"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

National Velvet

Aw, Joe Girardi seemed so cheerful and carefree after tonight’s game. Playing the Washington Nationals: better than Swedish massage.*

C.C. Sabathia pitched very well over 7.2 innings; the only blip was a what-the-hell moment in the fifth when  Anderson Hernandez doubled his lifetime home run total with a three-run shot. That gave the Nats a 3-2 lead, but  it was short-lived once manger Manny “Dead Man Walking… Out to the Mound” Acta turned to his bullpen (hi Ron Villone!). Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano had the big RBIs, helped out a bit there by Elijah Dukes’ fielding choices. Final score: Yanks 5, Nats 3.

Meanwhile, I can’t decide if I want the Nats to break the 1962 Mets’ loss record or not. On the one hand, I’ve often felt that if your team’s going to be bad, they might as well be epically, historically bad. That way you get that mesmerizing car-crash factor. (For example, I actually watched the Knicks more often a few years ago, because they were such an unbelievable mess that you never knew what was going to go mind-bogglingly wrong next; now that they’re merely pretty bad, they’re not that interesting).

On the other hand, though, I don’t really see D.C. embracing the Nats as a bunch of lovable losers, like New Yorkers (or at least the New York media) did with the Mets in ’62. And those Mets had an excuse – brand new team and lousy expansion draft players – that the Nationals don’t; there’s nothing particularly charming about chronic front office mismanagement. Plus I like Manny Acta.

So basically, I’m rooting for them to lose 120 if it’d be fun and zany, but not if it’s going to be all soul-crushing. What do you guys think? Want to see the Nats go for history, or should we pull for the record to stay in New York, where it belongs?

*Just in case they go on to take the next two games from the Yankees, I’d like to apologize in advance for the hubris.

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1 jeaner   ~  Jun 17, 2009 12:47 am

I am a lifetime Yankee fan who has been living in DC for the past 20 years, so I really don't want the Nats to lose 120. It will definitely not create a loveable loser syndrome here, it will create, no, it will increase, utter apathy for baseball in the Nation's Capital. And there is some talent on this Nat's team, although very little is apparent in the owner's box.
Don't forget, we will all be rooting for Ryan ZImmerman and these Nats next week when they play the Sox!

2 Bobtaco   ~  Jun 17, 2009 12:59 am

I think they (team officials/fans) are excited at the opportunity to win the Bryce Harper sweepstakes next year, and seeing Strasburg sign this year.
See this url: http://tinyurl.com/n23spp

Maybe they can enjoy the short term pain if it means they get to secure the top talent in the long term. Just look how long it took the Rays to get into the picture.

3 Edwardian   ~  Jun 17, 2009 1:01 am

I am also a lifelong Yankees fan and have lived in DC since 1971, the year DC lost the Senators to Texas (AAAARGH). Jeaner is right. DC is a pretty serious and competitive place. Losses are no fun. The Lerner family has pretty much blown its opportunity to get the city to bond with the team by putting together such a stinker of a club year after year. If the team significantly improves, the people here might give the Nats a second shot. That's less likely though if the team comes in historically bad this year.

4 Emma Span   ~  Jun 17, 2009 1:05 am

P.S. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for the post title. I'm tired, and pretty much just picked something with "National" in it... even though it's got, if we're being honest, no connection whatsoever to tonight's game.

[1] Yes, you're probably right. I like a bunch of the Nats - Zimmerman, Nick Johnson, nice guy Wil Nieves, etc - and I want to see the franchise do well in general; I'm just wondering if over-the-top disaster might not be more of a draw than plain old bad. Maybe not in this case.

5 Edwardian   ~  Jun 17, 2009 1:20 am

[4] No, not a chance, Emma. Not with this city's baseball history. Pray for us. Or something.

6 Rich   ~  Jun 17, 2009 1:22 am

I went to school in DC for my freshman year of college, and the local TV station (WTOP) used to do a 30 minute sports report every Sunday night that was only about the Redskins. *yawn* A that time, the NY metro area TV stations devoted less than five minutes to sports during a newscast.

Anyway, the Yankees need to sweep this series. There is no substitute.

7 RIYank   ~  Jun 17, 2009 6:44 am

I always like to Experience History, so I was going to say I'm rooting for the epically bad season. But then you mentioned the Knicks, and now I can't do it. I can't wish that kind of pain on another city's fans, even if there are only a handful of real Nat fans left.

So I hope the Nationals go on a tear... just not now, please.

8 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 17, 2009 7:41 am

@ 4

Well, CC has got the Ruben Studdard look - you know, the Velvet Teddybear - and that's not a bad nickname for CC!

9 rbj   ~  Jun 17, 2009 8:34 am

[8] "Velvet" Sabathia. I like.
Yankees win, Veras gets DFA'ed. Good day in Yankeeland.

10 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 17, 2009 8:52 am

I'm with those who want the Nats to do better starting with their next series ... but I think it is meaningless, as 'better' has no significance in last place. The city is 'off' the team by now, almost certainly. Two superstar kids might create brief interest, but they need money and intelligence (both) to make a ballclub.

Ted Keith, in si.com makes a good point about the utter lack of surprise regarding the Sosa drug revelation. I'm going to be consistent and say it remains a legal/ethical disgrace that these names are coming out, and the sin (it seems) is on the union for not having the list destroyed BUT once A Rod was leaked (in advance of a book that, happily, did not sell at all, it seems) leaving him alone out there with 102 names hidden was a greater disgrace I thought then, and still. Keith's point is that everyone had pretty much assumed Sosa was using, no presumption of innocence for him. It'll get a bit more complicated when the next active player gets revealed off that list and Sosa DOES have a perjury issue now.

Last night? I'll just say it is awfully nice to see Yankees winning by, in good part, making terrific defensive plays. Who ARE these guys?

11 The Mick536   ~  Jun 17, 2009 8:57 am

And A-Rod now bats in the .220s. What the hey? I ain't watching closely, but there is something amiss, yes.

As for the Mets of 1962, make no comparisons. I recently reread Breslin's book and it all came back to me. I was a junior in High School. Drove with friends to the Polo Grounds from Stamford. Sat through a few double headers. Stands regularly empty. People followed on TV and newspapers--Tribune, Telegram, Mirror, News, Journal American, Times (those were the days). They were bad. The Nats don't have Casey or Marvelous Marv.

12 RIYank   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:05 am

Joe Mauer knocked out four hits yesterday and is now hitting .429.

At what point in the summer do you start thinking he has a significant chance (say 5%) of actually batting .400 for the season? He's currently has too few PA for the leader board, but I believe he could win the batting title with too few PA as long as he's so far ahead of everyone else that adding enough outs to make up the PA difference would still leave him with the highest average. (That's true now -- he's miles ahead of Ichiro.) In any case, barring another long stint on the DL he'll be eligible by the All Star Break.

13 The Hawk   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:11 am

[12] If he's still under the minimum PA, I'd say it's too soon to say. It'd be another matter if he was hitting .429 w/o all that time on the DL.

Anyway, it's highly unlikely he'll do it, needless to say.

14 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:12 am

.429 is ridiculous, but with the injury it is at least a small enough sample to not have everyone drop-jawed ... yet! He's protected beautifully by Morneau (yes, I know, some people think protection doesn't matter, and I wonder if a .230 hitter is really protecting Teixeira now, for how long does rep protect?) and his home park is a great place for his stroke. The power is the surprise.

If he is still above .400 at the break, the talk will start...

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:23 am


Not to be confused with "National Velveeta"
(you know, cause going through their lineup is liking slicing through that cheese) :-)

16 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:24 am


If they can DH him often enough, and he manages to stay away from his usual leg injuries, he MIGHT (might) have a shot, given how few PAs he has.

He sure ain't gonna be getting any "leg" hits.

17 RagingTartabull   ~  Jun 17, 2009 9:25 am

I'll always have something of a soft spot for the Nats. I was a Hill intern their first summer in DC and hit up a few games at RFK. Junior Spivey, Termell Sledge, Brad Wilkerson, Vinny Castilla...they flirted with .500 up until August and then the fans started getting way too cocky (seriously, you can't be talking about putting down a deposit on playoff tickets when you're 2 games under). RFK was also one of the worst stadiums I've ever been to...and I've been to Montreal.

18 Raf   ~  Jun 17, 2009 10:05 am

[17] At least Montreal had smoked meat sammiches, labbatts & the happy wanderer...

It's a crime what MLB did to that franchise, and it was totally unnecessary. If baseball could survive in Cleveland and Atlanta, it could survive Montreal. Especially with the *ahem* extracurricular activities the city offered.

But alas, it's the deadest of dead horses, the Expos are gone, and they aren't coming back. Montrealers don't seem to mind, either.

19 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 2:23 pm

[12] .429??? In JUNE???

Sweet Jesus.


Wish I could watch him play day in and day out.

20 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 2:24 pm

Btw, can anyone tell me where Rod Carew and George Brett were this far into the season when they hit .388 and .390, respectively? (Carew in--'77?--and Brett in '80?)

21 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 2:26 pm

[12] Ah, I see, it's not quite so remarkable given limited PA, but still. Nothing to sneeze at.

22 Edwardian   ~  Jun 17, 2009 2:57 pm

[17] I don't think it was cocky, not with non-Redskin DC sports fans. Giddy, perhaps. Yes, giddy.

23 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 17, 2009 3:02 pm


Carew's 1977 day-by-day:

Brett's 1980:

and just for kicks, Gwynn's strike-curtailed 1994, where he ended at .394

24 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 4:21 pm

Cheers, Diane. You are hereby forgiven for "who can it pee now."

25 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 4:34 pm

Carew spent thirteen consecutive days (June and July) at .400 or above.

Brett had a six day stint and then a nine day stint at .400 or above (late Aug-Sept) and then one day in Sept.

Not too shabby.

26 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 17, 2009 4:40 pm

Actually my wording was the more grammatically-correct "Who can go pee now?"


27 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 17, 2009 6:23 pm

[26] Grrrrrrrr!

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