Monday, June 06, 2005

"Mind-numbingly improbable"


Today's Boz column is an impressive mix of homerism and substance. While reading it, I went through a variety of emotions, which might be best expressed as:

---> do you believe in miracles?!
---> well, it's still early;
---> keep the faith, baby; and,
---> man, it's a real joy being a fan of this team!

Boz hits the red, white & blue money ball (no pun intended) in this paragraph:


What's most amazing about the Nationals -- and they have reached the point where amazing is not too strong a word -- is the quality of the opposition against whom they have amassed their 31-26 record. Of the Nats' 57 games this season, a stunning 47 have been against teams that currently are over .500. Against the game's nine worst teams, they've played only six games.

Of course, that's essentially restating that the NL East features five teams over .500---plus a few other of the Nats' early opponents (e.g., Cubs, Blue Jays, D-Bucks) are just recently or still treading above water. Whatever. That's a damned hard schedule so far. It's the primary reason why the Nats rank third in ESPN.com's (very unscientific) RPI standings. (We're the No. 1 seed in the East, er, Syracuse Region, now?)

Boswell also throws in one of his patented interesting, but not very fact-driven paragraphs near the end:


It's common to see three kinds of Spring Surprise teams. The first hustles for a couple of months but has a June-swoon reality check. The second type, and the Nats may still fit this mold, play with resiliency for two-thirds of the season but in the heat of August, wilt and regress until much of their good work is forgotten. The third and rarest variety, like the '89 Orioles, add a crucial player or two during the season and dazzle everyone, except themselves, by staying in the hunt until season's end.

As I stated in this space two months or so ago, I gave up my rooting interest in the O's indefinitely---at least while the Angelosians are still there. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of the 1989 Baltimore Orioles; they'll probably be eclipsed by the '05 Nats as my favorite team I've ever followed, but those '89 O's will always be burned in my memory.

This morning over breakfast, I racked my brain trying to figure out the "crucial player or two" of whom Boz refer(s). Was it Keith Moreland? No, he didn't do jack-squat for them. Was it Ron Kittle? No, that was 1990, and he likewise wasn't crucial at all. Was it Stan Jefferson? Is Boz really calling Stan Jefferson a crucial player? Who, then?

Well, here's the transactions list. Several important deals were made during the '88-89 offseason, including the big Eddie Murray trade and the Phil Bradley acquisition that followed a little while later. Randy Milligan was acquired in November; Mike Devereaux was picked up during spring training. These were crucial players, but they weren't acquired during the season.

Which players were? Shane Turner was, but he didn't appear for the Birds in '89, and who's Shane Turner anyway, right? Stan Jefferson was picked up on July 20 and had 127 at-bats the rest of the way for Baltimore, but is that a crucial player? No. Keith Moreland was the big trading deadline pick-up, I suppose, acquired on July 28. He hit a rousing .215/.243/.280 in 107 at-bats. If Boz were describing a guy crucial to the O's inability to beat the Blue Jays in the long run, he might be on to something---incorrect, probably, but in the ballpark.

That leaves Jamie Quirk, signed off of waivers and joining his third team of the season---a season in which he took 85 turns at-bat. Uh, no.

The only possibility remaining is Gregg Olson, but he was up with the big league team early and pitched 85 innings as the closer. It's not Olson; it's not anybody. Boz just has a faulty memory.

That's okay; we all mess up details. I just hope Boz doesn't do so 15 years from now, when he's writing about these Nats.

Comments:
Boz in 2015: "I remember Juan Rivera's dramatic game-winning homer against the Marlins . . ."
 
"And who can forget Bob Milacki's gutty 150-pitch outing against the Marlins in an early June showdown at RFK?"
 
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