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A Banner Day

The Nats are off today, and at least for five or six hours, I'll be in the air, heading to San Francisco. (Among the reading material: This book and this magazine article.) (Not among the reading material: This game story and this notebook.)

But before I hit the road, let's recap some of the statistical craziness from the one afternoon when everything went right. The question I have is more or less this: What were the odds that Washington's lineup -- which some in the organization and clubhouse have privately compared to something that belongs in Class AAA Columbus -- could all at once bust out? What are the odds that Felipe Lopez could get three hits, that Jesus Flores could get five, that Austin Kearns could get three, that Willie Harris could get two?

I'm not sure if this passes the James-ian test for statistical legitimacy -- actually, I know it doesn't; my math brain is worse than Atlanta's traffic -- but it at least provides some perspective.

Before yesterday, Felipe Lopez (3-for-4) had gotten three hits in a game only two other times, on April 18 against Florida and on July 1 against Florida. But unlike in either of those games, Lopez scored three runs. He also had three RBIs, exceeding his total in either of those games. Based on his game-by-game run-down of productivity, this was probably his second-best game of the season. (He went 2-for-4 with 6 RBIs and a homer on April 24.)

As for Kearns? Before yesterday, Kearns had gotten 12 multi-hit games this season. But never had he gotten more than two hits. Take into account his home run, his five runs scores and his two RBIs, and yeah, this was his best game of the season.

Flores? His five hits were a career high. Measured by pure batting average, discounting games when he pinch-hit, this was his best game of the season.

Harris? His five RBIs were a season-high. He reached base five times, also a season high. Just a day earlier, he'd gone 3-for-5 with a triple, a season-high for hits. But you can safely rank this one as either Harris's second- or third-best game of the season. (Yesterday, especially because of a home run, he also reached a new season-high for total bases.)

Here's the point: At least four members of Washington's lineup had performances ranking among their best all season. It's the kind of statistical head-scratcher that almost makes it understandable why so many guys in the clubhouse were talking yesterday about hitting as if it were a virus. "It's contagious," was the general agreement.

The final oddity in all of this?

Among Washington's 17 hits, Cristian Guzman, the team's batting average leader, was responsible for none of them.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 21, 2008; 8:19 AM ET
 
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Next: Light Travels at the Speed of Willie Harris

Comments

Thanks for the reading assignments, Chico (I'm not planning to read the school shooter piece but your selection is, uh, interesting).

Speaking of articles, great job with the gamer. I particularly liked your description of the Cox-Guccione encounter.

Re. this entry, I'm not big on stats myself, but I do know this much: Baseball is a funny game.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Oh wait, that was your in-flight reading material, not a reading assignment for the Journal. Never mind. Nice choice on the book, BTW. What is the movie for the flight? :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The book and the magazine article, talk about two completely opposite subjects...I'd be reading the book first. I'm guessing that you don't fly with the team. Have fun in San Francisco. I'd recommend a stop at the Tadich Grill, 240 California Street.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 21, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Baseball is indeed a funny game! I only saw Friday's night game (which they should have won, of course) of the Atlanta series being out Sat. and Sun. attending DC Fringe performences, drat it. Let us all hope the team has not used up their supply of runs.

@Dale (from last post)
Zimmerman went 2/4 with one home run a Columbus last night in a losing effort (Courtesy of NFA). I think he is as ready as he will ever be return to the team. It will be a big plus when he does.

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 21, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

It's great that they won and that the offense broke out!!!

I'd be even happier if our 'tradeable assets' in Lo Duco, Perez and Guzman had better games and had improved their stock but a win is a win.

Does this breakout game make Kearns a 'tradeable asset'? Do we want him to be traded? I did see his name in one rumor earlier this year.

Personally, I'd like to see him stay. I can live with an outfield of Kearns, Milledge and Dukes.

Posted by: Expos Fan | July 21, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"I only saw Friday's night game (which they should have won, of course) of the Atlanta series being out Sat. and Sun. attending DC Fringe performences, drat it"

You're banned from watching for the rest of the season.

That was a really enjoyable gamer, Chico, great read! Enjoy Povich and that mag article was haunting. Good writing.

More on Zimmerman: one of those hits was a 2-run homer. That puts his line at 7 for 25 (.280), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K. Looks pretty good for a rehab, check out all that power. Both those walks are with Columbus. I'm still interested in whether they're telling him to free swing in an effort to test his power or if he's really just lost his eye.

I also saw Detwiler for the first time on Saturday night. He didn't look good. It seemed to me he had little command of his fastball and his breaking stuff wasn't breaking. Looked nothing like the kid who had a cup of coffee last year.

On the other hand, Wagner looked as nasty as I remember him from 2006. And the kid Lyons turned in another quality performance in the middle infield.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The only problem I see with Kearns is that it will cost quite a bit to keep him next year. I can't remember if it is 8 or 9 million, but it just seems to me that for his production level, that seems a bit much. On the other hand, I don't think he's been healthy since he's been here, and he seems to be hitting a little more recently. No way they can replace his defense, either.

Posted by: Cavalier | July 21, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

OK, so I don't know a whole lot about player development, but remember how awful Zinicola looked last year? And this year he's lights-out good. Could Detwiler be having similar issues? He sure looked good before, and suddenly he's lost.

Can anyone with any knowledge of these things shed some light?

Posted by: Section 303 | July 21, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Carrying this one over:

Also, in light of Dale's comment above, I'd be curious about the reasoning behind expediting the return of Milledge (as reported in the Personnel Dept. item on p. E7 of today's dead-tree edition). Wouldn't want to see him rushed back if he wasn't 100 percent.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

506, I don't think Zimm ever had his hitting eye back when he was healthy this season--I think it was something like 9 BBs in over 200 PAs. And think about all those awful pitches out of the zone that he went after and got himself out on. So the real question to me is whether he can show some discipline that was missing before when he returns.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 21, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Dining tips:

Definitely hit up Tres Agaves (130 Townsend). It's only a block from the stadium. Fantastic Mexican food and margaritas.

And Mehfil (600 Folsom). If you like good Indian food, that is.

Posted by: Tom Sietsema, Jr. | July 21, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

i can handle a walk every 10 at bats. but this year zimmerman is one every 20. that's your number 3 hitter setting the tone for the lineup early in the season.

flores has 40 rbis in less than 200ab. thats some real good news. impressive in this lineup.

Posted by: longterm | July 21, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Heyman is back again with another They-are-going-to-fire-Bowden tip. Is it possible that they have some sort of personal feud?

"Looked nothing like the kid who had a cup of coffee last year."
---Detwiler pitched 1 inning last year. Let's not be overly dramatic.

When is Bowden going to trade Guzman? Estrada is just horrendous. Please get rid of him.

Posted by: 756* | July 21, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Are either Hill or Cordero on the 60 day DL?

The Nationals.com 40 man roster shows 43 guys w/ Nick & Wagner on the 60 day DL.

Maybe Chico or Maxwell do not count against the 40 man. I'm not sure.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | July 21, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

There are three players on the 60-day DL, Cordero, Johnson and Wagner. Nationals.com has not updated the roster since the news of Cordero's transfer to the 60-day.

Chico & Maxwell count against the 40-man roster.

Posted by: Brian | July 21, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Detwiler pitched 1 inning last year. Let's not be overly dramatic."

Don't think I'm not aware of that 756*. You didn't see him Saturday. It was a mess.

He'll get it figured out, but not in time to start next year, which is what I hoped.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

They need to get Guzman out of the #3 spot, not off the roster. He's much better suited as a #2 hitter and gives the Nats some competency at SS until they find a longer term solution. Other than Zimmerman, there would appear to be a dearth of organizational prospects in the infield.

Posted by: Poog | July 21, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Drinking tips: (To heck with dining tips. Chico's reading up on Shirley Povich so he's clearly in an old school sportswriter mood.)

The 21st Amendment brewpub at 563 Second St. -- about two blocks from the Giants' ballpark. Their award-winning watermelon wheat beer is very refreshing on a hot day, and their outdoor biergarten has wi-fi for writing and posting copy. (www.21st-amendment.com)

Posted by: Section 222 | July 21, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I have admired the play of Willie Harris all year. He's been one of our better defensive outfielders (i.e. game clinching catch in LF at Shea) and it looks like his bat is coming around. With the arrival of Lastings Milledge, should we keep Willie in CF and move Milledge to LF? I know Lastings is our "CF of the Future" but maybe that honor belongs to Harris?

Posted by: IHeartDonSutton | July 21, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

By the way, did anyone notice Willie Harris's shades yesterday? Totally futuristic robo-batting goggles to calculate the exact trajectory of the ball and allow him to blast it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh and Chico, further to the eating and drinking tips you are getting for SF--don't call it San Fran when you're out there, and not Frisco either.

Posted by: Coverag is lacking | July 21, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm partial to Willie Harris's double ear flap little league batting helmet. I love that thing! Most switch hitters have two single ear flap helmets.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 21, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

It will be nice to get Zimmerman back. Should improve the TV ratings. Flores was not rehabbing at the time but he did not hit that well in AAA but has hit well in MLB - so hopefully the same pattern will occur for Zimmerman.

Posted by: Count Demoney | July 21, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Can Jason Taylor hit? He'd be a beast of a 1B! I think DC needs a 2-sport athlete.

Posted by: 756* | July 21, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@506 etc

I hear you but then we would be down 8,999! Can't have that.

Posted by: Section 204 Row K Seat 11 | July 21, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Saw that, too, CiL. I bet it contains a sophisticated audio system that allows him to detect how many fingers the catcher is flashing by picking up on the sound each makes slicing through the air.

Coupled with Willie Harris's training as a Ninja when he was adopted as a small child after his family was massacred by a maraudering hoard, Willie can hear what sign is being put down. Tragic loaners gotta have a second career after the avenge their families, you know?

Did you know: Willie Harris can balance his whole body on the tip of just one finger?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

If Ryan Wagner does make it back to the major league roster, I hope his intro music is "Kill the Wabbit." Elmer Fudd - what an actor (not quite Barney Rubble).

Is Milledge really being rushed? I thought he was just starting baseball related activities at Viera?

Don't automatically assume Kearns has no trade value if he hits well for the next week. Historically, he has had enough pop to be a corner outfielder, his eye can make up for a .260 average (not a <.200 average), and his defense would be a plus for a lot of teams. Tampa in particular is looking for a righty-batting corner outfielder. Last I saw, his contract has a buyout for next year. You would not get Brignac straight up, but maybe we should think bigger and package Guz, too (Still would not get Brignac, but maybe a high end arm like Niemann or Townsend and a guy Zobrist).

Posted by: PTBNL | July 21, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Me too. Honestly, Kearns's swing was looking really good yesterday. I know it's premature to declare a turnaround, but it's a good start. I'm amenable to giving him a longer look next year.

Also, if Wagner is looking like his 2006 self, I'm encouraged, if not downright excited. When do you suppose we can expect to see him up again?

-----

- "Personally, I'd like to see him stay. I can live with an outfield of Kearns, Milledge and Dukes."

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 21, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

A couple of trade deadline conversation pieces:

1) Given his versatility (switch hitter, IF/OF), his cheap/expiring contract, his speed and his recent hot streak, WH might be an attractive depth pickup for a contender. Since many here have noted his positive clubhouse influence, what would the Nats need to be offered in trade, given that a major-league starter is not very realistic?

2) Mark Teixiera is 28, a durable, productive 1B (career OPS of .907), who is a reliable power bat for the middle of the lineup. He's in a contract year. Who, I'm wondering, would be interested in declaring the Nick J experiment over and picking him up, either at the deadline or as an offseason FA? I LOVE the healthy NJ, and am grateful for DY's contributions, but neither appears to be a long term solution for the Nats. I don't know much about Rhinehart, but I don't read anything that projects him as a long-term middle-of-the-order guy, nor any other current Nats prospect. With the OF in shambles, 1B seems to be a position where you MUST get some offensive power.

I know there are plenty of holes to fill at MI, OF, and P, but I'm just curious, and the middle of July is appropriate for some outside-the-box discussion. What say you, NJ-Nation?

Posted by: nat in beantown | July 21, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat out of the loop on SFO dining, though we did check out and like the offerings at the Ferry Building on a recent visit. One thing that we always do on our Bay Area trips is ferret out and visit hole-in-the-wall tacquerias - can't find the good stuff here, and we've tried. I always pick up some real sourdough bread as well. Last but not least, if you like sweet treats, the It's-It ice cream sandwich makes the Dinger look like a pop-up. Sad but true.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I hear you IHeart. That play at Shea was amazing. Also, the shades were indeed awesome, 506. Let the Harris myths begin (or continue).

Re. Milledge, PTBNL, the item said that if he can perform well at his first stop (Gulf Coast League), the team will likely send him straight to AAA Columbus. Bowden was quoted as saying, "We'll expedite it." Beantown, re. your item 1), perhaps that trade possibility may be the reason for expediting Milledge's return?

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to say that I like the batting helmet, too, CiL. As previously noted, it makes me laugh every time. Charlie and Dave said that he started wearing it after a ball bounced up and hit him behind the ear.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm on board for Teixiera as a FA signing. I don't know what we would be able to offer to get him for the rest of this year - or why we would want to offer it.

Did you know: Willie Harris has committed his Garmin's entire map library to memory?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I got one of those when I left my bike for repair overnight. Kawasaki Ninja.

**********
Tragic loaners gotta have a second career after the avenge their families, you know?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 11:33 AM

Posted by: Section 3 of my couch, w/Toonces | July 21, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Also, Harris can turn off the light switch in his bedroom ... and be in bed before the room gets dark (and no, he does not own a Clapper).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't it just have been that the ATL's pitching yesterday was atrocious? AAA players can hit bad major league pitching. It doesn't explain why Guzzie couldn't make contact (except with his body), but for all the rest it does.

Posted by: Softball Girl | July 21, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

But what about the other two days?

Posted by: Nats' bats | July 21, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris used to race horses before games for entertainment... and win.

Posted by: Cool Papa who? | July 21, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Right you are, 1a. He had to get rid of his clapper, because every time he clapped his hands his cat thought it was thundering and wet the carpet.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I'd say that none of us should get our hearts set on signing big name, big money free agents. Why? Well even if you assume that the Lerners would open the vault for Teixeira, why would Teixeira choose the Nats. If he's looking at a 7 year, $150M payday from the Nats, Phils, Mets, and Yanks - why would he pick the Nats? We're not good yet, and one more hitter isn't going to push us over the top.

I'd love to sign him and Orlando Hudson and CC Sabathia - it's not my money. BUt realistically, Lerner ain't spending that kind of money and no matter, those guys are going to a contender that will pay the big bucks.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 21, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Esquire article is interesting, actually. I read the first page and will come back to it later.

Posted by: samantha7 | July 21, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Harris' bat doesn't hit the ball, the ball hits Harris' bat.

(This is more fun than the "Chuck Norris" game!)

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | July 21, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

OK, thanks Chico, now I'm creeped out by the article.

Oh, and space aliens have asked Willie Harris to probe THEM.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 21, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, but not necessarily. Rodriguez went to Detroit (for a lot of money) to help make them a good team, not because they already were.

Willie Harris once caught a fly ball before it was even hit.
***************
those guys are going to a contender that will pay the big bucks.
Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | July 21, 2008 1:19 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

That was me.

Posted by: CE | July 21, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice write up on Slate from a couple of days ago about defensive statistics through the lens of Derek Jeter:

http://www.slate.com/id/2195149/

Willie Harris once threw out an umpire for arguing balls and strikes.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, 1a.

Oh, Willie lives near Poplar Point and walks to work. Over the Anacostia.

Bridges? Bridges? He don't need no stinkin' bridges.

Posted by: PTBNL | July 21, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

You guys are killing me! :D

Also, Willie once hit a line drive up the middle. The ball screamed past the pitcher's ear ... then hit Harris in the behind as he was sliding into second.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

One time, in a World Series game in which the opposing Cubs were taunting him mercilessly from the bench (like softball girls?), Willie Harris pointed to the center field bleachers, calling his shot, and then deposited the next pitch he saw cleanly over the fence.

Posted by: Babe who? | July 21, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris doesn't run to catch flyballs - his legs rotate the earth underneath him to bring the point where the ball should be caught to HIM.

Albert Pujols, A-Rod and Big Papi all own a Willie Harris jersey.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | July 21, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris used to use his army to smack the ball, instead of a bat, but the other players complained he had an unfair advantage.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I meant "arm" instead of "army." Willie Harris most certainly does not have an army, unless you count his little toe.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The Occidental Cigar Club • 471 Pine Street • San Francisco, CA 94101
415.834.0485

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 21, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

In Soviet Russia, bases steal Willie Harris.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 21, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Nationals outfielder Wily Mo Pena will have left-shoulder surgery tomorrow performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati, OH.

The procedure is expected to repair a small tear in Pena's left rotator cuff, as well as, fraying of the labrum in his left shoulder.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CE's point: Some FA's are purely 3 month rentals (D. Ward). Some are big-name, put-you-over-the-top signings (Haren). Some, while still big names, are strategic Next Steps, as long as said player is young enough and fits into the Plan (Pudge, Soriano to Cubs). Teixiera could be that third option.

Willie Harris waits for an at bat to end before returning to his seat.

Posted by: nat in beantown | July 21, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"Willie Harris waits for an at bat to end before returning to his seat."

Posted by: post of the day | July 21, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Here's a Willie Harris tale that's actually true, thanks to the Braves TV guys (who do a great job, by the way).

Last season, when Willie was playing in Atlanta, Tim Hudson came across a souvenir bat the team was giving out to Braves employees. It had all of the Braves division titles printed on it. Hudson jokingly insisted Willie use it that night.

And he did. Willie went six-for-six for the first - and only - time in his career.

Admittedly, though, he did only use the souvenir bat for three of those hits. He was afraid he was going to break it.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 21, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

The real reason that Willie Harris wears the double flap headgear is so that he can switch to the other side of the plate mid-pitch. This way, the pitch is always in his wheelhouse. I swear!

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 21, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Light travels at the speed of Willie Harris.

Posted by: Traveler | July 21, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

In case you were not suitably impressed by John's story, here is a depiction of the bat with which Harris performed the feat:

http://tinyurl.com/68vlcs

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Box Score for the game JiM mentioned. 6 for 6, with 2 3B, 6 RBI, and a stolen base. Prior to starting that July 21 game, Harris had only 12 RBI on the season.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL200707210.shtml

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Nice, 1a!

MLB changed their rules in 2006. Willie Harris no longer can steal bases, instead they're considered "complimentary."

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

That is very cool, 506.

Also, I agree re. the post of the day (although there have been several contenders).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

During the Steriod Era, Willie Harris injected himself with estrogen (but only when recovering from injuries) and regularly applied flaxseed oil.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 21, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I meant the box score, although the next posting was also cool.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

That's amazing, Bob, especially considering that envy of Willie Harris inspired the steroids era.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

a couple of wins seems to have inspired some giddyness (and even downright silliness) from 506BM! But hurray for Willie Harris! I have no problem with him as an everyday CF for the remainder of the year (it is a progression from last season).

Posted by: lowcountry | July 21, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Aside from being a superhero and baseball player, Willie Harris has conquered time and space, as proven by his fantastic career as a recording artist when he was little...in the 1950's!

Shake it Willie...Shake it.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=YZkD1FYGPmI&feature=related

Posted by: NattyDelite! | July 21, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

on that note, lowcountry, Jayson Stark's ESPN.com chat today on the NL East race had fully seve Ryan Church references, all of them positive, as in "it depends if Church can come back..."
http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=21637

Such conflicted feelings...

Posted by: nat in beantown | July 21, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

[that's seven (7) Church references]

Posted by: nat in beantonw | July 21, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The thing to remember, beantown, is that Church wasn't performing in DC and probably wouldn't have the stats he has now if he hadn't been traded.

Also, isn't that just what this team needs? Another mildly promising outfielder with mysterious and nagging injury problems who would be great if he were only healthy and on the roster for any extended period of time.

Posted by: also, Willie Harris is awesome. | July 21, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Jayson Stark seems to have missed the point that the Mets are playing a lot better without Church than they did with him. Nothing against Ryan (or Willie Randolph) but you have to weight team chemistry in discussing their turn around. I have not read Stark - but suspect that what he is really getting at is their need for for another LH bat. As for me - I'll take Willie Harris over Church for now.

Posted by: lowcountry | July 21, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Good point.

Posted by: Lastings, Wily, Alex & Elijah | July 21, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Washington

Harris - 8
Harris - 3
Harris- 6
Harris - 9
Harris - 5
Harris - 2
Harris - 4
Harris - 7
Harris - 1

Posted by: tomorrow's lineup | July 21, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

That may be the best one yet, Natty! :D

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

The new Speedo suit was inspired by WH.

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 21, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yep, kinda like the way that envy of Willie Harris' cat inspired the inventor of the Craftmatic Adjustable Litter Box.

**********

That's amazing, Bob, especially considering that envy of Willie Harris inspired the steroids era.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 3:21 PM

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 21, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

When Willie Harris was a kid he was never the bat boy, he was always the bat man.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Awesome picture of another Harris catch at Shea (all in a day's work):

http://tinyurl.com/5rdqhz

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Only outfielders? Don't forget us!

Posted by: Zim, Meathook, Boone, Chief, Slick | July 21, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The 2009 NATS LINEUP 3B(Zimmerman)ss(Guzman)2b(Harris)1b(Teixera)lf(Dukes)cf(Miledge)rf(Kearns/Maxwell)c(Flores) what do you fellow bloggers think, thrilled to see Willie do well being a nats fan in Ga. i am sick of the tomahawk chop,so to see the nats drop fifteen on them was nice, by the way where is Alex Escobar( hurt again?) Hey Chico how is Justin Maxwell doing in the mimors.

Posted by: dargregmag@aol.com | July 21, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

We've got a week before they come home...this could get seriously out of hand.

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 21, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag@aol.com - they released Escobar a while ago. Not sure why???

Posted by: Expos Fan | July 21, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

From Ladson interview with Stan......"I think we will only have a few holes left to fill to make us truly competitive."

Chico, how can you all let him say this stuff without calling him on the facts. I am still waiting for some work from you and Boz from your talk with Lerner too.....is it coming?

Posted by: JayB | July 21, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

escobar: release
maxwell: injured

Posted by: 231 | July 21, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Escobar was released, and Maxwell is on the DL. He won't be reevaluated again for another 3 weeks minimum.
****************************************
by the way where is Alex Escobar( hurt again?) Hey Chico how is Justin Maxwell doing in the mimors.

Posted by: dargregmag@aol.com | July 21, 2008 3:59 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

In the last hour, Major League Baseball named Willie Harris as its National League Player of the Week for the period ending July 20.

Last week, the 30 year-old Harris batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double, triple, homer, NL-best 7 RBI, one stolen base, 5 runs scored, 4 walks, a .688 on-base percentage and a 1.083 slugging percentage to garner his first career citation from MLB's office.

Posted by: Press Release | July 21, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

In the last hour, Major League Baseball named Willie Harris as its National League Player of the Week for the period ending July 20.

Last week, the 30 year-old Harris batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double, triple, homer, NL-best 7 RBI, one stolen base, 5 runs scored, 4 walks, a .688 on-base percentage and a 1.083 slugging percentage to garner his first career citation from MLB's office.

Posted by: Press Release | July 21, 2008 4:24 PM

If that is true then WOO-HOO Willie H.!!!!

Posted by: Dale | July 21, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

You guys are cracking me up with the Willy Harris stuff - wish I was clever. He seems to be a guy with a real passion to play and hustles ALL the time ( unlike some other players, which we don't even need to name right now). Langerhans also seems to be determined to make the most of his opportunity ( tired of the dc/columbus drive?). It's nice to see players with some fire and desire. Yesterday was so sweet.....

Posted by: masnstinks | July 21, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

No joke re. player of the week:

http://tinyurl.com/6b8ggh

Congrats, Willie!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Press release is correct

Posted by: Brian | July 21, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree, masnstinks (almost typed "masnthinks" - as if!). Maybe there was a little bit of "I'll show you what you're missing" for former Bravos Harris and Langerhans. An added bonus was having the tomahawk chant silenced.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Just read the article - he's in some good company with those other nominees. He will really be styling with the Swiss Timepiece they are giving him!!!!!

Posted by: masnstinks | July 21, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Definitely good company!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

If Ryan Wagner does make it back to the major league roster, I hope his intro music is "Kill the Wabbit." Elmer Fudd - what an actor (not quite Barney Rubble).

Is Milledge really being rushed? I thought he was just starting baseball related activities at Viera?

Don't automatically assume Kearns has no trade value if he hits well for the next week. Historically, he has had enough pop to be a corner outfielder, his eye can make up for a .260 average (not a <.200 average), and his defense would be a plus for a lot of teams. Tampa in particular is looking for a righty-batting corner outfielder. Last I saw, his contract has a buyout for next year. You would not get Brignac straight up, but maybe we should think bigger and package Guz, too (Still would not get Brignac, but maybe a high end arm like Niemann or Townsend and a guy Zobrist).

Posted by: PTBNL | July 21, 2008 12:01 PM

Kearns has an option for 2010 ($10m club option w$1m buyout) . . . 2009 he's guaranteed $8m. Jason Bay of the Pirates is guaranteed $8.5m next year by way of comparison. I would be most surprised if anyone took on that obligation (but look at who's batting clean up for the Mariners and how much he's getting paid) and nothing's out of the realm of possibility.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | July 21, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Glad I'm not the only one that hates the chop in Atlanta. Of course, the other team with a similar name here in dc has started their season - how could you possibly miss it. CIL thought the wapost was bad before yesterday - then the dc football team hired a dancer...

Posted by: masnstinks | July 21, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Count me among those in the tank for Willie Harris; fine by me if he stays in center and leading off the rest of the season.
Anyone else think it would be worth trying to package 3 to 4 of our most marketable players and take a run at whether the Twins would be interested in parting with Francisco Liriano?

Posted by: happytobeafan | July 21, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

i'm thinking the twins won't part with liriano w/o receiving a star in return. since we only have one of those at the ML level right now (and he's just coming off the DL), probably not much chance it happens.

i'm pretty sure 29 other teams in baseball want him, too. his price (if they'd even consider it) would be really really high.

Posted by: 231 | July 21, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Unless those four guys are Lastings Milledge, Jesus Flores Jordan Zimmermann, and Chris Marrero, we'll pass

Posted by: (fake) Bill Smith, Twins GM | July 21, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"He will really be styling with the Swiss Timepiece they are giving him!!!!!"

This brings up another important fact I just remembered.

Willie Harris is Switzerland's defensive replacement.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is beyond boring.

Talk about a real sport like soccer.

Posted by: David Belman | July 21, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Chico - redd up yer posts so yinz can go dahntahn for a sammitch. The treyf sammitches in San Francisco's rilly good, crabs and whannot, bettern hamnchips. Morrenat, when ya get danna ATT, all us fellas want yinz to make sure the Nats spread some chicken on the hill, Will! After this game, we want yinz to buy Sam a drink and get his dog one too!

Posted by: flynnie | July 21, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

David Belman is beyond boring.

He simply can't handle the awesomeness of the real athlete that is Willie Harris.

Posted by: the truth is... | July 21, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

You may be barking up the right tree with the Twins, though. Much to even their own surprise, they're in the hunt, and are probably only a move away from putting together a good run at the division.

Everyone thought Liriano would already be a stalwart in the lineup. But he was ineffective in April in his first action since the Tommy John surgery, and was subsequently sent down. Since then, he's been fantastic. As of the All Star break, he was 8-0 with a 2.53 ERA over his last ten starts in AAA Rochester.

He filed a grievance with the Twins, claiming they are keeping him from possibly becoming arbitration eligible by not calling him up. So there's some tension there. Twins pitching has been effective, hence the non-promotion.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 21, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, that was one of the best gamer's I've ever read. Chico really did intern under Gordon Edes at the Globe.

Posted by: flynnie | July 21, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Good one, 506.

BTW, according to another source, Harris is the first Nat to earn the citation outright. Previously, Nick Johnson shared the award with Albert Pujols and Ryan Zimmerman shared it with Brandon Webb.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

When Willie Harris was born on June 22, 1978, before the doctor could say, "It's a boy!" the newborn turned to his mother and said, "I'm Willie Harris."

Seventeen other women gave birth at that exact moment at Grady General Hostpital. Only fifteen were pregnant.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 21, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

actually, only 4 out of 5 twins starters have been effective. livan has been pitching to 6+ (june) and 7+ (july) ERAs for a while now. and i'm thinking that's a big part of what's annoying liriano. even a less effective liriano will be more effective than livan has been lately. have to say, i can completely understand why liriano is upset.

Posted by: 231 | July 21, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Go to the Fog City Diner, where the motto is "Don't Worry." They sell "Don't Worry" watches and baseball hats. Please bring me back a watch, as mine broke.

Posted by: flynnie | July 21, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

oh, and let me join in the willie harris love.

the statue of liberty isn't a statue at all. it's just some chick willie got a number from, and she's frozen there in anticipation until he makes up his mind whether or not to call.

were you aware that willie has 6 toes? someone tried to cut them off but the toe rose up and killed him. i went to the funeral. man, even willie felt sort of bad about that one.

Posted by: 231 | July 21, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

A couple series ago, Willie Harris had to put the moon back in the sky.

Someone had a hit that was heading out of Nationals Park in left center field, but Willie kept it in the ballpark by jumping over the Red Porch, the Red Loft, the Supreme Court, and pretty much the rest of North America. Of course, Willie caught both the moon and the ball. He promptly turned an unassisted triple play before tossing the moon back into orbit.

Posted by: faNATic | July 21, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Willie was born a twin but with all things Willie he preceded his brother by a whole month.

Posted by: dale | July 21, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris once bit into an onion. It then rained in all of Georgia.

Cairo High School changed their nickname from The Syrupmakers to The Willie Harris'.

Michael Jordan wears a Tshirt thats says "Be Like Willie".

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | July 21, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

GRiP - You are right that Kearns is probably too rich for TB. Perhaps a team with a smaller contract they want to dump, too (say one due $5 million*). As for the talent difference between him and Bay - I'm not saying he will cost as much in terms of a player back, I'm just saying he may be a useful, less expensive in terms of prospects option for some team. Mets? Twins?

* Oh, wait - we are the ones with a bunch of $5 million contracts we want to dump. But there is always Livo!

Posted by: PTBNL | July 21, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Everyone has seen the Dark Knight, what everyone doesn't know is that Willie Harris inspired DC Comics that it was possible to fly, hit, field, take on crime, and all while generating millions.

That means the Willie Harris is Batman.
YES

Posted by: NattyDelite! | July 21, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

hee hee, these are great. I especially liked faNATic's moon shot anecdote.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris is the Dalai Lama's spiritual advisor.

Posted by: Section 3 | July 21, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris hits home runs for the rest of the 24 men on the roster.

Oh wait, that really is true!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 1a! Of course, if Willie Harris hadn't saved me from my intensely burning, hurricane-beset, meteor-struck crib as a small child living in Georgia, it never would have been possible.

I especially appreciate LDO's onion metaphor, having spent the first five years of my life in Vidalia, Georgia. Of course, those among us who meander grocery store produce sections may recognize that town as the point of origin for Vidalia onions, which unlike all other onions are sweet and actually don't make you cry when cut (of course, that is entirely because Willie spit in the dirt in a Vidalia baseball game and sweetened the soil for the next three counties).

Posted by: faNATic | July 21, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Breakfast -- go to The Oakland Grill in Jack London Square (yes, it is in Oakland).

Posted by: The Oakland Griller - a very hairy Houdini | July 21, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

You know, Willie Harris isn't just famous here in the States. Egyptians were so impressed with him that they named their capital after his home town.

They're also making a new movie about him, called WILL-E.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris rules
More power than Wily Mo
Plus he has cool shades

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 21, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

the ball doesnt actually hit willie harris' bat, it sees how hard he can swing and turns around as fast as possible

Posted by: love | July 21, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I got one, I got one

Willie Harris doesn't pick up gay men, gay men pick up Willie Harris!

Posted by: GooglePlex | July 21, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I hear Willie Harris gave himself his own breast job.

Posted by: NatsNatsNats | July 21, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

This just in...(or..this is something I just saw...):
Jorge Posada is going on the DL and may be considering season ending surgery...

PLod to the Yanks? Bucket of balls and a few maple bats in return?

Posted by: TimDz | July 21, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

TimDz: I don't think Cashman would let us rip them off that badly.

Posted by: nat in beantown | July 21, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

PLod to the Yanks?

Don't tease my hopes like that. Perhaps we could thrown in Estrada too. Sort of like drawing the baseball equivalent of the Old Maid.

Posted by: Dale | July 21, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Nice catch on the onion metaphor, faNATic. I'm hadn't made the Vidalia connection.

Also, bonus points to CiL for the haiku.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Take our catchers, please (sounds like the intro to a Henny Youngman joke).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 21, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

what would we have to give the yankees to take loduca?

Posted by: 231 | July 21, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, considering The Boss's Boss is Willie Harris, probably not too much.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 21, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris is a switch-hitter. He can write Greek with one hand and Latin with the other.

Posted by: are we done yet? | July 22, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Willie Harris writes Barack Obama's speeches.

Posted by: Did you know? | July 22, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

nay...willie harris IS barack obama!!

Posted by: love | July 22, 2008 12:48 AM | Report abuse

All politics aside, Willie Harris knows the solutions for both world peace and global poverty. He's just waiting until we deserve it to give us the answers.

Posted by: faNATic | July 22, 2008 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Willie Harris is The One.

Posted by: Willie Harris barada nikto! Willie Harris barada nikto! | July 22, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Willie Harris, great job on the profile in today's dead-tree edition, Chico! It's nice to see a good utility man getting some national recognition, IMO. I still like the utility man emergency backup idea that Sheinin floated in a recent chat (for the All-Star Game).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Well, if we're talking breakfast, there is the venerable Sears Fine Food on Powell (I'm partial to the Swedish pancakes).

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Still in the air?

Posted by: RJ | July 22, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

You do realize it's not even 6AM out here our time

Posted by: (fake) West Coast | July 22, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I do, though I don't always make the calculations correctly when calling friends and family there. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Great piece, Chico. Thank God there was an off-day, or else we would have to sit on this piece until maybe it became irrelevant.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 22, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Zing!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Returning to the 'what should the Gamer be?' question from a few days ago:

I know the WH piece today wasn't the gamer, but a travel day color piece... but that nugget about recognizing Jurrjens' tendencies and when he goes to the changeup, and how that played out in an important at bat - that's EXACTLY the kind of insightful, informative reporting I'd like to see.

St. Barry of Panera smiles upon you, seated next to the throne of Willie Harris.

Posted by: nat in beantown | July 22, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I second the comment that the stuff about Willie watching the pitcher and catching on to his tendencies was brilliant. I loved reading the paper today.

Posted by: abc | July 22, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I'll third the comments about the recounting of Willie's observations. I also liked the overall structure of the piece, from the first lesson for utility players to the key at-bat.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Chico, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 22, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

That's exactly what I tried to tell my friend at the bar last night. He responded with some nonsense about how important a veteran Livo will be down the stretch. There was really no point in correcting him - he'll get to see it all himself in the coming months.

Liriano went 8 innings, giving 7 hits and one earned run with 8 strikeouts in his last start. He starts against Toledo tonight. I don't know much much longer they can keep him down.

-----

actually, only 4 out of 5 twins starters have been effective. livan has been pitching to 6+ (june) and 7+ (july) ERAs for a while now. and i'm thinking that's a big part of what's annoying liriano.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 22, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

So, John in Mpls, essentially what you are saying is Fransisco Liriano is Willie Harris.

Posted by: PTBNL | July 22, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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