Monday, April 24, 2006

Early Nats thoughts

Attended my first two Nats games of the season over the weekend. Due to my schedule of late, I haven't been able to listen to as many Nationals games on the radio yet as I'd like - too many evening commitments and whatnot (plus, tbh...a number of day games). But I've followed them in the paper and online, so I know what's been going on. But this weekend was my first opportunity to see them live and up close. A few thoughts (based on the last two games and what I've heard so-far):

  • Bullpen needs some work. Last night, Majewski blew the 1-0 lead in the top of the 8th inning, surrendering a three-run HR after Tony Armas, Jr. had pitched a gem of a game (a 3-hit shutout) and Stanton/Rodriguez had bailed him out in the 7th. I won't give the offense a free pass on this - one run isn't going to cut it. But there are going to be nights were the pitching staff isn't going to get the help it needs and on those nights, it's up to them to make do with what we have. And Majewski just didn't get it done last night. This has been a theme throughout this first month of the season - we'll see if it continues.
  • Stop whining about the fences at RFK. Soriano hit three HRs on Friday night (after the 2.5 hr. rain delay). Vidro just missed one that would have tied it up in the bottom of the 9th last night. Other teams have hit them out. Guillen has probably the most to complain about but even he has come close. The fact is that apart from Vidro's hit last night that went off the Nats bullpen wall in RF (it would have been a HR if it had only been a few feet higher), none of the "lost HRs" would have had that much of an impact on either of the games this weekend. You have to make do with what you have and the reality is that the fences are where they are - they aren't moving (at least not this season). You eventually need to get over the mental block about them.
  • Zimmerman. Rookie has a great glove, superb range and an awesome arm at 3B. His over the back diving catch of a pop-up on Friday night was one for the alltime highlight reels. He had a catch of a foul pop-up in-front of the Nationals dugout last night where if I didn't know better...I'd say he intentionally hesitated to run and make a try for. His bat is going to take time - though he does occaisionally show signs of breaking out, he's also swinging at some bad pitches...typical rookie stuff. But so far, he appears to be the "real deal."
  • Cordero the patriot? I watched something quite unusual last night. Never noticed it before and I'll have to watch again on Tuesday night (my next home game) to see if it's repeated. They had brought the US flag out onto the field for the national anthem, instead of just using the flag over CF. Like all the other players, Chad stood and held hat over heart. What was interesting was that after the anthem had been sung, as all the other players went about their business, "The Chief" and two other players from the bullpen continued to stand at attention. They remained that way until the honor guard carrying the flag went off the field and through the gate into RFK. Only then did they break from attention and return to the dugout. I'd never noticed him doing this before. Is this new? Something after being on the US National team?
  • Lesson learned from Friday - don't ever leave the game early. You'll regret it.
  • Another lesson from the weekend - night games in April can be chilly.

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