Tag:Nationals
Posted on: June 5, 2009 1:31 pm
  •  
 

300

He warmed up , set to make start number 597 of his 21 year career. Underneath a sky that was taunting them with its grayness, threatening to unleash the rain it was holding back and delay the inevitable once again, an unspecified number of people settled into their seats. The stadium was largely vacant, and vast amounts of unfilled seats would be the majority of witnesses to what could be a historical feat. Many of the few who did make the pilgramage to the stadium were not there to see the inept Nationals, but rather to see the lanky, surly, 45 year old starter of the opposing Giants.

As Randy Johnson sat on the bench while the Giants batted in the top of the first I wonder if his career was flashing before his eyes before the crescendo that was about to take place. Did he think of his first start in Montreal 21 years earlier, when he struggled with his command, or his years on the Mariners playing with young Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez. Did he think of his five Cy Young awards, or the World Series, or his perfect game, or the time he struck out 20 batters in a game. Or was he just wanting to get it over with.

I'm sure that this was not how he envisioned getting win number 300; Against a last place team under a dreary sky, playing for a team that he had only been with for three months which was once his rival, and with the stadium largely empty. It almost didn't happen. His team only provided two runs, and in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded the Nationals' best hitter had worked a full count on Giants closer Brian Johnson. Adam Dunn strikes out a lot, but rarely looking, so when a pitch that appeared low sailed into the catcher's mitt he began to turn his large frame toward first, thinking that the tying run had just been walked in.  It was just then that the umpire bellowed strike three. He looked back with a questionning gaze on his face before heading to the dugout.

I would have liked to have seen that been called ball four. Not because I don't want Randy Johnson to get 300, but because I would have like to see him do it at Chase Field where he belongs. I would have liked to see him do it in front of what would most likely have been a sell out crown, in front of the fans that have shared so many of his great accomplishments. I would have liked to have seen 50,000 people give him the standing ovation that he deserves, and thank him for his many years of service to the Diamondbacks. Without Randy Johnson the Diamondbacks would have had an entirely different past.

When the Giants play the Diamondbacks on Tuesday I hope that the fans at Chase Field show him the respect that he deserves, I hope they put the ill feelings they might have behind and remember just what he has meant to this team and this city.

Posted on: May 11, 2009 1:01 pm
 

Weekend success? Kind of, sort of.

Seemingly it was the perfect time to drop the ax.  The Manny Ramirez suspension was dominating the news and the Washington Nationals, owners of baseballs worst record, were coming to town.  An organization could look for a decade and not find a better circumstance to fire their current manager and bring in the new one for a winning series. 

 

The first part of the plan worked perfectly. Outside of Arizona there was hardly a mention of the firing, on MLB Network or ESPN not a peep other than a one sentence scroll at the bottom of the screen.  The second part of the plan, get new manager A.J. Hinch a few wins over a patsy team, did not go off as planned.  The Washington Nationals, 7<sup>th</sup> in MLB in batting average, proved that it was the Diamondbacks who where the patsies in this scenario. 

 

The Washington Nationals have baseball’s worst record but they are currently a far better hitting team than the Diamondbacks who rank dead last in batting average.  Never mind that the Nationals pitching is sub par, the Dbacks have struggled against pitchers that have ERAs in the fives against the rest of the league.  Truth be told it really wouldn’t have mattered who the Diamondbacks faced fresh off Bob Melvin’s departure, they probably would have lost two out of the three regardless.

 

Despite a series loss, and almost a sweep, the A.J. Hinch era started out reasonably well.  The Diamondbacks actually had hit the ball fairly well when you consider some of the outings they’ve had this season.  They had 11 hits Friday, 8 hits Saturday, and knocked the cover off the ball in back and forth game on Sunday. I realize eight hits is nothing to be proud of but for a team that I have seen get four hits or less in quite a few games it is. Timely hitting and leaving runners on base continued to be a problem and ultimately cost them two losses. 

 

I do like the fact that Hinch got on Justin Upton and Felipe Lopez after both failed to put in a full effort running to first base on separate locations.  I also like that he continued to stick with some new guys in the lineup giving Josh Whitesell, Ryan Roberts, and Josh Wilson all starts in the weekend.  And Mark Reynolds, the defensively criticized third baseman, got a start at first base where he seemed to hold his own.

 

In an overall disappointing weekend there were a few bright spots, and for this team to get back on track those bright spots are crucial.  Once they begin to get a series of successes to build off then they can focus on other things.  Baby steps are the name of the game for this team.  Baby steps hustling to first base, baby steps working a two strike count, baby steps getting hits with runners in scoring positions, and ultimately baby steps to win some games.

Posted on: February 11, 2009 5:10 pm
 

The Cost of Success

Adam Dunn has found a new team, the Washington Nationals.  Congratulations to Dunn on his new 2 year $20,000,000 contract.  He’ll be joining a team that won 59 games last year, a mere 22 games under .500.  The Washington Nationals most likely will not do any better this year, having a starting rotation consisting of Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, and John Lannan as their top three pitchers.  Not to mention that they are in a division with the Mets, Phillies, and Braves. 

 

After spending his entire career with the Reds and never playing in a post season game, Dunn had said he was excited to be playing in a game that mattered in September after he was traded to the Diamondbacks last season.  Unfortunately the Diamondbacks did not make the playoffs and his post season absence streak continued.  Due to limited payroll space the Diamondbacks declined to offer him arbitration and he hit the free agent market.

 

Dunn made $13 million last season, and due to economic conditions he will be taking a $3 million dollar pay cut this season playing with the Nationals. There may have not been much interest in Dunn as all teams are limiting their spending right now, but it begs the question, when is the money not worth the losing, as I’m sure that he could have signed for less money on a better team.

 

Dunn has made $36.6 million since 2002.  Even if he put that money in a checking account with no interest that would allow him to spend $611,000 every year for the next 60 years.  With that in the bank, how much of a pay cut would he be willing to take to play on a winning team? How much is success worth?  I understand that $5 million is a great deal of money, but after you are set for life wouldn’t you rather play for $5 million on a team that will be a contender than for $10 million on a team that has absolutely no chance?

 

I’m not sad the Diamondbacks didn’t sign him; he wasn’t the best fit on a team with a third of the line up in the top ten in the league in strikeouts.  It seemed to me that after saying what he said last season he may have decided to sign with a contender for less.  I guess that success isn’t worth that much after all.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com