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After another shutout, frustration peaking

May 19, 2011, 10:44 PM EDT

Associated Press photo
Jim Riggleman argues with umpire Phil Cuzzi after a crucial missed call.

NEW YORK — Inside an otherwise silent clubhouse a few minutes after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to the Mets — as agonizing a loss as the Nationals have suffered this season — one veteran player yelled out what plenty of his teammates surely were also thinking.

“I want to be an umpire when I grow up,” the player said, with plenty of indignation. “No responsibility. No accountability.”

The reference was to Phil Cuzzi, whose blown call at first base in the top of the ninth made the challenge facing the Nationals needlessly tougher than it already was. Jayson Werth had appeared to beat out a grounder to third. And even if the throw was in time, first baseman Daniel Murphy’s foot clearly came off the bag as he stretched.

“He was safe when the guy got off the bag, and he was safe because he beat the throw,” starter Livan Hernandez said. “I think he made a big mistake, the umpire there, because it’s not about his foot is off the bag. It’s safe because he beat the throw. He was safe two times.”

Werth argued with Cuzzi. So did first base coach Dan Radison. So did Jim Riggleman, who also had words with plate umpire Manny Gonzalez
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  1. Jim Webster - May 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Like Rumsfeld said about Iraq: You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.I still wish we had a better army.

  2. NG - May 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    Let's keep in mind that, if Cuzzi gets the call right, the game ends when LaRoche (0-for-4 again) grounds into a 4-6-3 double play in the next at bat, so it's not like this made a big difference. I've tried to be patient and not reactionary about the offense, first believing and then at least hoping that it would turn around, but getting shut out (and looking bad at it) in back-to-back games by an absolutely awful Mets team is really the last straw. Something needs to be done to create some accountability here, whether it's cutting Stairs, firing Eckstein, putting LaRoche on the DL and giving Marrero a chance, I don't know what, but this series very well could be the turning point like Houston last year where a surprisingly decent year turns South fast.

  3. Drew8 - May 19, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    I used to be Lactose intolerant.Now I'm LaRoche.

  4. bdrube - May 19, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    I hate to say it but because of the offense this team has become utterly unwatchable. It's worse than it was when Zimmerman was hurt in 2008 and we had to endure Aaron Boone and Kory Casto starting at the corner infield positions. I'm getting to the point where if Stairs remains on the roster when Ankiel comes back, RIZZO ought to be fired.

  5. masnstinks - May 20, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    bdrube — AMEN! I do think they are all working hard – their main emotion seems to be confusion at this – why is this happening to everyone at once? The only bright spots offensively have been Laynce Nix and Bernie's spark since he came up. If they send him back down they are just nuts. Please, please , don't let it be this way in Bal-mer.

  6. Don Hammack - May 20, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    Stairs is right. Shut down the batting cage and have an entertaining clubhouse ceremony where they pull the lineup out of the hat. Have a night where the guys just run out on the field and play, relax and have some fun.(Billy Martin was known for pulling lineups out of a hat on at least a couple occasions.)I don't get to see any Nats games, but I've had a feeling for a long time there's too much sawdust being squeezed in the cage and the batter's box.

  7. SonnyG10 - May 20, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    I thought the hitting would have turned around by now. I keep hoping it will get better, but this might be it for this season. I just don't know what the right thing is for the Nats to do. This could be a long season to endure.

  8. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - May 20, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    This much had to be known about LaRoche. He's a notoriously slow starter, always has been. The shoulder is another issue completely. Except for Nix and lately Bernie, the outfield is an oh-fer. Catching is plus-defense, and nothing offense. Same for middle infield. Third base is a horror show without Zimm.By the time LaRoche starts to hit, we're liable to be 20 games under .500 on our way to … 2008.Anybody got Austin Kearns' cell phone number. Oh, wait…

  9. SCNatsFan - May 20, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    How Stairs is keeping his job is beyond me. I have a hard time believing there isn't a player sitting at home right now that couldn't do better. At some point this organization needs to be less touchy feely and actually ask for some accountability.As for Eckstein, well, at what point do all the sub 200 averages start to reflect on the hitting coach. At what point do you look at a lineup where everyone is in a season long slump – save Ramos (and Marquis) – and think this guy isn't getting his message across. At what point do you stop having someone's back and make the statement either we show improvement or we get someone here that can turn this around.

  10. nicefellow31 - May 20, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    I want to be a Nats hitter when I grow up. No responsibility. No accountability.

  11. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    No accountability when it comes to the hitting coach either.

  12. BinM - May 20, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    The bench isn't wholly the problem; The coaching isn't wholly the problem either. The problem is that nearly everyone in the lineup is trying to hit snot out of the ball with men on base, rather than going to the plate with a attitude of just 'have a good at-bat & square up on a pitch'. Slumps can infect an entire team, and this is a perfect example; Nearly everyone is pressing, save the pitchers, and their approach at the plate is usually 'sacrifice first, but if I see something I can hit, it should be gravy'. Maybe Riggleman does need to draw the lineup out of a hat, just to loosen up the players a bit.

  13. JayB - May 20, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    Times is reporting on formal complaint about Rizzo made by the Umps…first reported by NY Press..At least we have one real reporter in town. Imagine what NYC Press would do with Nats Media Rep telling them to piss off. The DC Core of media just reports what Nats Media staff let them it seems to me.

  14. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    Maybe Riggleman has to go!

  15. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    Riggleman couldn't motivate the 27 Yankees. He's too soft on his players and always making excuses for them. We need someone like Ryne Sandberg or someone who will light a fire under these guys and make them accountability. The players know Riggs will always find an excuse!

  16. raymitten - May 20, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    Why is Matt Stairs speaking for this team? He has gotten two bloop hits, and has no RBI in MID MAY. He is a waste of a roster spot. If they want him in the clubhouse, hire him as a coach.

  17. George Brett - May 20, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    As I said before fixing the problem is easy. It is just not happening.Someone above mentioned the problem. This team is over swinging. Cut the swing length 20%, increase the bat speed 10% and the team would be batting .280Everyine is swinging like they are Rtyan Howard. Instead they shojld be sswinging like George Brett or Paul Molitor or someone like that.Eckstein doesn't demand they change. We just need a coach who demands it.Some of you say people say people have been hitting this way for years. I say they have been hitting crappy for year. Ryan Zimmerman actually has one of the shortest strokes on the team. Coincidence? I think not.

  18. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    "I want to be an umpire when I grow up," the player said, with plenty of indignation. "No responsibility. No accountability."No, for that, you want to be an anonymous blog poster.

  19. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    This team is a bluff… two times Livan had a tremendous work and not body hit nothing …Listen Jason Werth 125 millons for what?… man this team really lost 3 of 4 again Frisco Rougriders rigth now sure

  20. Rabbit - May 20, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    I am so thankful that the only tickets I have for a game this year were a gift. Those will continue to be the only tickets I get this year! Too bad, this team had looked so promising.

  21. Anonymous - May 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Where's Nook Logan?

  22. Manassas Nats Fan - May 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    How about Dmitri Young. He always played with a positive attitude.

  23. Tcostant - May 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Dukes could help this offence, enough said. Eckstein must go!

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