Wooden's World of Baseball

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And now it begins...

Three years ago, when I first moved to Northern Virginia, I became a season-ticket holder to the Potomac Nationals in the hope of seeing what I will now see this season... guys that I saw play in Woodbridge eventually playing in Washington.

That's because the Nationals announced this morning that Shairon Martis (2007) will be the team's #4 starter and Jordan Zimmermann (2008) will be the #5 guy. They will be joining John Lannan (2006) who has become the team's #1 starter.

Of course, it'll be a little nicer when it's a position player playing every day, since the road to the show is much shorter for a pitcher. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening for another couple of years. The next candidate is Leonard Davis, and I think the crowd will love it if he does his best imitation of Ozzie Smith, but I don't see Davis playing everyday without an injury to Ryan Zimmerman.

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Last year, I devoted quite a few posts to the new promotions, but this year it'll be just a few sentences because, frankly, not much has changed (for the better).

Dollar Mondays are back, but once again, they've been cut down. What used to be $1 hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, and seats is now just dollar dogs and grandstand seats. It's nice gesture to include Memorial Day this year, but all that's left to cut is the hot dogs or the seats, and I fear they'll think people care more about the cheap seats than the cheap eats.

Salute to Service is the theme for Tuesdays. To me, this rings a little hollow. Yes, they're including teachers, firefighters, and police. Yes, it's a free (grandstand) ticket. But most places offer a discount of some sort and they offer it every day.

All-you-can-eat is back but it looks like it'll be strictly in-house fare. This is really too bad, because last year's promo made me a fan of Moe's Southwest Grill, and even though I've since found a place I like even better (Panchero's) I strongly suspect my Saturday night routine of a pregame meal at Moe's won't change.

Ladies Night moves from Friday to Thursday, and I can't say I blame them. I couldn't see much measurable effect from the promotion last year, and I suspect that's the driving force behind the change.

Freebie Fridays is the "new" promotion, but in reality, it looks like they're shifting away from the weekend giveaways, particularly on Sundays, which this year are all at 1:00pm (they best hope for a LOT of cloudy days because only the diehards brave a metal stadium in 90+ degree heat).

Until next time...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Get Used To It

Earlier this week, the Nationals cut ties to the promising-but-maddening Shawn Hill. Naturally, this caused a lot of unnecessary handwringing and the usual, no-brain, knee-jerk Lerners-are-cheap remarks.

To which I say: Get used to it.

Let's face it, as nice a guy as Shawn Hill is reported to be, this is a business. I can't think of many other places where you'd be allowed to keep your job when you can't stick around for more than two months in a row.

In my book, a major-leaguer ought to be able to participate in the middle of the season, but if you look it up, you'll see that Mr. Hill was never active in the month of July during his tenure with the Nationals.

Sorry, kids, but this is only going to continue. The Nationals are a last-place club and there are guys on the farm that are on the verge. This is what "The Plan" is, has, and will always be about: Making sure that players perform by keeping them, as Assistant GM Mike Rizzo was recently quoted "a little uncomfortable."

There will be other "fan favorites" that will be let go over the course of this season, or next, and true baseball fans ought to be able not only to reconcile that fact, but recognize it, too. Guys like Wil Nieves, Ronnie Belliard, and even Willie Harris are candidates if guys like Luke Montz, Roger Bernadina and Leonard Davis are deemed ready.

So don't get too attached. More changes are coming.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

March's Here...


Unfortunately, with this weird—almost menopausal—winter there's snow on the ground and a storm predicted for tonight. But there's baseball on TV today, and that should help.

But baseball's not on my mind as I sit down to write.

A funny thing I've been noticing lately is the decrying of the demise of the newspaper. Yesterday, in fact, there was a long post in the Washington Post about how its baseball coverage will be reduced. This morning saw a more thoughtful essay about what it means when a newspaper stops covering the police and another about how bloggers can't fill the gap that's been left.

While I consider myself a Journalist, what I do here is not journalism. It's an online diary. There are no policies, procedures or oversight. I have no editor but myself. And I answer to no one. There's a serious problem when people confuse passion with professionalism.

And I guess that's what really bothers me, that the newspaper profession is dying. When I was a newspaperman, there was a certain satisfaction in doing the job, knowing that even mundane stories about the school board or the town meeting was doing a public service by enabling folks to make informed decisions (or at least the information to do so).

OK, enough ranting about my poor career choices and/or bad luck.

A few random thoughts, and then I'll go...

...Does anyone truly care about the World Baseball Classic? I care only insofar as it'll be the best baseball to watch the next two weeks, since spring training games are meaningless except to the kids trying to make it up the ladder. As you saw above, the Post will only be running AP stories, and I think most folks won't watch until the finals. And I'm willing to bet the U.S. won't be there.

...The Jim Bowden saga is a tough call. On the one hand, he's made enough mistakes to warrant his dismissal, but I really have a hard time blaming him for the revelation that the team's top Dominican prospect is neither who he said he was, or how old he was. The "Natmosphere" is buzzing about the endgame, playing the "where's Jimbo" parlor game.

...And that's a shame because this team had made some decent moves to improve itself this offseason. They now have a surplus of players for the outfield and first base, and a legitimate power hitter for the first time in its short history. A trade seems inevitable, and Nick Johnson seems to be the odd man out, but that depends heavily on whether anyone will part with the position prospects that this team has to demand.

...Which is because this team could theoretically end up with a rotation that's entirely homegrown by the end of the year. Collin Balester, Shairon Martis, Jordan Zimmermann, and Shawn Hill are battling for presumably the two remaining slots, with John Lannan, Daniel Cabrera and Scott Olsen the likely first three pitchers out of the gate. But even Cabrera can't be considered a lock, but I have a feeling that the dramatically lowered expectations will suit his demeanor.