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In Your Heart, You Know What's Going To Happen Next With Harper

Will Bryce Harper Be Here Opening Day 2019?
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There are dozens of sporting events I could watch this fine Sunday afternoon, but instead of watching pro football, NASCAR or hockey, I’m watching a baseball game that doesn’t really matter to anyone in the D.C. area.

You know why.

Bryce Harper will be putting on a Washington National jersey potentially for the last time. He’s a free agent after the season, and nobody knows where he’s going to end up.

But in your heart, you really do know.

Harper has always been on loan to the Nationals until he got to the point of being a free agent. From that evening in Los Angeles in 2012 when he was called up due to a rash of injuries for the Nationals, until the day the team was eliminated from the 2018 race, we knew.

He’s not staying.

You can give me all the reasons he should stay. You can give me all the reason he could stay. But Washington – despite what he says – is not his home. Las Vegas is his home. He grew up a Yankees fan, and you can’t tell the heart what it should or shouldn’t want. His wife went to college in the Midwest.

None of those points of interest involve the Nation’s Capital.

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Caps, Nats Win And I Don't Know How To Act...

It is a peaceful, quiet, rainy Sunday morning. The Nationals and Caps both had big wins last night.

And I don’t know how to act.

As a life-long Washington sports fan, I was told at a young age that area teams would give you a few bright spots, but by and large, in the end they will break your heart. Aside from an NBA championship when I was in college and 3 Super Bowls, that advice has proven true.

But yesterday’s games have me on the edge of the unthinkable: The title drought may not only end soon with the Caps, there may be another one by year end. The mere act of thinking this is like going into a crowded room in a Harry Potter movie and yelling “Voldemort.” Several times, in fact.

With the Caps, it all starts and ends with Alex Ovechkin. He is so hungry to get a ring that he gives every ounce of energy and passion he has on every play, and it has infected the rest of the team. What was once a club that could unexplainably be all-world one night and passive resistive the next has caught fire. All four lines are going at it in overdrive, and they now only need two more wins and we’re all hoisting the Stanley Cup.

This is where I don’t know how to act. You can’t help but notice the weaknesses in Las Vegas’ game through the first three contests. If a cross-checking penalty on Ryan Reaves is properly called, the Caps are probably up 3-0 and on the verge of a sweep Monday night at home. We would have people climbing street lights in downtown DC until Thursday. It would be bedlam (and still might but just at a later date).

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Recent comment in this post
Super User

yeah!!!!!

awesome!!!
Sunday, 03 June 2018 13:19
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Losing 4 Straight Isn't A Concern; Rendon's Ejection, However...

Now that a few hours have passed since the Nationals lost their fourth straight game, I can say via the benefit of a great meal and a power nap that the team has nothing to worry about losing four in a row.

But they do have something to be concerned about with umpiring crews.

First, the losing streak. Anyone with an ounce of common sense (which we as sports fans are not exactly known for) realizes that unless you go oh-for-April, losing early in the season doesn’t matter. The Nats will be just fine. The only thing that does give me pause is the fact the Nats looked unbeatable the first four games of the season, then turned on a dime and saw their bats fall asleep as they lost four straight.

In a best-of-7 series, avoiding the snoozing-bats-for-4-game syndrome is something Nats teams have not been able to accomplish in their playoff appearances of the past 6 years, so every time it happens, I do find myself thinking “aren’t we past this yet?” But as previously stated, there is plenty of time to figure this out, and better to have slumbering bats in April than October.

Now, to the umpiring. Yes, it was a terrible call on Anthony Rendon. Yes, Major League Baseball should discipline umpire Marty Foster for throwing Rendon out of the game despite Rendon not saying a word and only dropping his bat in frustration. No, that will not happen in a million years.

Which is the cause for concern.

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If Nats Aren't Careful, Spanky May Not Be In Our Gang For Long

I can’t help but watch Adam Eaton the first seven games this season and think “if the Nationals aren’t careful, we’re not going to have Spanky in our gang much longer.”

Eaton has started the season like a house on fire, and I get it. He wants to play every game, every inning, take every chance and do all the things he didn’t get to do last season. After major knee surgery, he had to sit and watch last year, and this year he’s going to make up for lost time.

But somebody has to stop him.

If you’ve ever had the type of knee surgery Eaton has had (I have), you work hard in rehab, you lift weights, you walk, you run and you get to the point where you can play sports. Your knee is structurally fine. But only a year later, it still hurts. You still occasionally limp. Midway through the second year, it finally feels normal, but for now,  you learn to deal with it, all the while telling everybody your knee couldn’t be better.

You can see this in Eaton. He’s getting big hits and running the bases, but late in games he’s favoring his good knee. He’s trying not to think about it, but I don’t see how you can avoid it. And this is where your manager needs to save you.

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Recent Comments
Super User

So true

Great observation Dave, I noticed him gimpy right out of the gate. Need to treat him like Zimm and give him at least 1 day off pe... Read More
Saturday, 07 April 2018 10:51
Dave Scarangella

Or Bryce...

His explosion hasn't happened yet. But you know it's coming one game ... Read More
Saturday, 07 April 2018 11:17
Super User

Matt Reynolds called up

Man I'm good, Mike Rizzo listened to me! Enny out, Reynolds in.
Saturday, 07 April 2018 11:30
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Eating Some Of These Sandwiches WILL Make You A Po' Boy

While waiting for the Nationals’ home opener to start, I found myself browsing through Twitter, reading of everyone’s experiences in the cold downtown near the Navy Yard. Over about a 10-minute timespan, the pics you see at the top were posted, and you couldn’t help but notice the contrast.

On the left are pics posted by The Washington Post’s Scott Allen, whose assignment today was to go around and sample all the new foods, with no worry of their cost. Today, it was good to be Scott Allen. But Scott, while giving his reviews of the culinary offerings, also posted signs that showed the prices. Scott posted another pic of his meal of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and some mac and cheese, and while I’m sure it was wonderful, it looked no different than what I could get at Chick-Fil-A.

According to my math, Scott paid $22 for those two items. Usually when I spend that much for an entrée’ at lunch, they bring a steak knife and serve it with dishes like potatoes lyonnaise. Dire Straights must have been thinking about this meal when they sang, "Money for nothing and the (Nashville Hot) Chicken ain't free"...or something like that.

While these pics were coming over Twitter, the pic at right from Augusta National was posted. There is no more exclusive ticket on the planet than going to see The Masters. They could literally charge whatever they wanted and people would pay it. But they don’t. The make a fair profit and leave it at that. Just like when you would go anywhere in the South, a sandwich is 3 bucks. A drink is 2 bucks, etc., etc.

I get the whole paying more for convenience factor at sporting events. But there should be a limit of just how much of a premium you charge before it’s crossing the line. A soft drink should be $2. A hot dog should be $4. Charge all you want for the gourmet, free-range, organic, gently massaged chicken used in a specialty sandwich, but be realistic with the concession stand staples that are part of the ball park experience.

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Yes Tim, I Know They Play 162, But Still....

I’ve slept on it, but this morning I have the same feeling.

Last night’s Nationals game kind of annoyed me.

It’s not that they lost to the Braves – the team was going to eventually lose some time – but it was the cavalier way they sort of gave it away. There were moves that could have been made that might have turned what ended up being a lost cause into something salvageable. But new manager Dave Martinez just sort of went with the flow. Which is the part that annoys me.

You can’t really blame starting pitcher A.J. Cole. He is what he is – a serviceable, at best average pitcher who at times can give you a couple of really good innings. But the Nationals keep believing if they keep sending him out as a starter, maybe one more chance is going to make a difference. As the noted philosopher Harry Callahan once stated, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

His manager needs to know those limitations too. When someone told Oilers Coach Bum Phillips that his prized running back Earl Campbell couldn’t even finish running a mile, Phillips replied “when it’s first and a mile, I won’t give it to him.” Last night it was first and a mile, and Martinez still kept giving Cole the ball.

It’s only one game, and I have a dear friend named Tim who for 40 years has reminded me “they play 162” whenever I complain about a baseball team. He also says that when you say “good morning” or “you want a hot dog?” but you get the idea. Each game is just a small part of an entire season.

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With Win Tonight, Nats Can Make History Starting Out 4-0

If you’re impressed that the Nationals have started the season 3-0, well, don’t be.

Don’t get me wrong; they’ve been very impressive, and they never even trailed the entire three-game series at Cincinnati. But if history is any indication, starting out 3-0 hasn't really meant anything.

This is the fourth time the team has done it since moving from Montreal to the most powerful city in the world. The Nats also accomplished this in 2008,  2013 and 2014. How did they do in 2008? Well, after winning those first three, the Nats lost 9 in a row and 15 of their next 17. They would lose 102 games, the franchise’s worst record since the 1976 Montreal Expos ended the season at 55-107. It was the worst ever in Washington, but only until 2009 when they lost 103 games.

In 2013, the Nats went from 3-0 start to buzz saw in Cincinnati and never found themselves in first place again. They lost 15-0 on a Friday night, would bounce back and win 7-6 the next day to keep them in first place (where they had been every game of the season), then lost the Sunday game 6-3.

The loss knocked them out of first, then they returned home to sweep a 3-game series against the White Sox (but gain no ground on the Atlanta Braves). The Braves then came to Nats Park, swept the Nats, and the rest of the season involved looking at Atlanta’s back bumper. Twice they got within a half game of the Braves, but never got back to first, finishing at 86-76. I will always remember that season due to how many times Nats fans on Twitter would say “it’s only April” when the team struggled, followed by “it’s only May”, “it’s only June”, etc. No one wanted to admit the team just didn’t have it that year, hoping instead that in time, they would turn the switch on. They didn’t.

2014 is the only year a 3-0 start ended with a playoff berth. Like the others, however, that team started with 3 wins, then struggled. 23 games into the season, the team was only 12-11 and in third place in the division. They were in second as late as July 18th before getting back on top and staying there, eventually winning the division by 17 games.

The other two years the Nats made the playoffs, the teams started 2-0, lost, then had a strong winning streak. In 2012, they went 2-0, lost two straight, then won 8 of 9 en route to a team-best 98 wins. Last year, they went 2-0, lost 1, then won 7 straight on the way to 95 wins.

So starting with 3 straight has not exactly been the charm for Washington. Four straight? No Washington team has ever done that to start the season. They can make history by doing so tonight against the Atlanta Braves.

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The Window Is Open, So Let's Enjoy It While We Can

Yesterday after the Nationals’ Opening Day win, I went to Twitter to read everyone’s takes on the game, and saw one from a friend named Jen. She’s a huge Nats fans and has raised her kids to know a slider from a curve since they were old enough to walk. Her kids were celebrating the Opening Day win, and as we all did when we were little, they were projecting the future based on this one game. In their minds, the Nats looked so good, they were going to go 162-0.

Being the realist (my daughter would say “killjoy”) I am, I pointed out that the first year they will ever be able to remember things as they grow older will be around 2012. Starting with that year, winning in general and winning on Opening Day became the norm for the Nats. Only once during the span of then to now has the team lost a game to start the season (those pesky Mets won 3-1 in 2015) and the days of 100-loss seasons were long gone. Every year since, the Nats were supposed to win the division, and many years they did.

Part of me thought “these kids are really lucky” because they’ve known nothing but winners, seen no-hitters, and have only faced disappointment when the team went to the playoffs. The other more cynical side thought “they have no idea that sometime in the future, being a fan is probably going to be tough.”

That’s because in my 50-plus years of following sports, I’ve found your favorite teams have more years when they disappoint versus winning it all. All seasons have happy endings, but they are not necessarily your happy ending, as someone has to win and someone has to lose. Odds are, if you talk to most fans outside of New England these days, it’s their team that seems to have to lose.

It’s as if some higher authority doles out the winning so that everyone has a window of happiness. I grew up in Norfolk, where in the days before cable television (and cell phones, computers, the internet, etc.) the area received the games of either Baltimore or Washington. My Dad liked the Baltimore teams, so as nature designed in the not so complicated father-son dynamic, I rebelled and pulled for Washington. It wasn’t a wise choice, as the Colts and the Orioles seemed to win all the time, while the Redskins, Senators and Bullets got me comfortable at a young age with pulling for a team that would underperform.

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Doesn't Seem Like 13 Years Ago, Brad Wilkerson Was At Bat

April 4, 2005. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. 3:07 PM. A sunny day, 59 degrees, brisk wind.

And so it began.

I will admit I am not the baseball purist some of my other friends are. They will watch baseball if it’s between two teams on the other side of the country that they have no interest in, just because it’s baseball. I am, however, a shameless homer; I grew up in Norfolk, and no matter where I lived afterward, I pulled for any team that had WASHINGTON across its jersey, as the games of DC were the ones we got in Tidewater.

My closet over the years became overflowing with jerseys for the Redskins, Wizards and Caps. Baseball was a tough one; I tried to like the Orioles, and when I moved up here in 2000, made a point of going to Camden yards several times a year. It was a nice experience, Boog’s barbecue was tasty, but it wasn’t our team. It was someone else’s.

Then after decades of Major League Baseball using Washington as leverage for every other team in the universe to get a new stadium deal, the Expos moved here and we had a team. That first game, I took a vacation day to watch it at home on television, because if you’ve waited that long to have a team to call your own, you’re NOT going to miss the first one.

And so at 3:07 PM when the Phillies Jon Lieber threw the first pitch to Brad Wilkerson (and Wilkerson would get the team’s first hit on the game’s fifth pitch), my addiction to the Washington Nationals began. Over the last 13 years – thanks to modern technology that allows you to watch something on television anywhere – I doubt I’ve missed more than a handful of games no matter how terrible they were. That first season will always be among the most memorable of all of them because that team truly overachieved.

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light rain

36.5°F

Ashburn

Light Rain

Humidity: 84%

Wind: 6.93 m/h

Sat

light snow

36/37°F

Sun

sky is clear

13/39°F

Mon

sky is clear

10/21°F

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