Thursday, April 13, 2006

Excuses

Mets 3, Nats 1



I didn't watch or listen to the game last night, but I do have this to say: Jose Vidro needs to shut the hell up.

"[The deep fences at RFK] killed us last year, and it's killing us this year," Vidro said. "They didn't change anything. They don't care about it."
Baloney.

First of all, Vidro hit a freaking home run last night.

Second, except for the power alleys, the fences are not that deep. 335 down the line and 408 (the measured distance) to center field are average to moderately deep. It's the 395 distance to the alleys that's real deep.

And besides, both teams have to play under the same conditions. I can think of plenty of warning track fly balls hit by the visiting team last year that would have changed the entire complexion of the ballgame had they been home runs.

In nine games, the Nationals have hit 12 home runs. While that's certainly encouraging on one level, it's a little disconcerting on another. In two games at RFK, the Nats have scored two runs on two solo home runs. And there have been at least three, perhaps more, deep fly balls that home runs in almost any other park.

But the Nats need to start hitting doubles in order to score runs at RFK. Because of the deep fences, the gaps at RFK are huge, perfect for landing a bloop line drive that scoots to the wall. There wasn't a prettier sight in 2005 than Nick Johnson's perfect swing landing a ball into the gap as the RFK crowd exploded.

Playing good fundamental baseball and spraying balls into the gap is the way to score runs at RFK. The Nationals play more games at RFK than any other team, so they're in the best position to use the fences as a weapon. Learn how to hit doubles into the gap, then sit back and laugh as the visiting team's sluggers hit bombs that die at the track. That's what's called a home-field advantage.

It doesn't help that Jim Bowden can't understand this either. If the Nats should tailor their play to their home park, why in the world does Bowden have a hard-on for power hitters? (e.g. Preston Wilson last year and Alfonso Soriano this year) I really believe that making those kind of trades sends a message to the rest of a team that management wants power hitters, and then they start swinging for the fences and flying out.

If the RFK fences are already "in the head" of the Nats hitters, then we're in for a long season. There's nothing that pisses me off more than excuses based on something out of one's control. The Nats need to learn to adapt to what they've got.

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