Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stan Kasten Thinks We're Stupid
Wow, I need to stop reading the newspaper in the morning. The Nats' losses are bad enough, but some of the remarks associated with them are just breathtakingly stupid.

This morning, Washington Post baseball whiz Tom Boswell takes on the Nationals, Stan Kasten and the Plan. It's the usual stuff. Kasten, we know, thinks he's a genius, look at what he did with the Braves. In today's column, Boswell quotes Kasten, in defense of his plan, saying "I know you don't understand the concept 'Money once spent is gone forever,' but it is true, nonetheless. If you waste millions now then you don't have it later when it can help win a pennant." Oh boy.

I guess this is news only to Stan, but we do understand that concept. And it works both ways -- the money that we spend supporting a team that he has chosen to make non-competitive is gone forever. We got some joy out of it, but also a lot of unnecessary frustration. A concept that he might try to understand is "Just because you have a new stadium with a lot of fancy features, the main attraction is the team, and people aren't going to come to games if the team is no good and there's a feeling that team management is taking the fans' support -- emotional and financial -- for granted."

I'll stop there. Tonight I'm going to try not to think about the Nats, and I'll be at The Birchmere enjoying the Gourds, which is about my favorite thing to do. The money I spend at the show will be gone forever, I understand, but it will be well worth it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Nats' King Gets Fired Up and Other Bad Nats News
Not such a great day for the Nats yesterday, as they lost their seventh straight game and suffered through another pathetic offensive performance. Which I guess is understandable, given the offensive capabilities of the players they had out there. Batting sixth - Brian Schneider, who had two hits which raised his average to .216. Batting seventh - Robert Fick, whose two hits raised his average to .194. Batting eighth - Nook Logan, who got no hits and is hitting .167. Pitcher Jason Simontacchi brought of the rear, and he, of course, is batting .000.

Interestingly, Brewers' starter Dave Bush was 0-2 last night, and he's still hitting .214. So when you pitch against the Nationals, not only do you get a break when you face the pitcher. You get a break for pretty much the last half of the order.

Jason Simontacchi pitched decently, for a chronically injured journeyman who it's not fair to have any expecations of. I was listening to WTEM Tuesday afternoon, and they (DC's sports radio station!) have so little interest in baseball or the Nationals (they were able to squeeze in a segment on peer pressure and office happy hours, though, based on an article in the Post on April 22) that the guy who does the sports updates during the Sports Reporters couldn't even be bothered to figure out how to pronounce Simontacchi's name, repeatedly calling him Simeontacchi. Jeez.

The Nats' roster was shaken up somewhat yesterday. Chad Cordero went on bereavement leave to be with his dying grandmother. That's good for the Chief, and that really is sad.

Josh Wilson, he of the Little League-like error to assist ratio, was sent to the minors. Hopefully we'll never see him again. And Tony Batista was called up. I can't really think of anything to say about him. He'd be easy to bash, but, given this team, well, it's worth a shot.

To me, the most interesting thing about yesterday was the Nats' decision to ban alcohol in the home and visiting clubhouses at RFK, as well as in the visiting clubhouse when they're on the road. Nats' brass was able to turn the death of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock into a way to save them a couple of thousand dollars over the season! Great move!

While I'm cynical about the teams' motives, such a ban is not unusual in the major leagues, and several teams (like the Yankees, who we know are clearly not pinching pennies) have recently changed their policies. Which is why the reaction of rotund Nationals' pitcher Ray King is so moronic. The Post's Barry Svrluga reported that this move was met with eye-rolling by some Nats. The move really got the goat of Ray Ray, who presumably is on the team, in part, for veteran leadership (he and his 9.95 ERA would be pretty easy to replace). King goes 6-1, 240, and for those of you who may just be casual baseball fans, he's one of several Nationals who you look at and say "Wait, that guy's a professional athlete?" Yes he is, sports fans, and he makes $850,000 a year. And he's pissed that there's no longer free (light?) beer in the locker room. Bob Cohn and Mark Zuckerman, of the Washington Times, reported that King said "It's really becoming a mockery to where you hate the accident had to happen, but the accident didn't come from him coming out of the clubhouse. It wasn't because he was drunk in the clubhouse. ... How many stadiums can you walk out of and walk to a bar?" He also blathered "Most of the time when we're on the road and we leave the clubhouse, we're getting on the bus or in a taxi. I just think it's a situation where they're trying to do way too much. We don't have a salary cap, but they can do whatever else they want." Yeah, you know, they can do anything, like tell you not to drink at work.

Sometimes you'll read a profile of a particularly high-achieving player and his great work habits, and you'll find out that after a game, he lifts weights or does cardio. Or if he's Gilbert Arenas he shoots 10,000 jump shots. Not Ray Ray. He wants his beer, he wants it as soon as the game ends, and he doesn't want to have to pay for it.

This team is driving even the players to drink, evidently.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Smokers Support Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
Yesterday evening, I was driving around Pentagon City, listening to Chad Cordero give away another Nationals' victory. The car in front of me was festooned with various pink ribbons and other decorations about the fight against breast cancer. This reminded me that the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer was Sunday, and it also reminded me that I'd be owing a couple of people in my office money this morning (and happy about it).

I manuevered my car around the presumed Avon Walker, and pulled up next to her at the stoplight. I glanced over, and she was dressed all in bright pink, with a pink hat, decorated with all kinds of pins and ribbons. She was definitely a crusader in the fight against breast cancer, great for her.

As I admired her adornments she fired up a cigarette. She took a big drag, smiled and hung her cigarette-holding arm out the window. Nothing like your first cigarette after the breast cancer walk, I guess.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nats Add (Yawn) Another Guy Named Ryan
Watching the Red Sox/A's game last night, I couldn't help but notice the hurting situation of the A's outfield -- starting were Danny Putnam, along with the newly acquired Ryan Langerhans and the veteran Shannon Stewart. Putnam has about 40 major league AB's, Langerhans was just traded from the Braves to the A's(for a player to be named later) because his batting average began with .0, and Shannon Stewart is, well, Shannon Stewart. Travis Buck has also spent a lot of time in the A's outfield, and they're so desperate that they're anxious for the return of Bobby Kielty.

In the fourth inning, Langerhans committed a ridiculous error, he completely muffed an easy fly ball, which ultimately resulted in a run for the Red Sox. The Red Sox announcers noted that it was uncharacteristic of Langerhans, known for his defense (good thing, considering his batting average), who had only committed two previous errors in his career.

A couple of hours later, I had the Nationals' game on. I was away from the tv for a while, when I returned Debbi Taylor appeared to be ready to interview a guy who, for a moment, I thought was the late Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter, at the game with two women who were a bit over-dressed for a baseball game, and who seemed to think it was hilarious that they were on TV. I soon realized that it wasn't Steve Irwin, it was Jim Bowden, with two, uh, over-dressed women, one of whom appeared to have a small fox around her neck.

It got crazier when I realized that Jim Bowden was being interviewed about the Nats having traded Chris Snelling for, you guessed it, Ryan Langerhans. They're both left-handed hitters, Langerhans is a couple of years older. Bowden seemed to think that the significance of the deal was that it upgraded the Nats' defense in the outfield. That's one problem I didn't realize that we had, at least when the starters are in. In the Post on-line, Barry Svrluga quotes Bowden as saying how great a defensive outfield Kearns, Logan and Langerhans would be. Yeah, that would be great, too bad neither Logan nor Langerhans appear have the ability to hit. So this seems to me another way to take a shot at Ryan Church, who's been the Nats' most consistent player. One of these days we'll find out why Ryan Church gets treated this way. Probably after he's had a season where he's hit 30 home runs, for a team other than the Nationals.

So with Langerhans instead of Snelling, we get a little older, a little better defensively, a little less Australian, and the Nats save at least $40,000, as Langerhans' base salary is lower than Snelling. That's $40,000 more for the cherry tree fund! On with The Plan!