Monday, April 20, 2009

On a roll, sure, but can the Nats ever get out of the driveway?

After a stirring win over Philly, the wheels came off the bus once a again. The Nationals got swept by the Marlins for the second time this season dropping their record to 1-10. I won't bother to watch Sunday's game a) because I already know the score (yet another blown ninth inning lead), and b) after watching the two previous games, I'm not sure I could bear the pain.

Friday's game at National Park saw the Nats take a 2-1 lead into the ninth on the back of quality pitching by starter John Lannan and set up guys Julian Tavares and Joe Beimel. Then on comes Joel Hanrahan for his first real save opportunity of the season. Result: hanging slider out over the plate for Cody Ross to deposit over the fence and tie the game. That of course led to an RBI single in the 11th. Nats lose 2-3.

Saturday was even worse. The Nats line-up rocked the Marlins pitcher J. Johnson for five runs in the 1st inning including a grand slam from Austin Kearns. Then scored another run in the 2nd to give the Nats a 6-0 lead. Scott Olsen, coming off a disasterous first start, responded by shutting down the Marlins high-powered offense, giving up only two runs, until he left in the 7th - Score: 6-2. Even though the Nats hitting cooled down in the later innings (one hit after the 3rd), the game still seemed well in hand. Some good relief pitching and a spectacular leaping catch at the wall by Roger Bernadina (during which he unfortunately fractured his ankle) kept the game at 6-3 going into the 9th. On comes Joel Hanrahan for his second save opportunity. A couple of stupid errors by the Nats defense puts Marlins on first and second base. In steps the bane of the Nats existence, Jeremy Hermida. All Hanrahan has to do is get him to ground into a double play, and the Nats go home with a win. Instead, Hanrahan throws a fast ball right over the plate, and Hermida dumps in the centerfield seats. Tie game. The Marlins go on to score three more runs and win 9-6.

Sunday's game? Same thing only this time it was Saul Rivera who couldn't hold a 4-3 lead in the 9th. Final score: Nats lose 7-4.

How badly do the Marlins own the Nats? Since last season the Marlins are 23-3 against the Nats. Aiii-go!

If there is a bright side to all this, it's that I get to take out my frustrations by giving my students their mid-term exams this week. Misery LOVES company. hee hee hee heeeeee!

Friday, April 17, 2009

One in a row! Nats on a roll!!

Washington 8 - Philadephia 2

Well, it's certainly nice to see another team's pitchers get rung up for a change. The Nats put on a display of power today against the Phillies that seems to be becoming more and more common: Adam Dunn and a Elijah Dukes both homered again. Josh Willingham jacked a fat fastball into the Phillies bullpen in the 7th, and Alberto Gonzales, known more for his speed than his power, got his second career HR in the 8th.

The big difference, of course, was that the Nats pitching staff didn't give all the runs back. For the first time this season, a Nats pitcher lasted a full six innings, the bullpen actually did their job and shut down the dinger-happy Phillies line-up. With the 8-1 Marlins coming to town this week, let's hope that the disasterous first run through the rotation is a thing of the past.


The End Of An Era

It's a sad day for football fans. John Madden, the true voice of the NFL, is retiring. It's going to be really weird to watch games without his inciteful commentary and his silly "Boinks" and "Booms". The isn't a sports commentator out there that, in my mind, can hold a candle to Madden.

Sure, he sometimes had a pentient for stating the all-to-obvious: "If the quarterback throws the ball to the receiver, and the receiver runs into the endzone. Well, that's a touchdown." But the thing that I'll miss most about Madden is his knowledge of the game and especially his love of the big men in the trenches. Those guys that do all the dirty work but get few of the accolades. Madden had a knack for getting you into the line, showing how important footwork and technique were; what made a Hall of Fame guard or defensive tackle. Give John a game to call where it was raining or snowing, and he was in his element, pointing out some lineman with mud dripping off his facemask and blood smeared on his uniform, and saying, "Now, there's a football player!"

I remember Madden doing a Redskins/Dallas game back in the 80s and he was comparing Redskins receiver Gary Clark to Dallas' then prima donna Micheal Irvin. He'd put Clark up on the telestrator and circle his untucked, grass-stained jersey, talk about how small Clark was, and about how hard he worked. Then Madden would get a shot of Irvin in his spotless uniform and practically scoff. Madden loves the underdog; the small guy who plays ferociously in a big man's game.

Apparently Chris Collinsworth, who, in my opinion, is a top flight commentator, has been chosen to replace Madden, but football just won't be the same.

So long, John. Enjoy your retirement. You'll be missed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Departmental Review

"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy" Dept.:

Yesterday was the last day of the spring institute session, and, as usual, the institute had it's end of session lottery in which the main prize is a 1.5 million won travel voucher students can use to travel to a foreign country (secondary prizes include free tuition for the following session). Anyway, one of my students, Ryan (Seung Min-Jeung), won the big prize. I'm very happy for him. He's a really good kid and has very good English skills. The best thing about it is that he's never had the opportunity to travel abroad before and now he gets the chance. It shows that good things do indeed happen to good people!

"Medical Anomoly or Baseball as Holistic Medicine" Dept.:

Last week, Wednesday to be specific, I blew out my left knee. The miniscus ligamet tore and I was hobbling around in a great deal of pain. I went to the doctor on Friday, and he informed me that I would need surgery, which we then scheduled for Friday this week. The idea of surgery, coupled with being in pain, did nothing for my mood on Friday, so as a distraction, I decided to go to a baseball game and get drunk. I accomplished both goals and had a damn good time in the process.

Well, it seems that the combination of baseball and massive quantities of alcohol have magical curative powers. Yes, I can see the raised eyebrows and the hear the sarcastic, "Oh, really?" It's true, and I'm a believer. I believe because I got up the next day, hung over as stink, and was wandering around the house for about 30-45 minutes before I realised that my knee wasn't bothering me. "Odd," I thought, but I remained PAIN FREE all day Saturday. I figured it had to be some sort of fluke; a weird psychosematic reaction to having surgery; and that the pain would surely be back on Sunday. Nope. No pain. I felt so good that I went to another baseball game, had a great time, and figured I'd be back to my old gimpy-ass self on Monday. I woke up Monday feelin' fine. It's Wednesday now, and I still have no pain and a full range of motion in my knee. Go figure.

Now I may be making a mistake, but I'm going to stop by the doctor's office this afternoon and cancel the surgery. First of all, surgery sucks. I don't want to do it period, but if I was still in pain, I'd suck it up and go. But I'm not in pain; I feel fine. Will this aggravate my knee problems in the future? Maybe. But given the choice of no pain now vs. certain excruciating pain for a month and three months of being on crutches...well...I'm opting for the no pain now course.

"Baseball as Soul Butcher" Dept.:

As much as baseball may have holistic healing powers, it also the power to rip out your soul and cast it deep into the fiery depths of Hell. Thus it is for Nationals fans. The Nats this season have a revitalized batting order that has provided more scoring in a week of games than the team put up in the entire first month of last season, and yet the team is 0-7.

I watched the opening day game at Nationals Park yesterday against the World Champion Phillies. Now the Phillies team was reeling from the death of long time announcer Harry Kallas, who had collapsed and died in the announcer's booth two hours before game time (Kallas had been the voice of the Phillies for 38 years and was to Philly fans and the team as Harry Carey was to the Cubs). Despite 14 hits, including home runs from Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Zimmerman, and putting 8 runs on the board, the Nats still managed to lose the game 9-8. This is due to some really shoddy fielding (3 errors) and a Nats pitching staff that has a tendency to throw fat, hanging, breaking balls over the middle of the plate that leave the park with alarming quickness.

If the Nats want to avoid another 102-loss season, they're going to have to do something about their bullpen. They've got the bats, but if they keep giving up 7-8 runs a game, it's going to be a lo-o-o-o-o-ong season.

"Life in General" Dept. :

Same shit, different day. Sigh.