Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ode to Stevey

As is old news by now, Esteban Loaiza became the latest National to find a home elsewhere, signing with Oakland for 3 years at just over $21 million. Despite the fact that this development is the best thing for both Loaiza and the Nationals, I can't help but feel the slightest bit of regret and disappointment.

I have this weird complex when it comes to the sports teams I love. I get oddly attached to the players that I've come to know as part of the team. When Matt Nokes was traded away from the Tigers in 1990, I couldn't fathom that my favorite catcher would be playing for the Yankees. This was even harder for my favorite collegiate teams, since players tend to graduate or declare for the professional draft. Perhaps it's not all that weird of a complex, but it's definitely impractical in a sports world of free agency and early declarations for the professional draft.

I'll miss "Steve-Lo" -- as some of us un-PC types called him on occasion. He was reliable and efficient, despite never being all that spectacular. On a team that didn't have much margin for error, he was a valuable resource.

And besides, the guy drove a bitchin' car. On a handful of occasions when I parked myself by the players lot searching for autographs, Esteban drove out and stopped his car to sign. He had a customized Mercedes E320. On the tail, the '3' and the '0' were removed and replaced with 'L' and '1' to form EL 21. Very sweet ride.

As already documented by a myriad of Nats bloggers more diligent than I, this is probably a good situation for the Nats and Loaiza. Steve-Lo wasn't worth 3 years and $21 million to the Nats. We offered him 2 years and $8 million, a far cry from what he wanted. But he got it from Oakland, so more power to him.

According to Harper at OMG, it was the three year contract that Stevey wanted. If we would have been able to sign him for 3 years and $12 million then like Harper, I think it's a no-brainer to sign him. But like Harper says, I doubt that would have been possible. Nine million dollars is an awful lot of dough to leave on the table.

I don't even mention the fact the lack of a Nats owner hamstrung us from the beginning. Is 3 years at $21 million a good value for a pitcher like Loaiza? Maybe, maybe not. But who knows if a proper owner with a proper budget would have been able to reach a deal with Loaiza.

Other bloggers have criticized Tom Boswell's column about this issue. Loaiza is no gigantic loss to be sure, but what are the alternatives? Jason Johnson? Ick. Brett Tomko? Uh, no thanks. Loaiza is no world-beater, but by all accounts he liked Washington and would have liked to stay. If we had an owner, we might have been able to keep him.

But it's of no matter now. Esteban is an Oakland Athletic, and Mrs. Rocket's disbelief at him getting picked off will have to remain a fond memory. Esteban contributed a lot to the great inaugural season we experienced. I'll miss him. And his funky male pattern baldness.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Google Bombs Over Milwaukee

As of right now, Bud Selig's bio is on the second page of results for a Google search of National Disgrace

Let's keep it rolling.

And maybe one of these days, I'll be able to blog about a new owner. Something that monumental might actually get me to write a substantive post.

Friday, November 18, 2005

National Disgrace

Supreme Emperor Selig

As chronicled in my last post and in many other fine blog posts (some of which are linked in my previous post), Supreme Dark Lord Selig refuses to set a timetable for selling the Washington Nationals franchise to an independent owner. As we all know, this severely handicaps the ability of the Nats to compete, especially since the free agency period is in full swing.

So the Natosphere, especially the jockjaws at Yuda's, have decided to try to make a statement. We're going to Google-bomb the Dark Lord.

What's Google-bombing? Well, this Wikipedia article explains the basics. It's a way of manipulating Google's search engine results in order to make an ironic or funny statement.

For example, google the phrase "miserable failure." The first search result is the White House biography of President Bush. No matter what you think of POTUS, this is a neat trick of political satire.

Our chosen phrase for Bud Selig is "National Disgrace." The page we want to link to is here, which is Selig's official bio on MLB.com.

To join the google-bombing, create a link with the words National Disgrace, that directs towards Selig's bio.

Like this:

National Disgrace

If this is repeated enough times on unique webpages, such as blogs, message boards or personal webpages, the google-bombing will be successful.

As you can see, National Disgrace is a popular search term on Google. It will take a TON of links to get to the top spot.

Now get moving! Let's make a statement on Selig's reluctance to free the Nats from the death-grip of his liver-spotted hands.


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Friday, November 11, 2005

Skunky Bud

Per usual, I'm very behind on my blogging. And like always, the big news has already been tossed around by bloggers more diligent than I. (Here, here, here, here, here, here) But I'm mad enough about recent news to chime in, even if it's late.

Well, our old friend, Supreme Emperor Commissioner Bud Selig announced there will be no owner named for the Nationals in time for the owners meeting next week. Great. Thanks a bunch, loser.

There are a lot of politics here that I won't even pretend to understand. Major League Baseball wants a lease agreement from the city before it'll name an owner. The city wants an owner first. At least, that's what I think the problem is. And I'm sure DC wants assurances that the new ownership group will be local, not an outsider like Bob Short who'll move the team to Las Vegas or Portland. And according to Jack Evans on WTOP Radio right now, without a guaranteed lease payment from MLB, the District won't be able to get a high-grade bond to pay for the stadium.

What's Bud's excuse? He hasn't had enough time to meet with all the ownership candidates! Bull. Freaking. Crap. How long does it take to meet with a group of guys for an hour each? Take him to get a freakin' hot dog at your local diner, Bud.

In reality, 1) you just don't want to etch a lease payment in stone, even after Washington's fan base has increased the value of the team AND given you a new stadium, and 2) you can't decide which ownership group will fall in line, goosestepping along with the rest of your minions in the Cult of Selig.

So what's that mean for the team? Well, free agency starts today. Two very critical Nats pitchers, Esteban Loaiza and Hector Carrasco, are free agents. Both want to return to Washington. But without an owner, we don't know if we can afford to pay them! That doesn't even include the goals of competing on the free agent market! The Nats were 2-3 players away from making the playoffs last year. Are we doomed for a Montreal/Puerto Rico quality team in 2006?

We barely even have a staff right now. Jim Bowden is only signed as GM through April. Frank Robinson doesn't have a contract, as do none of the coaching staff. How the hell are you supposed to resign your players, not to mention attract anyone new, if you don't know who's in charge?!

I've had enough. We were supposed to have an owner by Opening Day. Then by the All-Star break. Then by September. Then by the World Series. The current self-imposed deadline is next week. But Bud doesn't want to box himself in.

We've been screwed with too much. We couldn't watch the Nats on TV in 2005. We could barely hear the radio signal. Bud gave our TV rights, the lifeblood of a franchise, to Peter Angelos. If he screws us again on ownership, I pray that Congress gets involved.

Tom Davis is already pissed at you over steroids, Bud. I bet he'd love another excuse to drag you before his committee. In the meantime, I dare you to step foot on the field in Washington. The booing will make Lance Cormier feel like he got a standing ovation.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Revenge of Lance Cormier

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I woke up this morning to find out that our resident one-legged third baseman was traded last night. And all the bloggers beat me to the punch. That's what I get for going to bed at a reasonable hour.

P.T. Bowden actually pulled a good one out of his hat, sending Vin to San Diego for starting pitcher Brian Lawrence and cash, reportedly the difference in the two contracts. Just about all the Natosphere likes it, and I will join in on the "groupthink".

First, let's look at what we get in return. Brian Lawrence had a horrible year in 2005, but he has shown over his career that he's quite capable of being an adequate starter at the back of the rotation. Check out Chris' post for an excellent breakdown. Livan and Patterson will anchor the front of the rotation, while we now have Lawrence in the back end. If we can resign Loaiza, which I think we can, then he will fit in at #3. You then have Rauch, Drese or even Carrasco working for the #5 spot. I can think of much worse options for the 2006 Nationals rotation.

More importantly, in acquiring Lawrence, Bowden was able to dump a 38 year-old one-legged third baseman who's not willing to be a backup. That clears the way for the man of the future Ryan Zimmerman to start at third in 2006. Interestingly enough, it may open up an opportunity for Brendan Harris or Rick Short to make the big club as a backup infielder. All of these are good things.

Despite the appeal of this trade, I will miss Vinny. The guy helped make for a very memorable season, especially on opening night. With a double, triple and homer in his first three at-bats, we all know what happened when Vinny came to the plate in the eighth inning, needing only a single for the cycle. The entire park, including myself in Section 517, was standing. And then pansy-ass Lance Cormier drilled him. The booing lasted for the remainder of the entire inning. That was one of the neatest things I'd ever seen.

Castilla was also in the middle of the play that made me fall hard for the Nats. I detailed that moment here and here. Two days after opening night, I was sitting in the upper deck at RFK, jumping up and down as Castilla and Guillen motored around the bases, literally about three feet apart. They slid into home to score the tying runs and popped up into a bear hug.

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So it's time for you to go, Vinny, but thanks for all you did in our inaugural season.

EDIT: That's way too corny of a closing line, plus I have a few things to add.

- As mentioned, it looks like Ryan "Dutch" Zimmerman is first in line to start at third base next year. I know some Nat fans, mostly the mouth-breathers at BPG, hate the nickname Dutch. Some have started to call him "Z-Man the He-Man". Fine, don't call him Dutch. But Z-Man is just idiotic. If you don't want to call him Dutch, then don't. But Z-Man is moronic.

- Ryan's "Nat of the Day" sidebar at Distinguished Senators still cracks me up. JimBo did pull a fast one on Kevin Towers with the Castilla trade. Maybe I really do love the leader!