Category: Matthew

A Hot & Wild Ride: At A Second Glance

Baseball really is a wild game. That is probably the reason it drives me crazy when someone tries to say they do not watch baseball because it is boring. I admit that I think soccer is boring, but I also admit that I know nothing about the sport nor do I respect it on the level that I should in order to actually have an opinion on it. Therefore, I do not go around saying soccer is boring so much as I go around talking about how much I do not watch it and how little I know/care about it. Baseball is a chess game, one man’s move against another man’s move. Baseball is a fairly slow paced game, but that is part of what makes it exciting.

At any moment a game can turn in one direction then back in another. Monday night was a very good example of this. The game, at first glance, was somewhat unattractive for the Nationals. On Monday night the Nationals got off to a quick start, scoring a run on the first time they came to bat in the bottom of the 1st inning. That lead, however was short lived and eventually the Padres would take the lead. Ross Detwiler did not seem to have his best stuff, and would go 5 innings that I am sure he hopes to learn from. Ross may have not had his best stuff, but there were also 2 errors behind him Detwiler that caused the young starter to give up the lead a couple of different times in his long 5 innings. Ross Detwiler has been solid for the Nationals though, so it is okay for Detwiler to show a little bit of humanity now and then by not having his best game. Sandy Leon had gotten bowled over in the 4th inning after taking a full contact hit from Chase Headley, Leon would get helped off the field and immediately put on the disabled list. Henry Rodriguez had a tough night would get pulled after loading the bases and recording one out in the 9th inning, with an ugly chorus behind him.

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Sanity When Squirrels Fly

So today, the BS,W admin staff decided to have a nice little trip down to the city of Richmond, Virginia to take in a minor league game. These weekend excursions are becoming more common when the Nationals are out of town and not taking in a baseball game is seemingly out of the question. When I was given the options on which teams were going to play this weekend, the one that stuck out to me was the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The reason for this is likely that I had driven past this stadium several times when I was still in college as I had a couple of friends who attended Virginia Commonwealth University. Having driven past it and not ever going had given me a sort of odd curiosity of The Diamond and the Flying Squirrels team.

The day started out exactly as it should have, a trip to Wawa to fuel up and some good old fashioned BS’ing on the way down. It does not need to be mentioned, but I will do it anyway when I say that Wawa is a golden haven of amazing. None dare cross it’s threshold and frown. After fueling up, our trip continued North …Err South toward Richmond. We had left early in an attempt to make it before game time, but also to have enough time to grab a bite to eat a local eat ‘em up joint. Upon our arrival to Richmond, the BS,W staff realized that our travel agent had incorrectly booked the game time start. It was in fact a 2:05 P.M. start and not a 1:05 P.M. start, but the beauty of this is that I was able to sit back without feeling rushed and enjoy a fine brew at a place called Bottom’s Up Pizza. For the record, I definitely recommend checking this place out in Richmond. It is kind of hidden away, but the pizza was excellent and it was a nice laid back atmosphere.

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Early Musings & Theatrics

This last off season, the Nationals were in pursuit of some players that were intended to improve the team. Fortunately, the Nationals were able to pick up a power left handed pitcher and another pitcher who has had decent success at the Major league level. I am talking of course about Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson. With the decision to put Ross Detwiler into the rotation the Nationals suddenly had one of the most exciting young starting rotations in the Majors. The Nationals did not go to great lengths to acquire any big middle of the order bats, most likely because the organization was counting on a bounce back season from Werth, a normal season from Zimmerman, solid recovery from LaRoche, and the hope that the young infielders to take off. It is a great strategy and the young season has been quite exciting so far.

The Nationals won on opening day, which is a nice feat to pick up considering it is the first time since 2008 that the Nationals were able to do so. Strasburg would go 7 innings and end up with a no decision, but it was fun to get the win. The following game on Saturday Gio Gonzalez would only go 3.2 innings, but Craig Stammen, embracing the role of long reliever, came in to settle the game down and help to set the Nationals up for yet another come back win. Sunday would show a solid performance out of Jordan Zimmermann, but the Nationals were not able to score runs and some good defensive plays by Roger “The Shark” Bernadina and Xavier Nady were able to help Zimmermann’s final line. Never the less, the Nationals have played 3 quality baseball games since opening day and the best part is that we have another 159 games to watch our young pitchers blossom, our young infielders develop, and some of our favorite veterans come back to do what we love to watch them do. These first couple games have been just what I thought they would be, close scoring games with a few hits and excellent pitching. The Nationals will have to find more ways to get the offense going, but the pitching talent in D.C. is undeniable.

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The Bulldog

I want to start out by saying that my every post will not be about one player. At any rate, recently I wrote about a brief tale of my favorite pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. I noticed from the start of his career that he was a talented pitcher, but it seems to me that he has gone under the radar. I also noted how he is, as is my understanding, okay with the fact that he is under the radar. He may not be under the radar for long though if he continues to do what he does on the mound. Zimmermann is a thrill to watch, he is a power pitcher, and bulldog on the mound. Bottom line, he doesn’t take crap from anyone when going about his business.

I wrote about Jordan Zimmermann the other day, and somehow I had been oblivious to the fact that he was going to make a start today. Regardless, I did not exactly have a late pass because twitter makes information move faster then… Zimmermann got off to a quick start today, getting outs at a seemingly alarming rate. Alarming for the Mets anyway, but that is not my problem and I do not know if it is possible for me to care any less about how they felt about it. Also, get used to it. Anyway, Zimmermann would go 6 innings today, giving up only 2 hits (a single and a double), 0 earned runs, picking up 2 strike outs, and simply looking dominant on the mound. Werth hit another home run for the spring and a Ryan Zimmerman sac fly would provide Zimmermann with 2 runs of support. Simply fantastic. Now, I know this is spring training and that this game is meaningless. I think this game says how ready for the season Jordan Zimmermann is and we are.

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The Other Zimmermann

When I look at a player, I look at what he does for the team. I have to admit that my main concern is with the team, not the player. However, I would be lying if I said there was no attachment to some players on the Nationals roster that have managed to endear themselves to me over the years. Obviously, Ryan Zimmerman is one player on the Nationals that everyone loves and his departure would leave all of Natstown in shambles. There are other players too that have earned a spot in the hearts of fans of the Nationals in recent years. Danny Espinosa, Stephen Strasburg, Roger Bernadina, Jayson Werth (for some) and a new comer on the rise Steve Lombardozzi have earned or are earning spots in the hearts of the fans. There are a few guys, who go under the radar, however. I am not sure why this is or what is different about these players, but Jordan Zimmermann is a great example of a player who goes under the radar even though he had the best year of any pitcher on the Nationals in 2011. I have said it a dozen times, Jordan Zimmermann is the best kept secret in Major League Baseball.

Jordan Zimmermann made his Major League Debut on April 20th, 2009 and was an odd sort of microcosm of Jordan Zimmermann. He would make his MLB debut against the Atlanta Braves, pitching 6 innings giving up 2 runs, striking out 3, allowing 1 walk, and of course earning the win. A good performance, but not anything that would make headlines. Before Jordan was able to pitch that day though, he had to wait out the forces of nature. A 2 hour rain delay would halt the debut of who the organization referred to as “the other Zimmermann” and some fans referred to as (some still refer to him this way) as “baby Zim.” The rain delay had a standard effect, Nationals park was emptied and only the true fans stuck around for it. Jordan is the kind of guy who prefers to remain under the radar and it was as if Mother Nature knew that and wanted to help ease him into his first Major League start. Unlikely, but the thought has occurred to me over the years. I was able to watch Jordan’s debut on T.V. while I was in my Junior year at Old Dominion University and something about it made me a fan of him. Perhaps it was when Jordan got the news that he would need Tommy John Surgery that he was completely forgotten about, but when he made his first start since surgery on August 26th, 2010 I was elated. The performance was not flattering, but the guy had just come back from major surgery and seeing him back on the mound was amazing. For the record, the team did not let that game be recorded as a loss either. The Nationals would win Jordan’s re-debut in extra innings against St. Louis and Jordan ultimately got a no decision pitching approximately 4 innings, if I recall correctly.

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I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight

Hello everyone, it has been a while since my last post and for that I truly apologize. If there is one aspect of life I can truly improve upon it is my time management skills. I have spent a lot of time hanging out, watching games, talking sports, and just doing my own thing here and there. Anywho, the reason you all read anything from the All Stars here at Blown Save, Win is for our baseball chatter, so I am about 98% sure you have already stopped caring about my mindless banter, so lets get into it, shall we?

So, I have been thinking a lot about the outfield of the Washington Nationals. However, I will go on a round about journey to get to my point here, so hang for a minute. We have all heard it more times than we probably care to mention, you build a baseball team “up the middle.” Some might not necessarily know what that means. This means you build a team on the middle of the diamond. Pitching, infielders, and a center fielder. Corner positions are not to be forgotten, but for reasons I am probably not intelligent enough to comprehend, it is the middle of a baseball diamond that is the most important. Now, lets think about the Washington Nationals for a moment…. Starting pitching; well I think the Nationals have done an excellent job of building in this aspect, but I have been accused of being biased before so lets break it down a bit. Stephen Strasburg had a very quick track to the Major Leagues and he has had more than flashes of brilliance in all his starts. He has a plethora of pitches that have proven time and again that even the best hitters can be fooled. Needless to say, the face of the pitching staff in D.C. is Stephen Strasburg and while he may be a shy individual who prefers to go about his business with a lot of attention, he is undoubtedly the rock of the rotation (a big responsibility for a young man without a lot of Major League experience). Add Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson to back up Stephen Strasburg and suddenly the Nationals have an amazing pitching staff, but we have heard that a dozen times at this point. What exactly is my point?

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I remember in 2009 when Mike Morse came to the Nationals and was a bat off the bench. I was very excited about this concept of a new player, probably because I was looking for things to be excited about in 2009. Something about him told me he would a player everyone would love, to be honest I am not sure what it was. He was nothing special having spent most of his time with the Mariners in the minor leagues, then also having a suspension for steroid use. It is interesting, to me anyway, that there was something Mike Rizzo saw in Morse that the Mariners seem to have missed. Maybe it was the fact that he hit a lot, or maybe it was that Rizzo just thought we needed a guy off the bench who would not be a big deal to leave in a year or two. With Morse though, that was not the case.

Morse came to the Nationals in June of 2009, but I do not recall when exactly he started making appearances for the team. I do know that at various times during the year he would get a pinch hit at bat and he would at least give the ball a good ride. Also, when he was in the outfield he did what a lot of guys normally did not do for the 2009 Nationals, make plays. Morse was not a stellar fielder in the outfield, but he was able to play it well enough and not drop the baseball or take a strange route to the ball. Occasionally, Morse would give Zim a break and take a game at 3rd, or take some reps at 1st for a game. It was very natural for him, it seemed. Micheal Morse hit 3 home runs that year for the Nationals, but I remember when I read that stat I could have sworn he had hit more that just 3.  Then I recalled that Morse was simply not a home run hitter, so I was happy he hit them for us and I was pretty sure he was just having a good run with the Nationals.

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