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Baseball in the District – MLB radio’s Casey Stern

Aug 28, 2014, 12:35 PM EST


This week’s episode of ‘Baseball in the District’ featured two excellent guests. The first was Casey Stern, host of MLB Network Radio’s ‘Inside Pitch.’ The second was new Washington Times columnist Todd Dybas.

Stern was great on big picture stuff including how impressive the Nationals’ most recent homestand was and what their World Series chances are.

Dybas happens to have just come to D.C. from Seattle where he covered the Mariners. He gave us a rundown of what to expect this weekend when the Nationals go northwest.

Before bringing in our guests, Tim Murray of ESPN 980 and I discussed whether the Nats are the best team in the National League and handicapped the chances for a World Series to happen in this area, whether it be the Orioles or the Nats.

Check it out here:

You can also listen to the show on ESPN 980’s website or download it on iTunes.

  1. bisonaudit - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    What is the deal with the radio guys complaining about the umpires all of the time. It’s completely out of control. They can’t get through half an inning without taking a jab at them. They need to tone that down. It’s not professional and it’s so ever present that as a listener you can’t trust when a call has actually been missed and when they’re just doing what they do again.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Have you seen the calls the last 3 games? I dont mind at all when it’s justified. Look at that K of Harper.

      C&D only complain when it’s egregious which it was.

      • bisonaudit - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        I’ve been listening 4 or 5 nights a week on the way home from work since the All-Star break. To hear them tell it, no team get egregiously done in by the umpires more than the Nationals.

        Maybe they did get hosed the last three nights but I can’t tell by listening to the radio because they’re always complaining about the umpires. Every night. It’s like a bagpipe drone of bitching.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        I would give them feedback via Twitter. I will actually have their audio on while watching and listening to FP and Carp. On the MLB App there’s a long delay so I can watch in realtime and listen for their take.

      • David Proctor - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        Dave complains about umpires regularly. He’s usually right when he does it, but I agree you never hear him say anything when the Nats get a favorable call.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        David, he sure has but it doesn’t happen often and to quote him “he just might have gotten away with one there”. They said it on that Desi hit down the line over the bag last night.

        I used to put up the +/- K Zone charts and it’s just not worth it. You would be hard pressed to find more than 5 games that the Nats gimme calls exceeded the other team by more than 2.

        Add to that blown ball calls and the overturn at 1st base on Tuesday and you have to wonder.

        The Nats just don’t get calls. I will say it again that there is a Bryce bias out there.

      • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        I’ve followed hockey, Baseball, football for many years and trust me when I say this. Every team’s fans always think their team is getting a raw deal from the refs. I’m sure it’s true sometimes but I don’ t think it’s one sided or malicious.

      • bisonaudit - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        It’s one thing for the fans to think that. It’s another thing for the announcers to whine more than just about anyone in the ballpark. I’m not asking for or expecting complete impartiality. I’m just saying that, on the radio, the last two months, there’s an overwhelming volume of complaints about the umpires. It’s not entertaining and it’s not useful to the listener.

      • JamesFan - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        I agree completely. I learned in little league not to whine about umpires–especially on pitch calls. Close enough to call, close enough to swing at. It smacks of bush league to blame problems on the umps.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Again, I listen to C&D all the time and never heard it as a problem or over abundance any more than FP or on other teams broadcasts.

        Watch and listen to Hawk Harrelson some time.

      • bisonaudit - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        If you have to go to Hawk to find someone worse, that’s not helping your case.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        He’s at the extreme and Vin Scully is at the other.

        Charlie and Dave don’t go on the air drunk and they don’t belittle the other teams like some of their contemporaries do. They do get on the umps and maybe it’s shtick but I don’t think it’s in excess most nights. Just my opinion.

      • masterfishkeeper - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        I agree that umps are human and for the most part are simply doing a very difficult job, so it doesn’t make much sense to worry about them. I also think Charlie and Dave do a great job and don’t mind them pointing out bad calls. As Ghost says, they do it both ways, saying when the Nats get a break.

        I do think some umps have it in for Harper. And I think I know why.

    • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      A very good read. Mick should take a look.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        “… made aluminum-bat magic at the College of Southern Nevada.”

        Didn’t Bryce swing a wood bat at CSN?

    • David Proctor - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Yes, he did Ghost. Several people called the author out on that in the comments.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        “Most of college baseball is played with aluminum bats, but CSN’s highly competitive Scenic West Athletic Conference is a wood-only league.”

        Not even composite bats. Wood-only.

        Crasnick swung and missed on that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        Crasnick just did a partial edit:

        “…made both maple- and aluminum-bat magic at the College of Southern Nevada.”

        Bryce only swung wood. Crasnick just swung and missed for Strike 2. You can’t make this stuff up.

      • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        You are right ghost but I think the overall message in the article is pretty right on.

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 11:26 PM

        Ghost, did you read Crasnick’s article that he linked to on the phrase “maple and aluminum bat magic”?

        “Harper, 17, swung a Marucci maple bat for the College of Southern Nevada this season, then swapped it for a black DeMarini aluminum model once the Coyotes arrived at the Junior College World Series in Colorado. In accordance with his routine, his first BP session began with three bunts, a harmless ground ball or two, a line drive off the pitcher’s protective screen and another liner to the outfield. The sequence was more reminiscent of Juan Pierre than Mickey Mantle, Harper’s baseball icon.”

        So I guess he didn’t swing and miss after all, unless you know that isn’t true.

        Here’s his comment responding to the comment that “called him out” about wood vs. aluminum bats:

        Conner Wessel · Francis Marion University
        “Made aluminum-bat magic at the College of Southern Nevada”
        Yeah except he made wood-bat magic at Southern Nevada because they don’t play with metal bats, Crasnick
        Reply · · 1 · 9 hours ago

        Jerry Crasnick · Top Commenter · Baseball Writer at ESPN
        They did when he played in the JUCO World Series and I saw him hitting the ball 600 feet in batting practice with an aluminum bat.
        Reply · · 5 · 9 hours ago

        Jerry Crasnick · Top Commenter · Baseball Writer at ESPN
        Thanks for the note, though. We’ve updated the story to make it accurate.

  2. thomaswell - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    i think we should bring back the debate on an electronic strike zone. hate how zone expands on 3-0 counts and contracts on 0-2 counts. don’t even get me starting on the difference in umpires…… then there’s the damn LH vs RH batter issue see Size of Strike Zone by Count by Fangraph i know the umpires would be against it but if tennis can do it, baseball should be able to find a way.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      I don’t want an electronic strike zone except in the case of a challenge. There could be a critical call like an obvious strike 3 that is called a ball.

      They have the technology, and it could be instantaneous to reverse it.

      • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        I think the problem is with the word obvious. The other day they overturned a call which even the camera couldn’t substantiate so again I’m afraid that you open that door and they will start overturning ball/strikes where it’s not obvious.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Has to be 100% as I agree. If it’s touching the black than don’t bother. This should be an objective system just like tennis employs on line calls.

      • thomaswell - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        another challenge possibility by managers, no. just let the zone be called by computer, no challenges, just like managers can not challenge ball-strike calls

      • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM


        They have introduced goal/no goal technology for the Soccer world cup so If this can be full proof I am all for it. Can you imagine a time when ball/strikes are recorded automatically with any human error or bias and with no inconsistencies between one ump and another? sounds pretty good to me.

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Imagine all the people
        Living life in peace

        You may say I’m a dreamer
        But I’m not the only one
        I hope someday you will join us
        And the world will be as one

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Nice Mr Lennon

    • masterfishkeeper - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM


    • bisonaudit - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM

      The technology is out there already. They use it in cricket for Leg Before Wicket calls which is a harder technical problem than the baseball strikezone because they don’t just need to track the actual path of the ball, they also have to project where it would have gone if it hadn’t hit the batsman.

    • jd - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      I do feel that there is an unwritten umpire code where rookies and young players are treated differently than veterans, it’s always been that way because the umpires want to show the newbies who’s boss. I think Harper doesn’t help himself with his reactions but that’s just another step in his maturation process.

  3. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Every time this team has a surge in offense, like last Sunday when they scored 14 runs, the offense then goes into a funk for at least a week.

    This is from the last thread. When I read it, I thought it must be an exaggeration with no basis in fact. And guess what, it is, in fact, an exaggeration with no basis in fact.

    There are a variety of ways of looking at it, of course, but the most obvious is to look at games where the Nats scored over a certain threshhold of runs, let’s say 10 to make the analysis quicker, and then look at how they did in the next week. The Nats have scored 10 or more runs 7 times this year. We can dispense with Sunday’s 14 run explosion since there have only been three games since then. In the other six, here are the number of runs scored in the next week of games:

    Apr. 9 — Nats beat Marlins 10-7, record in next week: 3-4, avg runs scored: 5.0.
    Apr. 25 — Nats beat Padres 11-1, record in next week: 4-1, avg runs scored: 5.5
    May 31 — Nats beat Texas 10-2, record in next week: 4-2, avg. runs scored: 5.6
    July 5 — Nats beat Cubs 13-0, record in next week: 3-3, avg runs scored: 3.3.
    July 13 (last game before ASG) –Nats beat Phillies 10-3, record week after ASG: 4-2, avg runs scored 5.5
    Aug 2 — Nats beat Phillies 11-0, record in next week: 4-3, avg. runs scored: 4.2

    Feel free to look at the 9 games where the Nats scored either 8 or 9 runs. I have little doubt they did just fine in the weeks following those “surges in offense” too.

    The Nats have averaged 4.3 runs per game over the course of the season. So I guess the statement was not just an exaggeration, it was actually a downright falsehood. What a surprise.

  4. David Proctor - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Lloyd McClendon is attending his daughter’s wedding this weekend. So the Mariners will be managed by…Trent Jewett.


    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Sorry, that’s not like having a baby where you can’t plan the timing of a birth date.. If a family member wants you to attend a wedding there is November thru January.

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Would you criticize a Nationals coach for making the same decision? Without knowing a thing his family or the circumstances of the wedding?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        Yes, births and deaths and graduations can’t be timed but weddings can.

        I stuck up for Daniel Murphy for his child’s birth.

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        And I’m sure Murphy appreciated it. But the point is, why even express an opinion on this when you have no idea what his family situation is? I can come up with a dozen scenarios without any effort that might explain why his daughter wasn’t able to schedule her wedding around the baseball schedule.

        His daughter only gets married once (we hope). There are 162 games in a season. And he’s the manager for goodness sakes, not Robinson Cano.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        I only know what I’ve read that this was planned a long time ago. I hope it’s a nice wedding.

      • thomaswell - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        some of our family members are not as fanatic about baseball as we are…… no, i don’t hold it against them

  5. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I worked on this 2012/2014 comparison some more. I think it’s a good effort, but would love feedback. On a personal note, I’m looking toward doing more writing and less teaching in the next few years. I realize the field is crowded and male and young. But–why not try, yes?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Agreed, go for it.

    • rayvil01 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:39 PM

      That’s a lot of research, Nats Lady. It’s a nice piece. I do have some feedback items, but don’t want to gum up the works here. Not sure how best to do that. Don’t want to leave critique items on your page. That’s going to seem pedantic when others hit the page.

      As for writing more, please do. Half of the guys who make a living as sports journalists are a hot mess. Most of what they know they learned in free food lines at stadiums and practice facilities from other fat-adzed so-called journalists. They are all confident that they could run a multi-million dollar organization but have never organized anything more sophisticated than a weekend roadie swilling beer with the guys. Mark Z is an exception. It has a lot to do with why I hang in here.

      • NatsLady - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        There is a comments section at the bottom of the post. Please DO leave feedback there! I don’t mind at all, and will correct any factual errors.

      • NatsLady - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        I’m far too shy, really, to “hang” with players and other baseball hangers, plus I don’t drink much. I don’t enter those contests where you meet Gio or have lunch with Mike Rizzo because I would have no idea what to SAY to them.

        What I like to offer is observation and analysis. One time I was in the stands and I said to the fan next to me, during Clip’s bullpen warmups, he’s not throwing well, this isn’t his day. The guy next to me said, you have no way of knowing from up here, the bullpen coach will know. Well, actually, I do. I have watched Clip for five years and I know exactly how he throws (and he did, in fact, have a bad game and his velo was down). I adored Chien-Ming Wang (foolishly) and could tell the minute his arm slot was off and his sinker wouldn’t sink. Plus, I know statistics, and I also know the sites and sources of statistics. Plus, if I take the time, I can write. Don’t know if that’s enough.

      • scmargenau - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:48 AM


        Def go for it. First, I would recommend investing in the design and UX of your blog, that sets the pace for the experience. This blog could use a lot of help too, and a better comment module. Also, if u use a module that is supported over social platforms like Disqus, people will be more likely to comment and share…

        Best of luck.

  6. knoxvillenat - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    On the subject of umpires……do I recall hearing Carp and FP saying last night that 2 of the 4 umpires had been replaced in the third game of the Phillie series? I must admit to only paying half attention to the game so it’s possible I didn’t hear correctly. If that actually happened was an explanation forthcoming as to why 2 umps would be replaced in mid-series? Maybe they were getting remedial training in what is and isn’t a balk (cough, Hamels, cough)?

    • natsfan1a - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      They did mention that two of the umps had been replaced, but there was no explanation as to why (at least, not as of the 8th inning, when I went to bed – yawn). If memory serves, one of the replaced umps was the crew chief, who had two calls overturned the night before.

  7. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Ron Roenicke is on MLB Network complaining about a particular ump as we speak. So I guess it happens to us AND the Brewers…

  8. TimDz - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Last night’s game was difficult to watch….the first inning, after getting a two run lead, Fister NEEDED to get the low in the zone strike and he wasn’t getting it. He has gotten that call most of the year and as a result has been highly effective…

    Last night was just the opposite. He had to adjust to the high strike zone and…with a 90 mph fastball….that spells trouble…

    Dispite that, the Nats are 6 1/2 games up on Atlanta, and the Mets have played them tough all year….don’t be surprised if we all wake up and the Nats are back on top by 7 games…

  9. Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    And the Magic Number down to 23. :-)

    • therealjohnc - Aug 28, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Not yet; the magic number is still 24. If the Braves win out (29-0) the rest of the season they will finish with 98 wins. With the Nats at 75-57, the Nats would need to win 23 of 30 to also finish with 98 wins and tie the Braves.

      It would take 24 wins (or Braves losses) for the Nats to clinch the division. Which would be magic, indeed!

      It’s theoretically possible that the Nats could go 24-6 the rest of the way and finish 99-63, one game ahead of a Braves’ team that finishes with an MLB record 30 straight victories, including six over the Nationals in their head-to-head meetings. The Nats would just have to beat everyone else they play. Which isn’t going to happen, any more than the Braves are going to run the table through September.

      • Section 222 - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        I was responding to TimDz’s comment. It will be down to 23 if the Nats wake up back on top by 7 games because the Braves lose tonight to the Mets.

        Not sure if you saw my post yesterday trying to game out when the NL East clinching will actually occur. I spent a lot of time with the magic number figuring that out.

  10. NatsLady - Aug 28, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    The Mets are dealing with plenty of injuries. plenty of injuries.

    Wright – playing hurt (and slumping)
    Murphy – out, possible DL
    Vic Black – out, possible DL

  11. Pete "Hit 'n Run" Wood - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    Yes, the umpiring has been especially bad recently, and yes, 2 of them were replaced a few days ago. There was no explanation that I have been able to pick up on, but I have a pretty good idea of what was going on. The two calls that were overturned in the secong Philly game were likely related. has anyone got any intel on this?

  12. Pete "Hit 'n Run" Wood - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    To: Ghost—-good one here re hawk and vinny:)

    C&D and FP and Carp are great. And I personally think this year the umpiring has become worse. Major League umpires are supposed to be better than average.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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