Favorite Nats Games of 2011

Nats defeat Braves 6-3 at Nats Park on April 2, 2011

Rick Ankiel hits a two run homerun in the bottom of the third off Tommy Hanson and then drives in another run on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh. At the time this game was on I was sitting in a Taco Mac in Atlanta enjoying a Magic Hat #9 and the view provided by the waitress. It also happened to be one day before going to Wrestlemania 27 at the Georgia Dome. All of that put together with it being the first win of the season makes this one of my favorite games from 2011.

Nats defeat Giants 3-0 at Nats Park on April 29, 2011

I am really glad this game happened, because otherwise I would only remember Marquis and the ten run inning against the Brewers. I went to this game because I had never seen Tim Lincecum pitch and I thought I was going to be in for a great pitching performance, but I would have never guessed it would be Marquis that deliveredthe complete game shut out. It was also great seeing Laynce Nix hit a long homerun off of Lincecum in the bottom of the second.

Marlins defeat Nats 6-5 at Nats Park on May 13, 2011

What is a loss doing on this list? It is my list and I can include what I want. When Mike Stanton hit a deep drive off a Todd Coffey pitch it looked like there was no way Roger Bernadina had a chance to get to the ball, but all of a sudden there he was and diving. He barely caught the ball and then barely hung onto it as he did a barrel roll onto the warning track. This game was almost the Nationals as Michael Morse hit a double that was two inches to the right of being a walk-off homerun, but it was not to be and the Marlins ended up winning on a Dobbs RBI double.

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An Exciting Night has me Looking Forward to Playoffs and 2012

What an amazing night of baseball. I do not know if I have the words to describe it. The only game that was no contest from the beginning was the Cardinals demolishing of the Astros. Every other meaningful game last night came down to the wire and ended up being one run games. That is a truly beautiful thing. In an era where it is said time after time that the outcome of a single game doesn’t matter the Red Sox lose by one on a walk-off single by Robert Andino moments before the Rays win on a walk-off homer by Evan Longoria. Stats in baseball are useful in telling what should happen, but baseball is at its best when the unexpected happens, and even to get to last night was unexpected.

The Braves and Red Sox collapses are going to go down in history as two of the worst ever witnessed, but there is no collapse unless another team surges, and the Cardinals and Rays provided that surge. In a small way I feel bad about the Braves collapse. As my wife constantly reminds me my best friend is a Braves fan and his happiness should matter to me, but when it comes to baseball I like the Cardinals more than the Braves. If the team chasing them happened to be the Mets, Marlins, Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, or Pirates I am sure I would have preferred the Braves. None of those teams were in it though and I like having an NL and an AL team to cheer for in the playoffs.

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Well, if you’re going to blow it, blow it big

As the resident Braves fan around these parts, I must say that at least, misery loves company.  Thanks Boston.

You’ll have to pardon the shortness of this post, but I was at the final Braves game last night, and did not actually get home until half past midnight. With blogging duties in various outlets, stats to compile, articles to write, and more or less thoughts to gather and sort out, I pretty much wanted to blurb about this while it’s still fresh in the current.

The funny thing is that I am indeed disappointed in the abrupt and embarrassing fashion in which the Braves’ season ended, but at the same time, I do feel like a big weight has been unloaded.  The slow, inevitable feeling that elimination was creeping up has come to fruition, but at least it’s over now.  And with the season over, a season’s worth of day-by-day stat analysis, fretting over the fortunes of my team, and the handcuffing of a more liberated social schedule are all alleviated.

I can’t say that I’ll tune into every playoff game this postseason, but just because the regular season is over, certainly does not meant that things are going to go stagnant here at the BS,W.  Oh most certainly hell not.

An Exciting Last Day

As much as it is repeated during the course of the long 162 game baseball season that one game doesn’t matter, and these sorts of things even out there are four games being played today that will decide the playoff fate of the Braves, Cardinals, Rays, and Red Sox. It is baseball at its most exciting. It is what makes the seventh game of a playoff series so wonderful. Win this one and the season continues. Lose and enjoy the fishing or golf.

Baseball is not a sport designed to be decided by one game. It is why the season is so long and why the playoffs are played in series, but sometimes one game is all it takes. The nature of baseball adds another layer to it all. Players that during the season don’t contribute much or simply aren’t that good might get a chance to make a difference.

Imagine today if Jack Wilson hits a walk-off homerun for the Braves to force a one game playoff with the Cardinals and then Daniel Descalso pinch runs in extra innings and steals second and third and scores on a sac fly to put the Cardinals in the NLDS. Baseball isn’t meant to come down to one game, but it is exciting when it does.

If I could do anything today it would be to just sit and watch those four games and see what fate is handed out to the four teams. Will we get two play-in games or will the Braves and Red Sox reach like they were supposed to or will both collapses be complete and the Rays and Cardinals are the Wild Cards. That is all still unknown, but it will be exciting to see how it is concluded.

Tempting Fate: Perhaps I Should Shut Up

Way back on Friday August 5 the Nationals had a record of 53-58 to start the day and were playing the Colorado Rockies. The Nationals have never been able to do much of anything against the Rockies and haven’t played that well in Coors field. After having dropped the first game of the series by the score of 6-3 I did not feel good about the rest of the series.

The nationals had gone into the All-Star Break at .500, but between the All-Star Break ending on July 15 and August 5 the Nationals had fallen to five games under .500. The fact that I was certain they were about to be swept by the Rockies and my general anger and getting so close to the lofty goal of.500 and failing I made a proclamation. I told my friend and partner here at BS, W that if the Nationals didn’t get swept by the Rockies and finished within three games of .500 I would buy him a Slurpee whenever he demanded one for the rest of his life.

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Jordan Walden, Carlos Marmol, and the Race for the Toby

I feel like the last month or so I have been fighting writers block. Sometimes I will wake up and get an idea, but I haven’t been struck by a creative thought for a blog post in a long time, and the last time I was it was something that I couldn’t write about because the timing was off. Maybe I should write about the Nationals last home game of 2011 and what it meant, the breakout year of Michael Morse and what the Nats should do with him, if Pudge should be back-up next season or not, or I should do what this blog was intended for and write about the two men with ten blown saves Carlos Marmol and Jordan Walden.

I think the reason I don’t want to write about the Nationals last home game is as fun as it was and as much as other people want to make out of it no individual game matters that much. 78 wins is nice for a team that not too long ago was coming off of back to back 100 loss seasons, but what does it mean. At this time next year 78 wins will feel like a disappointment, but could be a reality or even an unachieved goal if the Nationals don’t improve in the off-season, but I have a feeling everyone else knows this as well. What point is there in writing about what everyone already knows?

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What’s the Excuse in a Couple Weeks

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee, right, shuffles dirt on the mound after giving up a home run to Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa, left, during the second inning in the second game a baseball doubleheader, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, in Philadelphia. Washington won 3-0. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This morning as everyone is high off the sweep of the Phillies in Natstown I was going to try and bring a dose of reality to the situation and point out all the flaws with the Nationals heading into 2012, but then I realized there is no point. The Nationals right now don’t have a lead-off hitter, a true CF, a reliable third starter, or enough production from traditional power positions, but not a single one of these problems can’t be fixed in the off-season. A healthy Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, and a more comfortable Jayson Werth will help somewhat to alleviate the issues the Nationals have faced with offense from those positions.

The biggest issue the Nationals offense has faced is that the combined OBP for the 1-2 positions in the line-up is under .300. That is unacceptable from a major league organization, but there are signs that the offense has been better in the second half of the season. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth both started to hit like they are capable of putting up OPS’s of .743 and .770 compared with first half marks of .572 and .681. The Nationals offense also benefited from the return of Ryan Zimmerman in the second half.

If Adam LaRoche is healthy and bats 4th or 5th for the Nationals that could move Werth back to the second spot in the order with Desmond staying as the lead-off hitter. It isn’t ideal, but it could be an improvement over what the Nationals had in the first half of the season when those two players slumped horribly. Overall I can’t point out flaws in the roster of the 2012 Nationals, because there is no roster for the 2012 Nationals. I am not even sure the Nationals have enough players under contract to put together a 25 man roster for next season.

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