April 18, 2014

Alexander Cartwright, The Life Behind the Baseball Legend, by Monica Nucciarone

April 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Spring 2014 edition of the Baseball Research Journal came in the mail just as I was finishing Monica Nucciarone’s fine book, Alexander Cartwright, The Life Behind the Baseball Legacy. The Journal includes an article by Richard Hershberger about Alexander Cartwright, which examines the proposition whether Cartwright “invented baseball.” Having just read Nucciarone’s book, it seemed to […]

Playing for the Name on the Front of the Jersey

April 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

On Thursday night, at Nationals Park, the ace of the Washington Nationals staff answered anyone who had been naive enough to question where his fastball had gone. It was back and it was beautiful to behold. He looked every bit the part the ace of a very talented mound corps in DC in his most […]

There’s No Fooling the Radar Gun

April 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A traffic judge in Prince George’s County once said that “you cannot fool radar because radar spelled backwards is still radar.” So when Stephen Strasburg wants to quibble about his fastball velocity and say the problem is with the gun, tell it to the judge Stephen. Strasburg’s fastball velocity has been in steady decline since […]

Opening Day 2014

April 5, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

Opening Day. The celebration of American culture resounds more than the play on the field as the giant flag is unfurled during the National Anthem. There were no jets flying overhead this season as in years past because budget concerns have taken precedence over the pomp and ceremony befitting a great nation parading forth its […]

Can Matt Williams Manage the Expectations

March 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Who Me? That was the collective reaction of the Washington Nationals in 2013 as they came out of Florida with their ace Stephen Strasburg on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the magazine predicting a World Series win for the team. Last season proved that something was missing in the Nationals clubhouse and Davey Johnson […]

Medlen’s Misfortune is Everyone’s Misfortune

March 18, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

As the 2012 season drew to a conclusion, Stephen Strasburg’s absence from the rotation of the Washington Nationals was one of the more hotly debated issues. Often those heaping abuse on the Nationals decision to bench their prized right-hander contrasted their decision with that of the Atlanta Braves where Kris Medlen was still taking the […]

Roger Peckinpaugh, Joe Cronin…Ian Desmond?

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

During the two decades when the Washington Nationals fielded quality Major League teams (1912-1933), the infield was invariably anchored by excellent shortstop. Clark Griffith, as manager and owner of the team during those years, valued the gritty ballplayer who could do it all and his on-the-field leaders included such great players as George McBride, Roger […]

Trading the Snow for a Bag of Balls

March 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The snow has shut down pretty much everything today, but there are box scores pouring forth on electron beams originating in Florida and Arizona and the weatherman says the outlook is for continuing box scores for at least seven months. The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles played their first exhibition games over the weekend in […]

Building a Better Mousetrap in DC

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Traditional analysts give great credence to building the proper batting order, while statistical analysts regard it as a secondary consideration at best.  Examining the performance of individual ball players over a lifetime yields little evidence that batting order is significant.  Was Ted Williams a better hitter when he hit third or fourth in the lineup?  […]

Anticipating Something Better from DC in 2014

February 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The expectations of baseball fans that begin to stir as the winter days slowly lengthen have a long, cruel history in Washington, DC. The collective winning percentage of all teams stretching back to 1901, when the Washington Nationals fielded one of the founding franchises in the nascent American League, is .458.  The new kids on […]

Ain’t No Cure for the Wintertime Blues

January 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The snow is piled up and it hasn’t been above freezing since last weekend. What’t the cure for the wintertime blues? The Bob Davids annual SABR meeting in Rossyln, Virginia is about as good as it gets. The Bob Davids Chapter is the original SABR chapter, the largest and most active and this year’s meeting […]

Watching the Money Flow

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the many things missing in the discussion about the new contract for Clayton Kershaw–a mere $30 million annually–is how much money the Dodgers have to throw around. The money the Dodgers got from Time Warner for media rights last season–reputed to be $7 billion over 25 years–gives the old Brooklyn franchise $280 million […]

Giving Thanks for Baseball This Holiday Season

December 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s hard to find ‘Peace on Earth,” but if you look in the right place this holiday season, you will find baseball in about as cheerful and bountiful a spot as it has been in many years.  That aura of bonhomie is worth celebrating.  It has many origins, but certainly begins with the new found […]

Thanksgiving Pardons and the Washington “Americans”

November 27, 2013 by · 4 Comments 

In 1937 the  Boston Redskins professional football team moved to Washington and began to play their games at old Griffith Stadium, where baseball was still king. The Redskins, as they are unfortunately still known, were owned by George Preston Marshall who earned opprobrium in many circles for refusing to integrate his football team and using […]

What Could Bring the Scherzer Rumors to Life

November 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The GM meetings this coming week will likely just be a first chance for some of the first off-season rumors to get wings or disappear. One that has a chance to grow is the notion that the Tigers would trade Max Scherzer. Rumors about Scherzer’s departure have been met generally with skepticism. Why mess with […]

Will the “Big Marine” Be Running Basic Training for the Washington Nationals Next Spring?

October 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“When he talks, people listen.” Reggie Jackson said that about Sal Bando. Reggie attributed Bando with running a very tight clubhouse for the very contentious but always successful Oakland Athletics in the first half of the 1970′s. Matt Williams–the newly minted manager of the Washington Nationals–has that same reputation. He was a championship caliber third […]

It’s Still Farm to Table in St. Louis

October 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The St. Louis Cardinals secured the right to play for their 12th World Championship on Friday night, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers four games out of six. It was not exactly David and Goliath although the Dodger salaries are almost double those of the Redbirds. More important is the standing of the city itself. The […]

News of Baseball’s Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

October 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Baseball is big news these days. It made the holy grail of journalism, the Sunday edition of the New York Times, where Jonathan Mahler asked the question “Is the Game Over?” Mahler’s symphony of woe is reminiscent of the premature reporting of Mark Twain’s passing by the New York Journal in 1897. News of baseball’s […]

Strasburg Redux

September 25, 2013 by · 5 Comments 

Washington has many fine sportswriters. Atop the list are Tom Boswell, Tim Kurkjian, and until recently John Feinstein. Last season Feinstein was one of the louder voices calling for the Nationals to keep sending Strasburg out every five days in September. And now he is using the failure of the Nationals to make the playoffs […]

Keeping Navy Yard Neighbors in Our Thoughts and Prayers

September 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Events like those that transpired in DC yesterday, just down M Street, SE from Nationals Park, seem to plague our country with disturbing frequency. It is unfortunate that they happen at all, or that they happen in any neighborhood, or any work place. But they came home yesterday to the Navy Yard that is an […]

Remembering Pittsburgh from the “We Are Family” Era

September 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Back when Fisher Bodies were made of steel that was cooked in blast furnaces in Pittsburgh, there was a great baseball team that played along the Allegheny River called the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite the fact that cars are made of plastic now and the city of Pittsburgh is a high-tech center supported by three top-of-the-line […]

Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals Rock Star

September 3, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

You will not find his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated nor even Rolling Stone. You will barely find him in the Washington Post sports pages, but Ian Desmond is a rock star. He is a rock, one of the most solid players on the Washington Nationals roster and he is emerging as a […]

Can Washington Continue to Compete Without Major International Signings?

August 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As an organization the Washington Nationals have eschewed big international signings. The few forays they have made have been disappointing at best. They announced today that they are pursuing legal options to recoup the $1.4 million that they paid to Dominican phenom Smiley Gonzalez in 2006. Smiles turned to frowns when the 16-year old Gonzalez […]

The Nationals a Team That Is Less Than the Sum of the Parts

August 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Drew Storen’s demotion to Syracuse has caused more soul searching among Washington Nationals aficionados than it deserved. Storen’s ERA was 5.23 at the end of April and while he labored to get his groove back, lowering the ERA to 3.86 at the end of June, he melted down in July and when he was sent […]

A Weekend in the Colonies

July 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

My wife’s Uncle Leo never left the comforts of Brooklyn except on rare occasions. His world began in Bensonhurst and extended no further than an occasional trip to Atlantic City. When my wife and I got married in Atlanta in 1982, Uncle Leo flew into Hartsfield International where I met him as he left the […]

Hairy-chested Guys and Deadbeat Dads

July 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals ship of state was supposed to be sailing for glory. Instead, at the All-Star break it limped into Washington Harbor, their sails in tatters after a trip to Philadelphia and Miami that saw them lose three of four to the Phillies and two of three to the Marlins. The Nats scored 19 […]

Which Way Does Davey Johnson’s Second Act Go?

July 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Davey Johnson was Manager of the Year in 2012 because he brought out the best in a team few picked to win much of anything. Patience and quiet confidence in his players worked those wonders. But this year that same enduring belief in his players has become equal parts tragedy and comedy. Not comedy as […]

Halfway Home and Competitive Balance is Winning With Pitching

July 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first half of the 2013 season is in the record books and surprises abound. Chris Davis is quietly on a pace to hit 62 home runs when most were predicting an end to the offensive surge of prior years. The Boston Red Sox team that unraveled under Bobby Valentine has vaulted to the lead in […]

Remembering Chuck Hinton

June 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In a pregame ceremony Saturday, the Washington Nationals recognized the contributions of former Senators’ player Chuck Hinton who died January 27th, earlier this year. His wife Irma “Bunny” Hinton was at the game for the ceremonies along with daughter Kimberly and grand-daughter Gabrielle–they are pictured below. Though born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hinton and […]

Will There Ever Be Another All-Star Game In Washington, DC?

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals did an about face in their 2013 Rule 4 draft last week. For several years GM Mike Rizzo has pursued an aggressive draft strategy in which the team spent well beyond MLB recommended signing bonuses. If you were looking for a continuation of the Nationals spendthrift ways, look again. Jake Johansen was […]

Anthony Rendon Arriving Gate 4

June 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Anthony Rendon’s path into the station was blocked by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Yet most of the time he has spent in the minors–until very recently–was at third base. Like all good ball players Rendon has made his own opportunity. He has found an open track to run on at 2nd base and he […]

Tapping the Foot to a Souza March

May 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Last night’s game against the Orioles was one of many low points in the 2013 season, but looking up at the score board at Camden Yards and seeing four players in the lineup with averages under the Mendoza Line–.200–was more discouraging still. Tyler Moore swung and missed at the same Freddy Garcia junk all night […]

Mike Rizzo on a Cold Day in Hell

May 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Mike Rizzo’s father was a scout before him and he followed in those footsteps even after the senior Rizzo advised a more conventional path anchored by a college degree. But he proved his father wrong. Mike Rizzo rose to become GM of the Washington Nationals and Baseball Executive of the Year in 2012. Rizzo worked […]

The Air Was Shattered by the Force of Danny’s Blow

May 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Strikeouts are proliferating throughout the game of baseball like never before.  Last year was the highest strikeout rate in the history of the game and the American League is on a record-setting pace in 2013. Batters in both leagues flail helplessly just over twenty percent of the time. Historic rates were usually no higher than […]

The Case for Denard Span

April 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Denard Span is no Michael Morse. Morse had the Kung-fu warm up cut–immortalized in his bobble-head doll—and there was his A-Ha walk-up music. Denard Span had large shoes to fill on many levels. It did not get easier when Morse ripped up the Cactus League for 9 home runs and a .357 batting average in […]

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