The Walking Dread: With any luck, this tweet from Chelsea Janes bodes well for the Nationals walking wounded:
So: Escobar is fielding and swinging, Werth is fielding and swinging, Rendon is running lightly and resting, Storen is throwing normally.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 19, 2015
-or, lightly running, as the case may be. But too bad, I wrote all of this out before I saw this tweet, so I’m going to continue with my “how ugly could this get?” post.
The worst news first: Anthony Rendon went from sitting out for a few days to having no timetable. That’s really scary. CL strains (of any kind) can get ugly quick, even if they are mild. As HarperGordeck from Natsbaseball blog points out, the prospect of Kevin Frandsen at third for a month, or longer, is laughably scary.
The loss of Span’s bat (as Harpergordeck describes) will likely have the biggest impact on the team. But it’s a little worse than just that. There is a very scary scenario where the Nats three top hitters are likely to miss the start of the season. Rendon would be my choice to got to the top of the line, and Werth after that. Alas who amongst Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Yunel Escobar (and maybe Danny Espinosa), the pitcher, or three bench players are best suited to lead off? There’s not a good answer to that question.
Even if Rendon, Werth and Escobar get back in the lineup quickly, there is no guarantee that they are going to be playing at 100% (or whatever enough % is). There could be a drop off, and Span’s bat is definitely out until at least May. Ergo, I believe this spells out a tough April for the Nats offensively. This is great fodder for all those “The Nats can’t score” and “The Nats can’t hit situationally!” columns that the terrible, terrible columnists in this town will want to write (*Note, not all columnists in this town are terrible). These columns will be echoed across the television and airwaves by many terrible radio hosts who yell the same thing. (*Note, not all radio hosts are terrible. There are more good radio hosts than columnists, to be sure). Lo unto the Nats who better “do something” and “get it fixed” because “they’ve got to beat division rival X!” (Aside, no, actually they don’t), these games are important, and….
And, unless there is some drastic change for the worse in the health prognostications for these players, a number of very sane people will say:
“It’s April. They’re hurt. Wait ‘til they get healthy. There is a lot of season left.” Which is crazy that people have to say that because that’s the exact same thing we’ve been saying for three years now. It’s the script. It’s usually right. If the Nats have any kind of bench (and given some of the injuries, we will find out very quickly if they do) then they can still post a .500 or better record early, which ought to be more than enough given the talent gap between the healthy Nats and everyone else.
Other Players: Remember when Tanner Roark was going to train as a starting pitcher but then only made one start all spring? So does everyone else. I’m qualifying that as a “not a surprise” surprise, in that I think it is pretty openly obvious that he’s not going to be a starting pitcher this year, but for some reason the staff at Nats Park is holding onto the idea that he’s a starter. Ok. Whatever.
The Nats also made a variety of unshocking moves to send guys down to the minors. Matt Grace, Wilmer Difo, and Dan Butler were the most recent moves this week, which also includes Taylor Hill, AJ Cole, Brian Goodwin, Sammy Solis, Felipe Rivero – not a shocker in the bunch. The only sort of shocking move was sending Jeff Kobernus down to the minors only to release him two days later. But not that surprising. He’s appeared in 28 games total, most in the 2013 debacle season. He’s been in the system since 2009, and there wasn’t room for him to grow in the franchise. Releasing him was probably a mercy so he could resign some where else (and to open up a roster spot on the 40).
Regardless, personnel-wise anyway, spring is humming along just like you would expect it would.
#DCisREADYbutAmI?: One of my favorite things about (mostly) giving up social media for the Lenten season… well, first it is a lot less OUTRAGE in my face every day, but after that it has been what I’ve dubbed “hashtag overload avoidance.” Trending topics is the lifeblood of the platform, I know, but #HashtagFatigue has set in, and I don’t like crazy hashtag marathons like my younger, 2013, self did.
Look, I’m a curmudgeon, I know. But, it has been a surprisingly welcome break to have missed out on all of twitter playing the WE NEED TO USE THIS HASHTAG IN EVERYTHING!?!? game that, franky, wrecks my feed. #sorrynotsorry.
So it is with mild dismay that I see that MLB and the Nats are doubling down on how much mindless traffic they can create on Twitter this year.
First, MLB is getting rid of paper All-Star Ballots. There is no way that the MLB is now going to go to a “one fan, one vote” model, but will almost certainly embrace a fully online model, which means insanity and lots and lots of urging by my fellow fanatics to GET LOMBO TO THE AAL STRR!!* (*Note that’s from 2011). The last few years of All-star voting have constituted hashtag wars between fans to get their players into the game, and that’s usually a great opportunity for me to mute a lot of things.
No paper ballots at the park means no contest by the Nats to fill out a ton of paper ballots means there will undoubtedly be some online contest for fans to fill out a ton of whatever-type-ballots they’ve switched to. I mean, of course that’s a great idea. It’s exactly what the Nats and MLB should do. I don’t begrudge them at all, and if it was my job to figure out what to do next it is probably exactly what I would do – but I am already tired of whatever it is, I’m sure.
The other is the dubious #DCisReady hashtag which was part of a press release from the team announcing they’d put int their bid to host the 2018 All-Star Game. I have to say, I don’t ever remember them announcing they put their bid in before, and certainly not with such gusto, so apart from the fact that DC is now, apparently, ready, what’s changed? And why do I feel I’m going to see this Hashtag a billion times between now and whenever they announce who is is hosting the game? (EDIT: H/T to @VandyGirl1998 and @HalfStreetHeart who sent me this link explaining I don’t ever remember this before because this is the first year the’ve done bids. It tempers my ire a bit, so thanks to them.)
Oh, and when I say dubious I don’t mean that it is dubious as to whether DC is ready to host an ASG: of course it is, and certainly by 2018 (unless all the horrible things in that 2016: Obama’s America movie come true*.) (*Note: They won’t).
No, the hashtag is dubious in this regard: The conventional wisdom was that 2018 was already coming to DC. Of course that’s attributable Boz’s “people with reason to know,” but this report from WaPo’s James Wagner also has them as the strongest candidate for 2018.
If the reasons for the Nationals not hosting an All Star Game are what we’ve all been lead to believe (originally they needed a new stadium, then that stadium needed to have infrastructure sufficient to host the game around it –restaurants, hotels, etc.-) then that’s largely been resolving itself over the last few years. Everything was put on hold in 2008 following the recession, but many more things are built up now (and everything that isn’t built up, more or less, has a plan now).
So why a twitter hashtag campaign? Is there any reason to believe that the grand deciders would be swayed by a public showing of a few keystrokes repeated over and over with clever Photoshops attached to them? How, precisely, would this help? Is anyone at MLB painfully unaware of DC’s ability to host things? Is there nowhere in the official bid to write “DC Is Ready” so they must ask us to do it? Does anyone think that we, as a fanbase, wouldn’t want the ASG? The Nats attendance has been in the top third of the league the last two years, so people are going to go. Did they see the Winter Classic?
Yes, DC is ready: But who really believes that someone at MLB HQ is going sit and read all of the #DCisREADY tweets and, then, prepare a report to the commish et al. detailing the joie de vive amongst Nats fans, and how that overcomes the current parking problems around the park?
My guess is that the Nats hope to leverage the fan base to put a very public face on something they all but know is going to happen anyway. The hype machine gives Nats fans with idle thumbs something to type and amuse themselves with as spring winds down, and when the ASG is granted to DC everyone can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. If, by some hook or crook, the city doesn’t get the ASG, well outrage will be righteously levied at HQ, who clearly didn’t read enough of the tweets that were sent. Nats fans end up at least feeling like they all did what the could.
New Commissioner Rob Manfred throwing out the first pitch at Opening Day. He had 30 places to choose from, he chose DC for a reason. A good team, big city, great fan base, on the rise, and (my guess) already a done deal for the All-Star Game.
The Beast Remains Unfed: I end today’s Friday roundup much the way I did last week’s: With a Harper controversy story- or rather just an allusion to one. Rather than focus on the apparent dissention between Manager Matt Williams and Bryce Harper, I’m going to shout out all my fellow bloggers who didn’t take the bait this week. It’s pretty telling that this was a radio topic for an hour on the football radio station, that it was a PTI topic, and that personal hero Dan Steinberg started his column with “I’m know you don’t want to read anymore…” which I think is code for “I can’t believe I have to write this, but…”.
It was a big media machine topic at its most classic: What can we squeeze from this bit of ephemera that ultimately means nothing? Can we find controversy where there probably isn’t any? Go through The Nats Blog, Citizens, Red Porch, Federal Baseball, and so on (there are many I’m leaving out, sorry) and you won’t see more than a passing mention of this nonsense. I didn’t even know it was a thing til I got in the car and heard it on the radio, then went back and looked it all up. It was a story not worth my time, and these sites rightly chose not to give much voice or time to them. There are no hot takes, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of a community that actively tries not to give voice to hot takes the way that traditional media now seems to thrive on.
So, kudos, gang.