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One Through Four

Just a bunch of short notes to start off the morning...

* If you're looking for the reason why the Nats scored nine runs last night, you might as well focus on the first four batters in the lineup: Anderson Hernandez, Alberto Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman and Lastings Milledge. Combined, they had 19 at bats, six runs, 11 hits (the team had 13 total) and all nine Washington RBI. We've got the gamer here, the notebook here.

* We've the regular Wednesday afternoon chat scheduled today for 2 p.m.

* Please note, the start time for Saturday's was switched from 7:05 p.m. to 3:55 p.m., courtesy of Fox, which will nationally televise the game.

* Last night, during the game, I had a ninth-grader named MJ Thomas job-shadowing me. His eyes were wide -- "I can tell you're loving this," Lenny Harris told him when he walked into the field for BP -- but he took it all in like a pro. He talked about the latest video games with Jason Bergmann; he asked smart questions during the game about how I search for storylines, etc; he helped himself to a massive slab of Nationals Park press box cake. Oh, and though he's only 14, he's graduated through different nine cell phones in his life, and now has a BlackBerry, which he depends on no less frequently than his frontal lobe. That made me feel older than Stonehenge. Anyway, I asked MJ to write about his night -- "Don't make it like a book report," I told him, in the classic advice to a young journalist. "Pretend like you're telling a friend about the experience." -- so hopefully he sends along a few paragraphs today or tomorrow. Maybe he can be the second Nats beat writer next year.

* In the pre-blog, pre-kids-with-nine-cell-phone days, there was no forum to explain the journalistic process or give transparency to a newspaper's plans. But now I might as well. Those interested in our local baseball team have likely seen the Wash Times' comprehensive postmortem piece analyzing the failings of this season, and their repercussions. We've been working on our own piece, of course, and it's slated to run at the end of the week. The Times piece was well done, I thought. But hopefully the piece to come can add equally vital insight, and add to the public's understanding of the organization.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 24, 2008; 8:05 AM ET
 
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Next: The Minor League Report

Comments

"But hopefully the piece to come can add equally vital insight, and add to the public's understanding of the organization."

Teh Post hates teh Nats

Posted by: Typical Nats Apologist | September 24, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The Times article and column were very well done, I look forward to the Post expanding on several subjects such as whether player's expense checks are being withheld, that the Nats are the only team not to send representatives to the MLB instruction courses, the Nats reputation among free agents around the league, and of course whether Kasten and Bowden will be with the team next season.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"Teh Post hates teh Nats"

The Post hates the Redskins, they (except Chico) ignore the Nats.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Looking forward to seeing what MJ files, and (sort of) to the Post's postmortem.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Is everyone sleeping in after partying too hard celebrating the Nats big win last night, or is everyone too busy drafting questions for today's chat?

Posted by: estuartj | September 24, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones would have finished his post-mortem weeks ago.

Posted by: ntr Boz | September 24, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones has plenty of time on his hands riding the pine (although he does have a lot of money to count).

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | September 24, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

post mortem....this aint no funeral. I'm already looking forward to spring in Viera. Now, if they can only take a shot to prevent that injury bug.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | September 24, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

great team victory last night. I was a little nervous after the Fish hit the HR in the 2nd, but Martis really settled down after that. Pretty impressive for a 21-year old making his 3rd or 4th start.

About next season, I was wondering what the NJ faithful thought about this ... what if the Nats signed Mike Mussina to a 1 or 2 year deal. Would that help? He's a proven winner, he's 19-9 this season (he has one start left to get his first ever 20-win season), his ERA is 3.47 and rarely walks anyone. I think he's making like $11M this season, but I would think his market value would be substantially less since he'll be 40 when ST comes around next year. Thoughts?

Posted by: e | September 24, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I posted this on my blog but I thought folks here would be interested--the Nationals last night fell below the '03 Reds for worst new stadium per game average attendance ever.

Given the amount of time the Post has spent on the attendance, I'm surprised they didn't note the event.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 24, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Nice of you to give a nod to the Times piece, Chico. I thought it was well done also, and quite illuminating. Especially interesting was finding out that morale in the front office is so low. One would think that it would be a blast to work for a major league baseball team in a new stadium with deep pocket owners. Oh well.

Also wanted to thank you for the reference to the David Foster Wallace piece on Roger Federer. Amazing writing.

The top of the order looked downright scary last night, and it's nice to see Zimmerman's and Dukes' BA's creeping toward downright respectability. Let's hope they figure out how to start out hot next year.

Posted by: Section 222 | September 24, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"The Times article and column were very well done..."

I guess, but I liked it better when Boz wrote it last week ("Cause For Concern").

Posted by: joebleux | September 24, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

We can always count on Steven to provide a little ray of sunshine. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I was in the team store last night and overheard someone talking about prices of hats. "That much?!" he asked his friend incredulously. "Try winning some games first."

This amusing incident spurred another thought. Do Cubs fans with new hats deserve the scorn of Cubs fans with old hats?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 24, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Probably about the same scorn level as for Red Sox fans with new hats, 506 (or for anybody with a Yankees hat).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

But New Hat Red Sox fans have Pink Hat fans as a smoke screen.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 24, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everyone so far that the Times article was "spot-on". Is it a cause for concern or is it just a lot of rumour and ranker amongst the employees against the Lerners? Who really knows but on the surface its not very reassuring. No doubt that the 2.4M number will get hammered around by the anti-baseball crowd (so what, it is what it is), however this offseason will be critical (in my opinion) regarding trades ( face facts folks no legit FA's will be coming to DC), strong marketing, and fixing the radio problem. The best thing the Lerner-Stans can do going forward is to forget about the DisneyLand-overload experience and develop a "baseball culture". They need to target young families (Moms and Dads w/young kids) who missed out on growing up w/a hometown team. Nothing better then being a kid and seeing that green grass and brown dirt for the first time. Truthfully things like the Red-Loft, Miller Beer Pen, etc., work well for the 20-30 crowd but for everyone else they need the game to sell itself. Once that everyday baseball culture is established and they start producing on the field you'll see how fast the media (print & broadcast) comes around. I think that is what has been missing these past 4 years.

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 24, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the Post's piece on the Nats. I thought both of Wash Times' pieces were insight and I am anxious to learn more because in the long run I think the Lerner's handling of this will determine if young players (Zimmerman) will sign here. You can't run a baseball team like a mall - but do the Lerner's care? I thought the "Team Photo" that was passed out Saturday was interesting - there was lots of Lerners, Tennanbaums, Cohens, etc. in the big front row - I thought it was a "Team Photo" - you know players.

Posted by: cadeck | September 24, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Wait, go over again why no legitimate free agents are going to come here?

I'm being completely serious, are we assuming free agents are both so stupid and so greedy for championships that they will make their decisions based on one year instead of the next five?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 24, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The "no F/A will ever come here" is from the same crowd that thinks that free agents will give their "hometown" team a discount when it comes to signing a contract. Ripkin was one of the last (but he had other fish to fry), and Mussina proved that it is just not a good idea.

The Times articles were interesting, but let's consider the source. Truth and the Washington Times have generally been strangers.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 24, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Have any of you tried the batting cages? My complaints:
1. They use foam balls
2. You have to wear close-toed shoes in order to use the machine (despite the fact that they use foam balls)
3. The balls drop like a splitter (either the machine wasn't properly set up or again...the foam balls)
4. They are lit worse than a dark alley (I was almost mugged)

Conclusion: $2 down the drain. Yet another rip-off at Nats Park! No wonder the kids stick to the video games.

Posted by: The Fan Experience | September 24, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The first thing I did when MLB announced the move to DC was flip my two year-old Expos hat for a brand new blue curly W cap.

I bought a red curly W and an interlocking DC cap when I had my ticket plan in 2006, but I still feel too much like Fred Durst when I wear them.

Plus, that blue hat is just tops.

It's so dirty, the bill is flimsy, and it's been turned around a few too many times in pleading cries for rallies that never materialized. It smells of sweat and tears - thankfully no blood - and saturation by Off and Febreze have likely altered the molecular structure of the wool.

It's been thrown, dropped, kicked, slapped, and flipped in the air like a Zimmerman batting helmet as he trots home, but it's still the only hat that fits right. I think I even stomped on it once like a kid pitching a fit. It's not something I'm proud of.

I thought about getting one of those new jobbies with the black underbill last year, but couldn't bear to do it.

I will be wearing that hat when the Nationals win the World Series.

-----

This amusing incident spurred another thought. Do Cubs fans with new hats deserve the scorn of Cubs fans with old hats?

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 24, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Ted Lerner's money is every bit as green as Hank Steinbrenner's or John Henry's. If he spends it, free agents will come. That's not the question. The question is will he spend it? The answer is no, probably not yet. But why? The Lerners-are-cheap crowd will say it's because the Lerners are cheap. But if pressed for an answer, the Lerners have always said that they would spend the money when the time is right, and not before. But where did they ever get that philosophy? From Stan Kasten. How will they ever know that the time is right? Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden will tell them. The Lerners have never pretended to know anything about the baseball side of the operation, and there are no reports from anywhere that they're meddling there. Although Stan Kasten may be feeling a bit frustrated on the business side of things, that's understandable given that it's a family-run business and he's not a member of the family. He knew that going in, though, so I'm sure he also knew that he would not be calling the shots all of the time and that he might end up frustrated now and then. But his core philosophy, the one he's totally identified with for better or worse, is The Plan. There are no signs at all that the Lerners are impeding him in his execution of The Plan, so it seems highly unlikely that he'd leave out of frustration on the business side of things. Why? Because that would make him look like a failure, and I'm sure Stan Kasten would not want to be marked as a failure. He won't leave until one of two options opens up for him, namely the commissionership of baseball or the chance to run one of baseball's premier franchises. (Like when Larry Lucchino left the Padres to run the Red Sox.) I don't see either of those things happening any time soon, so I predict Stan Kasten will be running the Nationals for many more years yet.

Posted by: so you might as well get used to it | September 24, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Terrific post, JiM. Bravo!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

That's the best explanation I've heard yet.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 24, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Have any of you tried the batting cages?"

Yes.

"1. They use foam balls"

Given how wild the machine was the night I was in there (throwing high and outside to me, a righthander, which translated to high and tight on my friend the lefty) that's probably a good thing.

"2. You have to wear close-toed shoes in order to use the machine (despite the fact that they use foam balls)"

Since there are probably people who are uncoordinated enough to bop themselves on the foot with the bat, that's probably also a good thing. They don't want any lawsuits.

"3. The balls drop like a splitter (either the machine wasn't properly set up or again...the foam balls)"

Not the night I was there (see above).

"4. They are lit worse than a dark alley (I was almost mugged)"

I went before the game, so it was still daylight. Not all that dark in there then. Still, if mugged I probably would have just handed over my $2 token and made a dash for it.

"Conclusion: $2 down the drain. Yet another rip-off at Nats Park! No wonder the kids stick to the video games."

My conclusion: For two measly bucks, it was fun enough for me to try it twice.

Posted by: my complaint: all the helmets were too small for my giant head | September 24, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

JiM - I can relate. But at some point, when the rips start to separate the bill from skull portion, you may need to retire it. It's a sad day when that happens. For I had to retire my Sox '04 /'07 hat this year and went back to '05 (I'm nervous).

Hats are key to mojo. Buying an opponents' hat for a Halloween costume can do wonders for cursing an opponent. I bought an NYY hat for Halloween in '03, flipped it upside down, rested a retired Sox cap on it, and the opponent has not won a pennant since.

I'll assume someone has a Braves hat out there. Let's test the theory. Flip it upside down in your closet, and put a Nats hat on top of it. Guaranteed luck reversal, or you cantrack me down in parts unknown (the only fitting locale for a poster to be named later).

Posted by: PTBNL | September 24, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Are you sure that it wasn't an ice cream sundae helmet? :-D

"my complaint: all the helmets were too small for my giant head"

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Are you sure that it wasn't an ice cream sundae helmet? :-D

"my complaint: all the helmets were too small for my giant head"


Posted by: hmm. maybe that would explain why it's still stuck on the top of my head | September 24, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Also might explain that sticky-sweet chocolate sauce and "cherry" running down your face!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 24, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Until the DC franchise is viewed by players around MLB as a place to go to be paid and to WIN, no one is going to line up with baited breath while their agent haggles over 3 years or 4 years and 20M with PTBowdoin. There will always be the scrap-heap FA's willing to take 1 or 2M for another year to play in the bigs, that is were the Nats are now, maybe in 3 or 4 years that will change. Ask yourself prior to this year how many front-line FA's wanted to sign up with Tampa Bay? I guess this years success for them will change that real quick.

Ballplayers are entertainers, they might say they love the game, but when it comes down to it they love the money, the fan/media attention, and most of all winning. Not happening here at least for the near term but give it some time and hopefully "money-attention-winning" will bring them here.

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 24, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Ray, if you pay them, free agents will come.

Posted by: 756* | September 24, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Tampa stopped going after top-tier FA's after the Canseco/Boggs/etc fiasco. They were determined for the past couple of years to let their draft and player development make them a winning ballclub. How's that working out for them?

Also, back in the early '00's, the Tigers were a disgrace. Terribly run organization, worst records in the majors, yada, yada. They still got Pudge and Magglio and Kenny Rogers to sign as FA's. How'd that work out for them?

Posted by: e | September 24, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why so many people think that the free agents will be lining up to come here this winter. I don't think that they will - the Lerner's money is indeed less green than Steinbrenners' money. Or Red Sox money - or (GASP) even Tampa Ray money.

Why, players want to win. And if the money is about equal, they'll go to the team that won more games in 2008.

Sure, there's exceptions, Magglio Ordonez, etc - but think back at the time, Ordonez was coming off of an injury plagued season and there were questions about his knees. So, the Tigers overpaid him - at least in terms of contract length.

The Lerners/Kasten aren't going to overpay anyone.

Deep Pockets Lerners? Pockets so deep that they cannot reach their check book.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | September 24, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Evidence of Lerner meddling in the baseball side - when Crow didn't sign, they had the money to offer a $1 mil bonus to Ramirez in the 15th round that otherwise they would have passed on. Had to keep to the budget. Clearly that didn't help The Plan.

Posted by: Geezer | September 24, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

must be from the anchovies.

***********
no one is going to line up with baited breath ...
Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 24, 2008 11:35 AM

Posted by: bated, as in abate. They're HOLDING their breath. I HATE it when people get the words wrong! | September 24, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Wait, go over again why no legitimate free agents are going to come here?

I'm being completely serious, are we assuming free agents are both so stupid and so greedy for championships that they will make their decisions based on one year instead of the next five?


Are you serious?

Posted by: Rick.Felt | September 24, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Completely serious. I don't think players are stupid, I think that Washington will have to be a winner before players start wanting to come here.

Reason #1. Players want to win now. Not in 5 years. There's no guarantee that The Plan will work. As a fan, I believe in it. But I don't have the same options as Adam Dunn. The #1 indicator of how many wins a team will have in Season 2, is how many wins that they had in Season 1.

Reason #2. If the Lerners offer the same money to Teixeira as the Yanks/Red Sox/Cubs, why would he take the same amount of money to be on a team with a losing history? He wouldn't.

Reason #3. I truly doubt that the Lerners will make a large enough offer for someone like Teixeira or Dunn to consider coming here.

------------------
Wait, go over again why no legitimate free agents are going to come here?

I'm being completely serious, are we assuming free agents are both so stupid and so greedy for championships that they will make their decisions based on one year instead of the next five?


Are you serious?

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | September 24, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Thursday is looking like a rain out. If we need one more loss to finish last (win the first round pick), will MLB schedule a make up game?

Posted by: Parkay | September 24, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's right - let's do yet another negative article about all the things that are wrong - goodness knows we haven't had enough of that kind of thing this season. Negative blogging, negative headlines, negative newspaper articles--doom, gloom, the sky is falling. Yuch - just what I want to read over and over and over and over again - no thanks. Hey - Great game last night, right?? The whole last month we have been privileged to see flashes of our future team - still raw, still inconsistent- but definitely exciting. I don't know about you - but that's what I've been watching.

Posted by: masnstinks | September 24, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Hear hear, masnstinks.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 24, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I just got done watching WP Live with Sheinin, and it's the same thing over and over. There isn't much you can say, and I think that the writers have to preserve their sources, which is understandable, and don't want to necessarily point fingers, but do so in a general way. They're 40 games under .500.

Usually at least the manager gets fired.


Posted by: Brue | September 24, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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