King Gorzo Rears His Ugly Head Again

It is snowing. I can’t believe it is snowing. We are nearly 24 hours away from departing to Florida and Nationals Spring Training and it is snowing. It seems odd packing shorts, flowered shirts and rum into the bags as Old Man Winter takes a complete dump on us.

The Nationals played the first two Spring Training games of their 2012 campaign, both against the Houston Astros and both didn’t really end up like anyone expected. Houston beat the Nats on Saturday in Kissimmee 3-1. Bryce Harper recorded his first hit of the Spring against former Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez. Then Stephen Strasburg took the mound on Sunday and the Nats got a Spring spanking 10-2. Much of that comes thanks in part to reliever Tom Gorzelanny who took over for Strasburg in the third-inning and proceeded to give up seven runs in one inning, including giving up two three-run home runs.

Manager Davey “Peanut Butter Mouth” Johnson acted cute and took responsibility for Gorzo’s less than craptacular outing, but that is just smokescreen for the fact that Gorzo absolutely sucks and is more than likely the weakest link in the bullpen. The guy just cannot not give up home runs. It was the same story last Spring Training: Gorzo entered the game and must have given up at least a two-run home run in nearly every one of his outings.

It is Spring Training, that is fine, pitchers work on things, but then it followed him into the regular season. Three Nationals pitchers gave up more than 12 home runs in 2011. One of those pitchers is gone (Livan Hernandez, 16), another is possibly on the way out (John Lannan, 15) and one, Gorzo, should probably be kicked to the curb as well (he gave up 15 in 2011).

So is the NQ making Gorzo the first player officially on the 2012 “Bum Watch?” Yes, we are. The amount of jacks he gives up is just unacceptable. His stats show the more games he is a part of the more home runs he gives up– which are a lot. His job is to support his starter, get guys out and get out of the inning, not give away free souvenirs.

As mentioned before, the NQ leaves for Viera Tuesday. We’ll be there ready to do the blog the next day so prepare yourselves for a big blitz on the blog sometime late Wednesday. Photos, bullet point recaps,stories, weirdness– the usual staples of our Spring Training coverage. It is that time of year again.

Doug Slaten Is Unemployed Just In Time For Christmas

You ever have a weekend where you just didn’t want to deal with sports? The emotional stress, drama and ridiculousness of American professional sport, you just don’t want to deal with it for a time, so you fill a cooler full of poison and brew and head out to someplace, say, Roanoke, Virginia to participate in a unique pagan ritual that involves a stick impaled into a pumpkin and then lit on fire? Have you ever had a weekend like that?

Yeah, me too. All the time.

The NQ took two days off to get over the debacle that was the Nationals Winter Meetings (we still haven’t gotten over it) and of course when we take a little R&R they make a move that will probably save their whole 2012 campaign. Monday was the day to tender contracts to players before they get kicked to the free agent curb and the Nats had to make decisions on seven players: Tyler Clippard, Tom Gorzelanny, Jesus Flores, Michael Morse, John Lannan, Doug Slaten and Jordan Zimmermann. They gave six of the seven contracts. Can you guess the odd man out?

If I didn’t already know the answer and I had to look at that list, I would’ve not given contracts to Tom Gorzelanny or Doug Slaten. It ended up only Doug Slaten not being given a contract. My agents tell me when he heard the news, Slaten hung his head, kicked at the dust at his feet and went to eat at Five Guys burgers one last time. He finished 2011 with a 4.41 ERA in 31 games and was infamous for his inability to get anyone out with runners in scoring position. He cost the Nats a good three or four games at least and just subtracting him from the equation improves the Nats chances in 2012. Good riddance.

Gorzo survives the chopping block which is a bit of a surprise to me. He just…he just isn’t good. As a starter he was atrocious and though some believe he has found new life as a “long reliever,” I’ll put as much faith in that as stripping naked, tying live mice all over my body and jumping into a pit with 20 cobras and expect everyone is just going to get along. I still can’t believe I haven’t been able to find it yet, but I really wonder how many two-run home runs Gorzo gave up last season. No lie, it just seemed like almost every other game if not every game. For awhile he led Nationals pitchers with home runs given up, finally settling into a tie for second on the team with John Lannan with 15. The now defunct Livan Hernandez led the team with 16. Gorzo went 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA, but I think that is a bit misleading. He has every sign that he will be the 2012 Doug Slaten.

But that is how the game is played in Washington. I can hardly go on and not facepalm at the shameless selling going on. It is almost embarrassing reading these articles about Gorzo being a great long reliever and that everyone is “happy” and excited with the Adam LaRoche first base option. Then you got articles having Peanut Butter Mouth spewing things about contention and if you look closely, “Jesus Christ” in parentheses appears next to Michael Morse’s name anytime his name is mentioned in a story.

It is the Snake Oil selling season and even with the loss of Stan Kasten, the Nationals are proving they are still very efficient in their peddling.

No, I’m not buying it. I am not as jubilant and hopeful as some of Natstown are. I’ve been doing this too long. I know when I am getting sold dog and cat meat in my General Tso Chicken. The Nats continue to be a third or fourth place team in the NL East with too many “ifs” and question marks to be a true contender– thus far.

Who knows? Maybe Rizzo will wake up one cold day in January and realize he might actually have to get on the horn and get something done to at least make it look like he tried to improve the team for the upcoming season. I see him flipping through his Rolodex for the number to Skull Island.

“Hi, this is Mike Rizzo, general manager of the Washington Nationals. Is King Kong available?”

Nats Slap Around World Champs, Feel Good About Themselves

Like big bullies, the Washington Nationals swooped in and defeated the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants 2-0 on Monday night amidst a backdrop of patriotism and nationalism on Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park with no regard to how fragile the World Champs could be. The Nationals wore their new “patriotic” alternative uniforms that throughout the night gave off the odor of apple pie and napalm. Personally, I think the uniform is ugly, but perhaps it was the pompous threads that confused the young and defenseless 2010 champions like a bird with bright plumage confusing and offending a predator.

Those big meanies.

Lefty Tom Gorzelanny absolutely shocked the world with an eight-inning, three hit performance for his first win of 2011. Reliever #TrueCloser Drew Storen used the power of the flat brim to record his sixth save of the season in the ninth. Catcher Wilson “Rhino” Ramos collected two hits off Madison Bumgarner who had a no-hitter going through five-innings before Ramos ended any thoughts of that. It was off Ramos’ second hit of the night when the Nationals took advantage of a Miguel Tejada mistake and they were able to put two runners across the plate in the seventh thanks to a Michael Morse single (as seen above) and a Jerry Hairston Jr. RBI double.

Washington took three of four from the Giants in a four game series– nanny, nanny, boo-boo! The Nats are once again at .500 with a 14-14 record and are third place in the NL East. Next up for the Nats: Philadelphia. Oh joy.

Though the Phillies haven’t been playing up to their full potential as of late, Manger Jim Riggleman has to be boggling if he thinks he’ll enter the City of Brotherly Whatever with a line-up consisting of Brian Bixler, Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr. like a conquering Mongolian. Not much the Nationals can do other than do what they did in the Giant series: play smart, play hard, don’t make mistakes. More importantly: don’t leave men on base.

Easier said than done, as always, but if you want to read more things said then check out the Phillies blog ‘That Balls Outta Here.’ The NQ and Teddy Never Wins got together with those hooligans and answered some questions related to the series and the Nationals. For a rip roaring good time, click here.

For another good time, click here. You be the judge at which one is better.

Your Nationals Dispatch: America Has Mysterious Swagger Today Edition

Well, today is certainly a day of days. After finally getting over a cold and taking this weekend off to relax and rejuvenate, the NQ is finally back online on Monday. I knew it was going to be a big deal, but I didn’t know how big until I turned on the TV this morning on mute and saw thousands of people outside the White House, in New York, around college campuses everywhere cheering, waving flags, burning couches, rioting and taking to the streets to celebrate the NQ’s return.

Aww, America, the Inquisition loves you.

You guys are too much. Best readers in the world, hands down. I think I was most honored by the video coming out of my Alma Mater, Radford University where there was a girl wearing a patriotic bikini. Love it. Thanks Highlanders! To show my appreciation and since we are all about American flags today (this blog is made in America, by the way) I’m posting the most patriotic photo we have in the NQ library. Nothing speaks America more than a confused looking Pudge in 9/11 Memorial headgear and those atrocious patriotic jerseys. Yes sir, NQ readers this is to you and… hold on, one of my staff members is handing me the front page of the newspaper…

What? Navy Seals did what? When? Last night? Oh– I see…

Your Nationals Dispatch.

Military Night At Nationals Park Tonight – It isn’t couch burning (which is what all patriotic Americans from Johnny Appleseed to Hacksaw Jim Duggan have done forever to show their patriotism), but it should be interesting none the less. The Nationals have sectioned off huge blocks of tickets for military personnel and since luck would have it Military Night takes place less than 24 hours after America blasted away the biggest bogeyman since Dr. Communism, it should be a good night in Washington. Tickets and seats still available.

So, Nats… can we ditch the submarine horn and get some fireworks tonight? Put a couple plastic cups at the gates. The fans will chip in for some gunpowder.

SIX WEEKS?! – All-Star Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman goes under the knife tomorrow (Tuesday) to fix an abdominal tear and that will take him at least six weeks to come back from. Zimmerman went on the DL April 12, retroactive to April 10. The Nationals have held together well without the presence of the Face of the Franchise, but they would have to be mad not to believe they are not teetering on the edge of a cliff every time they go out there without No. 11. His bat and glove are sorely missed.

My Zimmerman Players T-Shirt is also feeling a bit neglected in my giant antique wardrobe that sometimes takes me to a magical land of goat people and dwarves where animals talk to me– I love it when my wardrobe takes me to the local pub.

I Stump For Jason Marquis – In my latest SB Nation article, I stump for a guy I used to endlessly take jabs at- not physical jabs, but verbal ones that would probably get me smacked in the mouth by one Jason Marquis. I quickly try to make up for it in the article so he won’t beat me up or melt me with that intense game face he carries.

Gorzo The Morlock Battles Giants Tonight – In yet again what sounds like some damn monster movie, southpaw Tom Gorzelanny takes the mound tonight to see if he can slay the Giants in a four game series. The Nats lead the series 2-1 right now and Gorzo, I can’t believe it, is 3-0 against the Giants with a 2.33 ERA in his career.

If Gorzo and the Nats can take three of four games from the defending World Series Champs I will go outside and burn my Cindy Crawford couch in my front yard. No, not really. I love Cindy (so does America) and I love my couch, but maybe I will photoshop a picture of me going outside and burning my Cindy Crawford couch.

And that is Your Nationals Dispatch.

Your Nationals Dispatch: The Many Faces Of Gorzo The Gorgon Edition

I know I’ve said it about 100 times already, but for the sake of this post I am going to say it again: Tom Gorzelanny sounds likeĀ  a walking monster movie. Specifically a Kaiju from a Toho production. His nickname, Gorzo doesn’t help change that perception nor does his “homely look.”

Plenty has been said about Gorzo’s looks. Those tight, compact facial features trying to hug up against his nose, his off-set lazy eyes, his clinched jaw that looks like it is about to suck all of his face into his head when he pitches– it is easy to take cracks at. So far we’ve seen baseball fans compare him to Sloth from The Goonies and that kid from 80’s TV dramas that absolutely freaked everyone out no matter how good an actor he was (courtesy of the Welcome To Nats Town blog).

Honestly, I don’t know why I even bring this up. Maybe it is because I never gave Gorzo his due on Friday or maybe I just want to point out I think he has given up a home run in every start he has had with the team. I think that even includes Spring Training. In reality, I think I just wanted to put his face on a Godzilla monster and post it on a Nationals blog. When you dedicate yourself to the blogging craft you tend to do mad scientist sort of things. That is how this all got started–

Your Nationals Dispatch.

SUUUUUUWEEEEP! – The Washington Nationals completed a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend which also included taking the two games in a Sunday doubleheader. This puts the Nationals at 8-7 and a in third place in the NL East.

Shocking. How is this possible? The mere idea could shake the stabilizing foundation of the Universe! Babies will be born with tails and civilization will implode on itself! It will be utter chaos and– heeeyyyyyyyy, how do you like’dem Nats?! Sweep, baby, a sweep!

A Moment Of Blog Silence – For 18-year-old shortstop Yewri Guillen, a Nats Dominican prospect who died from bacterial meningitis Thursday. Guillen was part of the Nats’ baseball academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. The Lerner Family are paying for the funeral and Nats players have donated money to help his family.

Marrero Use Bat To Smash-Smash – Syracuse Chiefs (Nats Triple-A) first baseman Chris Marrero had a wonderful day with the bat yesterday. He smashed two home runs and went 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs. He is batting a healthy .306. Unfortunately the offense performance was off-set by the game result: the Chiefs blew it in the eighth by giving up six runs and lost to the Iron Pigs 10-6.

The NQ is full of shameless Marrero fans so that is why we mention it. The kid still has potential to produce for the Nationals. He will hopefully get his chance. But that does kind of suck, doesn’t it? Putting together that performance and then losing the game to a team called the Iron Pigs? It is sort of like ordering a Mail-Order-Bride and they send you a llama. Hey, I bet it happens.

Another SB Nation D.C. – I posted my second article on SB Nation D.C. this morning. It has to do with everyone’s favorite subject on the Nationals: errors.

Don’t push, don’t multiple click. There is plenty for everyone.

And that is Your Nationals Dispatch.


Lets Appreciate Nyjer Morgan For A Moment

This could be the very last time the NQ posts a Nyjer Morgan pic in the banner. Bookmark this post. It might be worth something someday. But you know, he deserves it at least for today. He did have a role to play in the Nationals 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last night.

Man, it has got to be tough to be Nyjer Morgan right now. I can’t think of a better definition of “dead man walking.” I mean, he knows he is pretty much done in Washington. He isn’t going to be sent down, he isn’t going to be a starter on the Opening Day roster, he could be a fourth outfielder, but something tells me that job is going to fall to Roger Bernadina and Nyjer’s personality would not take to that role too well. So the reality of him just being traded or flat out released is very real. Cripes, by Wednesday he might not even have a job and that has had to wear on the guy for the past two days as the Nationals touted him out on the field as lead off hitter the past two days.

He suits up in a jersey of a team and a fan base that have sort of soured on him and tries to belt it out. If Morgan is not a National by Opening Day it will complete an epic fall from grace. The Nats had such high hopes for him. He was (at the time) Mike Rizzo’s crowning achievement, a testament to Rizzo’s brilliant, strategic baseball mind. Now he is mud and Rizzo has lost a ruby out of his crown.

But you have to tip your hat to Nyjer. Say what you will about his attitude and his abilities, but it takes some balls to go out there day after day knowing your career is headed to the gallows and the hangman’s noose and to play for a crowd that has turned against you. It is that ballsiness that will always make this blog a Nyjer Morgan fan.

Your NQ highlights and lowlights–

– Pitcher Tom Gorzelanny pitched yet another good game last night. Six innings pitched, four hits, gave up a 2-run shot, walked one, and struck out five. Not even the mighty Albert Pujols could get a good bead on him. I am still not certain if I completely trust his stuff, at times he struggled to get that third out, but I am growing more comfortable knowing he is in the back end of the rotation. He almost reminds me of another Livo, but a little more precise at times and a little less junk. Gorzo also laid down two nice bunts which is incredible to think about considering he is a Nationals pitcher.

– Speaking of Albert Pujols, he was there (as well as roider Mark McGuire) and he was something to watch even when he wasn’t on the field playing. He’d be walking down the foul line to the dugout during workouts and legions of Cardinals fans would be at the wall, lined up and clapping and calling his name. They even stood as he walked by as if he were a general. Incredible fan respect and loyalty. I know it is too much to ask, but Nationals, Lerners: you need to take a shot at getting this guy next off season. A serious crack. A guy like that in DC would be an instant legend– and a $$$ maker. I added that last part in for you, Ted. I know you like it.

— Nyjer Morgan opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third with an RBI single. He really wanted that one after being robbed at his first at-bat by a good play in the outfield. More like he NEEDED that.

— Ryan Zimmerman had his first game back from groin injury and went 0-for-3. He’ll need time to warm up again, but he was making some absolutely crappy swings at complete junk. At one at-bat he extended so far I almost thought he’d fall over.

— “Rhino” Ramos crushed a double in the sixth which lead to him being scored on a Roger Bernadina RBI single.

— Boomer Whiting came into the game, his first appearance with the big team this Spring and he laid down an incredibly epic, #WINNING– bunt. It moved two runners over and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was perhaps the most baffling, yet cool thing to do. I’m sure Boomer felt like a King after that. Boomer goes the dynamite!

— Matt Stairs was intentionally walked after Boomer’s bodacious bunt. The crowd rained the boos down on the Cardinals as Cardinal fans actually seemed ashamed. LaRussa, this is Spring Training. Let your boys try to not wuss out. Give the crowd what it wants: more Matt Stairs. I can’t believe I just wrote that…

— Jerry Hairston Jr. is knocking the cover off the ball– just right at fielders or being robbed by some great plays.

– Will the real Drew Storen just strike them out? He did again last night. He collected 2ks in a three-up, three down ninth inning save. Good to have you back, Drew.

The Nats are taking on the Astros in Kissimmee today. The Fish come to Viera tomorrow. Hope everyone has a good Saturday. We’ll be back on the job Sunday morning.

Nats Remain In The Litter Box, Lose Seventh Straight

It was a horrible day for the Washington Nationals, but it was an interesting day for the Inquisition.

First, Rich The Mets Fan snuck me in to a party that was on the Space Coast Stadium berm for some free food and laughs. Hanging out with Rich The Mets Fan is leading me towards a life of baseball crime– of course, hanging around with any Mets fan will probably do that to you. After a burger and coke, I went to Section 109 and my usual seats to see my other comrade in Spring Training, The Wiz. Now, the Wiz is not only a wizard of leisure, he is a world traveler, a true Bilbo Baggins, but only taller and less hairy feet. Somehow, he got us hooked up with seats in one of the Space Coast luxury suites. Being that sitting in one of these boxes that surround the park was on my bucket list, I forsook my Section 109 seats for the day and went into a suite.

Gotta say, it was nice, but not overly extravagant. The box is relatively small with a counter, some shelves and a table with stools and bar tables near the the sliding windows that open on the park. There is a small bathroom of sorts and thank God I didn’t have to drop a deuce because the in-wall garbage can is almost riding right up on the toilet. Guess they don’t want you getting too comfortable in there. I didn’t see a fridge, but the ushers rolled in a portable Budweiser cooler into the room stocked with ice and Bud products. The room was air conditioned, but with the doors wide open it did little to cool you off, but the box did offer some nice shade. Decor wise, not much was in there although there were fixtures and tables still the color of teal and with the logos of the stadium’s former inhabitants the Florida Marlins. Outside the outer doors there was three rows of seats for our use and we used them. It was higher up seating, but the view was still spectacular.

It was sort of sad that we had to watch such a horrible game from such a once-in-a-lifetime locale. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the party crashing and the Suite, today’s game might have been completely unbearable and unmemorable. Another thrashing by the Detroit Tigers put the Nats on a seven game ST skid with the final score 6-1. I could probably never sit in those seats again because not far away, was GM Mike Rizzo’s skybox which he was in and the whole time the team was botching plays and playing stupid baseball I just wanted to run over there, scale the wall and then grab Rizzo by the shoulders and shake him screaming, “Why did you do this to us?! WHY?!”

During the final three outs of the game, Mark Lerner made an appearance right next to Rizzo. As the final out was made and the Nationals headed back into the dark recesses of the locker room to “not worry” about what they had done, Rizzo and Lerner stood. Shockingly, I could see smiles on their faces and Lerner patted Rizzo on the shoulder as if they really had a fantastic time. God, I hope not. You tend to read into everything when your team probably couldn’t beat a high school softball team and are in a complete funk.

So lets read into this– your NQ highlights and lowlights:

– Before we get to the spanking, I just wanted to mention I saw Bob Carpenter and Charlie Slowes Nats cap shopping in the team store this morning. I think they might have been picking something up for their kids. Yes, they paid for it, but they get a helluva discount. I overheard them paying $16 roughly for a $27 hat. I guess it pays to have a job of that sort.

– Pitcher Tom Gorzelanny came out of the gate pitching pretty well at first today. He let a couple batters get on top of him and his stuff was not overly dominate, but it was enough to keep the Tiger’s blanked and the Nats in the game– until the third inning when he gave up a two-run bomb to Don Kelly over the right field fence. Now some would argue that the strong winds going out to right field helped that ball along. Wrong. That ball needed no help. The wind is no longer a valid excuse for anything anyway. Kelly stuck it to Gorzo and good. He finished with five-innings of work, three strikeouts, two earned runs and a performance that probably sealed the fifth rotation spot for him, although I don’t trust his stuff ultimately. Just something about his style says he will crack when things go sour. But he is a fifth starter and the Nats have more than enough options if Gorzo fails in that respect.

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The Madness At Port St. Lucie

The NQ took up Rich The Mets Fan’s challenge of taking in a game at Port St. Lucie last night, home of NL East rivals the New York Mets. Rich The Mets Fan wanted us to get a taste of what it was like not being the “home team,” but I really think he was hoping it would ruin our mojo considering the Nationals had beaten the Mets in every Spring contest so far. This he just couldn’t wrap his mind around.

A few hours before game time, I jumped in the NQ’s covered wagon and made my way to beautiful Indiatlantic, FL where Rich The Mets Fan calls home. We pre-gamed with burgers and dogs on the grill and quite a few rum and cokes so by the time we got in the car (he was good, I was sloshed) and got to Digital Domain Stadium we were in pretty high spirits.

The ticket usher checks our bags and then rips our tickets. We make our way to our seats and holy smokes, there are a couple of senior citizens sitting in them. This would not do in our minds, especially Rich The Mets Fan who was convinced the Mets had duplicated tickets, I did too or at least the rum did. He politely called an usher over and demanded satisfaction. We waited as they sent a ticket representative to us. When the rep got there, we made a chilling discovery– Rich The Mets Fan had brought the wrong tickets. He brought the tickets to Saturday’s game, not Tuesday’s. Oops.

As Rich The Mets Fan was trying to negotiate trying to get any kind of seats and find out what to do since now we had no tickets to the night’s game and two ripped and probably useless tickets to Saturday’s game, I was– or maybe it was the rum again– locked into almost paralyzing terror as the usher and some cops moved in on us. They actually surrounded us. They pointed us to the ticket office outside the stadium and basically said get out.

Crap. Night over. Or so I thought.

They actually escorted us all the way to the gate and made sure we physically stepped out of the Stadium, this one cop in his nice forest green uniform looked like he wanted to billy club me. They watched as we made our way to the now long ticket lines and then turned away and went back to their posts, green cop looking back at me now and then. The National Anthem was just beginning in the stadium. Thinking we dodged the bullet, I offered to buy some cheap seat tickets. Maybe it was the thick Northern blood in his veins– or the rum– but Rich The Mets Fan would not have it. He said, “I have never paid more than $5 for a Spring Training ticket! Let’s go!”


“Back in the stadium!”

But we don’t have any tickets.

“F**k’em. Yes we do, they are just for Saturday.”

Well, what are we going to do?

“We are just going to walk straight back in there.”

Let me take this time to say I have never “snuck” or cheated my way back into any sort of baseball game before. I am too honest. I treat the American Pastime as sacred. The thought of just walking in there, with no tickets, basically trespassing with a bunch of hungry, taser-trigger happy cops looking out for us just didn’t rub me the right way– or maybe it was still the rum. But there we went, right back to where we were expelled and I was certain that I would soon be spending the night in the Florida clink with Elijah Dukes.

But incredibly, insanely, we walked right back in. The gate guy I know was warned about us from the cops and usher, but he hardly blinked as we defiantly– okay, I sulked because I thought we were so screwed, Rich The Mets Fan stormed in with head held high– walked right back in. We avoided where we were originally pinched and hid behind the palm fronds of the DDS Tiki Bar in left field. We were in and just in time too see the first pitch to Roger Bernadina. I asked Rich The Mets Fan how many times he attempted such a stunt.

“Actually, once and it wasn’t a baseball game.”

Really? What did you sneak into?”

“A Super Bowl. One of the 49er Super Bowls.”

“So you actually snuck into a Super Bowl and saw it for free?”

“Part of it. I was arrested for most of it.”

What was the charge? Trespassing?”

At this point the crowd started cheering and Rich The Mets Fan got slightly distracted, but he did mention something about a cooler full of beer, insane intoxication and nabbing a police golf cart at the Super Bowl. Madness…madness…the rum…

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Nats Can’t Complete The Doubleheader And Double The Pleasure

After yesterday’s game in Viera and a quick trip back to Camp NQ, the Wiz, Rich The Mets Fan and I loaded into a vehicle and sped off into the Florida evening towards Kissimmee to catch the second game of the Nats split-squad against the Houston Astros and let me tell you, I learned two things on this particular trip:

1.) The NQ needs to invest in a new camera lens before Spring Training next year. The equipment we have right now just doesn’t support decent night shots under the lights. I’m talking with Cheryl Nichols over at Nationals News Network for some pointers and ideas. I saw her and Dave yesterday and as always, it was delightful.

2.) I can’t believe how utterly depressing it is to watch the A-Squad almost every game of Spring Training so far and then go and be a visitor at another team’s stadium to watch the B-Squad. Half these guys have no chance in hell of making the roster, they are cast-offs and rejects and they play like it sometimes. I know that sounds a bit harsh and I don’t ultimately mean it to– unless it pertains to Garrett Mock– but that is honesty for you.

Osceola County Stadium offers one a different perspective of Spring Training. It is a nice stadium with a terracotta look to it and for those who get seats right next to the field you are seriously at field level. Get this: 24 ounce cans of beer for $7. That is unheard of in a ballpark down here. So you can imagine, the traveling Section of 109 got properly blitzed which is maybe why my notes are so few this game. The two things I did not like about the stadium was the bullpens– there are none. The relievers sit on the sides of the field with all their gear and balls constantly get hit into them, lost and the play is still alive. Also, OCS seems to only have one central bathroom location with few urinals so there are lines out the door almost every inning.

The Nats ended up losing a close one in the ninth to the Astros 6-5. Here is the NQ’s shoddy, drunken recap:

– The temperature made some serious drops by the time the sun was down. A lot of people cold and a lot of people actually left during the game because they were cold. It is strange, around here there doesn’t seem to be too many Astro fans just baseball fans.

– Tom Gorzelanny got lit up. Absolutely horrible tonight. The game hardly had begun and it seemed he had already loaded the bases. Astros were getting solid hits off him, Gorzo threw wild, looked like he had no confidence… the door is wide open for Ross Detwiler or Yunesky Maya to step through into that 5th spot in the rotation right now.

– Chris Marrero finished up the night 1-for-2 and a walk, including a single that got lost in the Astros “bullpen”– what a crappy idea to put them there. On the defensive side he looked a little shaky at first. He made his catches, but several times he seemed close to coming off the bag or losing the ball completely.

– The outfield combination of Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel and Jeff Frazier wasn’t working. Too many balls dropping in and almost zero communication with each other out there.

– After such a terrific last game, Danny Espinosa only went 1-for-5 in Kissimmee. His fan club holds strong, though regardless of whoever might appear on this blog and comment otherwise.

– The Nats were able to tie the game in the seventh, but the big story was Bryce Harper (1-for-1) who made a serious mistake in the ninth throwing the ball in and completely missing his target and allowing the Astros to walk off with the win. I chalk it up to rookie mistake. If he threw that ball to the cutoff man, they might still be playing right now. The Astros third base coach stupidly held the runner just enough that the cut-off man could have made a relay to home and held the guy at third. As it is, Harper opted not to throw it to the first or second baseman and the result was bad.

But I will say this about Bryce Harper and it is going to be a bold statement so get out your highlighters: his throw might have been off, but he was deep in the outfield when he made that throw and it bounced somewhere near the mound. There is some power in that arm. If he can harness it and control it, he will be very Roberto Clemente-like in his throwing and will be a terror for baserunners thinking they can sneak in. That is right, Roberto Clemente-like.

The results might have stunk, but really, a Nats doubleheader in Spring Training Florida.

Can’t get much better than that. The team can, but baseball fans probably can’t.