Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Off Season Coach Potato

Good omens all around. Manny Acta pulled new coaches from the Astros, Braves, and all in all, his past experiences. This shows he's smart enough to surround himself with people with more experience than him. It also shows that the front office is going to let Manny make decisions (St. Claire aside).

New Bench Coach, Pat Corrales

New First Base Coach, Jerry Morales

New Third Base Coach, Tim Tolman

New Bullpen Coach, Rick Aponte (Curse you, Google Images!)

Back from the minors, Hitting Coach, Mitchell Page

Titanic survivor, Randy St. Claire

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


A Nats sales rep tells me season ticket renewals for the 2007 season will happen soon. "Look for your renewal around the end of this month," he said. It will be interesting to see if Soriano's departure has a Michael Jordon affect on season ticket renewals and ticket sales overall next year.

Even if the seats are largely empty, the club will likely show increased revenues. TV viewership has nowhere to go but up, and it most likely will with Comcast and other outlets now committed to airing the games. While that alone will mostly benefit the beloved owner of the O's, the Nats' 10% take in revenue is nothing to scoff at.

For two full seasons now, sportswriters have been speculating about the nature of this new animal; the Washington Nationals Fan. The 2005 season gave a few good indications of what the new fan looked like, but it wasn't terribly accurate. That inaugural season, the stands were filled with people excited to have something to be excited about. Looking at the 2005 season Nats fan was like looking at a Glamour Shot. Last season, things were a little different. It looked less like a ribbon cutting ceremony and more like a baseball stadium. Squatting your way into the more pricey seats became a bit easier. And while still rare, the 2006 Nats Fan learned how to boo their own team. But even as the team made a steady trudge to the basement of the NL East, the stands were mostly filled with people happy to be there.

2007 will be different.

At the final game of 2006, a lone sign in the crowd got no TV time and was largely ignored. But it was there. Mets fans watched to make certain that their team would indeed enter the post season, even though the only thing that would keep them out would be a meteorite slamming into their dugout. Fans on the left field side busied themselves by imploring Soriano to stay in Washington.

Everybody was saying thank you and goodbye to Frank Robinson. But the lone sign was there, a bellwether to the 2007 season and the look of real Nationals fan. The sign read: LAST DAY FOR EXCUSES.

The 2007 season, for which I eagerly await notice of ticket sales, will be the year Nats Fans get to claim some credibility. Some war wounds. A unique personality. Aside from Brian Schneider and Nick Johnson, the team will be a DC team - not a leftover Expos team playing in another city. Very young players will take the field. Some will show signs of great potential. Others - many others, probably - will stink up the joint. Through it all, I hope that we remain hopeful. The hope has been palpable over the past two years. Maybe it was borne of the impossible first half of 2005. Maybe DC is a town so filled with cynicism that we need a place to be purely hopeful. I really don't know. I'm too close to it to know, I think. Any picture is made up of tiny bits of information. To give you, dear imaginary reader, the most detailed picture of the 2007 Nationals Fan, I make this naive, premature, and overreaching vow; I will blog every day of the 2007 season. You decide what we look like.

Friday, September 22, 2006


My buddy bagged out on last night's Game 3 against the Braves. Something about paperwork he needed to finish. His priorities are in the crapper. So I went on my pathetic own ... put my water bottle and pistaciNats on the seat where his butt would have been sitting. My munchies didn't crowd the armrest or try to talk about non-baseball subjects during the game, so I figure I came out ahead.

Like most good hearted Americans, I tend to geek out and concentrate almost too much on everything around me when I'm left to myself. . I have these Tibetan Epiphanies About Baseball (T.E.A.B), and amazing realizations wash over me, like glaze on a ham. Oh look! Here comes one now.

Nick Johnson always has the bat boy lob a ball to him as he crosses the third base line and is heading for the dugout.

Maybe you knew that. Maybe all first basemen do it, but it's new to me.

So I know, wow, right?

Has this always happened and I just never noticed? Often, after catching the lobbed ball, he lobs it out into the crowd - almost always to a kid. But sometimes, he just keeps the ball hidden in his glove and goes into the dugout. Is this common practice among first basemen, or is this something he arranged himself? Back in April, did he take the bat boy aside and tell him to always lob a ball to him? "Pay attention, son."

Were threats insinuated? Is there something in his contract? Where do these balls come from? Are they all the balls the ump tosses out of play, or is it a mix of ump balls and new balls? I've had some explanations, but they don't add up. Most commonly (twice), I've been told that the first baseman is given a ball to be used for warmup grounders the next time the team takes the field. But that's rubbish, as my British friends might say (no, they wouldn't). Where is the ball while the first baseman is at bat? Does he lay it on the bench and say, "Hey guys, I'm up. Don't touch this ball, ok? It's for grounders when we go back to defense. I'm looking at you, Vidro! I'll just pick it up after I go to bat and maybe get on base ..." Why can't he simply grab a ball on his way out to first base FROM the dugout? No sir. Doesn't match up.

While I was pondering on that weirdness, the Braves were chewing up the Natties pretty hard. A double for Chipper Jones. Andruw singled to center and ran-in Chipper (Larrrrrrrrrrry). Brian McCann and Andruw each homered off Ramone Ortiz, who has looked awful ever since his 8 innings without a hit against the Cards. In that game, he finally gave up a single, then a homer (Pujols), in the 9th.

Downhill ever since.

After Ortiz last night, Chris Booker gave up another homer to Jeff Francoeur, but by then I was in full-blown existential mode.

What's up with Nick's facial hair? - Wham! A HOMER - Clean shaven, goatee, shaggy - Wham! A DOUBLE! Is there a pattern? - Wham! Anudder HOMER! - Does he only shave after a loss? - BAT BOY LOBS ONE TO NICK (wtf?). Is he just a slob who forgets to shave quite often? - Frank Robinson begins to silently sob - Does he have sensitive skin? - Bowden updates his mental list of people he's going to fire in October - Is it somehow related to the ball tossing ritual? Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - I wonder if all that paperwork is finished yet.

Maybe the bat boy tosses a ball to Nick as a symbolic gesture. Huh. Or maybe they just have too many balls. If you know, how 'bout a little transcendental explanation?

Monday, September 11, 2006

13 - 8. After an "amazing" comeback. I should have been excited when Washington tied it up, but I just kept thinking, wait for it. Then, as Bugs says in the XM bumper, "WHAM! A Homuh! WHAM! Anudduh homuh!". I acted all cool. "I knew that was coming. He loaded the bases." But the fact is, it sucked the air out of me as only a grand slam can do. If a series like the Debacle in Denver ... the Rocky Mountain Sigh ... pains a lowly fan so much, what does it do to a group of competitors so brutal, so barbaric that they made it to the majors? Sure, they've all been through routes before. There was that summer in Little League, maybe. Can they seriously just move on and play Arizona like nothing happened? If the Harlem Globetrotters were a baseball team, the 2006 Nationals would perpetually be the opposing team. But slamming them is too easy. Hopefully, I can keep an eye on the bigger picture; 2008. Meanwhile, Frank Robinson and Co. will play 12 more games at RFK this year, and I will travel two hours each way to be at every one of them. If I were to start booing them now, I might just as well go to Phillies home games and boo along with a chorus.