Monday, September 25, 2006

Johnson Breaks Femur, Brunell Breaks Record
Saturday's Nationals/Mets game was a Fox broadcast, although I doubt that it was shown in many markets other than DC and New York. Much to my delight, Tim McCarver was, apparently, broadcasting another game, and we got Lou Pinella, who not only is not Tim McCarver, but is a pretty good announcer himself. I found it interesting that not only did Lou seem to know a lot about the Nationals, he was very positive about them. He noted that, despite their record, they had made some strides this year. He gave due credit to Jim Bowden for acquiring Lopez and Kearns. He was very positive about the Nats' offense, and said that Soriano was the face of the franchise, and that he would expect that Nats to come up with a great offer to keep Alph in DC.

His comments were interesting, particularly since Lou is looking for a managerial job. Lou's getting up there in age, so most people think that he'll go to a contender, but it doesn't look like there are a lot of contending teams looking for new managers in the off-season. (The Cubs are not a contending team.) Maybe he sees the Nationals as a team with some promise, in a league where it's not unusual for teams to come out of nowhere to contend for play-off berths. He sees the Nationals as having a great offense, an effective bullpen, and a number one starter that's due not to get injured next year. Re-sign Soriano, sign another starter, hope that a couple of the current starters get better next year, and maybe you can make a run at the play-offs. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Unfortunately, Saturday's game took an ugly twist in the seventh inning, when Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns collided at full speed going after a ball in short rightfield. It was immediately clear that Johnson was seriously hurt, although in the initial replays it was hard to tell what had happened. Looking at the players' reaction -- Nats and Mets alike (David Wright looked like he was going to cry) -- you realized it was bad. By late Saturday, Nick was having surgery for a broken femur. That's a big bone. Looking at the replays after the injury was diagnosed, you can see the problem, and it's right up there with the Theismann leg injury as one of the most nauseating in the history of Washington sports. Nick Johnson has been a great National. No complaining (like Jose Vidro), he plays hard and effectively, and has had a great season. In today's Post, the diagnosis seems to be as positive as it could be, so I'll hope for the best.

I was certain that the Johnson injury mean that the Redskins would humiliate themselves against the mighty Houston Texans yesterday. Happily, I was wrong. The good Mark Brunell not only showed up, but set a record by completing 22 straight passes, and the Redskins cruised to a 31-15 win. Make no mistake, the Texans are horrible. Their defense is young and bad, and their offense is just bad. But the Redskins are a completely different team with a healthy Clinton Portis, who set the tone early by taking a short pass from Brunell for 74 yards in their second possession, which set up their first touchdown. The receivers we expected to look good, looked good, and David Patten made a remarkable catch. Ladell Betts had a great game, which I hope the coaches will remember if Portis gets hurt again.

The only negative was that the Redskins continued to pay homage to Steve Spurrier by getting penalty after penalty -- 12 for 126 yards. If they want to honor the old ball coach, maybe it would be better to just get a patch for their jerseys. Dan Snyder can sell some special edition stuff...

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