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The Misadventures Of Willie Harris

[UPDATE, 3:33 p.m.] -- The Nats are still trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth. Detroit's staff has retired 22 of 23 since Zimmerman's home run. If you don't see another game-related update here, assume the Nats have fallen to 12-15-2 this spring.


Let's review why Willie Harris is having a tough day: The do-it-all utility player is starting today at second base. First he messed up a play he'd make 99 times out of 100, and then, three innings later, he messed up a similar (but tougher) play -- so hey, maybe he makes it 98 times out of 100.

In the second inning, Mike Hessman popped one up just behind first base, just foul. Adam Dunn was camping under it, but at the very last moment, Harris yelled loudly, "I've got it! I've got it!" Dunn stepped out of the way. Harris realized too late that he'd misjudged the ball, and ended up making a last-second lunge, in a motion that brought to mind somebody diving out of the way of a train. The ball plunked to the ground, foul. (Hessman later struck out.)

In the fifth, Harris chased after another pop in foul territory. This one was about 20 feet deeper, and would have required some serious backpedaling from Dunn; thus, there was no doubt -- this ball was for Harris. But this time, he seemed to overrun the pop. Again, it fell to the ground, foul.

As for the game update... the Nats trail 3-2 in the sixth. Joe Beimel pitched the final two outs in the fifth, and is on for at least another inning.

Shairon Martis's final line:

4-1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 94 pitches (60 strikes)

WAIT -- awesome update...

Just as I was about to "publish" this post, there was a pop hit by Detroit's first batter of the sixth. It was just beyond the second base bag. Cristian Guzman yielded ground to Harris... and as the ball plunged toward Harris's mitt, you could hear the crowd at Space Coast murmur.


Harris snagged the pop.

The stadium roared.

He gripped his glove with his right hand, as if holding a treasure, and then pumped his fist into the air.

The applause continued.

Harris took a bow.

There won't be a funnier P-4 all year.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 30, 2009; 2:44 PM ET
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Next: Dmitri Will Play Tomorrow


awesome post. laughing out loud.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

That's hilarious!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps they should put Milledge at second. His instincts might be better there.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 30, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Scouring the waiver wire...

Bowden originally traded Owens to the ChiSox for Alex Escobar.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the White Sox have placed Jerry Owens on waivers.

Owens has the speed and defensive skills to be useful as a bench player, but he simply doesn't offer enough offensively to be a starter. Chicago will go with DeWayne Wise as the starter in center field, perhaps platooning him with Brian Anderson against left-handers.

Posted by: dclifer | March 30, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Willie Harris!

Vladman1327, you had me at "numbers." I'll look forward to seeing them when you got them, I think you make an interesting arguments. I'm inclined to believe in the "multiplier effect" of having power lower in the order, but maybe I just still feel burned by watching Soriano belt all those homers with no one on board and no chance of someone being there.

And the Milledge snark piggy back wasn't directed at you, you never said give up on him. It's directed at the persistence of judging players based on eyeballs, which don't catch every play, have a habit of spotting things they are looking for, and sometimes see things that just plain don't matter because the numbers are the only thing that determine the outcome of the game, not the artfulness of the play.

Posted by: Section506 | March 30, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Thru 6 1/2 innings...17 strikeouts...unfortunatly the Nats have whiffed 10 times so far...ouch.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 30, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

OT, the movie "Sugar" doesn't appear to be opening here. It's a shame since the DC area might have some heightened interest in Dominican Republic baseball movies.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Nice inning for Bergmann.

Bummer about the movie. It sounded interesting.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Willie has a sense of humor... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | March 30, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

In talking to club execs who have spoken with Scott Boras about Stephen Strasburg, Heyman ( believes Boras does have $50MM in mind. Boras allegedly likened Strasburg to fictional pitcher Sidd Finch, with the plan being to shatter previous draft pick bonuses by using Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract as a model. One Nationals person told Heyman, "We'll pay the $10 million, and we'll get him signed." This much is clear: we'll have something off the field to talk about in August.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 30, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 30, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Come on, walk-off...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

...or not

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

what happened?

Posted by: NatsNut | March 30, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Heyman on Strasburg and $50m.

Imagine what he would have written is Bowden was still around?

Posted by: dclifer | March 30, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Bottom of the 9th: Dunn walked with 2 out, Dukes grounded out to end the game.

On the plus side, the bullpen seemed strong.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 30, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to Dunn's 38HR and 71RBI this year.

Posted by: RickFelt | March 30, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Rick, so you are looking forward to his counting stats in August?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 30, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Ted Keith of's "For the Record" has a very thought provoking column on how Stephen Strasburg's situation - vis-a-vis his representative's asking for a $50 million signing bonus - may lead to an overhaul of the amateur draft.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 30, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm not familiar with statistics for counting. Whatever they may be I am sure his counting stats are solid so yes I am looking forward to them.

Posted by: RickFelt | March 30, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

... I admit it. In spite of being a radical socialist during the day, I'm a traditional conservative back home in the closet.

... I don't like Nick leading off because in the long history of MLB it hasn't become the thing to do. To support my side, I could note his 0 for 4 today but that wouldn't be fair. It's only one game. My sense is however, that similar results would occur on a regular basis if he were to occupy that lineup spot.

... now that many game decisions are made these days based on sabrmetrics, all manners of things might be looked at, tested and even become the norm. I don't know if today's move came from that reasoning or not, but I'm one who says that I'd still rather go with 'tried, tested and true', ahead of 'just maybe this'll work'.

... I'm still waiting to see Bill James proved right over traditional methods and tactics.

... on the other hand:

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 30, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

... well, yeah - it was pretty funny reading about Willie's antics. But in the course of perusing, I had this awful knot in my stomach about guys racing to snag a pop foul. I had this terrible video playing back inside my head, in which first baseman, one Nick J and RF Kearns 'came together solidly', you might say.

... I'm sure glad that wasn't what happened today. I'd have hated to read about Adam Dunn carried off the field on a stretcher.

Come April! Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 30, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

They better start hitting, noticed some pretty low BA's (understand most of the starters didn't play much especially early on but....,). With two Rookie starters, the number three who may not be able to find the strike zone on any given day and the number two who comes out hot or cold depending on his mood, this team could find themselves losing a hole bunch of one or two run games or complete blowouts. Its a fact folks that needs to be considered.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 30, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I was at the game, and in between the two foul pop-ups he missed, there was another one in the outfield, just behind his 2nd base position, that he missed and tweaked his shoulder enough to have the trainers come out. But he was OK. So he missed 3 before catching the 4th pop-up. And the one he caught would normally have sseen Guzman come over and take charge, but Harris wanted to catch that one real bad! He was very good natured about the whole thing and probably won himself a number of fans with how he handled the situation. It will be a highlight of my spring training trip!

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | March 31, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

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