VIDEO: Gio Gonzalez Hangs With Hooligans

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.


Believing In Gio Gonzalez

When I first heard the Washington Nationals acquired pitcher Gio Gonzalez I was like many: quickly on the computer Googling “Giovany Aramis González.”

My first exposure to him wasn’t an article telling of his feats or a Youtube video of this kid mowing them down. No, it was a photo, a telling photo, that spoke to that psychotic inner fan in all of us, that belief that fan and player have made some sort of cosmic connection. It was a photo of Gonzalez at some sort of Marvel Comic gig standing with Iron Man.

More on that in a moment…

By now most if not all of you have been well versed in what is going on in Miami right now. If you want the nitty-gritty details, I’ll turn you over to the nuts over at Federal Baseball who either have the Jedi Library at their disposal or they are just really good researchers. The quick version is a  PED clinic known as “Biogenesis” (based out of Miami, that blight of a city) is accused of having connections selling various MLB banned substances to (wait for it) MLB ballplayers– one of these possibly being one Giovany Aramis González.

Christ, here we go again. Chemistry is goddamn witchcraft I tell you…

Gio’s name appears five times in notebooks of receipts and orders that have been turned in as evidence. In some instances it is by himself and in others his name is written by that of his own father. None of the substances listed next to Gio’s name appear on the MLB Banned Substance List.

The Gonzalez Family firmly denies any wrong doing or Gio knowingly taking any illegal or banned substances or even having contact with the company. The Nationals released a statement that they remain mum. The MLB remains deeply involved in the investigation and any actions or official word are forthcoming. Read the Federal article. It is all there.

This is all devastating news on several fronts. The herpes on the game that is steroids still lingers waiting for someone to scratch. A young Cy-Young candidate on a young and rising team has been accused of cheating which is neither good for the team, the fans or Gio himself. His career now holds a stain that he won’t be able to get rid of. Even if investigators and the MLB come back and declare him completely innocent, you know there will be those douchebags at every turn who you couldn’t convince of his innocence even if you threatened to feed their children to rabid crocodiles.

If Gio is guilty, how absolutely disappointing and terrifying. If innocent, tragic. Everything Gio has fought for and bled for stamped out. His very character pulled through the mud by the sins of the game that are catching up with it.

It is that character where the answer lies.

If you look over the evidence that is known and provided, Gio Gonzalez is innocent and the threat of a 50-game ban is crap- or should be. Nothing on the banned substance list was listed next to his name and his father admits contact only for himself with BioGenesis and Gio had no association with the organization or anyone in it. They have nothing on Gio except some alphabet soup labeled next to his name in some notebooks from a disreputable business.

Back to Iron Man– it takes a special sort of geek to take his love of comics and superheroes into adulthood and put it out there on display for all to see. I should know: I am one of them. Comic book lovers share a deep connection with their graphic work of choice be it Batman or Iron Man. It is like these heroes become a part of our lives and oddly enough we become or “take” certain things from them and apply them to our own lives. I make no apologies in confessing I learned more morals, ethics and the desire to just be a good person in life from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing adventures than I did from the Bible.

I am going completely out on a limb here and say it was probably the same for Gio. His heroes in ink (like those in real life) made their mark upon him, even subconsciously. Everyone wishes they could be a superhero: that pillar of fortitude that fights for justice and liberty with incredible powers and a strict code of responsibility. Gio Gonzalez has come closer to being a superhero than many of us. A baseball player from Hialeah, Florida making good, making the Majors and bringing style and greatness to a franchise in Washington D.C.

Something about this whole Miami thing just doesn’t make sense when Gio is in the equation. A guy who grew up reading about heroes, loving his heroes and eventually becoming one to many I can’t see doing something like this. It is a tarnish, a kryptonite of sorts to Gio’s character. Something like this would hurt him more than it would hurt us or anyone else. It doesn’t mesh with the little kid reading comics inside him. I don’t think he would do it for this reason and that is why I believe him when he says he didn’t.

Is this stupid? Naive? Completely off? Probably. Maybe. But I don’t care. To me, it just feels right. I’m going on gut here, NQ readers. I guess I feel this way because I would be devastated if I was in his position. I would feel ashamed. I would feel like I let down the people of Gotham.

The chemistry that makes up Gio Gonzalez I believe is already set in ink. That is why it is safe to believe in Gio Gonzalez.

Superman will never stop fighting for us. The Batman will never kill the Joker. Spiderman will never shun his responsibility. Professor X will never cease in his quest for equality. Giovany Aramis González would never take steroids and betray the trust a team and community have in him.

I believe in Gio Gonzalez.

Bryce Harper Is Bad To Baseballs

The Nats dropped a 3-2 NL East affair to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share a couple pictures taken by Dr. W or gush about a few of the good things that happened during the game.

Steve Lombardozzi collected his first MLB home run against Tommy Hanson to lead off the game while Bryce Harper (freshly named the NL Top Rookie of May along with Gio Gonzalez being named Top May NL Pitcher) unloaded on the very next pitch and planted the ball and Tommy Hanson’s soul in the upper deck for back-to-back home runs.

Great gravy, Harper had a beautiful shot. It was orgasmic. If you need any more proof, check out this young Bryce Harper fan in the throes of ecstasy and eye black:

All these moments will one day be lost in time like tears mixing with the beer that was just splashed over my head. That is why you need to pick up your Bryce Harper Black Label shirt NOW. I know, that was a badly placed, shameless plug. I hide my head in my hands. I put a lighter to my fingertips as punishment.

While I do that, here are a couple shots from Dr. W:

An Undressed Bryce Harper Is A Dangerous And Symbolic Thing

Sunday night was a beautiful night for baseball, especially if you were a Nats fan.

The Nationals claimed their first sweep of the season against the second place in the NL East Atlanta Braves by a solid score of 7-2. The sweep was well earned and its finale was showcased on Sunday Night Baseball on national TV. The sweep against a chugging Braves team was brutal, vicious and left no doubt which rooster rules the NL East hen house.

Starter Gio Gonzalez went seven innings giving up only two runs, striking out 10 and nailing down his season record to 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA. Gio also had a sac fly RBI and now leads the Major Leagues with 79 strikeouts. Ridiculous. Gio is easily the best off season acquisition and arguably the heart and soul of this new and rising Nationals team.

However, the NQ has to give the play of the night to another newcomer to the team, though a little more known: rookie Bryce Harper. With former Nats starter Livan Hernandez on the mound, Harper took an 0-1 pitch in the eighth inning and buried it 10+ rows over the wall. What symbolism!

An old, washed-up former workhorse who is still revered (puke) in Washington, who once was the old guard of Nationals pitching facing the new future of the team and the future gave the old guard a good kick in the ass. Harper erased Hernandez, totally erased him. True, in the sixth inning Hernandez struck Harper out (or “undressed” him as the crappy video above comments) but Harper came back into the game unscathed, more knowledgeable on his opponent and then made him pay.

Harper planted that ball right into Livan Hernandez’s Washington tombstone.

Just a great game forwards and backwards for the Nationals, minus Jesus Flores’ hamstring thing and Chad Tracy dinging himself up. I confess to being an absolute douche and writing a couple posts ago that I didn’t think the Nationals would be winning any series for the next couple weeks. Since then they have won each series they’ve been in (two). I have been served crow and I shall refuse the ketchup.

Oh, one final note: Fredi Gonzalez is a tool. Check out these comments after the game:

“There are no excuses,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after his team dropped to four games back of the Nationals. “Look at their [list of players on the] DL and look at the DL guys coming in tomorrow with the Cardinals. I’ll take my injured guys over [the Nationals’] injured guys because our guys are just a day here or a day there. Some of their injuries are significant.”

Thanks for making no excuses, Gonzalez. You sound like a guy whose team just had their asses handed to them– by a team who have more than half their starters on the DL! Your team could not even beat B-Squad! That is totally on you, bro. Stop hating.

I was certainly no fan of Bobby Cox, but at least that zombie had a little more sense and knew when he was beat.

If You Indulge Him, Gio Gonzalez Wants To Change D.C. Baseball

Without a shadow of a doubt the most surprising and pleasant thing in Washington Nationals Spring Training camp this season is pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Coming over from Oakland in a four player trade everyone wondered if what the Nationals gave up was too much for one guy. The NQ questioned it as well.

After spending nearly a week in Viera, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Nationals unbelievably might have really come out on the right side of that trade. Gonzalez is an absolute team player and has assimilated insanely well with the team. He is energetic, hard working, easy to talk to and he gives off an aura that says “I want to be around this guy.” He seems to have a genuine interest in the team and its fans.

On Saturday after morning workouts Gio came off the practice fields and immediately made for the long line of autograph seekers. Most were there for Stephen Strasburg, but many were more than happy to meet Gio, get his John Hancock and have a picture taken. Oddly enough, Gio was more than happy to oblige. He stayed out front of Space Coast Stadium and signed and took pictures with everyone who wanted one. Even more amazing was his willingness to talk to fans and make them feel appreciated.

He talked with fans, answered questions and among some of the interesting things said was he though he missed Oakland he was glad and excited to begin a new chapter to his career in D.C. However the one thing that he said that got everyone fired up was when he said that “they [the 2012 team] was going to change the culture of baseball in D.C.”

Now, we’ve heard this before. In 2008 Ryan Zimmerman after an Opening Night walk-off home run against the Braves declared the team was tired of losing. Three years later and after plenty of losing Jayson Werth came to D.C. saying he wanted to change the D.C. baseball culture as well, but the only thing we got from that was a bunch of changed beard styles and a ridiculous issue with the Presidents Races.

Is Gio the catalyst of change in Washington? It remains to be seen, but talking with him you can sense the passion and excitement behind his words and it isn’t because a paycheck says he has to say such things. He truly believes it. And the sense around the ST camp this year is many other players are either believing or beginning to believe it also.

We’ll see. But I can tell you this: I believe more in Gio Gonzalez than I do the Mayans and their doomsday calendar and if he wants the opportunity and job of changing the baseball culture in Washington, I am more than willing to indulge him.

In Gio I Trust.

Nationals Deliver Their State of the Gio Address

The Washington Nationals introduced pitcher Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday afternoon during a 3:30pm presser that featured Bob Carpenter warming up the media with wit and humor, an ageless Mike Rizzo and of course, the man of the hour, Gio or as I like to call him “Gio Suave.”

Man, that kid is suave. Good looking, rich, impeccable manners…dangerous on the mound– the freaking James Bond of the Nationals rotation.

Washington, hide your women!!!

Looking darn good in those red threads, Gio. Welcome to Washington.

Nats Have A Couple Of Huckleberries

Greetings readers of fine Inner-Netting blog rot. I am hoping you found your three-day holiday weekend restful and full of joy and happiness.

Sadly, mine was not. Life threw your friend Dangernat some off speed sh*t, some of which has seriously jeopardized the NQ Spring Training plans. I’m still trying to figure things out, but I will keep you informed. It would suck to have to miss ST for the first time in five years, but men have to do what they have to do to survive.

So the weekend was spent wallowing in pits of degradation and all sorts of unmentionable fun that most baseball writers take part in when suffering from a case of bored. The January Off Season is the worst.

So what happened over the weekend?

Let’s get it out of the way: free agent first baseman Prince Fielder is still not signed and will not until after Wednesday. That is because the Texas Rangers have until Wednesday to sign Japanese stud pitcher Yu Darvish. The plot of this drama is simple: if Texas signs Darvish, they will be out on Prince Fielder and the Nationals truly become the #1 landing spot for the big guy. If they fail to sign Darvish, Prince will be a Texas Ranger. Simple as that. I know it sucks the Nationals 2012 season is actually in the hands of another team and it isn’t the rosiest of outlooks, but it is what it is. What would you choose? A team with on-paper potential or a team one out away from World Series victory? I expect by Friday the latest we’ll see Pot-O-Fielder heating up on the stove.

Somehow, someway all the Fielder talk coupled with the fact the Nationals extended pitcher Gio Gonzalez’s contract, five years/$42 million w/options (largest contract for a pitcher eligible for arbitration for the first time) and avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Flores, has all lead up to the continued harping on getting third baseman Ryan Zimmerman an extension and now certain writers are even calling for a contract extension for Michael Morse– but not both, never both, signing Fielder AND extending the contracts.

Look, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: whatever happens in the coming weeks is just as much a test for the Nationals FO and ownership than it is a test for the players getting on that field and getting to the playoffs. This either-or horse crap is ridiculous and nothing but the media stirring up drama. If it really comes down to choosing Michael Morse or Prince Fielder then that is a no-brainer- good-bye Michael Morse. The Nationals and Zimmerman have nearly two more years to get an extension done. Why the absolute rush? So Zimmerman’s feelings won’t get hurt? Give me a break.

January Off Season sucks so bad…

So the Nationals have a couple of huckleberries. Right now they are doing something similar to that scene from Tombstone above. Zimmerman is Ringo, drunk and deranged in total confusion over his contract wanting to go at it with the Wyatt clan which consists of Michael Morse, Gio Gonzalez and we’ll say Ted Lerner. Then of course there is, Prince Fielder looking all suave, going Doc Holliday on everyone.

“I’m your Huckleberry.” Yes you are, Prince, yes you are. Now where you going to have a shoot out?

Washington or Texas?