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A case for keeping this group intact

Aug 1, 2010, 4:40 AM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
A mob of teammates awaits Ryan Zimmerman at the plate.

The ball wasn't even halfway to its final resting place, some 440 feet away on the grassy batter's eye in center field, when Ryan Zimmerman turned to Adam Dunn in the on-deck circle, held his arms out and kind of shrugged.

It was as if Zimmerman — whose latest walk-off home run gave the Nationals a stirring, 7-5 victory over the Phillies — was telling his teammate and friend: "Sorry, I just stole your chance to be the hero."

"Letting me know that I'm not hitting again," Dunn said. "Kind of an ongoing deal. It's pretty cool."

"He says he's upset every time that happens in front of him," Zimmerman said. "I don't know how to take that."

However Zimmerman should take it, he could smile wildly tonight knowing he'll have plenty more opportunities to steal Dunn's thunder over the next two months and perhaps longer. Yes, despite a never-ending trail of rumors that left most of the baseball world convinced Dunn would be traded before 4 p.m. today, Mike Rizzo stuck to hisRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    Michael Morse comes through again.

  2. LoveDaNats - Aug 1, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    An absolutely fabulous win! And there's not a better opponent to drive into the ground! Thanks FO for keeping Dunn. The energy that contributed to that walk off would not have been there if Dunn had been traded.

  3. Richard - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Great, great article Mark. Very moving. It says lots about you, too. Wonderful Dunn quote about a moment in his career that he'll take with him. … BTW, I've seen quotes from Mike Rizzo over the past several weeks and especially yesterday and in today's paper to the effect that he didn't trade Dunn because "none of [the deals] was equal or geater value to Adam Dunn." Okay, I can see greater value but "equal value"? Why would you trade him for "equal value"? It's a small thing but bugs me a bit because it suggests that they'd trade his important tangible and intangible part of the team without gaining anything. I'm pretty sure Rizzo doesn't mean it that way but … Anyway, it's a very happy day for the Nats nation thanks to many Nats and especially Mike Rizzo and, let's not forget, the "Zimminator"! (Thank you Rob Dibble)

  4. Big Cat - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Yes, in this day of overpaid jerks, Adam Dunn is a joy. He is just a big galoot who comes to play. He blows his bubbles, he strikes out, he butchers throw at first base. He also hits a lot of homers. Give him 36 mil for 3 years and be done with it.

  5. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    ESPN–Wilson Ramos. "That was a big, big piece to add," said one executive. "They needed a catcher to grow with a very good young pitching staff, and they got him. That team's going in the right direction."

  6. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Adam Dunn is a keeper. It's really that simple. JTinSC

  7. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Piece by piece, Rizzo and the FO are building the team that will make the playoffs in 2012. I was sad to see Capps traded away, but the Nats used a variant of the Billy Beane model: buy an undervalued closer, help him become All Star material and trade him to a team desperate for a closer at the height of his value to secure another piece of the long term puzzle. As for Dunn, I hope they sign his extension soon and keep a core group together. As for Zim, last night was yet another reason he's been my favorite National since he came to the club in '06.

  8. N. Cognito - Aug 1, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    I'm one of those fans that believes in the increased use of statistics to evaluate players, but by having a team here in DC to root for, there's one thing I've learned the last 5-1/2 seasons – stats based evaluations of player moves completely fails to take into account the intangible value of these decisions. At a time when the Nats have apparently turned the corner on rebuilding (still a good bit of work to do), the value of Dunn to this franchise is greater than his contributions on the field, and would be a terrible thing to lose.

  9. Andrew - Aug 1, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Yep, Michael Morse really deserves a lot of credit for rattling Lidge's cage as the leadoff in that inning. MM fought off 2 tough sliders and then drove a hard single up the middle.Ryan Zimmerman is MR. WALK OFF!!!! With a loss on the line if Zim was to roll into a double play, he does the most dramatic, avoiding a loss and taking the win. Nothing more spontaneous in baseball than the WALK OFF HR. Simply amazing.Not sure the exact stats but I thinkZim is hitting walk-off HRs at a 1:9 pace this year!

  10. Anonymous8 - Aug 1, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Mark Zuckerman wrote…When Dunn walked to the plate in the bottom of the first, they stood and applauded the man they desperately don't want to see leave. It was a genuinely heartfelt moment, and it genuinely moved Dunn."I really can't put it into words," he said. "It's one of those things that, when I retire, that's one of the things that will be at the top of my list to remember."When the time comes and Dunn has to decide whether to agree to the Nats' final contract offer, you better believe he'll be thinking of that spontaneous show of support tonight from the stands. It's easy to be cynical and say money trumps everything else. But deep down, most professional athletes really just want to be loved.I hope Adam Dunn realizes that as fans of this team we have the power to appreciate multiple players which includes Adam which we have shown over and over again, but yet we are powerless to a point when it comes to getting management to budge in contract negotiations.ARod took over his negotiations with the Yankees and got it done and other players have done it too, and I encourage Adam to take over his negotiations and tell his agent to get this contract done before the season ends. Dunn is already the highest paid player on the Nationals and will continue as the highest player on this team if he takes $13,000,000 a year or $15,000,000 a year. I think the ball is in Dunn's hands now to stay in a city that wants and appreciates him. So the difference is between 3 years and 4 years which could probably be negotiated by adding a 4th year team option and then the only difference is a few million dollars to a guy who just pocketed $20,000,000 for 2009/2010 and has made over $57,000,000 in his career so far and will eclipse the $100,000,000 career mark almost certainly with his next contract.So at this point, just like the Lerners, Adam Dunn's money earned is for future generations as none of them can spend that much in their own lifetimes I believe.GET THE DEAL DONE (DUNN)!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    As always, Mark, great insight and another beautifully written story. And, yes, the Lerners and StanK have to realize they have to give this group a chance. 3-4-5 in the lineup deserves stability. So, please, StanK et al, sign Dunn to a three-year with a player option for four.Best part of last night (besides sending that "boatload"–some would say flotilla–of Phillie fans up I-95 crying in their Keystone Light?) was Zimm's flip of the bat just after he launched it. You don't get to "flip" Brad Lidge that often! Tremendous. And you captured it with the dialogue (spoken and unspoken) between Zimm and Dunn.Man, you can really write baseball. The Wash. Times didn't know what they had between Ben Goessling and you. So happy both of you have landed, and done so well, post-print. Keep up the great work. It's a pleasure reading you.

  12. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    You think Charlie Manuel might select Zim for the All Star game next time he has the chance?

  13. MR. WALK OFF - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    @MZ – Tonight's laser beam off Brad Lidge was the seventh walk-off homer of Zimmerman's career. Since he debuted on Sept. 1, 2005, no one in baseball has hit more.That is quite the stat! I thought he had more though!

  14. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Jen Royle of MASN said and I paraphrase Adam told me that he looks at all the young arms, starters and reliever, on this ball club and thinks it doesn't take a genius to realize this is going to be a really good team. And I want to be on it.Rizzo seems to think that Espinosa is half a year to a year away. And that because he is a switch hitter the offense is lagging behind the defense which is major league ready. He said he is going to try to entice him to play winter ball this year to work on hitting breaking pitches.He now has catching in IRod and Ramos. He has enough centerfield. He is covered up the middle.But I think he still needs to make Cliff Lee the highest paid National to assure a complete turnaround and a playoff run. To the naysayers: perhaps Lee will share Dunn's perspective on this team and its pitchers. Hopefully, Maya will add to that perspective.

  15. Anonymous - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Since he debuted on Sept. 1, 2005, no one in baseball has hit more.Be nice to see him do this in late October.

  16. MR. WALKOFF - Aug 1, 2010 at 3:53 PM career walkoff HR and many other non-HR walkoffs also!

  17. greg - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    the nats have enough CF? really?

  18. navboss - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Mark, You missed the most heated atmosphere in the park since the SS debut. But agree that family is more important…sometimes.





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