Posts Tagged ‘Washington Nationals’

Nine Random Thoughts on the 2019 Season

October 31, 2019

Goose Goslin (the Nats can’t win in DC without him)

In honor of the nine innings in a game, here are nine thoughts about the 2019 season in no particular order:

1. Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on winning the World Series. It’s a first for them and the first victory for Washington since 1924. Walter Johnson got the win in game seven in 1924.

2. Although DC has now won a World Series since 1924, no Washington team has ever won a home game in the Series without Goose Goslin in the lineup. He died in 1971.

3. Further congratulations to the Houston Astros for a great World Series. I’d picked them in April and got within three innings of being right (which is pretty good for me).

4. There were a ton of home runs and strikeouts this season. I’d like to see considerably less of both in 2020.

5. I worry about Christian Yelich. There have been a number of really good ballplayers who’ve gotten hurt and became shadows of their former selves, never returning to the top rungs of the game. I hope he isn’t one of them.

6. Mike Trout proved he’s still the best player in the game. But he’s beginning to get hurt a lot. As with Yelich, I hope it doesn’t diminish his abilities. In Trout’s case, he needs to appear in one game next year to log 10 years and punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame. By contrast, Yelich has only seven seasons in the big leagues.

7. Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols continues to move up on the all-time charts. He’s currently 17th in runs (one behind Frank Robinson), 15th in hits, fifth in total bases, seventh in doubles (four behind George Brett), sixth in home runs (four from Willie Mays), and tied with Cap Anson for fourth in RBIs. All stats from Baseball Reference.

8. In an era consumed by offensive stats, did you notice that the Giants had a team fielding percentage of .989? I know fielding percent isn’t the be all, end all of fielding stats, but Seattle’s .978 was the lowest in the majors. Fielding has really improved over the more than half century I’ve been watching (and listening to) the game. I consider that a good thing.

9. We have now had consecutive Hispanic background managers (Alex Cora and Dave Martinez) who’ve won the World Series. It’s partial proof of how much Hispanics mean to the game. As far as I know, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez are the first two Cubans to bat back-to-back in a lineup.

Now on to 2020.

Something New Under the Sun

October 17, 2019

Goose Goslin (the Nats will have to win without him)

When the 2019 season started there were two teams who’d never punched a ticket to the World Series. That’s about to change with the Washington Nationals winning the National League pennant (the other team plays in Seattle). Whether in Montreal or Washington, the franchise always came up short.

The history of baseball in the nation’s capital is less than spectacular. In fact, it’s pretty awful. There were a handful of teams in the NL in the 1800s. None of them did much. With the arrival of the American League, a new team, the Senators, didn’t do any better. The last (and only) time the Washington team won a World Series was in 1924. Walter Johnson was on the mound when they won game seven. They lost in 1925 and again in 1933. The last time there was a World Series game in Washington, Mel Ott hit a 10th inning home run to win both game five and the Series for the New York Giants (who are now in San Francisco). The Senators were in so few World Series games that Hall of Famer Goose Goslin played in every World Series game in Washington history. Fellow Hall of Famer Sam Rice appeared in all three Series’ but only in one game in 1933.

In the late 1960s MLB got the bright idea of putting a team in Canada. For reasons unknown to me they picked Montreal over Toronto. The big Montreal Exposition had been scheduled (Expositions and World’s Fairs were a big deal back then) so they called them the Expos. They managed to get to the playoffs in the strike shortened split season of 1981, getting passed the Phillies. Then they ran into the Dodgers and lost the pennant to a Rick Monday home run (shades of Mel Ott). They managed to get back to first place in 1994, then the strike hit and there were no playoffs. I don’t know if they hoisted a banner saying they were NL East champs or not. The Expos went into a downward spiral and ended up moving to DC, where they’ve made the playoffs sporadically, never winning a pennant. All in all, not a terrifically successful franchise.

So now we’ll see how a Washington team does without Goose Goslin in their lineup. Good luck to them.

The Disaster that is the Dodgers

October 10, 2019

Dodgers logo

There is a silver lining to what happened to the Dodgers in this year’s playoffs. Between 1907 and 1909 the Detroit Tigers lost three consecutive World Series’. Between 1911 and 1913 the New York Giants did the same. With their loss last evening, the Dodgers can’t join that pair.

The Dodgers are a good team. Heck, I could probably win 50 games as manager of this team, and no one is ever going to confuse me with a big league manager. But this team can’t win. There are a lot of reasons for that. First, the Washington Nationals are a genuinely good team and should help make the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals a terrific series. That’s simply something beyond control of the team playing in Los Angeles.

But there are things the Dodgers can control. They are never going to win for a couple of reasons. One of those is that they can’t win with Dave Roberts as manager. The man goes too much by the book. I don’t care how well a player is pitching (or hitting) when the book says take him out, out the guy goes. And when Roberts decides to go against the book, a very rare occurrence, you get things like the garbage that happened in game five. In the 10th inning the pitcher puts three men on without an out being registered and is allowed to pitch to one more guy who proceeds to park it in the stands for a four run Washington lead. The response from Roberts? Let him pitch to more guys. He gets an out, but then gives up another hit. At this point the Dodgers closer is brought in (at least Jansen did his job right). I ask you, does that make sense?

Another reason the Dodgers aren’t going to win is that the continue to trust Clayton Kershaw in the postseason. How’d that work out? It’s not like it’s the first time he hashed a game, he’s been pretty good at it for the entire Dodgers postseason run over the last several seasons. My wife will tell you that I cringed when he came in last night. After he got the man out in the seventh she told me, “Well, he got the guy.”

“Uh huh, but they’ll send him out in the eighth and he’ll hash it then,” was my reply. There is a touch of Jeremiah in me.

The man is incapable of doing well in the postseason and yet, relying on his regular season reputation, which is justly earned, the Dodgers keep sending him out in critical situations. Hasn’t worked yet.

And while I’m at it, enough with this “Kershaw is the best pitcher the Dodgers ever had” nonsense. I give you the following stats for Clayton Kershaw in the World Series: ERA-5.40, Whip-1.163, walks-8, strikeouts-27. Now another set of World Series stats representing another Dodgers lefty whose last name begins with a “K”: ERA-0.95, Whip-0.825, walks-11, strikeouts-61. I used only World Series stats because the other rounds of playoffs didn’t exist when the other guy pitched. When Kershaw starts putting up stats close to the second set, then we can think about calling him the “best.”

 

“First in War, First in Peace…

October 8, 2012

… and last in the American League” (an old joke about the Washington Senators).

Something happened yesterday that I’d never seen. A baseball team from Washington participated in a postseason game. Actually two things happened that I’d never seen. The second? A baseball team from Washington won a postseason game. It’s unusual to see but it’s typical for the nation’s capital. You see, they’ve generally had a woeful franchise.

The 19th Century Washington National League team never won a thing and is in the running for the worst franchise of the century. The fact that a handful of franchises didn’t survive more than one season makes it difficult to pick Washington, but they are certainly in the running (My choice is the St. Paul Apostles of the Union Association who played less than 20 games and never had a home game.)

In 1901 the American League sent a franchise to Washington. They finished sixth. They stayed awful until 1912 when a pitcher named Walter Johnson hit his stride. They finally made a postseason in 1924, winning the World Series. They got back to the Series in 1925 and in 1933. They lost both. For the rest of their time in DC they finished in the first division four times. In 1961 they left Washington for Minnesota, where they’ve had sporadic luck. Like the team in DC, they’ve been to three World Series (1967, 1987, 1991) and managed to win twice (’87 and ’91). They’ve had a handful of other playoff appearances. So the franchise has done better in Minnesota than in Washington.

Baseball thought it was a good thing to have a team in DC, so when the Senators became the Twins, the powers that be stuck a new team in Washington and cleverly named it the Senators also. Well, it worked about as well as the old team (maybe it’s just that the baseball Gods don’t like the name “Senators”). They were so awful they only lasted a little over ten years before fleeing to Texas. As the Rangers they’ve made the playoffs a handful of times and managed to lose in the World Series twice. So again they’ve done better in Dallas than DC.

And now there’s a new team in Washington and it’s done something that hasn’t been done in 79 years. Son of a gun.

And BTW Ryan Mattheus becomes the first Washington pitcher since Walter Johnson to win a postseason game on the road.

Congrats to Cincinnati and Washington

September 21, 2012

A quick congratulatory note to both the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals for becoming the first teams to guarantee a spot in the 2012 postseason. For the Nationals, it’s the first postseason play for a  Washington team since Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, and Joe Cronin led the Senators to a World Series berth in 1933 (they lost to the Giants). A fun World Series might be the Nationals versus the Texas Rangers. Remember that the Rangers began their existence in Washington before moving to Dallas in the 1970s.