Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Killer Instinct

Before tonight's game, the Nationals had a meeting. A closed door meeting with the players, the managers, the coaches, and the front office. I'm assuming it was to discuss what was wrong with the team. The giving up attitude when the team is down in games. Letting games get way out of hand way too quickly. The lack of caring. Whatever was said, it appears to have worked. The killer instinct was back. Twice the Angels came back, but the Nats kept punching and punching and finally got it. Flores with the walk-off RBI single to score Dukes. It's about time. The killer instinct was back.

Nick Johnson can't seem to get a good break... he'll be out for the rest of the season with his wrist injury. Just really disappointing how such a great player and a great man just can't seem to get it going. A hot streak at the beginning of the season spoiled because of this unfortunate break. I really hope he is well for next season and can play a complete year in 2009.

Yesterday, Tim Redding spoke to fans at ESPN Zone. I was there, in reporter mode. I was also successful, getting an interview with Tim after he signed autographs and such. Spoke to the Nationals and they said if he has time I could get an interview. He had time! I'm working on that article for completion in the next few days. Of course, one of the articles is due tonight -- a discussion about the last week's performance. I also spoke to a couple bloggers as well as radio announcer Charlie Slowes. I do really feel as though journalism is my calling in life. We'll see what happens!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm Pullin' Outta Here to Win

Yes, that's the last line of Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. Tim Russert's favorite song. And something that describes the state of the Nationals. Not much hope, but something can at least be done. They're young and foolish, and make lots of mistakes, and there is room for improvement.

Clearly, Washington is not a winning city. Not for the Nationals, at least. Another poor performance makes the Nats keep adding to their loss column -- now 16 games under .500. I'm going to make this nice and short and sweet, because I've already put this idea out before, but I'm going to make it again. Something has to change in the coaching staff. The Nats aren't hitting very well... I wonder where I'm going with this? If anybody understands what I'm getting at, maybe you could relay it to the front office. They don't read my blog... at least yet!

Hey, on Tuesday, things could change for my journalistic future with my first (potential) interview with a Nationals player! At ESPN Zone at high noon, starting pitcher Tim Redding will address the audience that attends, and then sign autographs. I hear there is a possibility that I can get an interview, and I'm hoping it works out. The first thing I must do is work on a bunch of questions and purchase a recording device to get the interview on tape. Then I can go from there.

Next three games are against the Texas Rangers. At home. If we can win at least two of those three, it's two series victories in the last three attempts. Which is pretty good! I'll be in attendance at the game on Saturday night. Another thing, new DCSportsFan article is up. Click the link to the right.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not Enough

Just not quite enough yesterday from the Nationals. Not enough offense to support a solid start by John Lannan. They just didn't do enough to get the job done, and now they are right on the cusp of getting that 30th win. If they get it tonight, that means they've won four of the last five. However, if they don't, then it will be a little bit of a slump they are in. Win and the confidence goes up. Lose and you're stuck in a losing streak.

Anyway, like I said, Lannan was terrific. A few mistakes here and there, such as the two-run home run from the breaking ball pitch that he left hanging. But other than that, Lannan was absolutely excellent, and he's only 23 years old, meaning he's just going to get better (we hope). Paul Lo Duca stepped in as designated hitter, taking the place of Wily Mo Peña (thank God!). I am sorry but I just don't see much value in Wily Mo anymore. Can the Nats convert Lo Duca into an outfielder to take the place of this struggling slugger? It would be nice. Maybe even a first baseman, and Kory Casto can take the outfield. Anything to bench Wily Mo, who just hasn't been producing.

As SBF over at Nats320 said, we really need a slugger who can create the spark to get the offense going. That was what was missing last night. Someone who can get the home run or the extra base hit in order to spark the offense on a rally. None of that from the Nats last night. If we can get one, the picture gets brighter.

Jason Bergmann takes the mound tonight against the Twins. Can he rebound from a couple bad starts and go back to pitching at an all-star level? In his last start it appeared as though he gained back some of the confidence that he lost in the shellacking a couple weeks ago. We'll see, but I have my full confidence in this man. A 26 year old who will hopefully continue to improve.

Last night, the Celtics did exactly what I expected them to do. Win in 6 games over the Lakers. At the beginning of this series... I called it - Celtics would win in 6. Unfortunately I didn't blog about it, but please believe me! That makes me 2-0 on my NBA finals prediction... lifetime. The other series I called was way back in 2001... when I didn't even care about basketball. This year I gave it a shot... so we'll see what happens with it.

Tim Russert's remembrances will be televised from the Kennedy Center at 4 pm. I'll be watching, and I hope many of you will be too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A New Feature

Bit of new features for you on the blog today... to the right you'll notice an updated blogroll. It shows you the last time the site was updated and the article title in that update. Click around some of the links.

Nationals begin their series in Minnesota tonight. I hope I can sneak a recap up on the site after the game, but if I can't, look for it tomorrow. John Lannan takes the mound for the Nats against Livan Hernandez of the Twins... yes, the former Nat. So we'll see what happens with that game.

The man I've really started to respect as of late is manager Manny Acta. The article in the Sports section today really does it. It shows you what a great man he is and how the dugout fight the other day was something out of the norm. Acta normally has a cool head, and I've heard him speak about that before. If he turns over a table or kicks things around, it's not going to change anything with the game. If he argues and yells at umpires, it's not going to change their minds or anything. Which is why I wonder why so many people criticize the job Acta has done. And I'm not talking about Nationals fans, but fans of other teams. They say that if he is such a great manager, they should be doing better. I saw a prediction before the season saying 59 wins this season. Acta and the Nats are on pace to defeat that. So, yeah, Manny's doing the job, I'd say. You'll see in a few years when these minor leaguers come up and show how good they are. Honestly, I'm telling you... give 'em a few years and these Nationals will be taking the next step, on their way to a playoff berth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Russ

The media, the field of journalism, and the political world, all lost a respectable figure today in Tim Russert. He died of a heart attack at the young age of 58. Coronary thrombosis. Someone I woke up to on Sunday mornings to watch after coming home from 9:00 Mass. Someone that related politics to me and guided me in selecting my candidate for the 2008 Election. I always awaited to see who he had picked for the Sunday morning show, and always waited for the end to see what he had to say about the Sabres, the Bills, or any other Buffalo related news items. It was always a joy to watch Tim on these Sunday mornings.

I received the phone call this afternoon while cooking up my lunch and watching A Haunting. As scary as the episode was... I honestly thought I was asleep. My dad asked if I was watching the news, and I knew the news didn't start until 4:00... and it was well before 4. He told me the news and I didn't believe it. Thought he had read a joke on Wikipedia or something. What really made me think it was a lie, a sick joke was that the media hadn't even started reporting it. Then a few minutes... MSNBC broke in with the sad story. It all hit, but in the same sense it still hasn't hit me yet. Tomorrow I'll wake up and it won't have happened. Everything will be normal and it will just be a normal Saturday, and then Sunday will have the same usual Meet the Press episode with Russert grilling another politician.

Russert was also a native son of my second home... Buffalo, New York. There was a stretch in high school that I felt that Buffalo was almost a better home than the one I live in currently... a thought that I have since found wrong. But Buffalo has always been good to me, and for the fact that Russert was from Buffalo really made me pay attention to him even more. He felt the same way I did about the Sabres... through their losing streaks and their winning streaks, and all the boneheaded moments. Buffalo really lost a great man. He went to Canisius High School, a few blocks down from my sister's alma mater, Canisius College. Right across the street from where my grandma is residing in the Skilled Nursing Facility at Millard Fillmore Gates. Just down the road from Forest Lawn Cemetery, where Millard Fillmore himself is buried.

Russert had season tickets for the Nationals. Over at Nats320, Screech's Best Friend noted how he and Russert always spoke to each other about the Nats. I tell you what, the Nats are going to win it tonight. They have to in order to pay tribute to Russert himself.

This breaking, bad news gives me all the more inspiration to succeed in the journalistic world. I told my dad that because Russert was probably the journalist who had the MOST impact on me... without a doubt the most impact on me, I would pay tribute to him if I got a television show. The typical signing off that Russert does on every Sunday morning. He always did it in the most special way, that would always make the viewers wait until the bitter end to see what he had to say about Buffalo and to tune in next week. My next post will be on Sunday where I pay another tribute at the end of that upcoming entry. Remember, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ten men left on base today. Eleven hits with only five runs scored. Where the hell is the offense? I just can't believe how frustrated I am with this team. When is Manny going to learn to bench Wily Mo Peña, one of the SLOWEST outfielders and the WORST hitters in the game? A sure fly out with any other left fielder in the game... but Wily Mo is Wily Mo... and it just almost looks like he's not even trying in there. Bench Wily Mo and hopefully the offense improves. Even Langerhans would be a better bat.

Elijah Dukes is showing the bright future that so many expect him to have. He hits that ball HARD! An RBI triple that hit the ground before the right fielder could even take two steps! Amazing! His fielding skills are impressive and he has an absolutely ROCKET of an arm that he occasionally displays even when he doesn't need to. If he stays out of injury and out of trouble, he could be the future of the left field. I say left field because once Austin Kearns comes off the DL and back to the lineup, he'll be thrown in right field, I'm sure.

Jason Bergmann struggled today, but sort of got out of his funk. Hopefully his next start will be better, and hopefully that ERA will drop throughout the season. He didn't find his spots today in the first and second innings. That's definitely something to work on. In the first inning, he took a ball off the butt which was ruled an error for some reason. But hey at least it didn't count as an earned run when Doumit homered. Should the Nationals send Bergmann down for someone else? It might just be time to do that. You don't want to lose control on the part of the team that has been the best all year. If they do send down Bergmann, it would be smart to call someone up other than Garrett Mock or Tyler Clippard so that others can get a bit of experience. I'll keep an eye on the Bergmann situation to see if anything happens with that.

So we head to Seattle for a three-game series that goes for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Maybe they'll win a series for the first time in five attempts (last series win was May 15 against the Mets). The time is right for the offense to step up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DC Sports Fan article!

Hey everyone - there's a new article I wrote over on DC Sports Fan! It's been posted now.

To access it, click the link on the right sidebar, or go here.

Dugout Fight?

The news has recently come out about a scuffle between outfielder Elijah Dukes and manager Manny Acta. The Washington Times' Nationals beat writer Mark Zuckerman even went as far as calling for Dukes to be cut. Although a slightly unprofessional comment by Mr. Zuckerman, this move has been brought up by fans who are tired of Dukes' off-field issues. But wait... this is the only issue we know about since Dukes came to the Nats. It seems as though after Milledge's home run last night, he and Dukes began to celebrate with what seemed to be a previously thought out celebration sequence. Acta yelled at him, and a bit of a verbal argument started. It didn't seem as though any punches were thrown. If Dukes were to be cut, what would happen with our outfield? Right now, we have Dukes-Milledge-Peña out there. Once Kearns comes back, I'm guessing that Peña will sit down. And if any problems transpire with Dukes, then after Justin Maxwell gets off the DL in the minors, he might be called up to replace him.

It's good to see Manny Acta getting on top of the unprofessionalism. If he keeps doing that, maybe this team will finally buckle down and get going. And speaking of unprofessionalism, why is Zuckerman writing as a fan rather than an unbiased reporter? Maybe Acta should give him a talking to as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweet Victory

When you're at your lowest performance, in a funk, it's tough to pull out of it. It's tough to put bad showings behind you. So when the Nationals fell behind tonight 4-1, it was easy to say this team was finished. But not all was done, and the Nats, thanks to a huge seventh inning and a huge contribution by a lot of players, stormed back to knock off the Pittsburgh Pirates, IN PITTSBURGH, by the score of 7-6.

Ronnie Belliard came off the DL today and had a FANTASTIC game. Three hits in four at bats, including TWO home runs. Two home runs that showed everyone the Nationals can be an offensive minded team. Two home runs, that when joined by three others, proved to be the difference. How about Elijah Dukes, Cristian Guzman, Lastings Milledge, and Jesus Flores continuing to swing hot bats? Milledge and Flores had two of the other home runs tonight (Dmitri Young had the one not yet mentioned). Guzman had another two-hit night and so did Dukes. Just a few of the folks who continue to step up in the face of all the injured players.

The lineup simply hasn't been the same without Johnson, Zimmerman, and Kearns in it. Young and Boone - I love having you both in the lineup, but you have been struggling late and Johnson was really performing quite well this season. Kory Casto just isn't the same as Zimmerman. And let's face it - Wily Mo Pena is just flat out bad. A slugger who only has ONE home run as of tonight. A 298 pound Dmitri Young has more than that. Pena has been pitiful. Also, the bullpen suffers without Chad Cordero. When he is back, Luis Ayala and Saúl Rivera will have less pressure on them. So will Jon Rauch. Or will Jon Rauch be the closer? That's a question for another day.

Until these guys all get back off the disabled list, for now let's enjoy Curly W #26, and let's give a tribute to Ronnie Belliard, who really stepped it up tonight. Maybe he's the spark this team needs to get back on track. We'll see tomorrow.

Another Loss

The pain just keeps coming. Day after day the Nationals continue to botch their chances. Yesterday seemed different. In the bottom of the eighth inning, somehow the Nationals managed to load up the bases with two outs. Felipe Lopez up. He's been in a slump lately; isn't this the perfect time for him to break out of it? A hard hit to right center - this should score someone! But the right fielder was shading towards center and made the easy out. The rally was done and the Nationals, hoping for a curly W, instead managed to get "curly L" number 40. Another new pitcher, this time another one who was immediately sent down to the minors. The future is bright though and with a bit of refining I feel confident that one day these new pitchers can take over. When Perez and Redding are finished, maybe Mock and Clippard can take over and do a good job. 

Lastings Milledge continues to swing a hot bat, and so does Elijah Dukes. In fact, Milledge hit a home run the other day. The rest of the offense is struggling. But, we've heard good news in the past week or so. Chad Cordero is throwing again. Ronnie Belliard was called up from the minors - hopefully to sit Lopez down on the bench. Zimmerman was evaluated yesterday and Kearns says he has never felt better. Lo Duca was throwing the other day, but with Flores playing so well, who knows where he will end up? When you have eight players on the DL, it is tough to win. Maybe Belliard will provide that spark in the dugout that this team needs to get on track.

Another thing I want to bring up is my earlier prediction of 85 wins for the Nats this season. I originally thought that these guys would come out with a strong offense. But again, I must say, EIGHT players (FIVE of which were starters) on the disabled list is a tough thing to swallow. I do believe this team will get better when these players return from the DL. When they return is another question. Tonight maybe we can turn over a new leaf for this team. It enters a nine-game road trip, with series against the Pirates, Mariners, and Twins. If the Nationals can scrape a winning record on this trip, that would be huge momentum for the return home.

One last comment I have is about attendance at the ballpark, which has been really good. The average attendance at Nationals Park has OUTPACED THE FIRST PLACE DIAMONDBACKS. The team enjoyed an attendance of over 30,000 fans again yesterday even with the triple digit heat overwhelming the area. So, Mr. Peter Angelos, what was that about no Nationals fans? Have you gotten your ass on the Green Line by the ballpark before game time? Because believe me, those people on the Metro aren't just riding to work. They're going to see the best baseball team Washington has to offer.

Back on the Running Trail

First day back running. Started at 9 am or shortly after and got in 2.4 miles. Tomorrow at 8 am I run again and we'll see how day two goes. Quick post I know but I have to get to bed.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Notorious Nats

Something is wrong with the Nationals. Something has been wrong from day one, and it continues until today. It's called a lack of run support, and it's been turning regular average everyday pitchers on opposing teams into all stars. Something's gotta change, and I know what. Let's see if the organization decides to do it. You'll see what I mean if or when it happens.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Another Excellent Story... Again!

Time and time again, swimmers on this swim team continue to step up and perform past their level. A young five year old swimmer, known for holding onto walls and sometimes not listening, completed his first full lap of freestyle yesterday. After that, he never touched the wall except for at the end of the pool until the end of practice. A huge step that he made yesterday that he may not have known was so huge. High fives all around and yet another sign that the next generation of swimmers is READY AND WILLING to accept the torch. They are ready to go ahead when a huge class of swimmers graduates at the end of this summer. More new rookie swimmers continue to come to the team too in the middle age group which is an even better sign. A huge shout-out from the younger group that they too are competent swimmers. If this great progress continues - could this be the sign of things to come in the future?

Also, a very exciting yet unnerving note about the weather the other day. They are investigating the possible tornado in Huntington (which is not far from me at all). More tornadoes have been mentioned in the investigation of this recent June 4th outbreak. An outbreak that does not surprise me after recent readings. Especially that Mike Tidwell book. It was very scary experiencing something like that. Seeing the VERY LOW dark clouds rushing overhead with a green backdrop. Then noticing that the sky was indeed spinning. Running into the back room with the power flickering after the storm hit. A very disturbing couple of minutes that I hope are not repeated, but I will not be surprised if they are. Excessive heat watch for the weekend and Monday. Heat wave #1, here we come! Will we scrape the 100 degree mark?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

TORNADO WATCH (447, 454)

AS OF 8:00 PM, the Tornado Watch has been extended until 1 AM. Stay tuned.

BREAKING NEWS (5:00 PM): There has been a storm report of a possible tornado in the Huntington neighborhood of Fairfax County and also in Falls Church City. Stay tuned.

Tornado Watch until 8:00 this evening. Follow along with some of the maps below. Each image can be clicked to make it larger. Refresh for latest update.

Alert Map Key
YELLOWTornado Watch
LIMEFlood Warning

^ Radar map of DC area.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another Swim Team Story that the Nationals Could Use

I can't stop raving about the swim team I help coach and how certain individuals continue to take the time to step up even when they don't have to. Time and time again, these people continue to impress me. At the oldest age group practice today, we had one swimmer show up. Just one. In the face of the bad weather, she took the time to drive to the pool and get in the water. Selflessly caring for her performance and the performance of the team. So when she showed up and fifteen minutes into the practice, I knew that this would be a sign of dedication. Pushing through knee pain and practicing breastroke and constantly coming into the wall out of breath. Showing that she wants to improve herself and that she wants to help the team. Something maybe Our Washington Nationals can take back to the ballyard. Someone step up and show that dedication. Work for yourself and work for your team.

Coming Out of Your Shell

Today, at swim practice, we had a great moment. Great moments like these and great performances like these help define who we are as humans. I am talking about the brilliant phenomenon that happened at practice with a 6 year old girl who had never swam backstroke before. Didn't know very much about how to float on her back AT ALL. However, I worked with her through practice, using a handy tip from the head coach, and she was swimming FULL STROKE backstroke by the end of practice. It is performances like these that feature young athletes COMING INTO THEIR OWN that really make us happy about ourselves.

This story could be used to inspire some backup Washington Nationals players that are getting their chances to shine. Eight players now on the DL. Nick Johnson. Ronnie Belliard. Ryan Zimmerman. Paul Lo Duca. Johnny Estrada. Austin Kearns. Chad Cordero. Ryan Wagner. Maybe their backups should hear about a young 6 year old who never knew how to float on her back but learned backstroke in about FORTY minutes. These young Nationals also need to learn how to float. Maybe they can also inspire others to do phenomenal feats.