There is nothing better on a Central Virginia morning than reading the box scores while having a cup of coffee and some venison sausage, especially if that venison was harvested from your own land. There is something uber-crazy old school about this particular morning ritual, something very Daniel Boone about it, especially here in Virginia. This might be lost on a good lot of you who might have never picked up a rifle in your life or those who are addicted to their food processors and Mickey-Ds gift cards, but if there is anyone who might understand where I am coming from it would be Nationals first baseman– the Buck Commander– Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche launched a 2-run dinger into the near empty right field seats of Sun Life Stadium in the top of the 11th last night to help the Nationals finally take away a win from the Florida Marlins in 2011 by the score of 5-3.
A tip of the Mossy Oak Nationals cap-that-has-yet-to-be-created to Mr. LaRoche for making this particular morning awesome. The sausage is delicious, the coffee warms the bones and the Nats box score is readable.
Honestly, though, I think Natstown continues to misunderstand Adam LaRoche. He seems to be a piece of the puzzle that looks like he doesn’t fit, but he is in the box of 600 or so pieces that when put together makes up a Norman Rockwell baseball piece. And like a Rockwell, this guy is American baseball incarnate. He just needs to be given a chance to ripen among the cherry blossoms of D.C.
I know the stories: he has been battling an attention problem, he is a notorious slow starter, he might have shoulder problems and his bat is off and on. He isn’t flashy, he doesn’t make nightly web gems and he doesn’t have the public charisma of say a Bryce Harper or Jayson Werth. Oh yeah, he is also no Adam Dunn for those concerned with such ridiculous comparisons.
LaRoche’s forte is not an up-front-and-center style of play or making mind boggling catches and delivering long bombs. His style tends to be more off the radar. He’ll make plays in front of you that seem trivial, but in the grand scheme of the game itself, they are plays that count and are important. It is the small things he excels at. Just playing his position, first base, causes the Nats to breath a little easier. He can get to balls, he can make the grabs, he can dig balls out of the dirt. The right side of the infield is a lot tighter with him there. That was really what he was brought to D.C. for, not to try and replace the 38 homers Donkey used to give the team. He isn’t going to do that, but occasionally, like last night, he will give you some surprises.
So you might not ever remember Adam LaRoche is out there on the field. You might actually be looking at him and still not see him. He enjoys being camouflaged, especially wrapped up in the game of baseball. Be patient with him, Natstown. Guys like Zimmerman, Espinosa, Strasburg, Harper are the bricks that will make up the foundation of this team, but players like Adam LaRoche supply the mortar.
In Brief Relief–
A “Werthy” Homerun — Jayson Werth plugged his first official homerun in Nats uniform last night. Barely got out and Werth soiled his uniform sliding into third, but he has enough cash to take it to the dry cleaners. Good shot, Wolfman.
Bryce Harper Lays Down A Bunt Of Awesomeness — Bryce Harper debuted last night with the Hagerstown Suns against the Rome Braves. His final line was 2 for 4, one RBI, one strikeout, a stolen base and a bunt that seemed to send ripples of confusion through the masses of Natstown. He bunted? Seriously? And got on base? A Nats player? Unprecedented. He will be on the Washington Sports Wall of Fame by next week. The Suns won 3-2.
Nyjer Morgan Must Be Taking Shots To Be Taking Shots At The Nats — Lots of hoopla this morning about some Nyjer Morgan comments he made on some radio station in some village called Milwaukee. He made some off the cuff comment about finally being on a team that has a three game winning streak– oh, come on, really? People are mad at his? Technically, he is right because the Nats aren’t known for stringing wins together. Plus this is Nyjer Morgan riding high on yet another career half of a season. We all know where it is going to lead– probably back to the Pirates.