Monday, February 14, 2005

Make-up work

Since all the weekend work has already been done, I'll just stand on the shoulders of giants.

Diagnosis: bronchitis . . .

---The Post's Dave Sheinen previewed the NL East this weekend, and he began with a rather, as Chris Needham put it, "cheesy" lead:

Greetings, Washington Nationals, and welcome to the National League East division. We trust you'll find your accommodations satisfactory. Here, let us show you to your room. No, that's not your floor. That's the penthouse, which has had only one tenant, the Atlanta Braves, for as long as anyone around here can remember. And no, those middle floors don't belong to
you, either -- not for what you're willing to spend.


To borrow the reasoning of "Bill Clay" from Die Hard, "If you're not with Nakatomi, and you're not one of them . . ."---that's right, sports fans, Sheinen is saying, "Get ready for the cellar."

This article by Sheinen didn't sit well with the denizens of the Ballpark Guys DC Forum; heck, just the title of the thread is all you need: Post's Former Baltimore Beat Writer Sneers at the Nats.

Now, that particular forum is diligent in reminding one that the Post was, at best, a rather passive supporter of DC baseball for a long-time; the implication (well hell, it's not an implication---it's an accusation) is that "Washington's quaint little alternative newspaper" (as G. Gordon Liddy would put it) is/was in "Havana Pete's" pocket.

I can't really speak to that, although I'll readily acknowledge that no one consumes DC baseball-related items more than those guys. I do, though, think that the tenor of the article need not be explained by more than reading the plain language:

Yes, it is the Nationals' unfortunate fate to be born into existence in the NL East this season at a time when the division, arguably, has never been stronger. Each of Washington's division rivals -- Atlanta, Florida,
Philadelphia and the New York Mets -- have designs on a title, and all of them, to varying degrees, appear capable. Get used to seeing them: Nearly half the Nationals' games will be against those four teams.


That's really the crux of it. One team spent quite freely this winter, one team spent quite freely in previous winters, and two other teams spent to fill holes this offseason. And we are a team run by a spendthrift trustee.

Put it another way: Our own GM said a .500 record was possible if things broke right. And, as Ryan says in the linked comment, that's probably a reasonable guesstimate. So, while I suppose it is possible that Sheinen was "sneering" at the Nats, it's perhaps as likely that he was just communicating the cold truth that the NL East should be tough this year---although, I will add, the Mets look ripe to me for a spectacular disappointment.

---Speaking of Bowden's comments on the team, Adub is the unrivaled authority, having provided an extensive transcript of "Jim-Bow's" interview with ESPN Radio. It's certainly worth a read. In addition, Adub linked to a Nats preview from MSNBC. It's just as sneering as the Post preview, really:

Two versions of the Senators most often found themselves at or near the bottom of the American League standings during the first two-thirds of
the 20th century. Baseball is back in the nation’s capital, and not much is
going to change, as the Expos-turned-Nationals are going to have a tough time getting out of the NL East basement.


While true, that first sentence is kind of a low blow.

---Bowden addressed his toolsy outfielder fettish yet again by acquiring one-time mega-prospect Alex Escobar. I swear, if Bowden were a serial killer, his signature would be slicing the victims' throats with baseball cards of Escobar, Ruben Mateo, and probably a dozen other toolsy OFers he's acquired over the years just for the hell of it. The Punisher provides the Endy-related consequences. The verdict: what's bad for Endy is good for us. Nationals Pastime John approaches it from the perspectives of Ryan Church and J.J. Davis, and he also notes that Escobar is oddly absent from the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections, which will of course warm the Distinguished Gentleman's heart.

---As noted by many bloggers, Barry Larkin retired and will join Washington's front office as a special assistant. I wonder if this will produce any "Last of the one-team stars?" articles.

---As noted in the previous link, there's another player---sort of---in the radio rights race. It's not WTOP, but instead two other Bonneville signals. I'll not belabor my sentiments. I just hope that the Nats do indeed make a deal with someone this week.

---One last item: John gets an early start on April Fools' Day.

Original material later, depending on the schedule, of course.

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