November 21, 2019

On Becoming National League Champions in 2019

October 17, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Victor Robles squeezes the ball into his glove as the man next to me shouts, “It’s an out, baby, it’s an out,” and the stadium erupts into pure animal joy. As the fireworks erupt and the fans explode, the center field gate swings open and a makeshift stage begins to move toward the infield as […]

Is 2019 the Post Season of the Pitcher?

October 13, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Whoever said it, the old mantra that pitching wins the World Series has an early lead in 2019, even in the modern game where the home run is the attention grabber, the defining moment that lifts everyone from their seats to track the flight of the ball as it heads toward the light standard. But […]

New Big Train Sightings in DC

October 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

In the 1924 World Series, Walter Johnson lost Game One and Game Five. He was nearly 37 years old and it appeared that even his storied career of invincible tenacity was at an end. The Series was tied three games apiece between John McGraw’s New York Giants and Clark Griffith’s Washington Nationals. Curly Ogden pitched […]

Ballpark

September 17, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Ballpark, the excellent book on baseball architecture by Paul Goldberger, is a paean to those unique and very public edifices in which “America’s Pastime” is played. Goldberger’s history and physical description of so many of them is very much like barnstorming the country to see them, so aptly and lovingly described are they in his […]

Notes From the Davey Martinez Fan Club

September 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Davey Martinez, current manager of the Washington Nationals, is a case study in why catchers make such good managers. Be it Bruce Bochy, Kevin Cash, Joe Girardi or Mike Matheny, their years of sitting behind the plate and working with a pitching staff on an every day basis provided key insights into how to manage […]

Selling Ripe Bananas and Making Banana Bread

May 23, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

My 93-year old mother-in-law, bless her dear, departed soul, once opined that she was too old to buy a green banana. Ted Lerner, who was until recently the principal owner of the Washington Nationals is now 93, and many of his decisions in recent years regarding the Nationals have been made out of his desire […]

Is the MLBPA Losing Sight of its Mission?

February 19, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

When Marvin Miller worked with a committed corps of Major League players to create the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the players both individually and collectively were truly a disadvantaged group. A few well-known players got big paydays, but almost every player held an off-season job to […]

The Road Less Traveled By…

November 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington Nationals have reached a familiar decision point. In 1969 Bowie Kuhn stood at a similar divergence. He had to chose between Bob Short’s desire to purchase the Washington Senators and almost certainly move them somewhere else, or go with a local ownership group of unknown ability to hold the fort. Bob Short came to […]

Has Harper Been a Divider or a Uniter?

September 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Bryce Harper carves a path in the world of baseball like a comic book hero laying waste to bad guys. That is the way many fans see him; the way many depict him. The real world, one with which Harper has only nodding acquaintance, is more nuanced. The Harper era in Washington, DC is likely drawing […]

Why the Nationals’ Bullpen Sucks

August 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It is an oft told story: the implosion of the Washington Nationals reliever corps. It is happening now, and it has happened oh so many times that the success stories stand out starkly from the failures because there have been so few of them. Whether it is the failures of Drew Storen in the playoffs […]

The Best Team Usually Wins

August 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the bigger surprises in the 2018 season has been the impotence of the Washington Nationals. But that is why they play the games, why paper comparisons in March of this year failed to see how quickly the Atlanta Braves young team would gel with its veterans, or how Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta […]

Knowing When to Hold Them and When to Fold Them

July 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

You have to know when to hold them; know when to fold them. That is what separates the winners from the losers, pure and simple. The Washington Nationals are faced with that conundrum as they ready themselves for the second half of the 2018 season. Their .500 record–48 wins/48 losses–puts them five and one-half games […]

Patches Below the Waterline to Put Washington Back in the Winners Circle in 2018

June 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Boswell likened the addition of Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals bullpen as adding sheet metal instead of tin foil to a significant hole in their bullpen. Herrera is hopefully the first of several moves that the Washington Nationals front office will surprise us with this summer as they look to address the new reality […]

Mambo Soto! A Vision of Robles and Soto Playing DC Baseball With a Salsa Beat?

June 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Juan Soto’s two home runs at Yankee Stadium last night not only cast a spell over the Bronx crowd, but over the future for the Washington Nationals. The young slugger is intriguing enough in his own right. He IS Bryce Harper as a 19-year old. The comparisons can be made now as the young Dominican […]

Firing On All Eight

June 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A friend recently opined that it is difficult to appreciate the arc of history when one is in the middle of it.  You cannot know how the moving hand will compose an ending, but last night, with temperatures around seventy degrees, Max Scherzer was cruising like a V-8 Oldsmobile out on an old country highway, […]

19-Year Old Juan Soto vs. 19-Year Old Bryce Harper

May 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The 25-year old Bryce Harper is on a pace to hit more home runs than in any prior season. It is fun to watch and no slugger since Frank Howard has put on a power display in Washington, DC, quite like this one. But as Harper crushes balls that approach Hondo’s mythic proportions, there is […]

Is it 1924 All Over Again?

April 3, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For decades the spring dawned in Washington, DC with false hopes that the local nine might have hidden talent. Then, as quickly as you could say “Shirley Povich,” reality was restored by the end of April.  But a new century has created a reality that bends like a pretzel and just when you think you […]

The Party No One Came To

March 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Boswell had a fascinating column in this morning’s Washington Post examining whether Bryce Harper will get his $400 million, 10-year contract that has been the talk of baseball punditry for the past few years. The gist of it is that the current parameters of MLB contracts are exerting a downward pressure on salaries. Ask […]

Frank Howard, Bryce Harper, and a Tip of the Hat to That

March 8, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

Frank Howard only played in Washington for seven years after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 trade. Bryce Harper is likely to play only seven seasons as well–the hour glass emptying steadily on what is likely his last in DC. In terms of longevity and in several important statistical categories, there […]

Could Amazon.com Nationals Park Be a “Thing?”

February 9, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

Naming rights are a very boring topic in the vast universe of what falls under the constellation known as “baseball.” Who really cares what you call the stadium as long as baseball is played there, unless you care about the old place names like Fenway Park and player names like Smoky Joe Wood and Dizzy […]

Corrections That Are Moving Towards a Rational Marketplace

February 5, 2018 by · 4 Comments 

You can almost hear the unsigned players grinding their collective teeth. After years of escalating salaries, there may be a principle at work that confounds the dumb-struck baseball player, namely a rational economy. When the average American was getting their economic bell rung in 2008-2010, losing their homes, their jobs and their emotional well-being, baseball […]

Soft Salary Cap or Soft Headed Under the Cap?

January 25, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

There are two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona. Yet the most prized pitching prospects, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta remained unsigned as do Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Among position players, J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Eric Hosmer are the four most notable unsigned […]

All Quiet Along the Potomac??

January 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Potomac River is laced with ice near Nationals Park, but it is likely that life abounds beneath the serene white exterior that catches the afternoon sun from the south.  Yes, the water is moving despite the ice and things are heating up hot stove wise. There was the brief flurry of rumors that had […]

Winter Meetings/Hot Stove/Gio Gonzalez

December 11, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

A recent article by Pete Kerzel about the possibility of the Washington Nationals trading Gio Gonzalez at the Winter Meetings in Orlando lit my stove. The rumor is an annual one that excites hope that Washington GM Mike Rizzo is a magician, that he can get something of value for Gio and we won’t have […]

Swans and Dolphins

November 5, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Baseball’s Winter Meetings are an event that dates to the beginnings of the 20th Century and before the advent of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), were one of the prime venues for addressing the state of the game. In their earliest history, the meetings effected momentous rules changes that made major alterations in […]

A Season Skitters Between Matt Wieters’ Wickets

October 13, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Scroll to the end of the Washington Nationals 2017 season and you will see at the bottom of the final box score this entry: “Fielding E: Wieters 2 (throw, catcher interference). PB Wieters” Therein lies their season. Javier Baez, whom Ron Darling described throughout the series as swinging at the ball as soon as he […]

Bell Jar Baseball

October 7, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Watching the Washington Nationals in the playoffs is like reading Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar. You root for the protagonist as she descends further into depression, but there is no escape, no uplift that takes you away from the slow descent, only further slipping into a bottomless pit. Washington fans deserve better than classic levels of depression. […]

Cuba Ball 2017

September 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Cuban right-handed pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo holds the record for the most wins in the Cuban National Series. Our Cubaball tour encountered him in his hometown of Pinar Del Rio after the evening’s game against Industriales had been cancelled due to rain. The huge man stood beside a swimming pool and talked about his career, […]

The Sad, Sad Truth and the Dirty Low Down

August 31, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

When the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) convened for its annual convention in Manhattan at the end of June, the New York Times put it front-and-center on the sports page. Sounds like a good thing, but the article featured a photograph of several graying seniors sitting in the first row of a plenary session […]

Can Tropical Wind’s Ever Blow Strong for Cuban Baseball Again?

August 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Cuba is a complicated issue and most American fans don’t have the time. For those that do, there is author Peter Bjarkman, faithfully trying to peal back the layers of intrigue and politics until there is only the love of the game that Cubans and Americans share. Peter Bjarkman’s recently published book, Cuba’s Baseball Defectors, […]

Dusty Watches from the Wings with a Grin

August 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It was another trading deadline where Hollywood and Broadway got all the press. The rest was just community theater. The Dodgers walked away with the biggest prizes and the Yankees did well in a supporting role. But for all of the ink that Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray will generate, Washington Nationals manager, Dusty Baker, […]

The Wisdom of Current MLB Policy Toward Cuba, Central and South America

July 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Recent Henry Chadwick Award-winning baseball writer, Peter Bjarkman, came on the Seamheads Podcasting Network both in 2014 and 2015 during a very different time. President Obama’s easing of travel restrictions with Cuba seemed to herald a new era for Cuban baseball and ideas of innovation and hope sprang anew. Fellow SABR-member Pete Cottrell and I […]

Excuse Me, Is This a Bullpen or an SNL Skit?

June 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you read between the lines on the Nationals 40-man roster, you can find some pretty neat stuff. Look past the names like Strasburg and Scherzer and there you will find guys like Jimmy Cordero. Jimmy had a nice 2015, but having him on the 40-man in 2017 is like having Alec Baldwin running for […]

Feeling the Draft and the Summer Breeze

June 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A new facet of the 2017 season reveals itself in June. There is the College World Series that begins on June 17th and the Super Regionals are set to begin with no small number of surprise teams making the field of 16 teams left standing. Davidson, Missouri State, and Sam Houston are among some of […]

Maturity and More Pugnacious Approach Will Yield a DC Summer Blockbuster

May 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Bryce Harper charged the mound on Monday and for the most part baseball fans across the country applauded. That ovation, however meek or mild it may prove, still marks a sea change in how Harper is perceived by baseball zealots of every ilk. Yes, the boos rain down when he comes to bat at numerous […]

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