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Viera ... Home to Choices

Greetings folks. Svrluga here, trying to re-familiarize myself with this place. Chico moved a bunch of stuff around, and the staff is totally different (not that I don't enjoy them, but my Journal people were my Journal people and I liked it that way), and, well, it's just going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, I'll be shepherding you through the next week here. This missive (which will contain no real substantive information, given that I haven't yet talked with a single National) comes to you live from the press box at HSCS (that's Historic Space Coast Stadium, if you need a reminder). I am the only one here right now. Why? Night game. Rolling into town and draw a night game.

The view from here, as always, is nothing short of majestic. There are a few more edifices that may have a better chance of stopping the wind. (Wind is great. In Viera, even better.) Actually, and I don't know if Chico has mentioned this, but Viera has apparently changed its slogan. (Slogans are great. In Viera, even better.) It is, judging by the billboard on the left-center field wall, now "Viera ... home to choices." And I suppose that's true if you want your choices to be Outback, Lone Star, Applebee's, Olive Garden and Steak n' Shake (or should that be "n' Steak n' Shake"?). (Read more about all this at (Oh my gosh! They kept alive the other slogan there. "Being home is good. In Viera, even better." My god the comfort level around here cannot be overstated. It's like a warm bath on a cool winter's night.)

Baseball: Tonight, the Astros invade HSCS for a highly anticipated Grapefruit League matchup. Collin Balester vs. Felipe Paulino. I'll have some pregame notes for you later in the afternoon.

Also: If you had an extra three hours this morning, you had time to read a story I wrote about the Dominican Republic and how, exactly, situations like the Frowny Gonzalez story develop down there. I'll be chatting about that at 11 a.m. Submit questions and join me here.

Looking forward to the week. Please suggest story ideas in the comments section. With the GM/Dominican mess largely behind us, I hope to write some about, oh, I don't know, baseball players.

Hmmm ... wonder where I should go to lunch after the chat. I'll figure something out, I guess.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 9, 2009; 10:19 AM ET
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Don't fool with us Barry! Welcome back! Great story on the Dominican "System" by the way.

Posted by: mjwies11 | March 9, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Barry! I've been enjoying all of your Dominican coverage, including today's story. That said, I would love to read about actual, you know, baseball players as well.

Spinning off from your Steak 'n Shake musings, I don't know that they have them in Florida, but the name Eat 'n Park has always struck me as illogical.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

hmmm, make that "actual baseball," as the Dominican coverage has related to players. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Blogfather, and welcome back, even if it is only for a short short. As for story suggestions: Attitudes of those on the fence such as AK/WMP/NJ. Any thoughts to whom MR may be considering bringing in to bolster the bullpen, as it appears to now be a weakness. Also, how the young guns are measuring up to the Saints expectations. Ah Viera...attitude with gratitude.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 9, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"Viera ... home to choices."

Unless of course you're trying to choose between your leather pants or your Manny wig as your uniform of the day, or the Segway or the golf cart as your transportation. Then the slogan becomes "Viera ... SOL."

Posted by: nunof1 | March 9, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Great story on the DR this morning. Made me a little later leaving home than what I intended, but I really felt you conveyed the complexity of the context down there very well.

Also, ate at the Fat Snook Saturday, on your recommendation, and, if you decide to give up the football thing and still refuse to come back where you belong, you could do restaurant reviews. I had a great piece of Grooper, nice wines and great service.

Posted by: advocate2 | March 9, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Welcome home, Barry.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 9, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Barry!

Posted by: misschatter | March 9, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Great to have you back, Barry.

Story ideas?

I'd like to know if Marquis Grissom is working with Lastings to improve his routes in CF. (And if not, why not?)

Also, are the Nats shopping for bullpen help, or are they content to start the season with the best of the AAAA candidates currently on the roster?

Given the Nats current bullpen and crowded outfield, "Home to Choices" is a pretty good slogan for Spring Training.

Also, more Olney on Strasburg here:

Posted by: BobLHead | March 9, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

ok, i just laughed throughout the entire post. so very nice of you to join us again mr. barry. with you and neeham back in the saddle, life if much more fun...

Posted by: phillip4 | March 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Venison jerky?

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | March 9, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Great to have you Barry!

Story ideas - NJ's swing changes and his progress w/ them. Meat Hook's back. And the obvious ones - crowded outfield/potential trade, bullpen of doom/potential trade, Hill's arm, L-T deal for Zim, etc.

Posted by: Avar | March 9, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Barry!

One story idea that comes to mind is Kearns and what is going on with him. His best buddy joins the team, but could force him onto the bench, or worse; while presumably fighting for a job, he has 10 days out of exhibition games for a "blister" and later tells Ladson that he has actually been in the cages with Eckstein revamping his swing; what did he do all Winter to get ready for what was shaping up to be a challenging, and hopefully a rebound, year after his lost season last year.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 9, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Barry! Big smile here.

First. I swear all you baseball writers have a competition going on who can paint the bleakest, most sarcastic picture of Viera. Cracks me up.

Second. I'd actually like to hear more about the lesser-known players. Chico posted about Valentin and it was the first I'd heard of him.

Thanks. And great DR story too, btw.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"Viera ... home to choices."

Unless of course you're trying to choose between your leather pants or your Manny wig as your uniform of the day, or the Segway or the golf cart as your transportation. Then the slogan becomes "Viera ... SOL."

Posted by: nunof1 | March 9, 2009 10:44 AM

For the love of pete, can we please stop with the Jimbo jokes. He's gone, let's move on.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 9, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

This isn't Nats related but an interesting look at a Top Draft pick and weighing out the 1st 3 years prior to arbitration eligibility.

The article is on Wieters starting the season in the Majors or Minors. Wieters who is also a Boras client and top pick by the O's in 2008 should be the starting catcher when the season begins, but the article say that there is a possibility that he sit in the Minors for a few months in order to push off arbitration to after 2012 instead of after 2011.

Something certainly to watch -if- it happens.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 9, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Hi Barry,

... good to see your name in ink - and in the right place - once again.

... I haven't digested your DR story yet, and that's because I really don't have that much interest in the place (any more than any other outlying source for raw talent).

... but I have a story idea. A week or so ago, we were all gobsmacked about the story on Mike and Phil Rizzo. I especially appreciated the image of a scout out in the boonies with only his smarts as his principle resource. I think it would make a neat feature if someone could travel for a week or two this summer with one of these guys and give us the tastes amd smells of what they go through.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 9, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

WBC video archive link for those who couldn't watch on tv. There are a number of clips from the Team USA games to date (including Dunn HR footage but not his dugout antics):

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Barry is great ... in Viera, even better

Posted by: natbisquit | March 9, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Also, the Bog has a Dunn piece up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dunn, he absolutley crushed a ball to right last night for a HR in the WBC, in case anyone missed it.

I said to myself after he hit it. Man, I hope he does that about 40-45 times this season.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The photo montage on the Bog piece is hilarious, although I have to say that it looks like McCann and Dunn are dangerously close to leaning in for a kiss in the bottom two.

Despite the fact that he plays for Philthadelphia, one of the funniest parts of last night's WBC game was Jimmy Rollins during his interview (exactly when Dunn hit his ceiling-scraper of a homer), and then talking to Dunn in the dugout afterwards. Pretty high comedy.

Posted by: faNATic | March 9, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

That was funny, faNATic, particularly Rollins' dugout re-creation of his viewing of said dinger.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse


I agree the Kearns has to be the story to be told. 10 Days for a Blister and then find out he has been working in the cage.....Acta never tells you the straight story.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey Barry,

Story idea: What ever happened to the Segway? Who get's to ride it now?


Posted by: twinbrook | March 9, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Hello Barry! Nice to have you back for the week. I was hoping for some type on the few MLB-journeymen looking for a spot on the Nats roster. Thanks!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | March 9, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

If everyone is healthy then we (thankfully) don't have room for any MLB journeymen. Or for the likes of Bernadina, Casto, Gonzalez, etc.

c Flores, Nieves
1b Nick
2b Hernandez, Belliard
3b Zimmerman
ss Guzman
of Dukes, Harris, Kearns, Milledge, Willingham, Dunn

That 13 right there, and I assume we will carry 12 pitchers, which would mean that the staff would look something like this:


Hill (maybe)
Balester or Zimmerman (both if no Hill)



And then five of these guys:


Posted by: BobLHead | March 9, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Barry. Be honest...isn't hanging out in Viera way better than Redskin Park?

Posted by: teach1 | March 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Here's a story suggestion. I want to know what five players (pitchers included) are the cornerstone of this franchise. I want to know their feelings about the future of the team. I want to know how they like playing in Washington. I want to know if they would rather play elsewhere.

Posted by: 6thandD | March 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Bob - I am with you. I hate seeing the rosters in these ST games and saying to myself "who IS this guy?"

Posted by: PattyinSJ | March 9, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Barry - PLEASE catch up with Josh Willingham. Nobody has said even a peep about him since Spring Training started.

what's going on with him?

Posted by: MrMadison | March 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Should Hill be able to do some throwing this week, perhaps you could, oh, I don't know, catch up with his sinker. Nothing fancy, maybe just a cup of coffee at Panera, take in a movie, something like that. No pressure.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Nats have offered free mlb audio to season ticket holders! Nice touch.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

LOL, 1a!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse


I'd be interested in piece about new hitting coach Eckstein versus old hitting coach Harris. Like what is Eckstein doing, or going to do this year that Harris wasn't doing last year? We've heard about a couple of things Eckstein has worked with NJ and AK on, I can't recall a single post about Harris working with the guys in a similar manner last year, just his advice to "Hit it the other way!" Or, was Harris just the victim of the media, and that was why he was forced to resign, err.. got fired.

Posted by: psubman | March 9, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi Barry

Welcome back!

I'd be great to hear your take on the differences in the clubhouse vis-a-vis the time you covered Viera and 2009. Any difference in the team psyche?

Posted by: nattydread1 | March 9, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse


If that Segway is lying around somewhere, tell the Nats that it would draw BIG bids in a charity auction.

Did the Nats have Cesar Cedeno in camp? Did I read that somewhere - if so, ask him about his age.

Posted by: comish4lif | March 9, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Well played, 1a!

Also, thanks Barry for sending me to the Viera website, from which I learned a number of important things such as the fact that "Viera" means "faith" in Slovak and was founded by a celery farmer circa 1912. The farmer's descendants are now billing it as a planned community on Florida's space coast.

So it seems that we have a farm, a plan, faith, and the possibility of a rocket launch. Choices are good. In Viera, even better.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 9, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Bar-ree (you need the extra vowels), how is Mark Lerner doing these days without Bowden? Is he sulking around like a boy whose best friend moved away?

Posted by: comish4lif | March 9, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse



and here:

Posted by: NatsNut | March 9, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

welcome, Barry
does anyone know if 107.7 is going to carry the Nats this year? I live in Rappahannock county, so the am stations just don't work. 1500 isn't streaming ST, will they do so in regular season, or is MLB trying to force me to pay to listen. Luckily, I do have DISH and get MASN or I would be really upset. I'm sure I wasn't counted in the surveys last year, when I watched or listened to every game. Not in the "metropolitan area"
appreciated the Dominican article

Posted by: gengreen17 | March 9, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I believe the Nats radio network is only on AM stations this year. No more 107.7.

On the bright side, I think it's only around $15 to get the MLB Gameday Audio package for the entire season. (Although I believe you have to pay extra for the playoffs, which probably won't be an issue this year in DC, alas...)

Posted by: nunof1 | March 9, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Dangit... midterms this week. Don't have time to get distracted by this blog. Can you stay through next week too, Barry? Kthx.

1a-- LOL. Seriously. :)

Posted by: JennX_ | March 9, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

107.7 is WTOP so no luck there... WFED is 1500/820/1050 on the AM dial...

GameDay audio is great and it does include the whole postseason (as well as at least the last 3 years of radio calls as well). Even though I'm in the North/South corridor where WFED works well at night the $15 is well worth it to be able to catch the day games at work and listen to other games when the Nats aren't on (I've got the Sox v. Pirates game on right now).

Posted by: OldDude | March 9, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Barry, you need to branch out from the chain restaurants - get beyond Viera proper (if that's the right word). For the last three March trips there, Goombays on A1A in Satellite Beach became my favorite. Others in our family found Florida's Seafood Bar & Grille just over the causeway in Cocoa Beach outstanding. Da Kine Diego's and Buckey's (sp?) seafood on A1A in Sat Beach also are fun, and Bonefish Willie's in Melbourne. None of them close to Beautiful Downtown Viera for a quick lunch but certainly worth an evening journey after filing a day game piece. Wish I were with you this year, but the saving account shrunk since last march. BTW do let us know if the sandhills crane returns.

Posted by: JamesWebster | March 9, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Also the raccoon.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

To clarify, my post related to the return of a critter rather than being a dining recommendation.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

And there was much rejoicing.

To add on to 1a's critter, I would love to hear about the crane again. Is there any chance that the raccoon can beat out Hernandez for 2B, or the crane beating out Bally for the rotation?

Posted by: NattyDelite | March 9, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I can hear it now. What was Rocky Raccoon thinking? Where was he going?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 9, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

JamesWebster: Go back in the NJ archives (or one of Chico's recent posts, actually). Bonefish Willy's is well-known around these parts.

Posted by: JennX_ | March 9, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

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