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Opening Day Syndrome: Over-Thinking

For my first 10 years as a baseball beat writer, I had an annual ritual that seldom changed: I made a fool of myself by over-evaluating the results of Opening Day. Of course, in those days I was covering the Odious Orioles (mandatory NJ term) for the Post. Year-after-year, whatever happened to the Orioles on Opening Day, or even in the first two or three games of the season, was immediately erased -- and reversed -- by a far more important and much longer streak of play that actually did define the shape of April for the team.

Maybe this won't apply to the Nats' 12-6 defeat on Monday, which was especially brutal because anybody who saw the game knew how to read the chicken entrails: disaster ahead. But don't be too quick to judge based on one game, or three. Here's my O's nightmare:

76: O's win the first two games of the year. Good? No, they quickly fall to 9-13. Crisis! Are Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman a bad influence? Have the O's gotten old?

'77: O's lose their first three games. Indicative? No, they immediately win seven of eight and the season is defined by the emergence of a half-dozen young players who define the next several years.

'78:O's start 0-5 and 11-17. Chaos! Prompting manager Earl Weaver to snarl, "Bad start? What do you mean by a bad start to the season? Is it the first week? The first month? Or the first half? We'll be alright." Orioles win 90.

'79: O's do the April whiplash again. Win two, then go 1-8 for another Earl spring of "Yeah, like I said last year, what is a start?" Orioles go to World Series.

'80: Orioles win on Opening Day. Going back to Series!? Immediately fall to 3-6. Annual April hand wringing.

'81: Win Opening Day, then lose six-of-eight. Memo to self: Ignore Opening Day.

'82: O's win on Opening Day, 13-5. By now, I'm gun shy. But how do you write 13-5 as a bad omen? The O's lose 10 of the next 11!!! That slump probably costs them the playoffs.

'83: O's lose on Opening Day, 7-2. Omen? Can't score? Complacent? Yeah, right. They score 49 runs in the next five games and end up winning the World Series.

Now, you may say this was the experience of a team that was generally good and sometimes won 100 games. How does that apply to the Nats, who are generally bad and last year lost 102 games?

Because it's baseball. Of course Opening Day isn't a "reverse indicator." But I must say that when a team looks too good to be true or too terrible to believe (Nats) in their first game, don't trust it.

Why, by '84, I had learned this lesson. The Orioles lost on Opening Day. I'm sure I wrote: Ignore it. They're World Champions. But it was an omen. They started the season 2-10! And they haven't been back to the World Series since.

The Nationals are not a good team or a winning team or even, perhaps, a team that can get to within 20 games of .500. Most have them picked with about 73-74 wins, give-or-take a few. And their starting pitching, especially if Lannan isn't steady, could be terrifying -- to them. But they're not that bad. Nobody could be. And neither is Lannan.

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 7, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
 
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Next: Guess Who's Back, Olsen's Back

Comments

Nice. Thanks, Boz.

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Boz.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I'd say that twice through the rotation would set off any indication as to how well or poorly the entire team will perform for a season. Although, there are exceptions, such as defensive lapses and shortcomings, not hitting the ball or manufacturing runs, and not having that spark at the top of the lineup to get the team's motor running.

Right now, I'm uncomfortable about the Nats chances this season.

Posted by: thisismydcsportsopinion | April 7, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

And you owe me a Coke, 506.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Aah! Perspective! Thank you, Boz.

Posted by: lowcountry | April 7, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Also, my red-headed, Cubs-fan girlfriend pointed out to me:

"Well, honey, you yelled all last year because they could never score even three runs. They got six today."

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse


All hail Boz the Great
Institutional knowledge
Can go a long way

----------------------

With all the panic
Confusion fogs brain; is this
Redskins Insider?

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 7, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 7, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

506, I'm with your rhCfgf (errr, that is, I agree with her).

We know the starting pitching (and much of the rest of the staff) is going to get whacked around from time to time, but it was nice to see a Nat's lineup which has the firepower to put some runs on the board for a change.

Posted by: joebleux | April 7, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

OK, I've taken some deep breaths and am ready for day 2. Thanks Boz. My biggest concern is not that the Nats lost, but that number 85 was late on opening day. How can you be late on opening day? I always presumed on road trips that players were bussed to the game from the hotel. I'm no manager, but I really think the appropriate action should have been to bench him yesterday. I think that would have sent the right message. Be on time or ride the pine.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 7, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I think that Milledge was late to a pre-workout meeting on Sunday rather than yesterday, coked, and he was fined. That said, I agree with your thoughts.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"The amount of the fine irrelevant. The question to put to Milledge is - Do you want to be part of this team? We will give you a month in Syracuse to think about it. If you decide to you don't then we will try to move you. Put Dukes in CF. Additionally Milledge's demotion would help out morale in other ways."

Ah yes. The old "daily floggings will continue until morale improves" approach. Works every time.

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I know it's basically against the law to reminisce about the Orioles but I happen to have dual citizenship (old O's fan, now also Nats fan). Does anyone remember who played 3B for the O's for the first three games of 1978, when they lost by a combined total of 40-11? (Sound of a few interested parties scurrying to Baseball-Reference.com)

Yes, Eddie Murray so they could play Doug DeCinces at SS and Lee May at 1B and maximize the offense. Didn't work out too well so they just put Eddie back on 1B so he could go to the Hall of Fame.

Bottom line: the Nats will do something to minimize their defensive problems and keep patching up the pitching. In the end, they'll probably be mediocre this year, but that's better than last year and they'll be better in September than now.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 7, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"506, I'm with your rhCfgf"

You bastard!

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"My biggest concern is not that the Nats lost, but that number 85 was late on opening day. How can you be late on opening day?"

He wasn't late on opening day. He was late the day before. Which, if you look at it differently means he was actually early for opening day.

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Hah, I lied! DeCinces played 2B in those games, not SS. Enough of '78, let's focus on '09.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 7, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"That's not an excuse; it's a fact"

Those have no place here.
---
Good one, 506 -- thank you for a good old-fashioned belly laugh

Posted by: nats24 | April 7, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Agree that it was good to see 6 runs on the board. I predict Lannan will win more games than he'll lose this year. If he'd had 6 runs per game last year, his record would have been a lot better.

I'm worried about Olsen and Cabrera. 6 runs per game may not be enough for them.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 7, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Thankz Boz

I'll come off the ledge now

Posted by: CBinDC | April 7, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Cokedispatch

I agree with you, although technically it was not a game day meeting but a missed meeting prior to game day. Nevertheless the point was that it was an important meeting as it set the tone for the team. It is not the loss yesterday that bothers me, it is Milledge's obvious disregard for the team and the willingness of the manager to accept such behaviour. That set the tone for year and not anything Acta might have said.

Will today be game 2 of 2009 or game 164 of 2008.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 7, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

My silver-lining response to anyone who mentioned yesterday's game to me: at least we scored some runs!

I'm not worried, the pitching and defense is what it is, and aside from the occasional lineup change, it's going to be average with upside. I'm much more concerned about the seemingly endless string of games we lost last year 3-1, 4-2, etc.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | April 7, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank-you nf1a & spam for correcting me on which day cinco-ocho was late. I will impose a penalty on myself by not watching the first inning of tonights game as punishment for my blurred reading. However, I still would have benched him yesterday and relegated him to PH or PR duties only.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 7, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Milledge was late on Sunday (not Monday) is irrelevant. He should have been benched. The guy is immature and unaccountable.

In addition to that, he's not a good baseball player.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 7, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Make that ocho-cinco...now I'm not going to watch the 2nd inning either...geez.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 7, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

nevermind

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 7, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Keep this up and you won't get to tune in until the 7th inning stretch, coked. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Jesus wears a bracelet that reads WWLMD. “(Lastings Mendoza) guessed that he won't draw too many walks, ‘because now, they have to come after me ...’ ” Ooooooooooh. The fear in the hurlers’ eyes was palpable, as each realized in turn that his choices were limited and chilling: pitch to the Toolsy Tool.

Rizzo on Milledge: "I think he's really making an attempt to look at much more pitches and be selective at the plate."

Boni is electric; LM is chemical, rather like a Poopy-Port-a-Potty.

Chris Needham: “If he needs to throw to second, he throws to third. If he needs to take the extra base, he stops. If he needs to backup Dukes in the OF, he's napping on the grass. He was thrown out at least three (maybe more) times 6-5.”

"Nothing surprises me by what he does," Acta said … . "He is very talented. I think the people in D.C. and the Major Leagues are going to enjoy this guy for a long time." ESPN reported this morning that when Manager Manny Acta floated the idea of benching LM for missing the team meeting that the Toolsy Tool called Manny into HIS office for a talk.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhhhh, I understand. He should be benched because you don't like him!

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

“With Olsen starting, there's a real chance to show Florida what they lost in that trade.” Posted by: JohninMpls | April 7, 2009 11:10 AM

“Since his stellar rookie season, Olsen has lost 3 MPH off of his fastball. With that loss of zip, Olsen’s strikeout rate has fallen off of a cliff …” http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/what-happened-to-scott-olsen

“Fredi Gonzalez would approach Olsen during batting practice and try and coach him on how to be a better player and teammate. Olsen's stomping around the mound, ceaseless time between pitches, beating of water coolers and physical confrontations with teammates needed to end.” Amy K. Nelson
ESPN.com

JohninMpls, I love your posts, generally, but his ex-teammates know what is going on with his fastball. Let him get behind in the count tonight and little Scotty may be well on the way to his 2009 league-leading HR title, say 35 ding dings? He will tire in the hot weather, later this year. Nothing to do with his pack of Parliaments, I’m sure. Role models? We got ‘em.

On the other hand, here is advice that Olsen offers (perhaps from one head case to another? BoBo to Thrilledge?): "Anybody can tell you stuff, but if you don't want to listen, it's not going to make a difference," Olsen says. "You can preach that all day, but until you decide to do something for yourself, it's not going to have any effect whatsoever what other people say.”

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@Boz wrote: "But they're not that bad. Nobody could be."
~~~~~~
Yet they *were* that bad last season.

Posted by: SavedByZero | April 7, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"He will tire in the hot weather, later this year. Nothing to do with his pack of Parliaments, I’m sure. Role models? We got ‘em."

Randy St. Claire smokes too. Should he be fired?

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

After the Nats' loss, I watched a little bit of the O's game. Palmer was talking about O's CF Adam Jones.

Palmer said Jones is "quiet" at the plate. Solid, full of concentration, not a cacophony of tics and non-verbal gestures and nods and post-pitch expressions.

Jones is the anti-Milledge. This clown Milledge does nothing but gesture, and make faces, and nod in acknowledgment of calls he wants to show everyone he agrees with, and overwrought-exaggerated check swings. He is like a sidewalk card-shark that wants to distract everyone from what he's really doing.

Except it works for the card shark. The nonchalant mugging from Milledge only detracts from an already dismal performance.

Bench him and put Dukes in CF. Dukes is better at every aspect of the game of baseball.

Posted by: ThinkingOne | April 7, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Does it occur to others that Manny is saying things to ensure Lastings isn't distracted by the fact that better players are sitting on the bench just chomping at the bit to take his place? While they say Lastings has CF to himself, in the end competition is there for everybody.

Ocho-cinco to me is clearly the odd man out in that outfield situation. Willingham is affordable, Dukes is untradeable as is Kearns. Dunn is a DH that has to play somewhere. Lastings is the one with value, along with Willingham. But which one is better in the long run?

Posted by: Section314 | April 7, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Jesus wears a bracelet that reads WWLMD. “(Lastings Mendoza) guessed that he won't draw too many walks, ‘because now, they have to come after me ...’ ”

Hey, don't go tarring Flores now just because you don't like Milledge.

"Boni is electric; LM is chemical, rather like a Poopy-Port-a-Potty. "

Perhaps that was the problem with Bonifacio when he was here, then. Someone must have turned his electric switch to OFF.

Chris Needham: “If he needs to throw to second, he throws to third. If he needs to take the extra base, he stops. If he needs to backup Dukes in the OF, he's napping on the grass. He was thrown out at least three (maybe more) times 6-5.”

Good thing this Chris Needham guy ain't on our team then! Who does he play for anyway?

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

A thought: What if they are playing #85 because he is really the one they are hoping to draw attention to for a trade. If so, he didn't show much as to draw interest for any takers did he?

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 7, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

My God. If this Milledge kid is so suckingly craptastic, how in the world did he ever manage to hit .268 with 14 HR, 61 RBI and 24 steals last year? Roids?

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Play Dukes instead of that Bum Milledge in CF Acta!!

Posted by: NATSFAN10 | April 7, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Somehow the Nats were simultaneously twice as good and twice as bad yesterday.

-----

"Well, honey, you yelled all last year because they could never score even three runs. They got six today."

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 7, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"how in the world did he ever manage to hit .268 with 14 HR, 61 RBI"

Which reminds me that the really cool thing about Opening Day is that you can go to nats.com now and not have to see the appalling "Team Leaders" from last year (Milledge with his 14/61; Redding, with his Met's cap on, etc).

Posted by: joebleux | April 7, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

spamcastin - is it your role to take the opposing view of every post? Very ambitious and courageous of you - I guess someone has to do it.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 7, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Nova, it was less a prediction than it was blind, unfettered optimism. It was poorly worded to suggest a likelihood that I did not intend to imply, however.

I think Olsen is here to eat innings and nothing more. It would be great to see him strike out Boni a few times tonight, though.

Do continue to love my posts, though.

-----

JohninMpls, I love your posts, generally, but his ex-teammates know what is going on with his fastball.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 7, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Boz, great to see a strong Nats post from you, even w/ insider NJ reference, impressive.

I remember I think it was '89 when the O's started 0-21. THAT was an omen. They sucked for years. Yesterday was one game. 10 or so more of those in a row and we can say we're in trouble.

I, for one, was thrilled they scored 6 off an excellent starter. Hopefully, that IS an omen.

Posted by: Avar | April 7, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey nova_g_man, anyone can go back and find quotes from months, years, decades ago to back up his/her stance. You don't like Milledge. We get it. You don't like Olsen. We get it. But by infusing outdated quotes/articles within your unashamedly biased comments, you lose some credibility in my eyes.

Oh, and one other thing to all the negative nellies out there ... all pitchers get roughed up. All hitters go Oh-fer. All fielders commit an error now and then.

The sun came up again today (although you all are so full of negativity you probably would rant that it doesn't matter since all it ever does is go back down again). The Nats have played ONE game. They lost. Half the teams that played yesterday also lost. Big deal. Let's try and be positive and think that maybe today they win. And if they don't, so what? The sun comes up again tomorrow ...

Posted by: erocks33 | April 7, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I know it's a rarely used concept on message boards:

BUT, realistically, last year Blastings was ridiculed for playing so deep, with his butt up against the fence, since he had trouble going back on the ball.

Now, this spring, we bring in 19 All Star Centerfielders to work with him. So, he plays IN (way-to-go!) against a 160 lb skinny starving, not-yet-fat-from-McDonald's Dominican with ONE homer last year in some 580 ABs.

And, so typical in baseball, the very FIRST game he puts to use the teachings of Cedeno, Grissom, et. al., the pint-sized Emilio crushes the pitch to DEEP CF and Milledge is a butthead for barely missing a Jim Edmonds/young Griffey highlight-reel catch , that last year he wouldn't have been close to!

Posted by: VladiHondo | April 7, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

People have bad days we all know. Lannan's bad day, while disappointing, was understandable under the pressure of Opening Day for such a young kid, and definitely forgivable. I don't think any of us believe he went up there with the strategy of falling behind every hitter. Expect better things soon.

The Nats banged out 6 runs yesterday which as has been mentioned was in stark contrast to last year's team.

The biggest two disappointments for me were the lack of concentration on defense especially given the emphasis on the need for improving defensively over last year; and the inability for any member of the bullpen to stop the bleeding - hold the line and allow the team a chance to get back in the game.

I'm not declaring gloom and doom. I'm saying these are two things I hope are different in tonight's game. It's a marathon not a sprint. One step at a time.

What we get from Ocho Cinco in the lead off spot should not be a surprise. The lead off role is a need that was not addressed in the off season. Manny is trying to shoehorn a solution into place by starting with what solution would he most like to see work out. Don't think for a moment that Ocho Cinco has a leash longer than it will take to hang himself with in either the lead off role, or in CF. There's too much talent on the bench for this to be an unlimited tryout in either position.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 7, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

erocks33 has it right.

When I was growing up the Senators were HORRIBLE - and then they left town and that was WORSE.

Well, after 33 years I have a baseball team again. I do not really care if they lose 100 games every year for the next 20 years because I have a baseball team in MY town and that is FUN - and it's a hell of a lot better than not having a team here at all.

That doesn't mean I don't WANT them to win (and that I don't cringe sometimes [the two Zimm plays yesterday, ooogh.]), but it's baseball and that's really good enough for me for a long time.

So there. :)

Posted by: OldDude | April 7, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

John:
I wouldn't be surprised to see Boni whiff once or twice against a LHP. He's way below Mendoza from that side of the plate. From the left side of the plate, tho, his OBP is higher than Milledge last year. Nevertheless, Boni must be improving his RH batting a bit, with three hits from there (his 'bomb' was hit lefty).

I think Olsen may take a shot at Boni's chin tho, with Dibble egging him on (which I actually love; just miss his head, please). Then Scotty has to bat, tho,( he's good)so maybe not. Mama's boy that he is, probably not.

**********************************
Nova, it was less a prediction than it was blind, unfettered optimism. It was poorly worded to suggest a likelihood that I did not intend to imply, however.

I think Olsen is here to eat innings and nothing more. It would be great to see him strike out Boni a few times tonight, though.

Do continue to love my posts, though.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 7, 2009

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

OldDude - I agree completely with your sentiment. Unfortunatley most people in this area don't. Look at Caps as an example. They were terrible and played to empty seats every night. They built a winner, drafted and signed the best player in the league, and have sold out 70% of their home games this season. The only area team immune to this pattern is of course the Redskins who continue to fill a horrible stadium with a joke of a front office making personnel gaffes year in and year out. The Nats will continue to be a local afterthought until they start winning.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 7, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Boz,
Thanks for the balm and thanks for being on NJ. I always preferred TTTMNBN (the team that must not be named) for the fowl up 95.
Geezer

Posted by: utec | April 7, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"spamcastin - is it your role to take the opposing view of every post? Very ambitious and courageous of you - I guess someone has to do it.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 7, 2009 1:50 PM "

No, not every post. Just yours and whatever other ones happen to be wrong.

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse


You're right, and I thank you for the advice. I pledge to give up decades, while keeping months and years. Also, adding weeks. Decades are so yesterday, anyway.

**************************************
Hey nova_g_man, anyone can go back and find quotes from months, years, decades ago to back up his/her stance.
Posted by: erocks33 | April 7, 2009 1:56 PM

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Please please please
Get somebody who can lead off: i.e. can bunt for a hit, can slap a single over someones head, and steal a base or two. Milledge was a disaster yesterday. Acta and Rizzo: get your act together and trade for somebody useful. Thank you

Posted by: johnbear1 | April 7, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"I remember I think it was '89 when the O's started 0-21. THAT was an omen. They sucked for years."

And IIRC it was the esteemed Frank Robinson who took over as manager from Cal Sr. 6 games into that losing streak and managed the O's suckitude for several years after that. Yeah, fire Manny and get Frank back. That's the ticket.

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty clear after one game that a certain lefty pitcher is an absolute disaster - CC Sabathia. How can he be a #1 starter? I say we offer them Craig Stammen and ask them to pick up half his contract (CC's not Stammen's).

You know who else stinks as a leadoff hitter? That Grady Sizemore. 1 for 4 with a K. That one hit was after his team was down 7. Typical - just padding his stats.

Who was it that complained that Milledge played too deep?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 7, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Get somebody who can lead off: i.e. can bunt for a hit, can slap a single over someones head, and steal a base or two."

We had someone who did that. His name was Emilio Bonifacio. But we traded him for an outfielder with power and a promising young pitcher in what was widely regarded as a ridiculous steal. Even by Keith Law.

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean the Yankees are going to lose 100 games to? They lost 10-5, right? Logic dictates.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | April 7, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

We had someone who did that. His name was Emilio Bonifacio. But we traded him for an outfielder with power and a promising young pitcher in what was widely regarded as a ridiculous steal. Even by Keith Law.

And!? The outfielder is on the bench behind Dunn, Kearns, Millegde, and Dukes. And the pitcher is not "promising"

I hope you are sarcastic!

Posted by: johnbear1 | April 7, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

the inside-the got me thinking of the most exciting plays in baseball.

what do you guys think? what is your hierarchy of most exciting?

1. inside-the(s)?
2. base-clearing triples?
3. unassisted triple plays?
4. drag bunts?
5. stolen bases?
6. stealing home?
7. tape measures?
8. walk-off walks?
9. a left-handed throwing catcher?
10. switch pitcher against switch hitter, before the Venditte rule?
11. adam dunn at first under a foul popup, ahead by one run, with one out, last of the ninth, and the runner at third tagging? (drop it, dunnkey, drop it!)

FWIW, my vote is stealing home.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Granted, Dibble was awful yesterday but I did like his comment after Carpenter bemoaned the loss of Bonifacio because he was batting 1.000 - paraphrased, it was something like "give it two weeks and he'll be batting .220". No question that we need a lead-off hitter, but career day aside, Bonifacio was not that guy.

I'd be curious to see how Hernandez would do in that role after he gets off the DL.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 7, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Food for thought:

Cliff Lee (reigning Cy Young Winner)lost and his team got ROCKED.
CC Sabathia (he of the multi-million dollar contract) got ROCKED.
The WS champion Phillies have the same record as we do.

Yep, it's truly Armagedden here in DC...

Posted by: TimDz | April 7, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Anyone notice that Carpenter was not even AWARE of the new Zone Evaluation ump stuff? Dibble knew. What does Carp do to get ready for the season? I don't get it.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

will our boy take the first pitch of the game tonight? lenny harris lives on!

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

johnbear1, I'm not being sarcastic, but I am using the same words that were spouted about the trade then rather than the words we would use now deliberately. I think it's worth remembering how much Bonifacio was scoffed at around here and the pleasure gleaned from getting Olsen and Willingham.

Things change. They might again.

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I understand Boz's point, obv it was just one game, etc. BUT, the point is the defense yesterday was eye-opening. Maybe it wasn't blarring with E's in the box score, but our young contact-pitchers will certainly need more help.

Regarding Willingham getting a start either in LF or 1B: Looks like were going to be facing RHPs for the rest of the FLA series and the entire ATL series. Does anyone know, did Willingham play RF at all this spring? Because then we could play him there and Dukes in CF, giving Milledge a day off. But sitting either Dunn or NJ in favor of Willingham when we don't face LHPs isn't ideal.

Posted by: dclifer | April 7, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

In fact, the first time we are scheduled to face a lefty is Opening Day at the Park vs. Moyer.

Posted by: dclifer | April 7, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

>Please please please
Get somebody who can lead off: i.e. can bunt for a hit, can slap a single over someones head, and steal a base or two. Milledge was a disaster yesterday. Acta and Rizzo: get your act together and trade for somebody useful. Thank you

I think Spamcastin's got a point, though - Acta should just stick it out with Milledge in the lineup. Until he gets fired. It'll be perfect. There is some value in that. Acta can blame it on the pitching kinda the way Bowden blamed his departure on unsubstantiated leaks. I'm liking this new stragedy.

Posted by: Brue | April 7, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Get somebody who can lead off: i.e. can bunt for a hit, can slap a single over someones head, and steal a base or two.

We had someone who did that. His name was Emilio Bonifacio."

Unfortunately, he didn't do it very often. Most times he K'd. That's why he got traded.

Posted by: spamcastin | April 7, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"I remember I think it was '89 when the O's started 0-21. THAT was an omen. They sucked for years."

Well, actually, not. It was 1988 that the Orioles started 0-21. In 1989 they had a fabulous year under Frank Robinson who took over (I think) seven games into the 88 season. If I'm not mistaken, they only just missed the playoffs in 89.

Posted by: eddein | April 7, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Okay, hopefully this reality check will be listened to, since it can be used to support hatred of Lastings Milledge.

Willingham is not fit to play any outfield position except LF. I'm going to make use of a new stat from FanGraphs that is quite fun, called UZR.

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/03/the_uzr_era.php

Anyway, it rates runs saved over a season based on the number of balls hit into a fielder's zone. So a negative number is runs that player's defense has cost us (FPCT and E in parens, for you old fogeys):

Dunn -17.6 (.966, 7)
Milledge -15.2 (.986, 5)
Willingham 0.4 (1.000, 0) (98 games)
Dukes 7.0 (.965, 6)
Kearns 10.6 (.979, 4)
Harris 16.5 (.985, 3)

Pena 3.9 (.971, 3)

Now, it should be noted that CF is a larger zone, with more action, so Willingham's number would be even LOWER if he went there. But the moral is that Willingham was worse in LF than even Wily Mo.

Posted by: Section506 | April 7, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Its not about the panic button its about the overall make of this team, a CF who has poor fundamentals in the field and at the plate,a third baseman who is supposed to be a cornerstone but is regressing, a pitching staff that doesn't have a stopper, a manager who for all intent and pupose is too laid back and doesn't convey a sense of urgency, listen I'm not a Manny fan but if you don't know.............. if he was a career minor league manager finally given a shot then it might be different but he was sold to this fanbase as "boy wonder" from the Mets orginazation the next Willie Randolph(by the way is he available?)when he replaced F.Robby i was a little po'd but i figured, he was young knowledgeable and the team would grow, but now? Boz can throw out all the starting day stats he wants but this team needs a different approach.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Just to clarify, I wasn't "hating on" Milledge in my last post. Just trying to figure out in what circumstances Willingham (who I consider to be one of our best hitters) will start. So he can play one of 2 positions, LF or 1B. Ideally, he would start against a lefty and either Dunn or Johnson would sit. But since we don't face one until next Monday, I assume NJ or Dunn (or both in alternating games) will sit out at some point this week so that Willingham will get some ABs.

Posted by: dclifer | April 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

>Okay, hopefully this reality check will be listened to, since it can be used to support hatred of Lastings Milledge.

It's not Milledge's fault he's playing. It's Acta's. Why hate Milledge? He's just doing what he does. The players aren't the problem, it's the guy overseeing them. Milledge will lose a ton of money because of the way Acta's handled him. I feel sorry for him. CF is a tough position when you don't know what you're doing. I can only imagine how hard it is to lead off in a major league game when your head's not in it. Again, none of this is Milledge's fault.

Posted by: Brue | April 7, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

>Now, it should be noted that CF is a larger zone, with more action, so Willingham's number would be even LOWER if he went there. But the moral is that Willingham was worse in LF than even Wily Mo.

With this pitching staff it doesn't matter who you put out there on defense. We'll need to score 8 every night.

Posted by: Brue | April 7, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

btw, thanks 506 for those stats. Dukes covers a lot of ground.

Posted by: dclifer | April 7, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Dunn -17.6 (.966, 7)
Dukes 7.0 (.965, 6)

Milledge -15.2 (.986, 5)
Harris 16.5 (.985, 3)
--------------------------------

Is it safe to extrapolate from these numbers that Dukes and Harris cover that much more territory than Dunn and Milledge, respectively. If their fielding percentages and errors are roughly similar, then the difference in their UZRs is territory covered?

Posted by: dclifer | April 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

McGeary up the road at Hagerstown this year. Might he make it down to Woodbridge? Also, a step back for Ozzie Rodriguez, who also starts for the Suns. Either he makes it to Harrisburg this year, or goodbye to the OzMan?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 7, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

nova-g-man, I'd be inclined to vote for the unassisted triple play. I also like seeing someone hit for the cycle, but that's more than one play.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing. One bad game and everyone jumps on their normal gripes ("I hate Milledge, etc.) with no real sense of meaning.

The only things that we can take away from yesterday's Nats and O's games are:

1. The Nats can actually hit.
2. Lannan can't pitch from behind (and who really can?)
3. Belliard is not a Major League 2b.
4. A-Rod is not in the lineup for the Yankees.
5. CC Sabathia may have burned his arm out, last year and have been a horribly expensive mistake. This possibility has been pointed out by quite a number of commentators over the past 5 months.

So, in total, what did we learn yesterday? Exactly nothing! Nada! Zilch! Zero!

Relax, it's a long season. The kids have to learn to pitch. Talk to me in September.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 7, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50, also, there are quite a few fans who don't like Mark Teixeira.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

@ natsfan1a1

OK, that is one new thing that we did learn. Or, maybe, the Philly attitude is dripping down to Balto.

Posted by: Catcher50 | April 7, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Tonight game 163

Posted by: mjames0 | April 7, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Catcher50. :-D

Speaking of Philly attitude, check out the latest Bog post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if all this information sheds light or heat, Boz. Thanks to the lineup-maker, the Nats are a mediocre defensive team. They also have thin pitching and have 2 of their best 3 outfielders on the bench. The fact they haven't signed their manager or some of their best players to more than one year at a time creates a terrible atmosphere.


Posted by: paulkp | April 7, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

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