2014 NL East Champs! (MANY MANY PICTURES)




Warning. This post is HUGE!!!!


In case you some how missed it, the Washington Nationals won their second National League East crown in three years last night, beating the Braves in Atlanta 3-0. The Nationals are now 87-63 and have a legitimate chance to have the best record in the NL East.


Below the jump are all the screen captures I took of the Washington Nationals celebration on the field and in the locker room. They are behind the jump because there are like 60 of them, and it will let you visit our page without having to load all of them unless you click the post. There are some good ones, so enjoy!

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Talking Points: Different Weekend, Same Story


Look gang, this week’s talking points…I”m not in a super chipper mood. I know normally I’ve taken on the tone of “hey it’ll all be okay” but I’ve got to admit, this has got me spooked. As such the talking points I’m giving you this week may be a bit more dour than you are used to.

It’s not that they got swept by the Braves, it’s that they got themselves hurt doing it.

  • It’s true. Friday I was engaged in several twitter chains talking about the relative “worth” of a game against the Braves. In my mind, the games are not much more important than against any other NL East team. So with only 6 games done, and 13 to go I wouldn’t say I’m happy about the Nats being 1-5 against the Braves, but I’m not ready to panic yet.
  • Although, I guess while we are on the topic the only reason I have to not panic is the larger, grander scheme of baseball. Things tend to even out, and good teams tend to go in peaks and valleys. So I’m really just sort of betting black here because it keeps coming up red and it just has to come up black sooner or later, right? right? (Translation: The Nats have certainly given me very little reason to believe they can beat Atlanta…but I felt that way about the Nats/Phillies series for years, so it could happen!)
  • No, the real problem is that the Nats added to their walking (or not walking) wounded. Doug Fister has yet to make a start, Scott Hairston pulled a lat and Wilson Ramos is also out a month before the series started.
  • By the start of the game on Sunday Denard Span was put on the 7 day DL as an overly cautious move to protect against concussion, Jayson Werth (who is still playing) pulled his groin, and Ryan Zimmerman broke his thumb getting tagged out on a slide back to second base.
  • The only way I saw the Nats losing was through extensive injury. Go ahead, look through our 2014 player previews. This is how it starts.

There is no good time to miss players, but April is better than September for sure.  Plus, the Nats are in much better shape than last year to deal with injuries.

  • As Citizens of Natstown tweeted above, and most reasonable baseball people agree, the Nats bench this year is much better suited to deal with a month long injuries.
  • The infield depth is much better than the outfield depth, so having to shift guys around there is a little easier. Nate McLouth profiles very well to replace Denard Span in CF (particularly given Denard’s slowish start…again) for the short term.  
  • And yeah, all the games count equally, so missing Zim, Ramos, Span, Fister, etc. is never a good thing. But if you could choose to to get them back in a month and still have most of the season to go, or lose them to injury near the end of the year during a playoff push…well I’ll take this version. The 2012 Nats were successful in large part because they managed to tread water for about 2-3 months while starters recovered from injury. The post-all-star-break Nats were in good shape down the stretch because the team got more talented without having to trade for it.
  • Unfortunately, my mindset is changed. I don’t expect the Nats to go out there and own it for the next month (though I’m happy to be surprised). I’m now in full “tread water” mode. I expect they’ll be keeping pace, rather than setting it, and hopefully pouring it on starting in June or so.
  • Yeah I don’t know what Mike Rizzo is thinking here. I mean you’re the GM, you have to stick up for your guys…but maybe not say it like that.
  • Not that I think the Braves are scouring for bulletin board martial, nor do I believe that is really a “thing,” but I think you can say “we have full confidence in our team” and “We know we can win these games.” Without having to posit you are both “not scared” and are better than the team that has handed your team’s ass to it over the last going on two years.

Nationals101 has it all wrong. James O’Hara was the only voice of reason all weekend during that series. 

  • James is another wonderful writer over at CitsofNatstown. He wrote this on Saturday and you should read it. here are his tweets from when I was indulging in full on panic mode:

  • All of these things are completely true and ought to give Nats fans smarting from an ass-kicking in Atlanta. Take solace in the young man’s wisdom, and follow him on twitter.

Talking Points #5: #Wedgegate, Four Outta Six and Improved Depth.


Don’t like baseball? Don’t feel like you know very much about it? Don’t think that should stop you from sounding like you do? Nats101 presents Talking Points, a weekly series designed to take advantage of the BSing nature of Washington D.C., and make you sound like a seamhead on your very first try. (And maybe learn ya some baseball while we’re at it).

Look – I hated that call, but Justin Upton wasn’t being lazy, he was playing a gamble that paid off. If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at the Umpires. 

  • Hopefully you made it to Opening Day and had some fun despite the 2-1 loss to the Braves. The play of the day was Ian Desmond’s inside the park home run turned ground rule double that had to do with the picture above. It drew great ire from the home crowd, as it should have. Still why just sound like everyone else?
  • Federal Baseball did a great write-up of what happened and how the rule 7.05(f) affected the play. Credit where credit is due, you should read their article.
  • Upton, as an MLB outfielder, knows that if a ball is “lodged” he can raise his hands and the play is dead. He had nothing to lose as Desmond is a fast runner and this hit was at least a triple. If he indicates he can’t get the ball he’s going to put it into the mind of the umpires that the play should be ended. It paid off
  • The problem, of course, is that the ball was easily picked up and tossed in after Upton indicated the ball was lodged. In the picture above you can see is not lodged under the padding. it must have rolled forward enough that it wasn’t “under” the padding.
  • As such, in your talking points, you can take pains to say that Justin Upton made a smart, if dirty, play. The history of baseball is built upon plays like that. Save your ire for the umpires who didn’t make a quick call on the field nor got it right in review.

Forget how they got there, if I told you on March 30 the Nats would be 4-2 after 6 games you’d be pretty happy about it. 

  • The common wisdom in baseball is to “win the series at home and split on the road.” Given the usual three game structure of a series, winning 2 and losing one at home is okay. If you have two road series (6 games) winning 3 of those 6 is really good.
  • Expectations can get a little pumped up after a 3 games sweep of the lowly Mets. It’s also pretty easy to get deflated after the Nats drop two out of three to the not so lowly Atlanta Braves at home.
  • But that’s baseball. It doesn’t come in actual neat little 3 game packages. Yes, 3-0 is great opportunity to shoot for 5-1 with a home series, but if you fall short that’s what the extra win in New York gets you. Winning two-thirds of your games will get you 108 games. (That’s a ton of wins).
  • The Nats will play 15 more games against the Braves and Mets each. They won’t lose each series to the Braves, and I’d be surprised if they won each series against the Mets. Going 12-6 against either team ought to be considered the outer limits of “great job.” Anything less than that can still be really good, including 10-8 or even 9-9 against the Braves.

The Nationals need some of the guys to come back healthy, but at least they are in a much better position than last year to absorb some of the injuries. 

  • Sunday featured the sixth different line-up in six games for the Washington Nationals. While some of that is juggling by Matt Williams, a chunk of that is injury. The big blow was to Wilson Ramos in game one who’ll be out 5 weeks. After that though, the Nats have had a series of smaller injuries take their toll.
  • Ryan Zimmerman has a sore shoulder (though no structural damage). Scott Hairston hurt himself in batting practice and is on the 15-day DL. Oh and Doug Fister, of course, hasn’t started the season yet.
  • The good news is flash forward to Sunday: On top of no Hairston, Ramos and  Zimmerman, the Nats gave Denard Span and Bryce Harper the day off. Instead of Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracey, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi and… gosh…I don’t even know, Tyler Moore?, the Nats have a solidly deep bench that didn’t really flinch on Sunday. Sure, Danny Espinosa, Jose Lobaton, Nate McLouth, Kevin Frandsen and… well….okay, still Tyler Moore is a serious step up.
  • Sunday’s lineup isn’t built to win a lot of games, but they are built to be competent in games occasionally (and even more effective when all five of them are not in at once). With the news that some of these injuries are already looking better (and that some guys were just pulled for rest), the Nats ought to be in a much better position to weather short term injury bugs.
  • Particularly if Zim misses a few days. His bat is a big loss, but the flexibility to move Rendon to third and put Espinosa at second is a huge help…as long as that stays short term for now.

 Did you read David Huzzard’s piece on MASN? I mean, I usually read him on Citizens of Natstown too, but his post on the myth of the 25 man roster was very insightful. 

  • Dave Huzzard is a smart damned baseball dude. The only thing new followers need to be aware of is that sometimes he’s sarcastic with no remorse…as in he won’t clue you in that he’s being sarcastic, he’ll just let you hang there. (I can almost see his “I am never sarcastic” tweet right now).
  • He writes for the Citizens of Natstown blog, a network that we are happy to say we got our start under three years ago. He’s such a good blogger though that he also writes for MASN-the official TV Network for the Washington Nationals.
  • He wrote a very clever piece outlining the myth that who makes the 25 man roster out of spring training is particularly important in the long run of a full season. You should read the article, and you should follow Dave if you’re not already.

Nationals 101 Podcast S2E5: Opening Day Double Switcheroo Holy Cow What Was That?


Season 2 Episode 5

It’s our first podcast of the actual, for reals, 2013 Season!  Opening Day and sweeping the Marlins, putting the Reds series into perspective, what’s a double switch (and why do it?) and what to expect from the White Sox/Braves series.  All that and much, much more with Frank and Susan as we get this party started right!

Sweater Vest Night is coming up!  Get gussied up and come on out!