WHY I HATE THE NATS (third in a continuing series, by Bledsoe) Game Thread

When we last left our hero (ahem), he was explaining how the Baghdad Bobs that are the Nats announcers had helped convert his mildly positive view of the Nats to a fairly negative one. The story continues:

  1. The owners are easy to hate.
  2. a. F.P. Santangelo is the biggest homer of all time.
  3. b. According to F.P. Santangelo, the Nats can only lose if the umpires cheat.

This particular criticism applies equally to Bob Carpenter, the play by play guy. Even the Nats radio guys get in on this particular act. It is simply this, Santangelo’s First Law of Baseball: ANY NATS LOSS OCCURS ONLY AS A DIRECT RESULT OF A BLOWN OR IMPROPER CALL BY THE UMPIRES IN THE GAME.

I have never seen or heard such whining by announcers in my entire sports life. Heck, I’ve never heard such whining by ADULTS in my entire life. And the availability of replays or Pitchtrack does nothing to quell the accusations of bad umping. After F.P. rails about a strike call against a Nats batter, and PitchTrack shows that it got all plate, F.P. will say, and this is a direct quote: “I don’t care what PitchTrack says, that’s not a strike!”

Or his partner Carpenter will shout in disbelief “Where was that?!” if a Nats pitcher didn’t get a strike call on a 3-2 pitch, and then PitchTrack will show that the pitch was 4-6 inches off the plate. Care to reconsider, Bob? Crickets. The battle against the video, the One-Eye that Don’t Lie, never ceases. If a ball/strike call goes against the Nats, and the PitchTrack confirms the call was correct, no matter: F.P., or Bob, or both, will say, “That’s been a strike all night” (when Nats are pitching) or “That’s been a ball all night” (when Nats are batting). Even if the disputed call had nothing to do with the eventual play, F.P. will still tell you that the game hinged on that one (correct, but disputed by F.P.) call.

Example: Nats are in the field, and the second pitch of an at-bat is borderline and called a ball. Five pitches later, the pitcher serves up a gopher ball. F.P. or Bob will then point to the borderline second pitch and laboriously explain that since they didn’t get that call five pitches ago, the pitcher’s only option was to throw the slow fastball waist-high down the middle that the batter crushed.

Similarly, the Nats’ opponents do not succeed in their efforts through talent or craft. It is only due to the umpires’ bias against the Nationals or in favor of the opponent. Thus, according to these clowns, Aaron Harang is the most successful pitcher in the league, not in throwing low strikes on the outside corner, but “in getting the call on the low outside corner.” Another verbatim quote. It’s not that he’s throws strikes, it’s merely that the umpires CALL them strikes, see? Harang’s not actually getting the Nats out — it’s those cheating umps, who are either being fooled, or are biased in his favor.

The accusations that the umpires are stupid, blind, or dishonest occur every game, and usually every inning. I honestly do not understand why MLB doesn’t tell these guys to cut it out or face discipline. They’re team employees, openly and repeatedly accusing the umpires of incompetence or cheating. Every. Single. Game. I would think MLB would be less than happy about that.

It is childish, not to mention bad sportsmanship, to blame your opponent’s success on the officiating. And with F.P., there is no other possible explanation. Indeed, the First Corollary to Santangelo’s First Law of Baseball is: WITH COMPETENT AND FAIR UMPIRING, THE NATS WOULD NEVER LOSE.

    c. The clichés.

Oh Lord. He can’t hold a candle to McCarver, but who could?

“There goes the no-hitter.” (When batter gets a hit, usually in the first inning – he says it every game.)

“Are you kidding me?”

“He offered.” (swung)

“How cool is that?”

“Keep the line moving.”

“That’s playing the game the right way.”

Of all of these, the last is my favorite, because it’s usually (always?) accompanied by some reminiscing about how they did it back in F.P.’s playing days. And because, in truth, F.P. has no idea about “playing the game the right way.” He’s a known juicer/HGH abuser, as the Mitchell Report will attest. (As a .245 lifetime hitter, who slugged .351 – maybe you shoulda talked to Radomski about upping the dosage, F.P.). So, unless you’re maybe giving advice about the best injection sites, just put a sock in it, Francis.

Next and last: The Nationals players.

247 thoughts on “WHY I HATE THE NATS (third in a continuing series, by Bledsoe) Game Thread”

  1. “He offered” is just baseball jargon, not a cliche. As for the rest, you make it sound like they’re worse than Chip Caray, which, if true… I don’t feel the need to subject myself to firsthand knowledge.

  2. Best one yet.

    Your comments about the Natouncers remind me of watching Steve Stone/Chip Caray call Cubs games on WGN. No opposing team ever succeeded through their own talents according to Stone and Caray. Rather, the Cubs failed every single time. Occasionally it was refreshing to hear announcers criticize their own team, but mostly it was as unthinking and simplistic as the worst homerism. I know everyone makes fun of cap-tipping, but sometimes you do need to acknowledge the skills of the other side. No wonder they got fired.

  3. Excellent, bledsoe.

    As bad as they are, the real question, though, is whether or not Nats fans buy into it. To make an analogy, there may be Braves fans somewhere who believe that a team that hits every single pitch to the opposite field would never lose a game, but I’ve never met any of them. Homeritis never really bothers me if it’s sufficiently inept.

  4. Nats fans broadly fall into one of the following two categories:

    1) Grew up in the area, rooted for the Orioles, switched to the team that’s closer.
    2) Moved to the area, grew up rooting for another team, decided to switch to the team that’s closer.

    There is a smaller category, 3), that is more diehard: 3) Huge sports fans growing up but were never close to a major league team — or they lost their team — so the Nats are really the first team they’ve been able to call their own.

    As a result of falling into one of the first two categories, many Nats fans typically are more casual. Many parents will switch to the team that’s closest, so that they can raise their kids rooting for the local team. But Nats fans are not obsessively self-loathing like Phillies fans; they’re not obsessively masochistic like Mets fans; most of them are not obsessively anything, really. They enjoy going to a nice ballgame and they just can’t understand why Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs in 7 innings again, especially when he’s supposed to be so good.

  5. There is a (declining) fourth category – Senators fans who grudgingly moved to the O’s after the axe fell and are coming home to the Nats – I would be in this category had I not moved (and still I have a bit of boyhood love for the franchise of my hometown).

  6. Carpenter may not be the world’s best announcer (way better than Chip, though), but his scorebook is really nice for fans who go to a lot of games and keep score.

  7. I would add:

    4) Randomly decided to go to the game, rather than brunch, to get mildly drunk with friends. Because, you know, the guy with the beard, and stuff. BEARDS.
    5) Corporate-types who really thought a baseball game might be a good place to GET ON A CONFERENCE CALL. Seriously. I’ve seen someone tell the people next to him to try to keep it down because he was on an important call during the game. This was in completely affordable seats on the left field side.

  8. “they just can’t understand why Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs in 7 innings again, especially when he’s supposed to be so good.”

    Hmm… Did people take logic in DC?

    If A, then B + not B ==> not A

    Make a few adjustments for the probabilistic nature of the statement, and there you have it! Strasburg is no Harang.

  9. One of the SportsCenter anchors (can’t remember who, they all start to sound the same after a while) started his Nationals highlights the other night with “Pickin’ apples, makin’ pies” and it was the best thing because if any franchise in MLB is half-awake in a fake empire, it’s that one.

  10. I’m a little late on this, but I’d like to submit:

    Santana and Harang, what the interrobang?!

  11. I got a friend who is a Nats fan. He grew up in the area, and prefers to Nats to the O’s because he hates Peter Angelos. Or he hates the O’s because he blames Peter Angelos for keeping baseball from coming to DC sooner. Or something.

    I swear, living here almost makes me feel good about having a corporate owner.

  12. Also, Boz defended the Harper benching:

    The problem of Harper’s lack of hustle when he’s sulking extends back to last year at least. In fact, several days ago the entire team was warned that the next man who didn’t run out a ball was coming out of the game. Teammates like Harper, but they back Williams.

    The gap between the reality of Harper — the good but miles-from-great player, the very good but immature young man — and the five-year-long hype of Harper as a two-time all-star and a future face of baseball needs to narrow considerably, for both the good of the Nationals and the 21-year-old Harper. His sixth-inning quick hook was the first step. No one knows if more will be needed.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/bryce-harper-needed-a-reality-check-and-matt-williams-gave-it-to-him-with-benching/2014/04/20/4d207b18-c8ce-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html

  13. I know a couple of passionate Nats fans. They’re people who are huge baseball fans and huge supporters of their hometown (one from DC, one from Arlington who considers himself DC). As soon as the city they love finally got a top level team in the sport they love, they immediately took ownership. It’s not about the team being closer, it’s about the team being theirs.

  14. In non-Braves related news, Burnley has been promoted to the Premiere League of the EPL, and Arthur Blank is bringing MLS to Atlanta. I really hope they name the MLS team “Terminus.” Not “the Atlanta Terminus.” Just “Terminus.”

  15. @18, that’s a fair point and makes a lot of sense. And there are definitely some older ex-Senators fans in the area. But the Nats don’t have anything like a built-in fanbase in the same way the Wizards or Capitals do, and the top team in the region still is and probably always will be the Skins, at least until the Nationals finally win all those World Series they think they’re supposed to win. There definitely are some passionate diehard Nats fans. There just aren’t that many yet. As the 2005 babies get older, and more kids grow up with the team, I think the fanbase will turn over and become a lot more devoted.

  16. @17 – In a chat today, Boswell said this about Williams pulling Harper:

    “The team was specifically told several days ago that the next guy who doesn’t run out a ball is coming out of the game. As to the quad, Harper missed a game on Weds that happened to be against Jose Fernandez. Other players always look for “coincidences.” The next game, he laid down a bunt against Wainwright, flew to first and looked fine. After he went 0-for-4, he threw his helmet. Turns out that 0-fer snapped a nine-game hitting streak. Not much of a streak. But teammates noticed.”

    I wonder if there’s anything there, or if Boswell is putting his own thoughts in to the mouths of anonymous “players.” Note that he doesn’t say “one player told me,” or “some players think.” He, probably purposely, uses the general “Players look for ‘coincidences'” to give the claim the weight of a player’s opinion, without claiming anybody actually said that. He gets a little more specific with the “But teammates noticed,” but he’s careful not to claim anyone but himself has spoken out loud about Harper’s little conspiracy.

    EDIT, I see Adam R. beat me to the reference. So consider this comment not to be news but rather, erm… comment-ary.

  17. Simmons’s error was all Tom Hart’s fault. As soon as Hart uttered the words “Andrelton Simmons has near-perfect defense every night” in his opener, I fully expected Simmons to commit an error tonight. The fact that it happened with the first batter of the night makes it that much more ironic.

  18. Pretty sure Chip just said “Brent Butler” instead of Brett Butler. I rewound it and I am fairly certain that is what he said…clown

  19. Hitting ain’t that easy. Sometime you don’t pick up the break until you’ve started swinging.

  20. And sometimes you start swinging before the pitcher’s even decided what he’s going to pitch.

  21. He’s swinging at pitches he can barely reach. That’s twice in two days he’s thrown his bat into the left handed batters box to reach a breaking ball. He’s just guessing.

  22. In Boswell’s chat last week, he said that Uggla deliberately took out Span in a dirty play because he was mad about his error. And that’s why Gio hit Uggla.

    Uggla never entered the game that Gio pitched (Pastornicky got the start.)

    Like I said, he’s losing his mind.

  23. I can tell these guys are really comfortable hitting off Koehler, because they’re trying to make sure he stays out there all night.

  24. It’s not hibernation mode when you were never awake to begin with. I feel sorry for the 7000 in attendance tonight.

  25. 7000? That is an optimistic number.

    Wow…,someone finally made solid contact. Nice job Andrelton

  26. If Mat Latos makes it back healthy some time in May I think the Reds win the central. The Brewers are not for real. The Bucs managed to get worse in the offseason. The Cards have great starting pitching but their bullpen is overrated and aside from Yadier their offense flat out stinks.

  27. This guy has thrown only a handful of breaking ball strikes the entire game (and Andrelton crushed one of those few). I would eliminate that pitch entirely and sit fastball.

  28. I don’t want to be too choosy with Freddie. But that’s 4 GDP so far. He’s on pace for like, 37 of those.

  29. I’ll give their pitcher his due…he’s been good tonight. That slider/slurve looking thing is giving us fits.

  30. Marlins have gone down on 8, 10 and 6 pitches the last 3 innings. They got Julio right back in to this game, he had 68 thrown through 4.

  31. I know the Marlins aren’t exactly the defending world champions, but Teheran just went 7 innings, allowed five hits, and struck out 8 men while allowing just one walk. Other than the solo homer — and that ball Heyward just caught — they couldn’t really touch him.

    Kid’s a hell of a pitcher.

  32. I agree with holding him up there. Let’s see if we can get a guy in from 3rd with one out. Lately that’s been mission impossible.

  33. Ok Freddie… Earn your keep sir

    Edit- or not… Damn Freddie…. The offense sucks when he is good, down right pathetic when he struggles

  34. Redman: “How’s your arm?”
    Dunn: “It feels fine, Skip.”
    Redman: “Then get this guy, or I’ll break it.”

  35. Freddie has been hot garbage ever since he told Chipper that pitchers have nothing they can get him out with.

  36. Bullpen has a 5.77 ERA in the last 10 games, giving up 1+ runs in 9 of them. And Ozuna nearly made it even worse.

  37. I don’t know about you guys, but a Walden-Stanton match up scares the hell out of me. That could turn into a record setting shot when 98 flat meets bat speed

  38. Dan Uggla used to be a good ball player. Dan Uggla is not a good ball player. Dan Uggla is a Brave. Dan Uggla shouldn’t be a Brave any longer.

  39. If Uggla was fielding a pop-up that would be ruled safe via the “transfer” rule. No idea if the same applies now on double-play turns…in the old days before the “rules” were enforced the play that just happened was 100% of the time ruled an out. In 2014 rules I have no idea what the right call is here.

  40. A long delay is a good sign. It has to be definitive to overturn it. If it was definitive they’d have an answer quickly.

  41. 96- Dan Uggla is owed about $25 million on top of what we’ve already paid him. So Dan Uggla will continue to be a Braves because the Braves don’t understand sunk costs or don’t trust Tommy La Stella, or both.

    95- I’m sure you hate being right.

  42. You gotta sit Uggla tomorrow. He’s gotta get his head in the game, and he apparently needs a sign to that effect.

  43. If they lose yet another game due to Uggla’s bad defense, I think this would lead to a switch at 2nd base before his bad hitting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a change tomorrow if they lose this game

  44. and he’s made 3 outs on 3 pitches too….

    this game was lost when Jup struck out on a fastball down the middle with the bases loaded.

  45. @100, I do hate being right. I hate this insanely stupid ruling on the transfer play. It has led to some preposterously bad calls over the last couple of weeks and I cannot imagine that they will not overturn it in the next couple of weeks. But for right now, that is how they are calling it, and it is appalling.

  46. Whether it’s fair or not, if the Braves lose this division or a wild-card spot by one game, I know who I’m blaming. (Forgive me, but I’m speaking in irrational anger here.)

  47. Well that strikeout was good for Walden. Now that there’s two outs, when all three of these runs score, they’ll all be unearned.

  48. Good job, Walden.

    Edit: Luckily Uggla limited this inning’s fuckup to just one error unlike, say Ian Desmond who managed two in the eighth to spot the Angels a three run lead.

  49. geeez, you can see how uggla’s trembling and tentative every single time a ball is not hit directly at him.

  50. Walden managed to get five outs that inning without allowing a run. Braves pitchers have picked up their fielders tonight.

  51. You can live a long time with bad offense if your other guys are going good. Don’t know that you can hold out very long with a middle infielder who has just lost the ability to consistently catch and throw the baseball. I have to think the organization is seriously considering the La Stella option.

  52. Anaheim just scored 4 on Clippard, and, I know this is going to surprise some of you… they were all unearned because Desmond made an error.

  53. Great job by Walden.

    Uggla fielded that third out like a hockey goalie. That was more smothered than a Waffle House waffle. Whatever it takes, I guess.

    He sucks at… catching things.

  54. we should keep count of who has more at the end of the season, Gattis walks or Simba K’s

    (I think they’re 2 a piece at the moment).

  55. Chip: “This is Kimbrel’s first home appearance since last home stand.” They just got back from a 9-game road trip. No duh.

    Also, the nice thing about this is that it looks like the Marlins will score a few this inning, and we won’t have to worry about another extra inning game.

  56. I really want this to be Dan’s fault. I hate Dan. I like Craig. Can we go back and let Walden blow it, so this can be Dan’s fault?

  57. 151- Well, the nice thing isn’t so nice. I mean, I know what you’re getting at, and another 14-inning loss would be a bit much to take right now.

  58. Kimbrel had to just strike everyone else out to escape with a tie. Maybe he will just do that from batter one next time.

  59. Alright, that was completely shitty…so might as well turn it into another well-deserved vulture win.

  60. I’ve been watching this on Strikeout . co, and after Kimbrel gave up the double, the guy uploading the game changed the channel to the History Channel. Which makes me wonder if my dad is streaming games for Strikeout . co

    EDIT: I should say, “which has me convinced, my dad is streaming games for Strikeout . co”

  61. @154 I was trying to find something positive out of this, but unfortunately, it didn’t even happen. Our bullpen is now going to be crummy and shot.

  62. Jason’s a lefty—just let him pull a grounder there for crying out loud. Way to over manage, Fredi.

  63. I was in the Navy with a guy named Stewart Pidd. His parents must have wanted a girl.

    Edit: Oh, Freddie.

    Another Edit: Et tu, Justin? Nope, good eye.

  64. I mean, of all the people to give a free out, Carlos “BB/9” Marmol? And with the guy on the team most likely to take the free base?

  65. How could I know exactly what was going to happen.. how could EVERYONE HERE KNOW exactly what was going to happen… and Fredi doesn’t know?

  66. Here’s the good news: eventually, when you discover that no one on your team can bunt, you’ll stop asking them to, whether it makes sense or not.

  67. I don’t usually quibble with guys who don’t suck swinging at the first pitch… but this is Carlos Marmol out there. And he just walked a bad hitter on 5 pitches. You give him a chance to fall behind you.

  68. Damn.. Why can’t Uggla play defense for them too? I figure Stanton hits the go ahead homer here in a minute after we threw away that opportunity

  69. Freeman hits like .400 or something silly on the first pitch…I have no problem with that…ever. Really no problem with anyone swinging at the first pitch.

    I have a problem with bunting, and our usage thereof.

  70. @202 Well he did and it was a hittable pitch. But funny thing about this game, it’s hard. Even hittable pitches aren’t always turned into hits. Why, it’s almost like there’s a step between intentions and results that members of this board seem to pretend don’t exist. Not every failure is a problem of approach, or indicative of a player who doesn’t care. Sometimes a hard task simply isn’t completed successfully.

  71. More good news: (OK… I’m drunk, and I tend to get good-natured when I’m drunk) Kimbrel didn’t deserve to win this game, so it’s good that he didn’t.

  72. 206- You’re right, Grst. It’s just that we’d cut down the odds of success in so many ways before Freddie swung.

  73. Hopefully this next half inning is one of those rare occasions where it pays off to have two of your four best hitters batting in the 7th and 8th spots.

  74. I do believe I’ve got things properly set up for us to win in the 10th via a sac-bunt and/or squeeze.

  75. @206, I’m sure that he cares, and usually I’m all in favor of hitters swinging at a first-pitch fastball. But Carlos Marmol is famously wild and he was having trouble finding the zone all inning. I’d much prefer our hitters adopt an approach of grinding him down and running up his pitch count, rather than trying to be aggressive. Even if Freeman is generally very good at hitting first-pitch fastballs, Marmol’s entire career is built on being “effectively wild.” Getting guys to swing at the first pitch is one of the most reliable ways for him to beat you.

    Remember, this guy has been in the major leagues a long time. He has a track record.

  76. I wonder just how record breaking awful Arizona would be this season if they didn’t have that grit. Tonight they are getting hammered by the Cubs.

  77. “Why, it’s almost like there’s a step between intentions and results that members of this board seem to pretend don’t exist.”

    Why, it’s almost as if you’ve stumbled upon a sports blog, on the internet.

  78. Guys, I’m serious, we might have seen the last of Evan Gattis in a Braves uni. You gotta bunt right there.

  79. 235 — Yeah, that came as a surprise to me also. I figured he must have had one too with all the late inning clutch hits he got last season.

  80. No love for my EUREKA call? After Gattis hits a bomb off a dude named Archimedes or however he chooses to spell it? Too obvious I guess.

  81. I just hope Fredi doesn’t hurt him too bad, after swinging away right through that bunt sign..

  82. @240, wait, the guy’s name was Archimedes?! I think that got lost on all of us because we were getting mentally prepared to watch Gattis try to bunt.

    Well played.

  83. @240 -I think it was ruined by Chip being on the same page. Which isn’t your fault. But still. Chip ruins everything for everybody.

  84. @244- I was only watching the game on gameday, didn’t hear Chip say that. Now I am scarred for life and will refrain from commenting permanently.

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