And It’s All Over

Checkered Flag, originally uploaded by dview.us.

The Nationals 2009 Campaign came to a close this afternoon with a 2-1 victory over another team that no one cares about because they aren’t in playoffs and when it comes to baseball, all that matters are teams in the playoffs, especially in October.

The 15-inning affair was ended after Alberto Gonzalez hit an RBI single to score Elijah Dukes off Braves reliever Boone Logan who strangely looks like a dirty redneck version of Nats reliever Jason Bergmann and pitches equally as horrible.

The Nationals take their checkered flag to the season on a seven game win streak and ultimately finish with a 59-103 record, last in the NL East and all of the MLB.

All and all, it was a season of disastrous turmoil, pathetic play and unmet expectations. We’ll get into the bread and butter of it in upcoming posts, but for now, let’s just list some of the more exciting storylines that are going to be playing out this off season and when I say exciting I mean speeding down your street on a plastic big wheel and hitting that awesome ramp made of bricks and plywood kind of excitement:

  • The Quest For a Manager: Several candidates have already been mentioned but not a whole lot of movement on this front. The NQ would love Bobby Valentine, but even the cheapskate Marlins are looking into him says Heyman on SI.com. Worse case scenario:  Jim Riggleman stays.
  • The Quest For a Veteran Pitcher (Or Two): GM Mike Rizzo says they aren’t looking for a top of the line ace, but a grizzled veteran without a criminal record who can school the young pitchers on the staff. Two FA pitchers are what we think is needed to hold up the sinking ship. Worst case scenario: Livan Hernandez counts as both those veteran pitchers already.
  • Where Art Thou Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, etc.?: Obviously several players are in the bulls eye when it comes to whether or not the team will invest anymore time and money in them. Some of them deserve it, some of them don’t. Who will survive Camp Blood where the sex addicts and dope fiends are separated from the virgins?
  • Will Uncle Moneybags Spend?: Speaking of money, the Lerners have it in a filthy way, being named by Forbes as one of the League’s most wealthy owners. The NQ usually stays away from money/owner talk because really only people who have nothing else to back up the crappy play of these players walk that walk, but even we admit it would be nice to see the wallet open up and the Magnum condom fall out. Then we’ll giggle.

There are more, but we’ll let you think on those for a bit. Besides, it’s time to take it a easy, Nats fans. Relax. You’ve earned it. Take a break and step away from baseball for a few hours. Take me, for example. Tonight I am sitting down with a pint of 1554 and Wolverine.

The Nationals have unfortunately granted us plenty of time to think and reflect, but if your high is sports there are plenty of other seasons to now pay attention to. Like THIS ONE and THIS ONE and yes, they even have ONE FOR THAT. None equal the majesty of Nationals baseball, but you gotta do something, right?

The NQ will be active all off season, so don’t worry. We’ll be here tomorrow actively talking Nationals baseball even though it’s not. If you’re lucky, we’ll even throw in a post that completely kisses your ass and don’t think I am lying.

Just please wipe.

Pete Orr Might Be A Caveman

When Pete Orr was called up from Triple-A Syracuse a few weeks ago, it was a move that few people were excited about. Honestly, it was like getting a root canal at eight in the morning. It seemed to be a move that exposed how utterly desperate the Nationals are to have anything happen. Orr was called a career minor leaguer, a journeyman, another washout hiding behind the jersey of the MLB’s worst team and calling himself a Major League ballplayer.

Say what you want, but Orr just wants to be himself. Like a caveman. Like out of those commercials. Except less hairy.

Pete Orr was the difference maker in the Nats 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in a contest no one really watched because both these teams have no chance in hell. But if you did see it, you saw Orr hit an RBI single in the top of the 9th to seal the fourth win in a row for the Nationals.

And they couldn’t play like this all season why? That is the enigma that will forever haunt the ’09 campaign. Orr on his big hit, the Braves and his future:

After the game, one could tell that Orr was pleased to get the game-winning hit against the team that signed him as a free agent in 1999.

“I have so much respect for everybody over there,” Orr said. “They have been always great to me. They gave me an opportunity over there. The hit was special for me because I hold the Braves so highly in my heart.”

“I don’t want to be judged by one game. I love to be here. I want to be part of this team,” Orr said. “All I can do is play and be myself. When I get in trouble is when I do things that are not really me. If I stay within myself, I’ll be here. I love to be here.”

Judging by last night’s game, Pete Orr needs to be signed to a four year extension. In reality, he probably shouldn’t be starting on any major league roster, including the Nationals, but he might be a piece for the bench alongside Super Utility Guy, Willie Harris… another Braves castoff now that we mention him.

If the Nationals are truly serious about improving in 2010, they have to stop relying on career minor leaguers, journeymen, and washouts hiding behind the jersey of the MLB’s worst team and calling themselves Major League ballplayers.

It isn’t that complicated. It’s so easy, Pete Orr can do it.

These People Sound Happy

You know how there are certain people who need an extra jolt of caffeine around lunch to get through the rest of their work shift? Well, we aren’t providing that because caffeine is a drug and your not supposed to do drugs according to Nancy Reagan and Smokey the Bear.

Instead, we offer you an extra Nationals high by posting this fan made video of Justin Maxwell’s walk-off Grand Slam last night. Grainy and poor quality, but the gold is in the audio.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it.

Max-imum Satisfaction

jmaxwell02

Admit it. As a Nats fan, you’re feeling pretty good this morning.

As a fan of Nationals baseball, you usually aren’t this chipper, you usually don’t have that strut in your step as you walk to the coffee machine. Hell, you might have even wore your Nats cap to the office this morning. Everyone repeat after me, “Thank you, Justin Maxwell.”

The scrappy outfielder from Olney, Maryland sent Nats fans home happy last night, capping off Fan Appreciation Day at Nats Park and the final home game of the 2009 campaign with a two-out, full count, walk-off Grand Slam off Team Choke East closer Francisco Rodriguez. The Nats completed a three game sweep of Team Choke East with the 7-4 victory.

There is something that screams “maximum satisfaction” when the Nats beat Team Choke East. This is at anytime, under any conditions. There is no shame or guilt in wanting the Yankees Lite team to utterly fail and wallow in defeat while their bandwagon fan base dwindles and disappears as they eat each like a bunch of urban-congo cannibals. The NQ, in fact, encourages this unsportsmanlike viewpoint.

This final home series is so satisfying, it almost makes up for a chunk of badly played games the Nationals subjected the fan base to earlier in the season. Almost, not quite, but almost. You’d need to spike my first morning cup of Coca-Cola to get me to believe that.

We believe in Justin Maxwell. Not only can he produce game ending results with just one swing of his bat, but he can clean up the crime in this town. Villains like Dr. Octopus, The Penguin and Naked Mole-Rat Man don’t stand a chance.

Not only is Justin Maxwell the hero that D.C. needs, but he is the hero that D.C. deserves. With great Justin Maxwell comes great responsibility. And when your powers combine, WE ARE NATIONALS INQUISITION!

Shades of Austin Kearns

dukesbp

As the season continues to dribble down and Nats games fall into the void that is the bottom of the symbolic hour glass, it would make absolute sense that the Nationals, who are 35 games back from taking the division, would start playing like they care.

The Nationals won another close one, 4-3, against Team Choke East off the performances of Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Elijah Dukes. Dukes went 2-for-4 and made a game saving, last out, ninth-inning catch that sealed the deal.

Everyone is dropping dead watching the replay of the Dukes catch as if Austin Kearns didn’t pull off that same catch against the Orioles earlier in the season– which he did. We aren’t going to sit here and talk about the actions of Austin Kearns, but we believe in being fair and had to mention it. To Dukes’ credit, the post game notes indicate in 28 games beginning August 25, Elijah Dukes is hitting .318 (28-for-88) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, one homer, 11 RBI. They titled that blurb “The Prophet Speaks” although we have no idea why. There hasn’t been anything mystical or telling about the career of Elijah Dukes.

Dukes will be a minor storyline this off season. What the team is going to do with him is unknown. He has been called a raw talent with tons of potential but injuries, being a headcase and sometimes a lack of commitment have kept him from reaching that plateau. He still is way too aggressive when he need not be and too often swings at the very first pitch. His fieldwork hasn’t been 100% lately either.

The Nationals have said they are going to attempt to possibly try Desmond and Morse out in the outfield so that in itself says they too aren’t sure what to do with Elijah David Dukes Jr. He’ll work out in Winter Ball this off season, but honestly, the experiment is beginning to wear on people. It is time to expect results. The team has invested a lot in Dukes. They have had to tolerate two legal cases involving Dukes, hire special staff to watch him off field, signed Dmitri Young to a ridiculous contract in hopes he could “mentor” the troubled athlete (currently Young is in Florida drinking wine and fantasizing about a comeback next season for a contender) and had to deal with several late calls and outbursts.

In the NQ’s opinion: trade him. Trade him for more stable stock. The time for lightning-in-a-bottle projects, second chancers and rejects has come to an end. This team cannot afford another 2009-like season. Dukes might come around and become the Major Leaguer a lot of people think he can become– in time. But time is something the Nationals have squandered and just do not have in abundance anymore. Not with the current state of the team or the dwindling fanbase.

Dukes is an unrealized dream of a leather-panted cowboy who danced with one too many pink elephants. He is tragedy and mockery of all those who dreamed of one day spending their summers playing the American Game in front of large crowds, a man with so much potential bottled up in him, but wasted. Such talent could have been used better by someone else.

It would not be hard to trade the troubled outfielder. The stories of his raw power and potential have become unwritten legend and would be enough to ensnare some greedy, squabbling GM looking for some more bang for his buck. With the right piece in return, the trigger should be pulled with no guilt.

Too many gun references going on here. Gotta be careful. We might make Dukes too excited.

Lucky 13

rdetwiler01

The Internet went down here at the NQ VA compound for the past two days which completely sucked. The Internet was made for only two reasons: baseball and porn and we could get neither.

However, in our absence the Nats got swept by the Braves, Guzman is being a mamby-pamby by not playing second base, MacDougal is getting votes of confidence which usually means he is in the soup and the Detroit Lions finally won a game and it came against another Washington team who might be even a little more pathetic than the Nationals.

But the big news this morning is that the NQ has porn once again and following closely behind that is starter Ross Detwiler finally notched his first big league win for the Nationals last night against Team Choke East with help from a Mike Morse solo-bomb, 2-1.

It was Detwiler’s 13th start of the season which usually spooks most pitchers but rumor has it Detwiler spent the night before romping with a coven of lesbian witches to off-set the voodoo effects of the tainted number. It worked.

“It feels great,” Detwiler said. “It kind of feels like I got the pressure off myself to get that first victory. It’s one for the records.”

Congratulations to Ross. He has come a long way. The road has been a bit bumpy with some rest area stops, but he seems determined to make D.C. his final destination.

Looking at the schedule, the Nationals last home game is tomorrow (Wed.) and their last game of this long and brutally horrible season is Oct. 4th against the Braves in Atlanta.

After that, it’s nothing but porn until Spring Training.

The Nats Do One Worse

sadnatsfan

We are sure that you are quite surprised yesterday that the NQ did not write and berate the team for losing their 100th game on Thursday night to the Dodgers. This is the second 100-loss season for D.C. in a row and one might think the NQ would be there to cover it.

To tell you the truth, we had no interest in loss #100. We see nothing special about it– however, we do find loss #101 even more exciting. Any bunch of saps or sissies can lose 100 games and call themselves losers, but it takes a rare breed of cream-puffs to go over the edge and lose 101 games and mean it.

The Nationals did just that last night in a 4-1 loss to the Wild Card chasing Choking Tribe.

Specifics of this game need not be mentioned here. Errors were abundant and costly, the team looked lifeless and Riggleman watched the game from the top of the dugout steps with the look of a death row inmate who just found out he was sentenced to death by a firing squad of Chucky Cheese characters. Riggleman seems as clueless as Manny Acta:

“Everything that didn’t go well was a mistake of aggression,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “Nobody was passive. Everybody was getting after it. I don’t care how many times I have to say it, I’m proud of those ballplayers in there with what they are going through with these losses. Things get said about the 100 losses, but there is going to payback. There is going to be a lot of wins. These fans deserve it. These ballplayers deserve it. I tell you what, it’s going to happen.”

Yeah, I can’t wait for that payback, that vengeance that will be set upon all who care about this team team and can actually see the problems and would rather have action than words sugarcoating the problems with cliche’ sayings and meaningless jive.  Good luck backing up that threat, Riggleman. Chances are you will be out of the job next season so– just more jive.

Regardless of the 101 losses Kasten, Rizzo, Riggleman have all said at one time or another they look forward to the future, that things are looking bright, exciting, and true. The corner to be turned is just ahead, it will just take a few more pieces and a little bit more time.

And they are right. The future does look exciting. I know I am bubbling over.

No, not because of the Nats. It is because I have been combing through several chicken hatchery catalogs and I can’t wait to order my first batch of poultry. I’m looking for a lifestyle change and I might consider becoming a homesteader. That change includes this blog which I think needs to be more healthy, more organic and more biodegradable and environment friendly.

A few more hundred loss seasons and you might be reading about Rowdy The Rhode Island Red humping Sophie the Silkie across the yard on this blog.

Chickens, Nats… they are sadly all the same these days.

Pete Orr Was Almost Beaten To Death

One of the most savage and brutal acts to take place on a baseball diamond happened last night. It’s almost too gruesome for this blogger to put into words.

After the Nationals stole a game from the L.A. Dodgers via a Pete Orr sacrifice RBI walk-off whateveryouwanttocallit, 5-4, Orr was immediately mobbed and almost beaten to death by his own teammates.

The video was reviewed and it seems the main perpetrators were Alberto Gonzalez and Elijah Dukes. After Orr made his way to first base, Gonzalez appeared to throw a round house punch at Orr’s head who ducked into Elijah Dukes who then tried to tear Pete Orr’s body in half with a freakish body lock. Once Orr was trapped, Gonzalez then started punching him in the ribs as the rest of the team joined in like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy.

It was only by the grace of God that Orr escaped with his life. Afterwards, Orr had this to say about the night:

“I didn’t try to think too much about it,” Orr said. “I tried to have a game plan and understand what the pitcher has. I was trying to get the job done and stay in the middle of the field.

“It was a bizarre way to win. At the same time, you have to win those games. If it slips away from us, it would be a big downer. It’s real important that we won that game.”

Charges have yet to be filed against Gonzalez and Dukes, but what is known is the Dodgers have filed assault charges against themselves because after the game they went into the locker room and beat their own heads against the wall because they couldn’t believe they just lost to the worst team in baseball.

The Nationals tend to have that affect on most.

Josh Bard Understands It All

   

Josh Bard and Randy Knorr-5377, originally uploaded by steks.

If I had a list of catchers I would want to play on my team, Josh Bard wouldn’t be on it. There are two reasons for that: 1.) Josh Bard isn’t a prime time catcher and 2.) I don’t have such a list. To be honest, I really don’t pay much attention to Wil Nieves and Josh Bard because they really aren’t the true catchers for the Nationals or at least shouldn’t be next season.

They are back-up catchers. A back-up catcher holds that lackluster position on a team that is the same as the team mascot in a college football game: you don’t realize they are there until the team scores or they come into your section gyrating their hips to some overplayed tune trying to charge you up. Most back-up catchers spend the game behind the stadium dumpsters rolling dice and smoking cigarettes, totally ignored by the people inside.

But just because I don’t have Josh Bard on a fantasy list doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. Him and Nieves have been forced into the role as “starting catcher” thanks to no prospects in the farm system and unfortunate (and hopefully non-reoccurring) injuries to Jesus Flores. In a dead season like ’09, they have played as well as expected so I give them Brownie Points. However, Josh Bard gets the win this morning because last night, in a flash of sudden inspiration and realization, he came to an enlightenment many of us had already figured out about four months ago.

Too bad it took a 14-2 thrashing by the L.A. Dodgers for him to see it. I wish the rest of the team would follow suit.

Nationals catcher Josh Bard was clearly frustrated by the loss, and he stressed the importance of his pitchers throwing more strikes.

When asked about Kuroda’s performance, Bard said, “That’s why they are a winning team and we’re not. Kuroda and the bullpen guys pound the zone, go after guys, throwing strikes. We continue to fall behind. … When you are pitching 2-0, 3-1 all the time, I don’t know what else we are supposed to expect. Those guys are professional hitters, and we continue to think we could get them out being 2-0, 3-1.

“It’s frustrating. I mean, I know it’s hard to get guys out in this leagues, but throwing strikes is not hard, and that’s where I get frustrated.”

Bard for the win!

I get the feeling Bard is regretting signing up for this outfit, this organization of losing that is one game away from having 200 losses in the first two years of Nats Park. He has that winning fire even though he might be a bit over the hill. He probably got it from playing with the Red Sox. Going from Boston and champagne to D.C. and 40oz malt liquor must be a serious buzzkill for him.

Losing 14-2 is a buzzkill for anyone, including fans. Scanning the messages and message boards, last night’s game seems to be another milestone in the 2009 season: the game that many fans just gave up watching and caring about the team. A lot of pissed off Nats fans and rightfully so. This team should be absolutely ashamed.

The comparison between the Nationals and a contending team like the Dodgers is absolutely staggering. The work the Nationals need to do to even compete at that level is– I can’t even express it– staggering. I’m staggering right now just thinking about it and I am sitting down.

But don’t worry, Nats fans, the two or three that continue to read this blog and search every morning for Nationals news. The NQ is on the job through thick and thin. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. As Willie Harris says, “Unfortunately, somebody is going to lose.”

Yeah, the Nats sadly and until the FO and players wisen up, they will for a very long time.

Don’t feel down, Nats fans. Here. We’ll make it up to you somewhat by posting THIS.

I Hear Slapping, Must Be A Nat Fight

I’ve been gone on a three day camping trip the past few days. We stormed Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, VA and pretty much did everything and anything we wanted to. It was like releasing a bunch of drunken, rabid monkeys on a bunch of innocent senior citizens and families looking to just have that wholesome camp experience with their satellite dishes, 40ft RVs, and Pizza Hut pizza.

I will not go into the specific horrors that took place, but one thing we couldn’t do was blog or keep track of the Nats games this weekend. If I had internet, then it wouldn’t really be camping would it? But coming back to our VA Headquarters this morning, I can read that maybe the Nats need to get together and have one of those “group-help activities” like building a teepee together or going on a nature hike because it looks like there is some disagreement on how the team is doing, especially after losing two games straight to Team Choke East.

Manager Jim Riggleman said after last night’s game:

“It was just a lackluster performance. We can’t have that,” Riggleman said. “We were flat, and it’s just not acceptable. We were down a run and it was almost like, ‘Let’s see what we can do here to get through it.’ I just wasn’t pleased with the overall intensity of the game.

Fair enough. He is right. The Nationals have long lost that spark that came a few games after the All-Star Break, that spark that seemed to give them a jolt of power, pride and heart. But that spark has long been drowned and put out.

However, outfielder Adam Dunn doesn’t think so:

“I was in the game, so I’m not going to sit here and say I was flat. I wasn’t, and I can only speak for myself,” Dunn said. “I’m going to say no, I don’t think we were flat. We ran against some guys that pitched pretty good. We are not swinging the bats very well. That’s been the case.”

Asked if it was tough to maintain the energy against a pitcher like Maine, Dunn said: “It’s beautiful outside. It’s easy [to have energy]. Good weather. What else are you going to do? We played X amount of games, why would we decide [on Sunday] to not play hard? I don’t care how we are winning or losing, we do play hard. The energy was the same.”

And that is the problem, Dunn. The energy WAS the same. It has been the same all season and now look where the team stands– out of it since April, fighting for nothing but a paycheck, searching for any sort of positive reputation and now slapping each other like a bunch of feuding cheerleaders in the school parking lot, one accusing another of not having enough school spirit.

There is no worse time for a last place team than the end of the season. There really is a feeling of, “Why do we have to actually play these games?” Everything negative starts to catch up with the team and fans again and the “end of year” analysis’ start popping up “grading” and judging how God awful the team was this season which further depresses everyone. And then there are “disagreements” like this that betray how utterly unglued this team actually is.

The NQ has been stating it all season: the players have a losing mentality or at least the combination of these players do. They just don’t know how to win consistently and grind it out a full season. They’ve changed GMs, they changed managers, they got their big power bat, they got their lead-off/center fielder, they got their brand new stadium, cute Natstown theme and they got rid of Obese-Screech. None of it has made a significant difference. So where does the blame ultimately fall?

The easy cop out answer is the ownership which has been sketchy, but there are few teams who wouldn’t mind having players like Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Nyjer Morgan and even projects like Elijah Dukes, Ian Desmond and Jesus Flores on their roster. Those players are good players– only when they aren’t in D.C. for some reason. When it comes down to it night-in and night-out, you have to point the finger at the players.

They play, together, with little to no heart or energy and definitely without the desire to take responsibility for being winners.

They are flat. And flat chested. That combination doesn’t excite anyone.