For the first time in quite a while I made my way back to Woodbridge, the area where I grew up. I did not go to shop at Potomac Mills nor did I go to eat some veal marsala at Roma. I did not go to revisit my childhood. I made my way back home because I heard on MLB Network, during Quick Pitch, that the Nationals’ grizzled RF Jayson Werth was in town for his rehab assignment with the Nats Single-A affiliate, the Potomac Nationals.
With a ball in my hand and P-Natitude in my heart, I got in my truck to see the progress Werth has made since injuring his hamstring. Let me be the first to tell you that Werth appears to be locked and loaded. He went 1-2 in the game with a hard-hit single (pictured above). Watching him warm up and watching him in the outfield revealed that he appears to be comfortable on the field and whatever discomfort he may or may not still be feeling is not slowing him down at all.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Werth on the Potomac Nationals was his presence. It is easy to feel the championship-caliber veteran presence Werth has to him when he plays in DC. But it is significantly more evident in the more intimate Pfitzner Stadium. Every time the ball left the barrel of a Salem player’s bat, you could hear Werth shouting in RF on how to field the ball. Whenever he walked back to the dugout, he was accompanied by the young CF, Michael Taylor, who was listening to Werth as if he were listening to a coach.
This is the kind of player Werth is. As much as he is a competitor on the field, he is also a mentor to the young talent that we can expect to know over the next few years. We all see his contributions on the field. We see the clutch hits, the home runs, the walk-offs, the long and collected at-bats, the beard, and his winning mentality. What many do not see is his off-the-field presence that is worth almost as much as his contributions on the field. It is for this reason that I would love to see Werth serve as a coach to this team when he retires from playing.
After the game, Werth delighted a lot of fans by talking with them and signing pretty much anything people put in his face. So Werth and I have crossed paths yet again and I was able to shake hands with the legend. I also managed to get a ball signed for a great friend of mine. Yes, the benefits for going French with the Werth mask keep pouring in!
Rest your weary heads Nationals fans, Werth will be back in no time and, from the looks of it, he will be back with a vengeance.
Ex-Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan is over in Japan right now playing for the Yokohama BayStars who apparently are one of those teams who have an illustrious history of winning but over the past decade or so they have been mired in a decline. If you need anymore evidence, they pay Nyjer Morgan a stipend.
Here is a near eight minute highlight reel of one of the Baystar’s games against the Dragons. The first 3:50 of the video captures the beauty of Morgan’s inability to play the game right by showing off a couple of his strike outs, f**k ups and sloppiness he displayed after the honeymoon with each of the MLB teams he was on. But then he starts hitting the ball, scoring and making scoring opportunities before finally making a dumb luck catch in an outfield full of circus clowns. The Baystars won the day.
But let’s forget about Morgan. Do you hear that atmosphere in the background? That is absolutely incredible and it isn’t even a playoff game.
Let’s get this out of the way–
It is ridiculous to judge a baseball team playing a 162-game season after only 12 games. In fact, I advocate completely ignoring the baseball season in the way of stats, standings and record until at least 20 games are under a team’s belt. Maybe more, but to make rash judgements at this time is just silly.
But this is a blog and it needs word porn. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room– Drew Storen.
No Nats fan wants to talk about closer Drew Storen. We don’t. We want to sit there with a hot dog up our noses and beer in our pants pretending all is well and we have at least the third or fourth coming of Mariano Rivera. After blowing the most important game in Nationals history in shocking fashion in the 2012 playoffs we want to believe that Storen spent the off season getting his head together and is ready to redeem himself.
But has he? After such a definitive, career defining moment– has Storen gotten his head around it? As I said at the beginning: I’m an asshole if I judge Storen on just 12 games and a 3.38 ERA so I will give him the benefit of the doubt– but….
I don’t think he has. My gut says so. His face says so when he gives up a play or a run. Storen used to have the look and confidence of a young buck who was deep in the rut and knew he’d have a choice of does. Now, I have a feeling his mind is constantly stained and stuck on that long, cold October night. After a quote like this, how could it not? Associated Press:
“We had it right there, and the most disappointing thing I’ll say is that I just let these guys down,” Storen said. “I know there’s an unbelievable crowd and unbelievable support, but for the amount of adversity we dealt with this year, for it to come down to that was kind of tough.”
Christ. I feel so bad for the kid and so early in his career. But, greatness, legend, “that time” comes even at the most unwanted of times. And he blew it. He absolutely blew it. People remember those who have moments of greatness but equally remember those who shit the bed. Nats fans will always remember Drew Storen and unless he closes the final game of a World Series game or even more important playoff series in the Nats favor, he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
I can only think of Brad Lidge at times like these and when you think of Brad Lidge you most likely think of Game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series where Lidge’s moment came caving in when Albert Pujols mortared a Lidge pitch for an eventual game winning home run when the Astros, relying on Lidge, where one out away from a World Series berth. Gone went the baseball as well as Houston’s last post season dreams of glory, Lidge’s soul and pretty much Lidge’s career. Ever since he really hasn’t gotten back on the horse entirely. The young, naive, closer was scared out of him. I am sure he still wakes up in the middle of the nights in drenching sweats.
Everyone fears the same happened to Storen. Everyone. All of us, even though we pretend to sip the Kool Aid with smiles on our faces and give the kid pats on the back saying, “Next time, killer.” I hate to admit it, but I don’t feel the confidence in Drew Storen right now. I really would rather him not close out games or at least close games at this juncture. Not until he can find his Apollo Creed to hug in the waves. Not until he truly finds his head.
Benching him won’t do anything for him. Like Maverick in ‘Top Gun’ they need to get him back out on the mound as soon as they can after crashing and killing the Goose. But start him small, have him pitch relief in innings of low pressure and against scrub teams. Build up his confidence before he engages the Russians again. I would say maybe a quick trip to Syracuse might do him some good, but I know it will never happen and that might do him more damage than good.
It really is looking like the big problem for Washington this season is going to be the bullpen. The starters are doing alright, the offense is showing up more often than not, but that bullpen with a messed up Drew Storen in it is looking a little exposed. Pitching mechanics can be fixed and tweaked. Head jobs require a little more work.
It is hard working with a mind job. Trust me, I have a staff full of them.
This is already a couple days old and you have probably already have seen it, but I might as well post it up anyway because D.C. United was nice enough to send this our way and this is my blog and I will post what I want.
Before he got pwned on Sunday by Atlanta, Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez took in a D.C. United game at RFK stadium on Saturday night. D.C. United. Washington’s professional Major League Soccer team. Yes, D.C. has a soccer team and they win more gear than pretty much all the other D.C. sports teams– at least they have in the past. Before the game Gio served as a cross-sport ambassador and met with fans, signed autographs and hopefully left before United was sent to a crushing, miserable 2-0 defeat.
From the video I see Gonzalez met with some of the local supporter’s groups or if you want to go all European on us, the “firms.” Definitely see some members of La Barra Barva and the Screaming Eagles. Great photo of a RVA-DCU rep. Gio probably hit the other groups too, like the District Ultras (my fav) and La Norte.
I love it when the Nationals get together with other D.C. sports teams to show support, especially D.C. United. I’ve been saying for awhile now that a Nats-United combo is potential gold. United fans are absolutely incredible and I wish that energy and creativity would translate over to baseball, but sadly I think baseball is stuck in the its own muck of snobbery and tradition to actually “get it.”
Oh, stop it. Don’t act like drum beating, singing and smoke bombs wouldn’t have improved the atmosphere at Nats Park this past weekend.
From all reports it sounds like more people attended a funeral rather than a baseball game.
“With Winning Team Comes Great– Wallet Chupacabras!”
True story, Jackie. It is like buying coffee without the caffeine or Lucky Charms without the dead leprechaun parts in it– and PURPLE HORSESHOES!
“He is going to hit it out again,” I said.
My apprentice, Dr. W, turned to me with an unbelieving look. And why not? Rookie phenom turned man-warrior Bryce Harper had already homered on his first at-bat of the young 2013 season, on the second pitch. The chances were slim of a repeat performance the very next bat and plus my logical mind was already in an alcohol induced fog ($9 beers!). Regardless, I knew it was coming. I was calling Harper’s second shot. Why?
Simply because a Jack Daniels ad had appeared behind Harper on the backstop wall. Jack Daniels– perfect. The stars were aligned. All I had to do was wait. Harper worked the count to 3 and 2 and I turned once again to my young apprentice.
“Here it comes. This is exactly where he wants to be. His pitch is coming.”
The rest is history. See the banner photo above. The Washington Nationals defeated the Miami Marlins 2-0 on Opening Day 2013 at Nationals Park. Harper became the youngest player in MLB history to jack two on his first two at-bats of the season and lead the Nationals offense while starter Stephen Strasburg delivered seven shutout innings. Rafael Soriano, with his badass bow-and-wind up collected his first save of the 2013 campaign.
Granted, it is Opening Day. It is perhaps one of the most worthless games of the season next to Spring Training games because what can you really tell about the season from the first game? But goddamn the team put on a terrific show. I imagine if you asked all the writers and jackals how they would script Opening Day 2013 this game would pop out of their magical tripe and masturbatory prose. You couldn’t have written anything so close to perfect for this game. The fans were great, the team was great and you felt the general excitement surrounding this organization. Speaking of which–
Judging by the jacked up prices from everything from parking to beer the organization knows this and is ready to use that to suck your wallet dry like some shyster vampires from Wall Street.
Couple notes, observations and rants from Opening Day– hold on, let me find my list. Lord knows if this makes any sense:
- I was not impressed by the Opening Day hat giveaway. Boring. Didn’t scream “I want to be NL East Champions again.” I did however like adding another Rally Towel to my collection.
- Team store wasn’t that impressive either. No swag in there that jumps out at me and says “MUST HAVE. CHICKS WILL HAVE SEX WITH YOU AGAIN.” I did spend a little while longer than I wanted to in the store because the music playing was bitching and suddenly I realized our old friend DJ Stylus Chris was working the tables live in the store. Nice touch. Good to see you, Stylus.
- Beer was $9– I actually paid $9 for a Coors Light. I remember in 2008 and 2009 being raped on the field at Nationals Park. Now in 2013 I am being raped up in the stands.
- Miami hardly made Washington break a sweat. Except for a Giancarlo Stanton double, the Fish really made no threats, or couldn’t. Strasburg was dominate, but not in the young fire baller sense. I think you could notice an ungodly amount of focus coming from that guy and a confident maturity. He is determined to be known as a true pitcher and not a thrower.
- Flower. It was Flower that followed Bryce Harper to the plate both times.
- Tyler Clippard hardly looked to be in proper form, but then again he escaped the inning with the score intact so maybe he is already in proper form. Look, it wasn’t pretty but I don’t care how they do it as long as they shut them down and keep the needle in the green.
- Surprised they didn’t put Drew Storen out there for the close. That kid needs a boost, but so entered Rafael Soriano. Dr. W informs me Soriano was sort of a dick to fans at Spring Training this year. If so, that sucks, but man, that dick can pitch! I am absolutely in love with that little bow he does before going into the windup. It has an aura of arrogance, confidence and gentlemanly class.
- That whole “Take On Me Thing?” Never again, please. Michael Morse is no longer here.
It was nearly a perfect day at the Park. It really couldn’t have gone any better– though we might want to keep watch on the offense a little and see if they’ll show up with Bryce Harper over the next few days. We need some lumber.
Sorry this report is a bit late. I was on the road all day yesterday and WordPress crapped out on me last night so I couldn’t do anything until they could replace the hamsters that turn the hamster wheels that make this service possible.
A lot on my mind as of late about this blog and the direction it is going, but ride the bear with us for a bit. The season just started and it started pretty damn well.
The NQ pulled up to the (full and closed) Yards to try and find decent parking today and head over to reader @Powerboater69‘s tailgate in said Yards, but couldn’t get in due to huge masses of people already partying and getting juiced like degenerates and fake rock star Washington politicians.
However, it wasn’t a total loss. As we pulled up, so did the Pabst Blue Ribbon truck to Nats Park. Baseball Gods, be praised! Glory! If that wasn’t a good sign about how the day was going to go, I don’t know what would suffice.
Tailgating was pretty tight. Beers and bratwurst. With Dr. W having season tickets I am seriously considering a future NQ Tailgate event which would probably include beer and– bratwurst. And hopefully chicks. Yeah, chicks. Any chicks wanna come drink some beer with this blog?
But thanks to Tom and the rest of those particular hooligans for the invite, beer and– bratwurst. Big supporters of this blog even though we totally suck. Also saw these flags in The Yards and thought I’d take a shot of them:
A NQ tailgate… the idea gives me both nightmares and wood.