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Leaving them wanting more

Sep 25, 2011, 11:27 PM EDT

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The Nats had plenty of reason to celebrate after today’s 3-0 victory.

As the crowd of 37,638 roared and members of the Nationals doffed their caps one last time before disappearing down the dugout steps, Jayson Werth turned to Michael Morse and offered up a prediction.

“This is how it’s going to be,” Werth told his teammate.

If there’s one thing to take away from Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the reeling Braves in the season’s home finale — and there’s plenty to take away from it — that ninth-inning scene stands out above all else.

A near-capacity ballpark had been cheering all afternoon, applauding Ross Detwiler for pitching out of a couple of jams, giving Morse a curtain call after he clubbed his 29th home run, roaring for Henry Rodriguez with each 101 mph fastball, chanting “Drewwwwww” when closer Drew Storen entered from the bullpen and then exploding for the team as a whole when it wrapped up its final home win of the season.

At that moment, Washington felt like a real baseball town. Not because of some special event, an Opening Day or a rookie flamethrower’s debut. No, this was a genuine celebration of an improving ballclub that is closing out 2011 in fine fashion.

“This is what our goal is, to be in this kind of atmosphere,” Morse said. “They’re looking at a good team out there and cheering us on every
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  1. DCGuy7 - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    what a great weekend to be at the park – both games great in their own way. gyfng

  2. natsfan1a - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Thanks, Mark. You captured it beautifully. Definitely a magical weekend at the park, DCGuy.

  3. baseballswami - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    So much good stuff this weekend – you captured it , Mark, thanks. I do want more and I am excited about 2012 already.

  4. ehay2k - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    In also went to both games, family in tow. What a great weekend. We are seeing the Nats kids grow up. Seeing September call-ups do well is one thing, but seeing Detwiler, HRod, Ramos, and the otherkids that have been here a while really progress, adjust, and thrive is a great harbinger of things to come.We finally do have a lot to look forward to next year. And I have to say, THANK YOU LIVO. (I really hope we find a role for him next year.)

  5. LoveDaNats - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Dang! I love these Nats!

  6. LoveDaNats - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    BTW, the Marlins will NOT own us this next series!

  7. MicheleS - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Mark.. excellent as always. Captured the mood at the park! Was a great weekend series. Was at all 3 games! Can't wait for 2012. See you in Spring Training! (1A.. sorry to have let the cat out of the bag on your spring training plans to the hubby!)GYFNG!!!!!

  8. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Don't worry about it, MicheleS. He knows I really enjoyed our first trip. I just hadn't yet fleshed out my full PowerPoint proposal for Spring Training, the Sequel. :-)

  9. Constant Reader - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    That was SO MUCH FUN!!! I was there with the fam, and "leaving me wanting more" is the perfect description. We are close. After seven long years, we are closing a season with realistic expectations that next September we'll have a winning record and meaningful baseball.I am very happy with my baseball team.

  10. Andrew - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    Why can't we as a baseball community buy 37,638 seats for all 9 Philly games next year? That has to be something we as fans have to find a way to do.

  11. LoveDaNats - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    OK, I'm in for two seats! 37,636 to go!

  12. baseballswami - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    Andrew – if we embarass them enough maybe it won't be worth (Werth?) the cash they have to put out to come down here. They don't seem to get that they are putting money in the pockets of Jayson and Danny. Oh – and now they have 2 players to hate – let's make it the whole team, shall we? They were pretty shocked the last time they came here and then there was last week….. ah, it just makes me feel all warm inside.

  13. Grandstander - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    Loved this gamer. Glad you were able to pick up on the atmosphere in the stands from up in the aerie, Mark.I especially loved the "top moments" thing they did between some of the innings. I think I remember them doing it at the last game before the ASB as well. Very cool to relive some of the better moments from Nats Park and even heard people cheering on the videos.This season has turned by girlfriend from a somewhat casual fan into a full on fanatic. She knows all the players, knows some of the strategy, and has been to probably about 20 games this season, up from about 5. I'm sure she's not alone.This town is warming to the team and with some success, we'll have more of what we experienced today in the future, a reason to follow, cheer on, and love this team of ours.

  14. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    Great piece…really captures the feeling at the park today. I hope for many more games like this one.Speaking of the "best of" videos, it would be great if the Nats would put them on their Website. I'd watch them all winter!

  15. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    Terrific story, Mark, you nailed it. Couldn't be there in person, but you captured it. Take back everything I ever said about Det. He's ready for prime time. And, one final time this year, let's teach those last-place Marlins a lesson. GYFNG!

  16. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Mark.. please tell us you will be in Florida?

  17. Gonat - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    baseballswami said… Andrew – if we embarass them enough maybe it won't be worth (Werth?) the cash they have to put out to come down here. They don't seem to get that they are putting money in the pockets of Jayson and Danny. Oh – and now they have 2 players to hate – let's make it the whole team, shall we? They were pretty shocked the last time they came here and then there was last week….. ah, it just makes me feel all warm inside. September 25, 2011 8:35 PM ________________________________I think they enjoy holding up their Citizens Park South signs and their "ownage" of Nats Park. We need to squeeze them out and not take the chance that they will stay away.

  18. Depot Master - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Who'd have thunk that of the 3 games played with Atlanta, the one loss would be the Strasburg start? The best news for next year would be knowing that Stras could actually be allowed to be human occasionally, and the Nats would pick up the slack! Looking forward to hosting the Brewers to start the season next year.

  19. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    From the gamer: As the crowd of 37,638 roared and members of the Nationals doffed their caps one last time before disappearing down the dugout steps, Jayson Werth turned to Michael Morse and offered up a prediction. "This is how it's going to be," Werth told his teammate.———————————I'm hopeful that Mr. Rizzo said something similar to the Lerners up in the owner's box…and then added: "Remember this feeling when I come asking for an additional few million to sign a free agent. We can recreate it next October, and the October after that, and the October after that…"

  20. Gonat - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    Rizzo quote that led to Ladson Twitter feed earlier: “I think we’re an outfield bat away and a starting pitcher away from really being a contender in the division. We’ve talked a lot about the need for a high on-base percentage top of the order bat, either to fill in one of our outfield positions, either centerfield or a corner outfielder if you move Werth to centerfield. We’ve made that perfectly clear that that’s one of our needs.”Amazing to think how few spots the Nats need to fill for 2012. That is progress.

  21. JaneB - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:16 AM

    Exactly right, every word. I love the Clippard quote about HRods pitching. It was exhilarating, every moment. I wish I could follow them to Miami tomorrow. Seeing so many people, today, paying close attention. Cheering at all the right moments, groaning in unison. Funniest comment I heard today…HRod gets the ball back in his hands, and gets the sign. Nods. "Start swinging NOW!" our neighbor yells at the doomed Brave waiting to whiff the next pitch. Thanks for this great piece Mark. I know Mrs. Z will miss you, but I hope they send you to Miami with the guys. They aren't the only ones we want more of.

  22. Steady Eddie - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    Problem wasn't really with Strassie, it was with the pitch count. He'd gotten pretty solid again after that first inning but being at 30-some pitches after one was too much — this year. Had Jensen able to go up to the usual 100 he'd have gotten into the 6th or 7th and we'd have had no Balester meltdown. (We'd scored three by the sixth so it likely would have tied by the time he could hand it to Xlip or MPHRod.)

  23. Steady Eddie - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    This iPhone autocomplete is getting more bizarre by the day. Getting "Jensen" out of "he had"????

  24. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    fun year — a great way to end it will be to crush the marlinsall this fun, and no mention of Harper — wait 'til he's hitting taters for us. wow

  25. FS - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    What are the chances of Florida series getting washed out? Weather does not look good.Anyways, good way to end the 'homestand.' We have put the Braves in must-win situation. Would have been nice, if we had swept them and ruined their chances completely. :DI think this offseason, getting a CF/leadoff through trade would be the best option. If we can get a guy like Fowler also, that could help us I think.Anyways, Nats are awesome.

  26. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    This anon has the HOTS FOR NATSLADYLove ya, baby. Thanks for the good year.

  27. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    P.S. Let's meet and talk about the Nats over the winter!My place or yours — or both.

  28. Waddu eye no - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Mark- u da man Florida in February. Great place to bring a baby. So pissed I had to work all day, though was able To hear most of it. C&J outdid themselves on the radio. Especially when h-rod was up. I'll miss the games, the teams and those voices. Already psyched for spring and glad we'll still have mark keeping us informed til thenHook some fish!GYFNGGYFNG

  29. Steady Eddie - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    Mark, thanks for great coverage of the home season and a gamer for today that really captured the spirit of what was really a thrilling moment.From the game thread — Navy Nats Fan, was Hondo really there? Geez, I would have loved to have him sign my Senators' cap I was wearing today, and tell him I saw one of his white seat ringers at RFK (unbelievable upper deck laser, it was still going UP when it hit halfway up the top section)!Of all the Nats games I've been to, only Strassy's first had that kind of playoff-type electricity as today. And the way the team played so tight around that mostly phenomenal pitching — even Gomes' two brain farts — both coming after the third out — were amusing and did no harm. (Much as his spirit fits in really well with the team's — as does Pudge's and Livo's for that matter — I suspect he and Nix will end up being one -year rentals.)To me, the way they played the game felt like the team was sending a message to the rest of the NL and especially the East, that the Nats' wave is building and they'd better start being afraid of this team — and when the baby Nats on the farm arrive, be VERY afraid. Getting to third place and trying to finish with a winning record isn't meaningless to this squad — it's all part of sending that message: WE ARE COMING.Crowd was mostly great but lacking one thing: they almost never gor revved up with RISP. I tried to get a "let's Go Nats!" cheer going a couple of times but it may as well have been in an empty room.That one of two things all of us fanatics and STHs should tell the customer relations people in the off season.(1) tell the PA and electronic sign people to start doing the "let's go Nats" cheer when the Nats are at bat and can actually, y'know, GO SOMEWHERE like maybe around the bases. For some idiotic reason they only do it when the Nats are in the field.(2) We have had enough of this Teddy loser BS. I welcome all ideas on what we should plot to do collectively, but after the last three days this has gone WAY beyond lame or pathetic to some kind of manic obsession of the marketing people.Loved seeing MicheleS and JaneB today, and want to ask Nats Lady — were we sitting next to you in Sec. 214 against the Fish last Saturday night (picnic in the park day)?

  30. Steady Eddie - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    Yes! Capcha was "upesi" — maybe not so easy, but definitely up!

  31. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    Eddie, fyi: I don't know whether the real Hondo may have been there somewhere, but we met by the Hondo statue in the plaza.

  32. baseballswami - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    Steady Eddie – you know, I have been thinking the same thing, that the Teddy/loser schtick has run it's course. Maybe they just are stuck with it and don't know how to get out of it. This team doesn't quite fit the "loveable loser" image anymore. I think the players have had their say about that. I hope they let it go now. So – reading this, you would guess that our biggest problems for next year are 1) the filthy invasion of nats park and 2) teddy needs to win. Add in a centerfielder with a high obp and we have got it in the bag!

  33. skidge - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    JaneB, I heard the "start swinging now" too, and just cracked up. (Not sure where it came from; I was in section 116.) What an amazing game (especially for my birthday)! I don't go to many games or post here often, but I do watch most of them and read pretty much everything here—so much fun! I'm really looking forward to next year.

  34. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:08 AM

    Agreed re. the Teddy schtick.Glad you had a happy birthday, skidge, and thanks for posting!

  35. FS - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    How about next opening day fans invade the field to hold down other presidents so Teddy can win?

  36. Drew8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    Thanks Mark, for capturing the cheery mood and the team's exciting outlook. Today was a blast, even from afar.Off the field, it's interesting to parse what Davey and Rizzo said about the quest for an outfielder. Davey said he wants one more hitter. He didn't specify a centerfielder.Rizzo said he wants a high on-base outfielder who can hit high in the order, whether he plays center or right.Like Ben Goessling, I assume he'll make a run at Upton. But Rizzo has some intriguing backup options.There's buzz in Chicago that the Chisox will deal Carlos Quentin to make room for Dayan Viciedo. Quentin, who plays right field, hits 20-25 homers a year and his career on base percentage is .346, which is higher than Upton's .342.Upton gives you stolen bases and a defensive upgrade in center. But if Rizzo thinks the price tag is too high, he could make Quentin Plan B. He could go with Werth in center, put Quentin in right and wait for Goodwin to develop.Course, this only works if Quentin can stay healthy.

  37. Traveler8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    Beautifully written, Mark. I wish this weekend could go on forever.

  38. SCNatsFan - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    I think it would be great to have Teddy win the first race next year… a subtle message that things are changing. The strong finish leaves a great taste in our mouths for next year.

  39. JaneB - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    I think someone decided, a while ago, that Teddy wins when we win the division, and then wouldn't take an updated look at an old decision. It would have galvanized the joint for the next six months, had they taken tne cue Werrth gave them. They would have sent a great message. The joke is old and lame and they need to get rid of it. They will get more mileage out of letting Teddy win next Opening Day, and then doing real races. It was my only quarrel with the entire day. Skidge, there must have been a few of those commenters, because we were in 131,and this guy (also his birthday, coincidentally) was in 130. Still all aglow from the win, and my brush with Livo.

  40. Anonymous8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    You know the old saying, "The squeeze isn't worth the juice"?Upton is mentioned here every other day. He is a 1 year add-on. Who needs that?Why trade for a guy who is available in a year as a Free Agent and will only cost compensatory picks?If you wait, it is a deep Free Agent class next year with Matt Kemp, BJ Upton, Michael Bourn, and others.Now then, if Rizzo can trade for a long-term part, then its a different story.Find a player that would fit in to this system as a long-term piece. Personally I think the Nats have them in Bryce Harper and a possible position move for Anthony Rendon.

  41. Anonymous8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:39 AM

    Denard Span had his best game in months with a double and a triple. He may be a guy you relook at if he is recovered.

  42. baseballswami - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:04 AM

    Anon8 – that's a big "if". A lot of the post-concussion guys seem ok and then some minor thing sends them into a relapse. A lot of them are never the same like Ryan Church. He would have to show the ability to play for a long time to be worth the risk and there's not enough time left in the season for that.

  43. Anonymous8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    baseballswami, not disagreeing with you except I think you can get Span for a much more reasonable deal in the off-season. Can't give much for him. Rizzo was lucky they didn't take Storen straight up on July 31st. The Nats would have been minus their closer and essentially a post-concussed Span.

  44. Feel Wood - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:23 AM

    Couldn't have been a better day at the ballpark. My personal favorite the Batolin guy played the anthem. Michael Morse homers, the Nats win, and I won Danny Espinosa's sweat-soaked game-worn jersey in the Jerseys Off Their Backs raffle!

  45. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 26, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    FeelWood, congrats! Nice pickup!

  46. Dave - Sep 26, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    A great day at the ballpark once again. I think my favorite half-inning was when Hot Rod was pitching. We were watching the pitches and then the pitch-speed indicator on the scoreboard and then screaming really loudly.If anybody from the Nats is reading these comments, please pay attention to the loser Teddy stuff. The Nats should have retired that ridiculous joke many years ago (not just a couple). Yesterday's "Presidents Race" was one of the lamest things I think I have ever seen: The three "losing" presidents somehow didn't realize that the course had been changed, that the race was being run counter-clockwise to end up by third base. So naturally, only Tom won.Please get rid of that idiotic crap, Nats front office. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

  47. Mick - Sep 26, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    I know what the late and great Shirley Povich says about September, however, we were playing a team playing for their post season lives and we kicked their asses!

  48. flynnie - Sep 26, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    The playoff atmosphere and roaring crowd to appreciate it was the best moment at the new park. But would it have happened if the Redskins had been playing?

  49. baseballswami - Sep 26, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Flynnie – yes. I know plenty of people who went to the game yesterday who don't follow the nfl at all and don't care about the Washington team. The people I know who do follow the nfl are from other cities and follow other teams – some of them just dvr'd and followed on their smartphones and went to the game because it was the last homestand. The idea that everyone around here cares about that team is past its time. Re: MHPRod — most of our team is pretty nice-guy looking, personable — I think our Henry is the only one who has the ability to be intimidating, not just with his stuff, but with his demeanor — I kind of hope he cultivates that kind of thing. That would be so cool.

  50. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Speaking of MPHRod, when players were tossing swag to the fans along the 3rd base line after the game, I noticed that he was handing things to the fans rather than winging the item into the crowd. Probably didn't want to risk taking someone's head off if he unleashed his throwing arm. I also tried to get an "oh, Henry" chant going during his half-inning but evidently it didn't have legs. Anyway, atta way, Henry. :-)

  51. NatsLady - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Lessee. Swami, I heard a rumor Henry actually hinted at a smile. Eddie, I think I sat in 230 on Saturday night. Feel Wood, you gonna wash the jersey or not? I got Livo's signature on Livo's jersey, so I'm happy. The batolin guy was great and people really appprecited him. The guy who did God Bless America was also excellent (I hope we are done with that after 10 years).I go for a bathroom/food break during the Presidents Race. Yesterday, after all the Werth excitement, I watch from the concourse and booo, nothing funny. They retired "Sweet Caroline" maybe they can retire the Presidents, but probably not, it's really for the kids. Maybe just on Sundays or something.Loved the videos, was waiting for Ankiel's catch but either they didn't include it or I missed it (or he has the copyright on it!)flynnie, I was at the game last Sunday when the potatoes were playing and the crowd (27K) wasn't worried about them. The 30K rule struck again on the vendors…Agree, Gomes and Nix are not here next season. Wouldn't mind seeing Ankiel, though. I liked what he said to Werth, it takes thousands of reps to track balls in center. Bet you he works real hard on his hitting this winter.RZimm, top defensive play on the "5 signs" for yesterday. Pay the man.

  52. Feel Wood - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    In yesterday's game thread Mark Z. wrote Meanwhile, today's attendance is 37,638. The season total is 1,940,478, which works out to an average of 24,256 per game.Actually, that's not quite right. Looks like Mark is basing that average on there being only 80 home games this year, but he is forgetting that two other rained out games were made up as part of traditional doubleheaders (Brewers, Pirates) leaving the Nats with only 78 home dates this year. That makes the attendance average 24,878 per home date, and if that average was maintained over the usual 81 home dates it would have resulted in a season attendance of over 2 million.

  53. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Oh, yeah. I had an idea re. making the presidents race a real contest. Remember how they had the animated car race on the scoreboard at RFK, and we cheered for a designated racer according to our seat color? Well, seeing as how all the seats are the same color now, it occurred to me that they could divide into cheering sections by seat level. You could break it down by field level, club level, upper deck, and…ummm…oh, yeah – outfield seats. Added bonus, you get the cheering mojo going early in the game as one section tries to out-cheer another. Bill Veeck would approve, I think. :-)

  54. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    I can vouch for an HRod smile. He was grinning from ear to ear as he took congrats from all his teammates. And you ladies are going to love his dimples if he can continue smiling like that.As for all the Lannan talk, I'm not in the dump him or give him a spot in the rotation camp yet. I actually tend to leave those decisions to the guys who do that for a living, unlike a few snarky posters who think they are the smartest person in every room they wander through.No… there is something to be said about a lefthander that has experienced the ups and downs that he has and can still get ML hitters out. However, I have grown tired of his recent regression with the high pitch counts, the early exits, the ballooning WHIP.I'm thinking he may become a trade piece and an 11 win leftnhander may bring more consideration than a 10 win guy. It's just nice to know that there are solid lefthanders withing the organization that can replace him. (I really would have preferred to see Peacock pitch one more time this season.)

  55. m20832 - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Lessee….the boys sweep the mutts, the fish have their way with us again, the boys sweep filthy and take the series from the braves. I like their chances next year!GYFNG!!!

  56. Gonat - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    NatsJack, on Kilgore's piece on Rizzo's needs for 2012 he hinted that a trade was possible. Now Kilgore is the 1st journalist I have seen mention Lannan was within the realm of possibilities in a trade.Until the last handful of starts, Lannan had solid #3 numbers with a 3.54 ERA at one point. He has climbed above that as has his WHIP. He will still end up with a #4 starters numbers.Where are all the idiots who wanted to trade Desmond + Detwiler + Norris for BJ Upton?Then there were others who wanted to give away Desmond for a bag of used baseballs.At least I came on here yesterday to give praise to MPHRod for the best 1 inning of pitching I have seen in a long time. Its good to see a guy you have been critical of show that glimmer of hope. Others just don't see it. One guy about 3 weeks ago declared Flores as the better catcher between he and Ramos. What game are you watching?

  57. Feel Wood - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    NatsLady, I won't be washing the Espinosa jersey. Maybe I'll get it dry cleaned if that would keep the autograph from coming off. But now that the sweat has dried it doesn't smell that bad (it was totally soaked when he handed it over to me) and there's not actually any field dirt on it, so I might just leave it as is. Maybe get it framed. I won't be wearing it, I know that, because it would hang to my knees if I did – even though when he was standing next to me Espy didn't seem all that much taller than me.The kid next to me in line probably collected the most field dirt, he had Ramos's jersey. I told him he should scrape off the dirt and tar and sell it separately on eBay.BTW, after we collected the jerseys on the field we had to go into a room under the stadium and get them authenticated by that same MLB authenticator guy that Bob and FP talk about a lot. I resisted the urge to ask him if he was the authentic guy or just an imposter.

  58. markfd - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Mark – Thanks for all the coverage you have provided us. Any chance that you get a side trip from Miami to stop by Viera and give us an Instructional League nugget or two??

  59. N. Cognito - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    I have found that if I don't concern myself with The Presidents Race, the music played, Clint's schtick or anything else superfluous to the game, I am not bothered by them. Your mileage might vary.

  60. Get-REAL - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    While an exhilirating end to the season there is still a lot of work to be done before 2012. The sentiment that I heard from a lot of fans yesterday is just completely unrealistic and uneducated. First, to the douche who was sitting behind me you cannot BOO Detweiler heartily one inning and then the next inning exclaim that he is the best pitcher in baseball right now (SERIOUSLY!? He would not even be in my top 100 pitchers!) Then I heard another chuicklehead exclaim that it is great that the Nats are now the BEST team in the majors (WTF!? Not even close) So before everyone "buys" World Series tickets for 2012, let's get a reality check or maybe take a deeper look at how things are or could be in the offseason:Topic 1) Werth – his arm is pathetic and he does not go after balls agressively in RF so the only option is to hide his weak arm in put him in CF which means we need a RF with a good arm AND bat (Right now that does not exist on this roster, so what is the answer in RF for 2012?)Topic 2) Bullpen – (so we have the 8th and 9th inning nailed down with Clippard and Storen, but what about the rest, is HROD the answer, yesterday he was but can he do it consistently…doubtful, what about the rest of the pen, can anyone who was out there this year be as close to be as effective next year, maybe Burnett but the rest of the goon squad out there is sktechy at best)Topic 3) – Bench, who will be on it!? We probably have 7 of the starting 8 fielders on the 25 man roster already (see my RF comment above on Werth) but who else do we keepC – Ramos will be the starter in 2012 more than lilely but who d we keep up with him, Pudge or Flores?1B – LaRoche will be back and likely back to his 25 HR 100 RBI average with amazing defense, so what do we do with Marrero, have him hit ocassionally against left handed pitching or spend another full year in AAA? If he goes to AAA that means there is a need to sign a free agent 1B bat off the bench.IF – We have NO viable BACKUP infielders on the roster right now and we saw how many we needed in the beginning of 2011, so where do we find someone who can play 3B/SS/2B (earth to Rizzo need to find someone who can hit more than Todd Coffey weighs!!!)OF – I am sure we will carry 5 OF's on the 25 man for 2012 so who will the 4th and 5th be? Bernadina, maybe; Nix probably not; Ankiel, probably not; so where do these reserve OF's come from, considering Rizzo may have to sign two more free agent OF's, one to start in RF and one to play all 3 positions and probably bat left handed w power ala Nix!?Rotation – What to do what to do, you have Strasburg who will be pitching a limited number of innings next year (think about 5 innings per start until July and then get shut down in mid/late August), JZimm and then who for spots 3-5 in the rotation, Mark Z has written about this so I will not go into it in depth but we probably need to go out and get a #3 guy!Bottom line – we are more than one starter and one outfielder away from the 2012 World Series, let's get over .500 and then we can talk playoffs!

  61. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Get-Real, do you expect all geniuses to be around you at these games? Most are casual fans that don't read Sabre stats and think Jason Marquis was the Nats top pitcher as they judge Wins and Losses.By the way, read Boswell's piece on the Nats.

  62. The Dude Abides - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    I believe the comment about needing one starter and one outfielder was towards the ability to contend for a playoff spot…. certainly a tad different from your 2012 World Series statement.Please be factual.

  63. SCNatsFan - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Get-REAL if you aren't excited about the future after what you've seen then I feel bad for you. True the ship still has holes but for once we are bailing water out faster then its coming in. I guess in some fans eyes if we don't win the world series then the season is a failure, and its your right to think so… but that makes for alot of long seasons.

  64. Get-REAL - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Dude – we need a lot more than one pitcher and one outfielder to even contend for the playoffs, as I said let's go for over .500 and then in 2013 think abot the playoffs.

  65. Drew8 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Gonat 8:47 said: "Where are all the idiots who wanted to trade Desmond + Detwiler + Norris for BJ Upton?"I suppose that rudeness and mischaracterization was directed at me.One more time. I never suggested trading all of those guys for B.J. Upton.I have said that the Nationals have depth now in a number of spots: the middle infield (Desmond, Lombo, Espy, Rendon); at first base (Marrero behind LaRoche); at catcher (Norris behind Ramos and Flores) and in starting pitching.* With that depth it would not surprise me if the Nationals fashioned some kind of deal for Upton.* If the Nationals dealt a middle infielder for Upton, it would not surprise me if they dealt Desmond, because Espinosa isn't going anywhere and Rendon is eventually going to have to play somewhere.* I never suggested trading Detwiler for Upton. I said yesterday that while I'm Bull Moosish on Ross, the Astros wanted Detwiler and if that would have gotten the Nats Michael Bourn, I would have pulled the trigger.* Given Upton's looming free agency Rizzo would not deal prospects for a rental. As with Greinke, he would seek to sign him to an extension.* If the Nats could get an outfield bat for John Lannan I would do cartwheels.

  66. JamesFan - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Let's start talking about who this on-base, outfielder might be:-Upton–lots of talk, not my favorite. Doesn't match to OBP requirement; strikes out a lot (don't need more of that); attitude?-Span–should be a whole lot cheaper than before; health the huge question.–Quinten–Don' know enough about him;–Crisp–?–Very promising rookie somewhere?Then, what are the prospects for a quality starter?

  67. Theophilus - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    I really don't want Upton and his clubhouse issues, and I can't see the Nats giving TB what they would want for him. But he fits in the sense that he would be disposable after a half season, or a whole season, because you can't keep him around — and Werth, and Morse — after Harper arrives. And you might get a draft pick for him. Order of probability of Lannan being traded: 75 percent plus, but not until somewhere near the end of Spring Training when management is convinced Strasburg, Zimmermann and Wang are all healthy. I think Detweiler has nailed down the fourth or fifth spot, and they can't send both Milone and Peacock back to Syracuse. So Lannan is the sixth wheel.Would not be shocked to see Flores traded in the Winter meetings for a right-handed platooning outfield bat to replace Gomes. Then offer Pudge a minor league deal; if he wants to go somewhere else, figure on Solano to catch the 32 games Ramos doesn't. This leaves a potential depth problem if Ramos gets hurt but if that happens the Nats aren't going to win anyway, with or without Flores.Until the last week, I thought HRodriguez was a for-certain goner. Now they'll be tempted to keep him, leaving Storen, Clippard, HRod, Burnett, Gorzelany and Matheus as near certainties in the bullpen. Summary: there won't be a whole lot of turnover between what is on the roster today and those who go north in the Spring.

  68. Bowdenball - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    A couple points for Get-REAL:First, your breakdown carves out "bench" as a question mark and then proceeds to consider 4th/5th outfielder, backup 1B, and backup infielders as separate issues. I don't even consider depth a serious problem until we sort it out in free agency and spring training just like every other team in the majors, but if you're gonna count it, only count it once, not four times.Second, how can you say that the goal for .500 should be to finish above .500 when they're within two games of .500 right now after a season in which Zimmerman missed 60 games and their #1 and #2 pitcher never were in the rotation at the same time? You think shooting to improve by a couple wins at most in 2012 is a good goal for a young team? I think people need to temper their expectations for 2012 a bit, but those predicting a playoff run aren't as wildly optimistic as you are wildly pessimistic.

  69. NatsNut - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    How do you guys feel about Andrew McCutchen? I don't know a whole lot but what I've seen was great. He's young, speedy outfielder, about 70% stolen base rate…

  70. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Get-Real,Topic 1) If you think Desmond can be the leadoff man of 2012, then Bull Moose can be moved to CF and Rizzo can get a stop-gap for RF until Prince Oppo Boppo is ready. Its much easier to get that RF then the CF although Coco Crisp is there for the taking. I think he had the GW RBIs yesterday and has been clutch with great speed and decent OBP. Do you take a guy you know in Willingham who has a stealthy OPS but is a (minus) Corner Outfielder in UZR or go for Cuddyer or Kubel in Free Agency or make a trade.Topic 2) You are preaching to the choir on the bullpen. Use August for your gauge and not September with the 11 man bullpen. Do you keep Matteus, Stammen and Gorzo with Burnett and HenRod and re-sign Coffey. Lots of FA talent for the bullpen in this off-season. Then there is always where does Detwiler end up. If he isn't in the starting rotation, he will certainly be part of the team in the bullpen I would think. Just not having Slaten will improve the bullpen. Burnett is back on track. Good Henry/Bad Henry/Great Henry. The mistakes of 2011 was Rizzo waited to long to DFA. Rizzo needs a capable guy to step in from AAA if needed. Also, does Stammen have options left? Amazing how good Coffey is when he is used properly.Topic 3) Nix and Ankiel are both Free Agents. I keep Ankiel and test the waters for upgrades over Nix. I keep Bernadina and Marrero. Lombo and Marrero both have options and you need that to move guys back and forth. I keep Flores for backup catcher unless you trade him and re-sign Pudge. You need a good toolsy infield guy on the bench and Lombo is the default if you can't find someone out there and maybe you go back to Jerry Hairston. My 5 man bench is Ankiel, Bernadina, Lombo or upgrade, Marrero and Flores. Marrero will get good playing time against LH pitching when you can sit LaRoche. Marrero is RH and Lombo is a switch hitter which gives him extra value. Ankiel and Bernie are both LH. Starters) Unless trades are made, its JZim, Stras, and Lannan. Probably Wang and I think like I have said for several months get the legit #3 or if Mr. Lerner spends the cash get CJ Wilson otherwise I find a way to get Wandy Rodriguez who should suffice or Buehrle in Free Agency. Peacock and Milone are in the wings and Detwiler can mature in the bullpen. You don't have to look any further than the career of CJ Wilson who went from starter to closer back to starter at the age of 29. If you don't keep Wang then Detwiler.1) JZim2) Stras3) Free Agent/Trade4) Lannan5) Wang or Detwiler

  71. Grandstander - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Get-Real, do you expect all geniuses to be around you at these games? Most are casual fans that don't read Sabre stats and think Jason Marquis was the Nats top pitcher as they judge Wins and Losses.Quote of the game from yesterday, from one of a group of frat boy types sitting behind us:8th inning, Clippard has come on in relief of HRod."Woah, the pitcher's speed has gone way down. he was at, like, 100 miles an hour, now he's down to, like, 92!"

  72. NatsNut - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Oooh. I just looked and Andrew McCutchen also has a .368 OBP. I like it. If we get him, you heard it here first. =)

  73. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    NatsNut, Andrew McCutchen is under Pirates control through 2015. He is their top player to build around.As they found out, they were a "pretender team" and went from 1st place to 4th place and if they lose 2 of 3 to end the season will end up with 90 losses. Bottom-line, they aren't dealing McCutchen for a few years.

  74. Theophilus - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Want to say something about Gomes, too. I can't see the Nats keeping him, and there's gotta be somebody out there who's a noticeable improvement. However, you can't miss how much he wants to be here next year. How often he talks about how much better "we" are going to be next year. That, plus the team's 10+ win improvement, the Werth contract and the players in the farm system, shows that players around the league are no longer going to dismiss signing with/being traded to Washington. The pond in which the Nats are fishing for talent has gotten wider and deeper.

  75. PAY TO PLAY - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Reed Johnson is a high OBP Free Agent outfielder. May be a decent stop gap.

  76. a brief PSA - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Please do not feed the trolls . Thank you.

  77. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Yesterday was an outstanding day for baseball in Washington. I was more than impressed by the crowd. Sure, no Skins at 1 probably had a lot to do with it, but the crowd was WAY BETTER than Game 162 in Baltimore I saw last season. The team has a lot of promise, I hope it can carry over until 2011.Screw the Braves, too.

  78. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Amen to whoever called for canning the Presidents' Race.

  79. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Theophilus, Gomes has actually been worse than Stairs off the bench. Hard to believe. Without breaking out his numbers too much, coming off of the bench as a replacement or Pinch-hitter this year Gomes is batting .028 and is 1 for 36 + 5 walks.You can only keep 5 players for bench/role guys and that includes a backup catcher. Bernadina is another curious case. He has no more options so you keep him or trade him. One September surprise is Lombardozzi as in I am "surprised" Davey really didn't use him much. I would have liked to have seen him play more to evaluate him and thought he would play everyday. Another puzzling Davey move.

  80. Anonymous - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    I continue to have no idea how adding a low OBP high strikeout, and perhaps questionable character guy, in BJ Upton helps this club. It makes no sense considering the holes in the lineup and that is before you even consider his impending free agency.

  81. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Anon, I am not a BJ Upton fan for many reasons and some of which you mentioned but there seems to be those who think he would blossom in new surroundings. I don't think a club that has aspirations of pla..pla….playoffs can go for a chance he will blossom. He isn't a leadoff guy which almost defeats the purpose of bringing him in as there are much better options available to Rizzo. As I have seen him play what I don't like about him is he isn't a full speed type of guy all the time.One thing about the position players on this team, they are almost always running full speed even on groundouts. I can only remember Ankiel loafing once.BJ Upton may turn out to be a star somewhere else but he certainly had enough time to do it in Tampa and didn't get it done. Couple all that with the fact that he is a 1 year rental as things stand and who needs that. Extend Rick Ankiel as he has more potential.

  82. Theophilus - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    BJ Upton is Exhibit A in how useless Bill Ladson is — I hope. Someone — Upton's agent? — has been feeding Ladson lines all year about how much the Nats are interested in him. Listened to Ladson, briefly, last week and — without mentioning Upton — he had less useful information than a Debbie Taylor interview. Does MLB think being even-handed and not offending ownership is the same as a flat-line EEG?

  83. Theophilus - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    Steve M. — by no means am I advocating for Gomes. I'm considering how his attitude about the franchise is a proxy for other players around the league.

  84. Feel Wood - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    There is nothing wrong with the presidents race that chucking the script, losing all the "Teddy never wins" schtick and just running it as a real race would not solve.

  85. Theophilus - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Ankiel should be re-signed to hold the fort until Harper arrives. The "five-man bench" should be Lombardozzi, Flores (unless traded) or Catcher X, Bixler, RH Outfielder X and Bernadina. Bernadina is a place-holder for any other LH hitting outfielder. I wouldn't object to Nix coming back; would be interested in what he would do if healthy for the whole season.

  86. N. Cognito - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Theophilus said… "BJ Upton is Exhibit A in how useless Bill Ladson"Bill Ladson is like the President's Race. If you don't pay attention to it, it won't bother you. Bill Ladson doesn't bother me.

  87. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Theophilus said… Ankiel should be re-signed to hold the fort until Harper arrives. The "five-man bench" should be Lombardozzi, Flores (unless traded) or Catcher X, Bixler, RH Outfielder X and Bernadina. Bernadina is a place-holder for any other LH hitting outfielder. I wouldn't object to Nix coming back; would be interested in what he would do if healthy for the whole season. September 26, 2011 11:34 AM Thanks for the clarification on Gomes. You have basically the same bench I have except you are proposing Ankiel as a starter. I guess it is possible that they hold firm for 2012 and make no changes to the outfield. With LaRoche coming back if he is healthy can be the big OBP improvement and then they can try to add a big arm to the rotation as the change for improvement.I still think you have to look at adding an established CF if you can or a corner outfielder.Think about this:1) Desmond SS2) Werth CF3) Zim 3B4) Morse LF5) LaRoche 1B6) Free Agent/Trade RF7) Espinosa 2B8) Ramos CWith the extra year for Ramos, Espinosa, and Desmond, you hope to get some added OBP between those 3. LaRoche certainly can be the big pop in the middle of the lineup.Ankiel can then take some time for Bull Moose against some RH pitching and maybe Jayson also gets some time in RF.

  88. RPrecupjr - Sep 26, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Re: President's RaceYou heard it here first: If we sweep the Fish and finish 81-80, Teddy wins the home opener next year.And it IS just for the kids, you don't like it, don't pay attention. My daughter LOVES it (she's 9) because she's always rooting for Teddy, and she knows that when the race is over it's time for ice cream :)She even watches it at home when they show the replay on MASN, though not necessarily with the ice cream follow upCaptcha – "aningl" = what my daughter is :)

  89. NatsLady - Sep 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    They should just have the Presidents' Race on Sunday afternoons when they have Kids Run the Bases and leave it at that. They can't come up with 81 games' worth of funny schtick, but they could probably come up with 8 or 9 games' worth. You keep the big heads around for photos at the Park and appearances at birthday parties.

  90. baseballswami - Sep 26, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Boy – there are a lot of Monday- ish attitudes around here today – you would think the nats had been losing a lot. You are just killing my buzz. Right now I really don't care what's "realistic", I just want to enjoy what I have been seeing for the last 2 weeks and go into the off-season with some dreams. And I still think Henry is a scary dude – I know he smiled and all – but it was kind of like a crocodile smiling right before he eats you!

  91. she said - Sep 26, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    I calculated my win percentage in games I attended, and the Nats have a .692 record in those 26 games. Anyone want to sponsor my attending a full home game schedule?

  92. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 26, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    I'm with swami on this one–and I'm working out some killer marketing plans for the team next year. Now, if only I worked there…

  93. natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Or mine? My record at Nats games for this year is .800. At P-Nats games, it's 1000. I wasn't yet in regular season form at Spring Training and managed to go only .500. :-)she said said… I calculated my win percentage in games I attended, and the Nats have a .692 record in those 26 games. Anyone want to sponsor my attending a full home game schedule? September 26, 2011 1:28 PM

  94. Steve M. - Sep 26, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… I'm with swami on this one–and I'm working out some killer marketing plans for the team next year. Now, if only I worked there… September 26, 2011 1:29 PM StanK is gone and Feffer is there. If they aren't smart enough to seize the opportunity they have in front of them (even without Bryce Harper), they will never get it.I am curious to hear your marketing ideas. I hope it includes something for those 9 Phillies games to do with TAKING BACK THE STADIUM against the Phoolies/Philthies.Opening Day + 9 Phillies + 3 Yankees sell-outs is 520,000Mets x 27,777 x 9 = 250,000Braves x 27,777 x 9 = 250,000Orioles x 33,333 x 3 = 100,000Dodgers/Cubs/Cardinals x 33,333 x 9 = 300,000Other games x 20,000 x 38 = 760,000That's 2,180,000 sold tickets easily attainable next year and mostly sustainable from the DC area.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 86 63 -- 2
ATLANTA 75 75 11.5
MIAMI 73 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 80 17.0
Through Monday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

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ON THE RADIO

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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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