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Silly Game

Premise for the night: Lastings Milledge was sent down. Will anything good come out of it? Will it help break an 0-7 start? Or is he just a talented project who's the "ritual sacrifice" to a losing streak? (Much as we cherish our opinions, and I preferred Milledge in AAA, it probably could be either.)

Result: Every imaginable thing goes right immediately. Silly game.

* Elijah Dukes gets to play CF. He hits a home run. He looks more at ease in center field than Milledge will in his life. Dukes has to keep his behavior together -- on and off the field -- for years. He knows that. He will. Or he won't. Either outcome takes care of itself. Let him play. Next issue.

* Josh Willingham gets "more at-bats" (eventually). So he hits a home run as a pinch hitter. But he doesn't "get it"; he thinks he flew out. He almost throws his bat down. The ball lands in the bullpen. Now he likes the park, too.


* Nick Johnson gets to bat No. 2, which has always been his best spot. He has never driven in more than 75 runs, but he has a very high on-base percentage. He gets on base four times. He's finally being asked to do exactly what he's capable of doing.

* Adam Dunn wants to be a team leader: He volunteers to Acta that he doesn't mind playing left field, right field or first base. Most 40 x 5 guys are going to roll their eyes at that. He hits a three-run homer.

* Don't know if, long-term, Ryan Zimmerman is a No. 3 or No. 5 hitter.
Neither does he. But it's nice that he gets a chance to show he's No. 3 with Johnson in front and Dunn behind.

* Shairon Martis has a quality start. Joe Beimel eats up Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Anderson Hernandez shows why he might be a decent second baseman. With Hernandez, Zimmerman, Johnson, Dukes, and Austin Kearns on the field, you have five good defensive players and only Dunn is a liability. And he certainly appears to be trying.

So, for seven games, they look like the worst team on earth. Milledge goes, a few players move around and you get a quality start; now they look (for one night) like that "much-improved" Nats. Yes, what a (wonderful) silly game.

This is reason No. 10,001 that baseball is so much fun -- every day. Things really so change fast. As Earl Weaver loved to say, "Everything changes everything." It's a sport with many internal chain reactions. You just never know when one is going to happen. Teams go from streaks to slumps and visa versa. They are never as bad as they look when they are losing (not even close) or as good as they look when they are winning. In the NFL, you have to judge quickly. Every game is like 10 games in baseball. In baseball, you have to judge so slowly that it drives you crazy. Does one game mean very much? Of course not. But you can bet the Nats noticed that they hit seven homers the last two games off the world champs, that Beimel looks like a set-up man, that the defense just got a LOT better with Milledge out of center, Dukes in center, Kearns in right and Hernandez at second.

NJ folks, I'm not sure if this sort of "contribution" is of any value. No "news." I'll try to keep them shorter in future. Just figuring this out.

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 16, 2009; 10:52 PM ET
 
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Next: The Bonifacio Trade, Revisited, Pt. I

Comments

Emilio Bonifacio's Wednesday line: 6 AB, 1 H, 4 K, 6 LOB

Emilio Bonifacio's Thursday line: 5 AB, 0 H, 3 K, 3 LOB

What's that saying the French have? Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, or something like that?

Welcome back to Washington, Emilio. We've missed you.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

"NJ folks, I'm not sure if this sort of "contribution" is of any value. No "news." I'll try to keep them shorter in future. Just figuring this out."

This is stellar, Tom. An entry like this once a week would be just fine by me.

Posted by: WMPete | April 17, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh Boz, that's just the kind of stuff we're looking for.

Short = Bad. Long = Good.

Posted by: rushfari | April 17, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Nothing to apologize for...you are just as excited and hopeful as the rest of us after this game.

Can't stop smiling.

Posted by: Sec_319 | April 17, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

First new post of the season. Apparently I get new posted when the starters go 6 plus.

I am back off the ledge. First series non-loss of 2009! Break out the Cold Duck and somebody send Martis the finest beverage Curacao has to offer. I'm guessing it'll have rum in it. Mmmmm, rum.

Since Martis has awakened me from my Nationals induced coma, I've decided to better my life and become more charitable. So, for every home run or misplayed fly ball from one Adam Dunn, I shall contribute a Bud Light bottle to my refrigerator. Baseball Cares for My Frigidaire Foundation. BACMYFF for short.

Additionally,

http://syracusechiefs.mlblogs.com/

Thats where the Milledge spam can now be directed. First win of the season. Don't spoil it for everybody.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | April 17, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Keep it up, Boz, and you may yet even get me to believe that Dunn really is the next Hondo. (He filed some evidence for that case tonight, huh?)

Posted by: Hendo1 | April 17, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

geez, nunof1, let sleeping dogs lie. Don't give little bonnie any more incentive when he's coming to town. But great post by Boz. Anybody notice who's the NL's leading hitter (by about 100 points)? It's so nice to see Nats on the leader board.

Posted by: nats24 | April 17, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

george bernard shaw said, 'i'd have written you a shorter letter but i didn't have time.' he too worked out what he thought while he wrote, and then edited it down. our luxury on NJ is we get to see the Unexpurgated Boswell (TM) and some of us feel the richer for it. that said, i have sat through every inning so far this year on TV (though not all of them live; i have to say thank god for TIVO so i can skip commercials) and this game just felt wonderful. smart hittng, early lead, solid defense, quality start, good relief. whew. i wouldn't bet against us not losing seven in a row again; but if we keep up this kind of spirit and competence, i would bet against us having a seven game losing streak more than once again this year...

Posted by: natty-bumppo | April 17, 2009 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Boz- this is exactly the perspective that only you can provide. Keep it up.

Posted by: smo06 | April 17, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I am still settling in to this concept that "We have an offense". What? We do not have to win games 3-2 or 2-1 to produce a victory?

I really like not having Milledge in center field, not taking bats away from Dukes. Why did something so obvious in its simplicity elicit such stubborness from Manny?

I expect the next obvious move by management is to realize that either Cabrera or Olsen will have to find their game in the minors, if at all. I have learned to expect nothing from either of these two pitchers except an early exit with a five run plus deficit in the score.
Bergmann? Bergmann? Are you still out there?


Posted by: driley | April 17, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Boz: Great job encapsulating what I think all of us (that is, who weren't Phillies fans) were thinking as we watched the game last night.

So far, this team is exactly as advertised: Much improved offense, questionable pitching, and shaky defense. They will score a lot of runs (8 each home game, as it happens) and whether they win will depend on quality starts and clean play in the field. Last night, they finally got both -- and they need both -- of the last two.

Boz is right -- can't claim cause and effect for Milledge's departure. But Dukes does look better in CF, Willingham maybe gets an AB he wouldn't have, and the atmosphere in the clubhouse probably improved a lot.

Sparse crowd last night, lots of them Phils fans (the family behind me, a Philadelphia lawyer and his family) were nicely behaved btw, but I wouldn't worry about that. When the team comes around, so will the attendance.

They've dug themselves a little hole in their quest to be a .500 team, and I'm not saying these guys are going to the World Series (though this is the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Mets, who started their season dismally), but I do think the starting pitching will settle down and we're going to have some fun out there, along with our share of disappointments.

A great evening at Nats Park -- finally!

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 17, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Thom please keep it coming, thats the style every baseball fan loves. You give us some factoids and we never lose hope!

20K show up on a Thursday night in April, not bad, not bad.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 17, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Boz says "NJ folks, I'm not sure if this sort of "contribution" is of any value. No "news." I'll try to keep them shorter in future. Just figuring this out."

Funny, as I was reading this post I was thinking to myself, 'self, what a fun post, I'm really enjoying reading this' and then I looked down to see who the contributor was. Thanks Boz!

Posted by: ryaneades | April 17, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Boz, this is exactly what blogs are for--thoughts and observations. And there's no space limit so have at it.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 17, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Shorter??? Please don't. Just let 'er rip. Just like "DUNDO" did last night!!

Posted by: MarcJMilzman | April 17, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Great post for a great game.
Felt good to be a fan last night felt even better to be in the stands.

Posted by: rvrtis | April 17, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

As of this morning, the Nats are fifth in the league in runs scored per game, third in on-base + slugging. Okay, it's only eight games, but it's still looking like a nice turnaround from last year, when they were third from the bottom and dead last, respectively, in those two stats. Now if the pitching can just improve to mediocre...

Posted by: gilbertbp | April 17, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

@nunof1 - I'd like to be wrong on this one, but something tells me that Bonifacio's bat will come alive when he plays the Nats. Games against the Nats will probably prop up his batting average for the season. Sorta like Khalil Green - who has usually hit ridiculously well against the Nats.

Posted by: CountDemoney | April 17, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

>

This is exactly what we want from our Harlans, Svrlugas, and Boswells: informed rumnation, conjecture, and yapping.

Trying ideas on for size is the heart of conversation, and the joy of baseball.

I already know the score, and the "why" is determined by ten million factors. Let's guess which factors played into it!

Thanks, mister b

Posted by: mistermuleboy | April 17, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Boz:

99+% of NJer's treasure the info and insights. Ignore the village idiot and keep it up! And thanks!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | April 17, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

"@nunof1 - I'd like to be wrong on this one, but something tells me that Bonifacio's bat will come alive when he plays the Nats. Games against the Nats will probably prop up his batting average for the season. Sorta like Khalil Green - who has usually hit ridiculously well against the Nats."

Bonifacio will be aiming his slapshots to CF against a different goalie now, or so I hear anyway. Presuming he doesn't strike out, that is, like he has in 7 of his last 11 AB. This is exactly the pattern he exhibited with the Nats last year - a fast and dynamic start for a week or so, followed by a meteoric fade into obscurity. I'm sure the sight of Nationals Park once again will bring back those fond memories for him.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

"Bergmann? Bergmann? Are you still out there?"

Actually, he is, but in the bullpen for Syracuse. But Kip Wells is also out there, and he had his second straight good start last night, and now in 11 innings has a 2.45 ERA, and 11 strikeouts and 2 walks. A little early to project, but if one of the starters comes up hurt (heaven forbid it be Lannan, Martis, or Zimmermann!) or when management decides it can no longer stand seeing Cabrera or Olson out there, it may be Wells who gets the call.

Posted by: sjberke | April 17, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Tom, They looked great tonight. Team play. Team win. I wonder what Willingham would do playing everyday in Right? Thanks for your insight.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 17, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Great Post, Boz.
Someone the other day said that we are the Texas Rangers of the NL: All offense, bad pitching.
Dreaming of a rotation like: Strasburg-Zimmermann-Martis-Lannan-Cabrera is exciting.
We're a year away from being good!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

That was a great post Boz, and the longer the better as far as I'm concerned.

I do love this silly game!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Can Willingham play RF?

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

The offense is nice to see, but that has been there so far this entire season. The biggest difference yesterday was pitching. If we can consistently limit teams to 3-5 runs, we will win the majority of our games.

Posted by: BT23 | April 17, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I grew up reading Shirley Povich's observations about the Nats every summer morning. From the moment I woke up that's what I looked forward to. Thanks Boz, keep em coming.

This season is going to be all about quality starts. We've got 1 out of 8 games now. Keep em coming.

Posted by: johnnyboy4 | April 17, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Let me add a thanks Boz. Sounds like you are having fun.

How soon does Nats Park get rechristened The Other North Arlington. I'll not go so far as to say we can believe Dukes is good defensively in CF already, but you are spot on about the infield defense, and Kearns is a plus glove and arm in right. With Bernardina available as a defensive replacement, and Gonzalez playing for Guz, that was a nice defensive alignment at the end of the game.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 17, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

BOZ:

More blogs, please. Long, short, whatever.

It was a great night -- and so much fun to remember this morning, with your help.

Posted by: BethesdaFan | April 17, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Can Willingham play RF?

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 8:27 AM

**************************

he never has, but he's been shagging flies there this past week; he can play first and catch, tho (the latter if switcher bard has bunches of PBs?)

Posted by: dhfrancoise | April 17, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"Can Willingham play RF?"

Apparently not. There's an article over on nats.com about Dunn moving to right with Willingham in left when Kearns has the night off.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090416&content_id=4303134

Posted by: joebleux | April 17, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Nice post Boz. They make a blogger out of you, yet. That lineup last night has some great pop. Scoring runs hasn't been the issue so far for the Nats. It's been pitching and defense. And what a difference a quality start makes. It improves defense. So, good pitching, good hitting, and decent defense 'gets 'er done'.

Posted by: Wallpass | April 17, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I like Johnson batting second. It makes one through five and maybe six a very powerful lineup. I think we will see Willingham batting 6th tonight with Dunn headed to right field and Kearns sitting.

This will be a fairly good lineup when Guzman gets back. I would keep Zimm in the three hole and leave Dukes in five.

Wouldn't it be something if our starters settled down. Bergmann and Wells are pitching well in AAA so we have some alternatives.

Posted by: mjames0 | April 17, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm loving having Nick in the 2-spot.
Guz-Nick-Zimm-Dunn-Dukes as the 1-5 hitters is nice. Very nice.

Come on Lannan! Make it 2 Quality Starts in a row!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Get in there, Johnny Boy! :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Oh, just noticed we have a johnnyboy poster. My imperative was directed to Lannan (hat tip to Brue).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Perfect contribution. No need to shorten it. Great way to start the day.

Posted by: fuglynats | April 17, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I get the feeling as this year progresses, the Joe Beimel signing is going to look better and better. The 8th inning was a thing of beauty, setting up the batters and bringing that nasty 75 mph out pitch.

Posted by: TimDz | April 17, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Beimel was great.
It was so beautiful to see it work exactly how it's designed: Quality start from Martis; a nice 7th inning from Hinckley; then hand it off to the Set-up man and the Closer to shut the door.

Do it again tonight.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I just realized that Nolasco (Marlins' pitcher for tonight) has a 7.36 ERA. Prime opportunity to make it 2 wins in a row.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

One of the better posts of the year. My favorite kind. I can get box scores and play play anywhere. I come here for inside info and informed theories and speculation. WSJ had a good Op-Ed about this, that is the real value that news papers can give. Any fan in the stadium or even on TV can keep score and report the play by play. But it takes someone who has watched and discussed baseball every day for 30 years to write this post. Personally, I would pay money to get it, I certainly would look at a lot of ads to get it. Hint Hint - I am an accountant after all.

Posted by: Avar | April 17, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bos, love it. Keep em coming.
BTW, personal thanks for the "pass routes" reporting - funniest and most devastating baseball comment I've heard in a while.

THE NATS just beat up Taschman last night, who was left in as a sacrificial lamb but had to be pulled because THE NATS wouldn't stop hittnig with 2 outs. This is not last year's team! (offensively anyway)

Geezer

Posted by: utec | April 17, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

This was a great post Tom. But I don't think its 'silly' that Milledge departure lead to a win. He was poisoning everything with his shoddy defense, and inabilty to hit. Apparently with his attitude too.

We're really lucky the economy let Adam Dunn fall to us. This guy is going to take to this leadership stuff and is going to have a monster year. They should lock him up long term now.

My only complaint was Acta pulling Dunn for defense with a two run lead in the 8th inning. What if the bullpen implodes? Our best chance to win the game is sitting on the bench. Ridiculous. Does he have a deal with the devil to insure that the outfield has at least one inadequate hitter in it at all times?

Posted by: raymitten | April 17, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

For all those crying chicanery in the Nats declaring their opener a sellout, apparently the Capitals' so-called sold-out playoff opener Wednesday night was not actually a sellout either, and tickets still remain for tomorrow's game two. Perhaps Saint Ted Leonsis should get on the radio in New York and invite Rangers fans down. After all, the Caps are competing against a Nats game tomorrow, whereas they didn't have to on Wednesday night.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/04/16/the-caps-playoff-opener-didnt-sell-out

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm cracking up at the sudden change in tone that a win brings. Everything is suddenly right and perfect and Manny's a genius. Loving it!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 17, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the win last night,watched the Marlins sweep the Braves and you would have thought the Nats had swept the Braves by the tone of the broadcast.We need to win two out of three from the fish and play well while we're at it Lannan needs to show he's up to the task, the bullpen was stellar last night especially Beimel as Jackie Robinson would say "Lets Go"

Posted by: dargregmag | April 17, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@raymitten -- I actually applauded the defensive change of Bernaidna for Dunn. Dunn made the last out of the 7th. Even if the Phils come back, chances are Dunn's spot won't come back up in the lineup until the 10th. I'd rather have 2 innings of better defense with Bernadina.

Also, I thought Manny was 100% right when he took Martis out with one out in the 7th. The Phils had their lefty PH Dobbs come up. Manny countered with a lefty reliever (Hinckley). This forced Philly to pinch-hit for their pinch-hitter. So, they brought in right handed batter Bruntlett (a much weaker hitter than Dobbs) to face Hinckley. Manny made Philly use two PH'ers for one plater appaearance. Perfect way to manage that situation.

Posted by: erocks33 | April 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse


Hope it's contagious!
Incurable and painless:
Expurgated Boz.*

*Trademark, natty-bumppo

-----------------------------------
george bernard shaw said, 'i'd have written you a shorter letter but i didn't have time.' he too worked out what he thought while he wrote, and then edited it down. our luxury on NJ is we get to see the Unexpurgated Boswell (TM) and some of us feel the richer for it. that said, i have sat through every inning so far this year on TV (though not all of them live; i have to say thank god for TIVO so i can skip commercials) and this game just felt wonderful. smart hittng, early lead, solid defense, quality start, good relief. whew. i wouldn't bet against us not losing seven in a row again; but if we keep up this kind of spirit and competence, i would bet against us having a seven game losing streak more than once again this year...

Posted by: natty-bumppo | April 17, 2009 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

raymitten, there's a reason that the term "late inning defensive replacement" exists in baseball lexicon.

Pulling slugging left fielders in the late innings is baseball management 101.

Posted by: joebleux | April 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Raymitten:

It is hard to know whether Dunn was pulled for defense... he was the last batter of the inning, and they did a double switch with the pitcher.

The thing I found perplexing was that when Willingham pinch hit for the pitcher's spot, they didn't leave him in and double switch with Dunn there (though technically it isn't a double switch, since Willingham and Dunn were in the game at the same time). My thinking was, you have outfielders on the bench who are begging for playing time, and this would have been the opportunity to put Willingham in the field for a bit.

I think it is telling that three of the four home runs last night were hit by outfielders... and I was most impressed by Willingham's, because he's been the big loser (in terms of outcomes, not production) in the whole outfield thing. To come in and pinch hit like that shows a very professional attitude.

Posted by: wigi | April 17, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Can Willingham play RF?

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse
---------------------------------------------

He throws like a girl.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 17, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"My only complaint was Acta pulling Dunn for defense with a two run lead in the 8th inning. What if the bullpen implodes? Our best chance to win the game is sitting on the bench."

But Dunn was the last batter in the seventh, and if Acta had not pulled him in the double switch his spot in the order might not have come up again in the game. (Although thanks to the 8th inning rally it did, allowing Belliard to pinch hit.) That's standard double-switch procedure - swap out the guy who most recently batted with the pitcher. And while Dunn may be our best chance to win the game, (a) he can't do it if his spot doesn't come up and (b) with guys like Dukes, Zimmerman, Willingham, Guzman etc around this year, he's not our ONLY chance to win the game. That double switch last night was a smart move by Manny.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Great stuff Boz and Thanks. Please keep it coming.

Replacing Dunn in the field with Bernadina was a textbook move. God love'em but Dunn needs a butterfly net out there.

I agree with an earlier poster, I think Kearns sits tonight and Willingham gets some PT. Kearns appeared a little lost at the plate the last few games.

I really like the moxie that Martis shows. He comes after you and doesn't nibble to much. I think he could be a solid starter for us for years.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 17, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

t Kip Wells is also out there, and he had his second straight good start last night, and now in 11 innings has a 2.45 ERA, and 11 strikeouts and 2 walks. A little early to project, but if one of the starters comes up hurt (heaven forbid it be Lannan, Martis, or Zimmermann!) or when management decides it can no longer stand seeing Cabrera or Olson out there, it may be Wells who gets the call.

Posted by: sjberke | April 17, 2009 8:21 AM
---------------------------------------------

Thanks for the Wells update. Based on how he pitched in the Spring, he deserved to come north with the team. Now that he's getting a chance to show what he can do as a a starter, perhaps Rizzo and Acta will take notice.

Unfortunately, the Nats' management is notoriously tunneled-vision and reluctant to deviate from their announced plans. They invested in Olsen and Cabrera. so one would think they will be committed to them for some time. However, the Milledge demotion does give us hope that common sense might yet prevail.

Posted by: fischy | April 17, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

He throws like a girl.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 17, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

***************

easy there buddy.

;)

Posted by: NatsNut | April 17, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

>Kip Wells is also out there, and he had his second straight good start last night, and now in 11 innings has a 2.45 ERA, and 11 strikeouts and 2 walks.

Ken Rosenthal mentioned him as a possibility last night on WaPo Live. Balestar and Mock apparently are getting shelled.

Posted by: Brue | April 17, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

>Can Willingham play RF?

Anybody can play RF.

Posted by: Brue | April 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Boswell -- as a new fan to the team (and honestly, the game), I really enjoyed this post, "news" or not. Cool perspective that I had not heard before, so, thanks!

Posted by: mkmccarthy | April 17, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

re:

george bernard shaw said, 'i'd have written you a shorter letter but i didn't have time.'

i'm pretty sure that was Abraham Lincoln who first wrote that.

my favorite part last night was 3-0 count on Dukes, you can hear someone on tv say "Throw it down the middle, he won't hit it" just as windup started, that was beautiful.

Posted by: longterm | April 17, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

>Also, I thought Manny was 100% right when he took Martis out with one out in the 7th. The Phils had their lefty PH Dobbs come up. Manny countered with a lefty reliever (Hinckley).

Yeah, it works both ways. Martis only had 83 pitches at the time. You can burn your bullpen up by matching up all the time. Looks good now, but the starters still need to go longer, or else down the road, the move won't work next time because the bullpen is gassed and it backfires. Manny might be managing to save his job instead of the long-term picture, which might turn the bullpen into toast.

Posted by: Brue | April 17, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Bos, great blog, thanks much.

Haikuman, also many thanks.

Last night's game certainly confirmed to me that the poetry is back in Nats baseball.

Posted by: Traveler8 | April 17, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Boz,
Great post!
There appear to be no rules here other than love of the game and a little courtesy. You're over qualified on both. Please continue to post with frequency. Don't deny us your thoughts and we will return the favor.
I felt relaxed watching the game. I wasn't worried about us giving the game away with a "pass route" in CF, with lead off incompetence or really unconcious base running. We might lose to the world champions but we wouldn't give them the game.
Now after one win I remeber that Earl Weaver said, "Momentum in baseball all depends on the next day's starting pitcher."
Go Nats! This is fun.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | April 17, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"Unfortunately, the Nats' management is notoriously tunneled-vision and reluctant to deviate from their announced plans."

Exactly, as they so ably demonstrated by placing Milledge in CF and leadoff and leaving him there for the entire season.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

> Manny might be managing to save his job instead of the long-term picture, which might turn the bullpen into toast.

Or, you know, he might just be trying to win the game on any given night. What's wrong with that? As George Allen once said, the future is now.

His bullpen is more likely to get turned into toast if they don't step up and do their job when called upon - say like in the opener on Monday.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 17, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

In considering whether or not to pull Martis, his pitch count is less relevant than where we are in the game.

There was 1 out in the 7th. Perfect time to turn it over to the bullpen, whether Martis has thrown 83 pitches or 120. You're not going to burn up your bullpen by having them pitch 2.2 innings.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 17, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Boz, please do MORE of these types of posts, not less!

Didn't Nick Johnson bat second the year Soriano was with us? Or was it fourth behind Zimmerman? Anyone remember?

Posted by: Juan-John | April 17, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Whatever other criticisms you might make about Acta, accusing him of short-term thinking for anything he did last night seems unfair.

It was critically important that the Nats get the 0-for monkey off their back before it took on a life of its own. They REALLY needed a win, and I don't blame him for doing whatever he thought was reasonably necessary to get one.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 17, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Boz for shooting at the idea that Zimmerman might just be the #5 hitter. He is guessing too much and getting himself into 2-strike trouble.

Posted by: jaho | April 17, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

While watching the Nats broadcast Dibble and Carpenter started discussing Jackie Robinsons career after Dibble answered the Aflac trivia question about Jackie's lettering in four sports while at UCLA and the fact that Robinson was a 2nd Lt.in the Army during WWII and then Dibble said "yeah Elvis served in WWII", man i almost choked on my grilled salmon my wife had prepared for me, definitley a LOL moment.


Posted by: dargregmag | April 17, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The best writer in baseball (all of sports?) is worried about going on too long? I've been reading you since the early '80's. From a Maryland/DC boy who's "chunked his share of walnuts" as well, just keep it coming.

Posted by: NatsfanNKY | April 17, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

this has never been about hitting/ scoring runs......yes, Milledge did get in the way and so too is Kearns who had his shot to produce.....Dunn-Dukes-Willingham is the OF to go with...for now.

This is about a AAA pitching staff and 1 quality start in 8 games......Those leopard spotsd will NOT change this season...

Posted by: unc1dmo | April 17, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

More time - Shorter letter

I always heard that attributed to Pascal

Posted by: hendrixs | April 17, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

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