is just silly, so (3) The only reasonable conclusion is that the Post was waiting for Matt Chico to get his walking papers before introducing their own Chico.

Sorry, Matt. Nice to have known ya.

Posted by: joebleux | May 2, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

G'day new guy! As a Mets fan, I read to find out my Nats news.

Adios, Barry! I've loved your stuff.

Posted by: Andrew Vazzano [TheRopolitans.com] | May 2, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

At 3:43pm "dk" asked:

"how do you go from pittsburgh to australia and why?"

If you've ever tasted the difference between Iron City and Little Creatures Pale Ale, or the James Squire beers from Hahn's Malt Shovel Brewery, or the beers made at Lord Nelson's in the Rocks section of Sydney you wouldn't ask that question.

More seriously, I say welcome to Chico and thank you to Barry. Mr. S, you've left a heckuva an example for any reporter to try to follow. Kinda like having to be the next guy to play left field at Fenway Park after Ted Williams. (Oh, wait. That was Yastrzemski -- Gee, I feel better about the beat transition already.)

Posted by: Section 222 (the beerwriter) | May 2, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Are the Cubs more desperate than the Nats???

"Cubs purchased the contract of RHP Chad Fox from Double-A Tennessee. The 37-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, and has undergone two shoulder surgeries since then. He didn't allow a run in four innings at Single-A Daytona, but gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning at Double-A on Wednesday. Lou Pineilla apparently thinks he'd do a better job stabilizing the Cubs' middle relief than Neil Cotts or Sean Gallagher."

Posted by: * | May 2, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

If Barry has been the man, then can we describe the beat as Chico & . . .

Good luck to both of you on your new beats. Thanks Barry.

Posted by: PTBNL | May 2, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

---I wonder how long it'll take him to adjust to the game how we play it - can we expect some cricket terms throw in here and there.----


Dude, the guy is from Pittsburgh. I'm sure he'll be great.

Welcome Chico. We will miss the consonant man.

Posted by: Ryan | May 2, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Ooooooh, I like that theory.

-----

The only reasonable conclusion is that the Post was waiting for Matt Chico to get his walking papers before introducing their own Chico.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

i think coverage is lacking should change to experience is lacking....this is the washington freakin post and they have someone who has never covered baseball regularly at any level following a major league team. im sure he is a great writer, but this aint football son, you dont get 1 game a week, 12 or 13 weeks a year. this is a grind and i wish they would have gotten someone who had done it before, at least at the minor league level.

Posted by: love | May 2, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking something akin to that sentiment, but my prose was decidedly less remarkable.

I was going to say, "Hey, neat name."

I almost imagine the name squawked out of an old radio. "Chico Harlan here..."

Kudos, Mr. and Mrs. Harlan.

-----

...now, THERE'S the name of an ink-stained wretch, chasing the story with only his Fedora, his battered typewriter, and a pack of Chesterfields to keep him company.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

If the guy is from Pittsburgh then I'm sure he is good people.

Chico, I will make you feel at home..."Here We Go Steelers! Here We Go!"

Posted by: Big Ben | May 2, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

As he pointed out, Barry himself never covered baseball before earning the beat and I'd say Mr. Srvrluga was more than servicable during his tenure here.

-----

this is the washington freakin post and they have someone who has never covered baseball regularly at any level following a major league team

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Are the Cubs more desperate than the Nats???

-----

No, they're just dumb.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"A Syracuse grad and crony of noted Postie Eli Saslow"

Definitely not a point in this guy's favor, is it? Nothing like starting off a new gig on absolutely the wrong foot. He should be denying to high heaven that he's ever even heard of that clueless worthless loser of a reporter Saslow, not being touted as a crony of him.

Make sure you point out to this Chico guy which locker room belongs to the home team, Barry, before you turn him loose. Tell him that's where he needs to be reporting from. Another memory device he might use is to ask himself the question "What locker room would Eli Saslow report from?", and then go to the other one.

And if the Post had to hire a Chico, was Chico Escuela not available? Baseball been berry, berry good to him, and I'm sure he'd have a lot to give back.

Now, back to exile. Chico, no matter how good or bad he might turn out to be, need not worry about hearing from me.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | May 2, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I say again, to anyone doubting his credentials: this kid's got good stuff, read it. Remember the grand days of the glorious purple prose of Barry and Sheinen last year? He will hit such heights.

The experience will come, raw talent is a must.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Somebody has to come out and say I told you so, but I don't remember who. One of you predicted Chico Harlan would take over a couple of months ago, and you are right. Well done!!

Welcome Chico. You will have a devoted audience here.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | May 2, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

we knew you weren't actually gone, 419, no need to pretend you're leaving again... ;)

Posted by: 231 | May 2, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Here's hoping that the only Chico to grace the Nats clubhouse in June will be the one writing about the team.

Seriously - Does anyone else dread going to the game when they know Chico is the starter?

Posted by: Section 408 | May 2, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Chico have to be released before he can move to the press box?

Go Hoyas.

Posted by: Svrlugamania | May 2, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"Seriously - Does anyone else dread going to the game when they know Chico is the starter?"

Interestingly enough, he didn't have an ERA below 5.00 until June 7, but afterwards only went above 5.00 twice in his remaining 19 starts, to finish better than the league average.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Question of The Day for the NJ Constituency :

If a person is in "exile" but keeps coming back to post under his normal user name, as well as, other user names, does it count as being in "exile?"

Yes, that means you, 419+1

Posted by: Section 505/203 | May 2, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Chico! Barry, thanks for doing such a nice job with this stuff. Drop by and say hi to us in here once in a while.

Posted by: dh | May 2, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Nah, it just means he's a dillweed.

Posted by: Cliffy | May 2, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Say it ain't so Barry. I knew this day was coming but I was in complete denial. Thanks for keeping us all up with the ups and (often times) downs of the Nats since they landed on our doorsteps and stole our baseball hearts. The 'Skins don't deserve you.

Posted by: Nats Fan In KC | May 2, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I recall Chris at Capitol Punishment brought up Chico Harlan as the new beat reporter back in early March or so ...

Posted by: e | May 2, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Barry, at least we will always have Paris...I mean Panera.

Posted by: William | May 2, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

More on Chico. He had 10 quality starts (6 innings or more, 3 runs or less) in his 31 starts with the Nats, which puts his percentage at .323.

Baseball-Reference.com doesn't tally quality starts, anyone have any idea what percentile that puts Chico in?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Barry:
You'll be sorely missed. You've been an exceptional reporter and have done great work for the Nationals and for the Post.
Good luck and godspeed.


Posted by: Joe Bagadonuts | May 2, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

This Chico kid got some amazing shoes to fill.

Don't hesitate to call, Barry, when you get tired of that over hyped, over analyzed kids game.

Posted by: section 209 | May 2, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Barry thank you for years of exceptional reporting, writing, and general entertainment. You are THE MAN.

And Chico, welcome to the beat!

Please note that you will be serving a unique and dysfunctional constituency ranging from devotees who will no doubt express appreciation for every word you write, to curmudgeons who will express disdain for every word you don't write. It's probably best if you don't give either extreme too much credence.

Also, please follow a few simple rules to delight the faithful everyday: 1) Post journal articles everyday even when you are taking a day off; and 2) make snarky comments about - well about everything.

Also, if you want to do some investigative reporting you might want to start with an under covers piece on Tatiana.

Again Welcome.

Posted by: NatBisquit | May 2, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

A hearty welcome to Chico, a heartfelt thank you to Barry, and a "you called it" to John in Mpls.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 2, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little late but I say welcome. I'm going to wager that very few guys who have been a MLB beat write do it again. I may get shredded on that one but it's my guess.

If Barry (and 506) say the guy can write, then he can write.

Geez, at least let him write a gamer before you crush him.

And yes of course we need two beat writers and a full-time columnist but I think that will come when the Post believes they are selling enough papers because of the Nats.

OK, now I'm really going to get shredded.

So long Barry, we'll miss you! Welcom Chico!

Posted by: Avar | May 2, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

Welcome to DC and the Nats' beat. I look forward to reading your coverage of the team and your efforts toward the ongoing work that is improving the Post's Nats coverage.

If I could offer one piece of advice at this time, it would be this: at all times, remember that the team you are covering is zthe WASHINGTON NATIONALS. Not the Phillies (or Mets, Braves, etc.). You will be writing for the Washington Post (not the Philly Inquirer, NY Times, AJC, etc.). Don't let your buddy Saslow try to convince you otherwise.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 2, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Recalibrate for Australian influence. Reset Orange (men), (Steeler) Black, and (Nittany) Blue Filters.
Recycle Blue (Devils) and Brown Filters.

Restore Default posting to six daily.

Posted by: Reporter Remote Controller | May 2, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

CHICO! MY MAN! Where are the freakin' tee shirts dude?

Posted by: 6th and D | May 2, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Here's to hoping Barry will be able to say, "They were winning when I left the beat."

(Similarly, let's hope Chico can say, "Man, they really caught fire when i took over the beat.")

Going to see the Twinkies take on the Tigers tonight. Don't get senioritis and slack off on the gamer, Barry.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 2, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry!

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | May 2, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Best guess on line-up for tonight, I'm assuming Lo Duca is starting and Nick Johnson is getting the night off vs the lefty.

1. Lopez (2B)
2. Guzman (SS)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Milledge (CF)
5. Pena (LF)
6. Kearns (RF)
7. Lo Duca (CA)
8. Boone (1B)
9. Lannan (SP)

Gives Nick some rest, and Boone some playing time. Loads us up vs LHP and gives us 4 lefty PH if we chase their starter (who's name escapes me).

I'm probably wrong on Pena and Kearns, but my thinking is that Pena will benefit from having Kearns behind him (Kerns at least still gets on base), and having "4kper night" Pena behind Kearns is doing Austin no good.

In truth the whole bottom half of the order is a mess.

Also, if you look at the production from the 4 traditional "power" positions (LF, RF, 3B & 1B) its a miracle we've won 12 games. Just shows you that quality pitching (and luck) is more important than batting.

Posted by: estuartj | May 2, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

No way they don't start Nieves to go with Lannan.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 2, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

i thought i read that nieves is still starting tonight (for lannan) and that loduca would start tomorrow.

Posted by: 231 | May 2, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Dunno, didn't Bowden say that Paul Lo Duca is going to be starting when he is brought up?

Posted by: SF Fan | May 2, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Avar, there are many guys who want to be baseball beat writers more than anything else, and typically they "move up" from smaller papers to bigger papers covering various teams. Look at Tyler Kepner as a recent example--covered the Angels for a second-tier paper, then covered the M's for the primary Seattle paper, then moved to the NY Times. I believe Ben Shipgel wrote baseball before the Times hired him to be the Mets beat writer. In fact, I would be shocked if the NY Times would do what the Post did and hire a baseball beat writer who hasn't covered a major league baseball beat before. Chico may end up being an excellent reporter for the Nats beat and I hope he is, but his hiring is nonetheless indicative of what Garcia-Ruiz thinks about the Nats.

My biggest concern is whether Chico is a baseball guy. Did he become a journalist because he wanted to cover a major league baseball beat for a major newspaper? That's the kind of guy the Post should be hiring for the Nats beat, a guy who wants to do this forever. Barry wasn't that guy--he did a really good job, but now he is moving on to what he really wanted to do and write about. While the situation with Barry was understandable under the circumstances of the Expos' sudden move to DC, that shouldn't happen again. I hope Chico is a guy who lives and breathes baseball and isn't viewing this as a stepping stone to another beat at the Post. We deserve better than that.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 2, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Mr. Harlan!

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Mr. Svrluga!

Posted by: Juan-John | May 2, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Good point about Nieves, I forgot he is Lannan's caddy. I guess it's a toss-up on who bats 7 and 8 between Boon and Nieves.

Posted by: estuartj | May 2, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I would think Belliard has to get a start sooner or later too, otherwise he won't be of much use coming off the bench.

Posted by: BofG | May 2, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Best of luck, Barry. I know how frustrating it is to be in 'beat limbo' but you handled it like a true pro.

And, everyone, give the new kid a fair shot...

Posted by: swanni | May 2, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

At 3:43pm "dk" asked:
"how do you go from pittsburgh to australia and why?"

If you've ever tasted the difference between Iron City and Little Creatures Pale Ale, or the James Squire beers from Hahn's Malt Shovel Brewery, or the beers made at Lord Nelson's in the Rocks section of Sydney you wouldn't ask that question.
Posted by: Section 222 (the beerwriter) | May 2, 2008 4:13 PM

we aint talkin vacation--- we're talkin vocation. sports writers dont usually go from a major american sports town to down under to cover what--cricket and rugby? i dont think so--beers notwithstanding.

Posted by: dk | May 2, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Mr. Harlan. Here's my Spark Notes intro to the Nats:

1. The Nats are terrible. Don't get distracted by the nice things people say about our 2007 draft. We're terrible.

2. The main reason why we're so bad is because Bud Selig and the monopolists who run MLB conspired to destroy this franchise as a bargaining ploy in their negotiations with the players union. Contraction was a kind of nuclear option for the players (like GM threatening to close a couple giant plants), and to make the threat real, Selig, Jeffrey Loria (now owns Marlins), and the rest decided to purposely run the Nationals into the ground. Omar Minaya (now GM of NYM) was hired to pilot the plane during the nose-dive, he did a remarkably good job, and was rewarded with one of the most desirable GM jobs in baseball. But the team we inherited in 2005 was from top to bottom possibly to least talented franchise in the history of MLB. Think the lower 9th ward after Katrina or NBC Thursday nights after Friends was canceled. That's the level of devastation we're talking about.

3. We have a terrible embarrassment of a GM. No doubt, you've heard about his personal problems with drunk-driving, fisticuffs with the ladies, lying to other GMs about injured players in trades, and disrespecting the memory of 9/11. All that may have distracted you from his utter failure in building winning teams. In 14 years as a GM in Cincy and here, he's made the playoffs exactly once, never been to the World Series, never drafted a starting pitcher better than Brett Tomko, and in 14 drafts has netted 2 all-stars (Dunn and B.J. Ryan) and whopping 6 everyday position players (if you're generous in your definition of "everyday"--Dunn, Votto, Zimmerman, Kearns, LaRue, Broussard). He also has a bizarre obsession with trying to justify his own bad acquisitions in Cincy by reacquiring them here (Burger King, DY, Mackowiak, Kearns, Flip/Flop, Terrmel, A.F. Boone, Chris Shroder, WMP...) He was a scrap-heap hire when it was a job no one wanted, and keeping him was a glaring rookie mistake by the new ownership that can't be fixed fast enough.

4. We have big market money. No excuses for not spending like the Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, etc.

5. That said, we could have signed every FA on the market last year and we'd still be terrible right now (unless we got ARod--he would have made a difference). It was a terrible market. Don't let anyone tell you Kyle Lohse or Andruw Jones would have made us a winner.

6. Don't listen to Boz or Bill Ladson. Almost everything they write is wrong.

7. Watch your wallet in the clubhouse. We have some troubled youth on this squad.

Finally, I urge you to always keep in mind that the goal is to win the World Series. The goal is not to avoid historically embarrassment, keep it interesting through the All-Star break, make the playoffs. Every year there's one winner and 29 losers, and anything we do that fails to move us closer to winning it all is just another chapter in the sorry tale of a losing franchise.

PS No need to thank me, I have lots of fans in the chat room who will show me the love.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | May 2, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm up!

Posted by: New Post | May 2, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

raw talentr is a must? potential is man's heaviest burden to bear.

Posted by: natsscribe | May 2, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

how long before he makes his wash post live debut on csn?

Posted by: sb wpl fan | May 3, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

does this chico know baseball? has he played, does he know the history, has he studied the game? if not, somebody at the WP should be fired and kicked out the door. christ, the WP is not the Hoboken Times. a sport takes years to learn. you don't do it at the WP.

Posted by: stevie | May 3, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Welcome, Mr. Harlen, and please ignore Steve from Capitol Hill. If Omar made that '05 team so bad, how come the Nats finished at .500? Is there anybody here who has a problem with being in first place by 5 games on July 4, as the Nats were in '05? (Oh, sure, we had crystal ball that said it wouldn't last. Right.)

Posted by: Nats24 | May 3, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

We hereby second the proposal by Nats24, Mr. Harlan. As you may be aware, denizens of Capitol Hill are prone to lengthy speeches, and even the occasional filibuster. We are confident that you'll do just fine without his unsolicited advice.

Posted by: seNATors | May 3, 2008 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Continued success Barry. Will miss seeing you next spring here at Space Coast (The word hasn't reached the Viera Avenue Panera folks or they would be hanging crepe I'm sure). Guess I'll have to begin reading the Post for other than Nats coverage, like Olympics Journal maybe?

Posted by: suntreecane | May 3, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Nah, it just means he's a dillweed.

Posted by: Cliffy | May 2, 2008 4:52 PM "

Dude - I got the Motorhead tickets!

Posted by: Cliffy's cell phone | May 3, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

and speaking of dillweeds, dontcha love it when the responses to the FNG are either pompous unsolicited advice, mostly ill-informed, or else high-off-the-wall speculative criticisms of someone the poster has probably never even read the bio for, nevermind any clips? OK, there are some welcomes, in amongst the rest, but geeez Matilda. Y'all are too much sometimes.

Posted by: Joliet Jake | May 3, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Mr. Harlan. I hope you have a fine time at the Post and do a lot of excellent writing about the Nationals. Remember: No amount of coverage can ever be excessive.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 5, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

While Barry did churn out the copy -- he claimed more line inches than any other WP writer over the last few years -- his writing style had gotten stale. Perhaps that's why there's a new beat writer -- time to freshen-up the coverage. A main knock on Barry was his penchant for sticking with what in the trade is called an anecdotal lead. Look back over his archives and see how many of his stories began with "when." He was in a rut...time to go.

Posted by: Don Smith | May 24, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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