There is something strange happening this off-season. This isn’t like past off-seasons where writers have warned people to look out for the Nationals in free agency and named them a dark horse. Writers aren’t just naming the Nationals a dark horse for free agents; they are calling them the front runner.
It is strange to think back to the race for Teixeira when the Nationals came up just short as the Yankees snuck in at the last minute and Teixeira decided he would rather play for a good team than the Nationals. That was the last time the Nationals were really in a race for a big time free agent. I don’t count Werth because it never was rumored that the Nats were even interested until he signed. That was more of a sniping than a race.
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The news came out the other day that the Nationals are going to name Davey Johnson as there manager once the World Series ends. This bit of news caused me to have no emotional reaction whatsoever. It isn’t that I don’t care who manages the Nats, but that I don’t think it is that important. The most important thing the Nats can do is get better players. No manager has been successful managing bad players. If the team doesn’t have good players it doesn’t matter who is managing.
I also think part of it is I like Davey Johnson’s style of managing. I remember a number of times where the Nats would bring a not so good reliever into a game where that was tied or that they trailed by a small margin and end up losing. People would then freak out that they didn’t bring in Clippard, but almost every time this complaint was uttered the very next day the Nats would find themselves up by a small margin late in the game and Clippard would come into the game.
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Since there is really nothing going on in the world of baseball except for Tony LaRussa’s inability to use a phone I found a very small bone to pick with the Washington Post’s Mike Wise. I have to start off by saying I like Wise. I enjoy reading his column and listening to his radio show. He is the one sports host in this town that will talk about topics other than the Redskins. Most of the time those topics happen to be college football, but it is still a break from the endless Redskins chatter.
I should also say that the bone I am going to pick isn’t even about his column this morning. I enjoyed it and while I don’t know if I agree or not he might be on to something. The psychological make-up of sports fans interests me. Psychology in general interests me, and why we like the things we do or have become the way we are is interesting to study and read about.
Wise’s column discussed DC sports fans as being a part of two different groups. People that like to think of themselves as part of a successful team and those that want to distance themselves from an unsuccessful team. With most DC teams not being very successful over the last few years (decades) there happen to be a lot more of the second type in this town, and some people take it to extremes.
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What is better? One CJ Wilson for five to seven years and over $100 million, or a Mark Buehrle and Roy Oswalt for a total of four to five combined years and $80 million?
I can’t answer for anyone but myself, but if I am making a decision like this I would take the two for less years and less money. Long term pitching contracts have a way of not working out, and while Oswalt has had some injury history the worst that happens is a team is stuck with the contract for two years as opposed to a Mike Hampton type of deal.
Mentioning the name Mark Buehrle brings a strange variety of answers. He does not strike out a lot of people, but he has pitched over 200 innings the last 11 seasons all with a respectable ERA and FIP. Buerhle also has averaged a 4.1 WAR since he became a full time starter and he is only 31 which is one year older than CJ Wilson.
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Yesterday I labeled a bunch of position players from years past as useless, and many people felt that pitchers should have been included as well. A bad pitcher isn’t useless. They can be quite useful for the other team. When talking about useless players I was thinking of players that had little to no outcome on wins and losses. Guys that people barely remember existing. A bad pitcher is going to be remembered.
Because of the unforgettable nature of bad pitching I have decided it deserves its own list. A list of pitchers that Nationals fans would like to forget. Not all bad pitchers are unforgettable though. There are a number that are very forgettable. Looking at the baseball-reference page for the 2005 Nationals I can’t recall any of these bad pitchers. Except for the ones that continued on into 2006, but names like Matt White, Joe Horgan, and Antonio Osuna are all but foreign to me. The one name that does stand out is John Halama, but I have a feeling that is for later injustices as he only appeared in 10 games and had a moderately below average ERA of 4.64.
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I could write up my thoughts on the World Series and make a prediction, but the truth is I don’t know what is going to happen. The Rangers have better pitching and a good line-up, but the Cardinals just beat two teams with better pitching and good line-ups. Trying to predict what is going to happen in the World Series is hard. I do not have a coin to flip but I do have a ruler. I am going to throw it in the air and if it lands numbers side up the Cardinals win if not the Rangers.
The ruler picked the Rangers. Now on to more important matters. Every year there has been a player on the Nationals no one remembers. Even the most diehard Nationals fan has trouble recalling the fact that Alex Cintron, Matt Cepicky, and Rob Mackowiak actually played games for the Nationals. Instead of waiting for years to look back at 2011 and try and recall on baseball-reference or fangraphs who the hell these people were I am going to decide right now who the most useless Nat of 2011 was.
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When I got the phone call I had no idea if it was even real or not. So many promotions and scams these days are based on giving people free technology it is hard to separate the legitimate from the fraud. I had earlier in the day filled out a survey in a physical location where the prize was an iPad 2. When I tried to arrange a meeting with the person on the other end of the phone and they suddenly got dismissive I began to doubt the existences of my iPad 2. They said they would leave it at a community center and I could pick it up on Monday.
My wife was kind enough to pick it up for me and as it turns out this was not a scam, a prank, or a conspiracy for murder, but a real iPad 2. Ever since Borders closed down for good I had been thinking about getting a book reader. One of the Amazon models was intriguing to me for a variety of reasons and the iPad never even crossed my mind as a viable option. It was too expensive and too trendy. My goal in life isn’t to go sit in a public space and be noticed by everyone for the shiny new piece of tech I have on me. I would rather fade into and stand apart from the crowd at the same time.
The first thing I used my new iPad for was catching up on the rest of the Walking Dead series of comic books. The one thing that had kept me from buying the rest of them was that Borders no longer existed, Barnes and Noble doesn’t carry them, and I didn’t want to pay the shipping from Amazon. By using the iPad I was able to get what I wanted without having to ever leave the comfort of my chair.
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