Tagged: Nationals

Opening Night 2008

It was a glorious opening night for the new Nationals Park.  My son and co-author here on SBY watched the game at Gators, a nearby sports pub, at least through the fourth inning when we packed it up and headed back to the house to watch the rest of the game.  Franchise third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, from right here in Virginia Beach, blasted a walk off homerun in the bottom of the ninth to fend off the Braves.  Of course they did it in typical Nats perilous style, surrendering the lead with two outs in the top of the ninth on a passed ball.  I had almost finished ranting and raving about how the Nats were going to lose this game stupidly and might finish with a hundred losses this season when Zim hit his shot.

You gotta believe 😉

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…And the Last Shall Be First

There is an old proverb “Wise GM not lose talent within division”.  Thus I’m not quite sure exactly what to make of the Nats acquisition of Paul Lo Duca from division rival Mets.  What does it say about a club when they upgrade the team by scavenging another team’s refuse?  There is a reason the Mets went to a lot of trouble to replace Lo Duca.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Lo Duca fan from way back.  And I think he’s a valuable addition to the Nats, providing veteran leadership and mentoring for the young Nats.  This won’t make the Nats competitive, but it is a positive development for the Nats.  I’m thrilled to have Lo Duca with the Nats.  No, my comment is a reflection on the difference between being a predator in the hunt for a division title and a bottom feeder trying to climb out of the cellar.

Ironically, the one looking up is the one who came out on top.  Lo Duca became available because the Mets traded for the Nats backstop.  Effectively the Nats have swapped catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church for catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Lastings Milledge.  I would make that trade any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

— Michael Norton

JDs in D.C.

What is this, Bowden’s Home for Wayward Boys?  First the Nats pick up the talented but troubled Lastings Milledge, which I applauded.  Now they’ve acquired talented but troubled Elijah Dukes from Tampa Bay. 

Having worked seven years with JDs (Juvenile Delinquents) in my younger days, I smell trouble, a certain naive beneficence on the part of Nationals management.  Reclaiming one kid is tough enough.  Two increases exponentially the potential for problems.  The rule is to isolate the bad apple from other bad apples.  Putting them together is just asking for it.

Don’t get me wrong, for what they gave up, Dukes is worth the risk.  And I sincerely hope this works out.  I’m concerned, however, turning D.C. into a center for JDs could backfire and instead turn that pristine new ballpark into something resembling the old Central Park, where arms meant something different than the ability to throw out a runner at the plate. 

— Michael Norton

Nats Double Steal

So the Nats have acquired one of the most coveted prospects of the last three years, Lastings Milledge, from the Mets, in exchange for catcher Brian Schneider and Ryan Church.  What a steal!  I had the opportunity to see Milledge perform on a number of occasions in Norfolk.  He has superstar written all over him, which is why the Mets just a couple of years ago bypassed prime starting pitching to keep Milledge.  His stock has fallen in New York, in no small part due to his immaturity.  But I suspect he can thrive in the lesser lights of D.C., with mentoring from Manny Acta and especially Dmitri Young.

The Mets desperately needed a catcher, and Schneider is a good one, particularly at handling pitching staffs.  While he was one of my favorites and I hate to see him go, Schneider’s offensive production is tailing off and by the end of last year he was platooning with Jesus Flores, who ironically was considered by many to be the top catching prospect in the Mets organization before being swiped by the Nats in the 2006 Rule 5 draft, making this something of a double steal.  Church never could quite live up to his promise, and the consensus now seems to be he will never be more than a fourth outfielder.

Milledge is exactly what the Nats need, an exciting young player with the potential to become a superstar and cornerstone for the franchise in years to come.  The Nats really don’t have the young arms in the majors to really benefit from a Brian Schneider, although they should pick up an experienced catcher to provide some guidance, both to the pitchers and Flores.  The Nats front office is showing a considerable amount of savvy building towards the future.  They know they’ve got a couple of years while the new ballpark keeps the fans coming.  The patience and discipline they’ve displayed, and the occasional deal like this one, promise great things on the horizon.

— Michael Norton

District Bound

 

District officials are outraged that the Washington Nationals plan to go to Maryland for major events celebrating the team’s first season in the city-funded $611 million stadium complex.

Nationals’ Events in Maryland Anger D.C. – washingtonpost.com

If D.C. were more outraged their team finished fourth than the club selected a hotel across the river in Maryland to celebrate, perhaps the everyone would have something to, well, you know, actually celebrate.  But you know Washington, it’s more about the Parties than the business of running the Nation(als).

The Nationals front explains they are attempting to cultivate a regional following,  The D.C. government feels somewhat jilted since it is financing the new stadium.  Of course this is the same government that re-elected a mayor after he got out of prison for smoking crack.  The investment will ultimately be recouped, but only if baseball survives–this time–in our nation’s capitol.  For that to occur it is imperative the Nationals appeal beyond the half million people who reside within the District of Columbia.  To thrive, the Nationals cannot become District bound.

— Michael Norton

Nats Pound Dodgers

I’ve been flying the Giants and Red Sox banners this year, pursuing some old, unfinished business as well as some new, unfinished business, but make no mistake, I’m ultimately a Nationals/Orioles man.  All baseball, like politics, is local, and MASN owns me.  But since I have been following the Giants this year, it is especially gratifying to watch the Nats beat the **** out of the Dodgers tonight.  Church just went yard to seal the deal.

I haven’t watched any of the Giants (this year’s team) versus the Mets (last year’s team).  I suppose I win either way.  But then, again, I lose either way.

So I’ll just enjoy…did I mention the Nats were beating the **** out of the Dodgers?

— Michael Norton