Posted on: April 14, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 3:17 pm

Meet the Blogger: Evan Brunell

It's been a while since I've posted a blog here.

I've been busy.

What with mourning the end of Lost and awaiting Matt Chico's much-anticipated re-arrival to the Nats, blogging had to take a back seat.

But I've also been working behind the scenes. For the past year I've been on the hunt for the best and brightest bloggers out there. Yep, I'm sorta like Bob Parsons. Minus the whole killing pachyderms.

Moving on.  The past year has been spent bringing in 19 fresh faces to the editorial family. What started off as the Facts & Rumors blog network quickly evolved to the Eye on Sports blog network. It's been a tremendous weapon in evolving as an industry leader in breaking news, analysis and opinion. Hopefully you're familiar with it.

But now that we're approaching summer and with the NFL doing its rock-out-with-your-lockout thing, I figured now would be a good time to better get to know some of the contributors. So each Friday I'll be posting a new entry in my blog called, "Meet the Blogger." 

Since I've actually only met five of the bloggers I've hired, I figured this would be a good time to better get to know them. And while I'm getting to know them, I figured you could get to know them. Mi casa es su casa, ya know? And hopefully it inspires you to read more of the blog, contribute on the message boards, subscribe to their RSS feeds or follow 'em on Twitter. 
As always, I appreciate any feedback about Eye on Sports. We're here to create compelling, interesting content for you. If we're not meeting that goal, I want to hear about it.

But enough about me, and the blog. Our first Meet the Blogger is Evan Brunell. He's part of our Eye on Baseball blog, and here's what he told me. 

Describe your job: As an Eye on Baseball blogger my responsibility is to monitor the baseball world while on shift. Primarily, we track news and report about it on the site, adding our own personal analysis and opinion to the story to function as one-stop shopping for baseball fanatics. We also help lead live chats, record video segments and contribute features to, such as division previews.

What you like about your job: There are too many things to count about this job that make it fantastic. I enjoy working with and respect all of my co-workers, which makes it a fun environment. I also like the opportunity to be representing 

I am always challenging myself to be a better writer and knowing I have the confidence of behind me makes me strive that much more to deliver. Oh, and the whole getting paid to watch baseball thing ain't too shabby.

What you sorta don't like about your job: Staying up until 2 a.m. on the night shifts can get old really fast, especially when you do a wide slate of these shifts. Since those shifts require working mostly late at night, sometimes it feels like the sun is never out and you never get to see or talk to any friends. Friday night back-to-back with working Saturday is rough.

At times, having to stay focused on the news angle is difficult because I am a man with plenty of opinions and the knowhow of how to research and do some deeper analysis than I currently do and I would love to be more focused on column-style articles. While the folks at CBS encourage us to plant opinion and analysis on articles -- and I certainly take advantage of that -- I always need to keep the primary focus of news reporting in the back of my head. That at times prevents me from writing pieces I may prefer to write over reporting the latest news, such as an injury. I do take advantage of the news in that regard, however, by taking a look at the fallout of the injury and things of that nature, so that helps.

What other sites do you contribute to: I started a Red Sox blog in late 2003 that I still contribute to but it's largely as a behind-the-scenes editor where I help run the schedule of writers, handle advertising and things of that nature. I also score some games for at Fenway Park when the Red Sox play and am president of a public charity for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

A trend in your sport we should care about: Part of the reason the AL East is so competitive is because the Yankees have forced every other team to pony up. The excessive financial capabilities and intelligence of the front office required other teams -- Boston, initially -- to increase its financial output and own brainpower to match wits. Since then, other teams have joined in the fray. While Tampa Bay and Baltimore are constrained by finances, they've brought in some very intelligent minds to help combat the financial might of New York and Boston. Toronto, meanwhile, has an impressive stable of minds and also intends to push payroll over $100 million in the not-too-distant future.

You can see trends like this playing out elsewhere, especially in the AL Central. The Tigers stepped up their game after the 119-loss debacle of 2003 and increased their financial outlay, which in turn has caused the White Sox and Twins to step up. The Twins, for their part, are no longer the miserly, Carl Pohlad-owned, contraction-threatened Twinkies we once knew. These Twins have a payroll over $100 million. And this is beginning to sweep the NL, which could help narrow the disparity between the two leagues that we have commented on for a decade. Some of the more compelling teams, in fact, currently reside in the NL and more and more elite free agents are making their way to the senior circuit.

Part of this is because these players believe they'll have an easier path to the playoffs, but a bigger part has to do with the Mets trying to keep toe-to-toe with the Yankees. They failed spectacularly, but will still be able to pay exorbitant fees for players and now have a wizard by the name of Sandy Alderson guiding the front office. The Phillies were a down-and-out team with a terrible ballpark and no funds and now trail only the Yankees in payroll. The Braves have stepped up their game after a few seasons to forget and while the Marlins don't have many fans in the player's union, the braintrust constantly keeps them competitive. And now we see Washington stepping up to the plate, so that division will become extremely difficult soon, if not already. And much like the trend filtered to the AL Central and dug its claws in the AL West, this trend will sweep the NL as well.

This is good news for the NL, which will attract more stars, improve the quality of its game both on the field and in the front office and be able to go toe-to-toe with the AL in interleague and the World Series.

Where do you live: Worcester, Massachusetts. A former home of a major-league team (go, Blue Sox! ... yes, really) with its own place in baseball history. The very first perfect game in baseball was thrown in Worcester, for example.

The best thing about working from home is ____: I'm not constrained to one specific spot to work. I can work in any room where I live and can also go different places outside my townhouse and work there. I like to take trips down to Cape Cod during the summer and can work from the house I stay at.

A blogger who gets it: Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe springs to mind as a mainstream media member who takes advantage of all the tools at his disposal and clearly understands what it means to run a successful blog.

Chicks dig bloggers because _____: Living in the mother's basement is hot.

Favorite WWE wrestler of all-time: I'd have to parrot every other kid from the '80s and early '90s and say Hulk Hogan. (I also loved his TV show Thunder in Paradise) As a kid, he was my hero and his exploits against Andre the Giant were incredible. I enjoyed Macho Man Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michaels and plenty more.   The one wrestling match I will always remember is Bret Hart and Michaels' epic Ironman battle at Wrestlemania XII in which Michaels won the championship belt in overtime for the first time. I switched to the WCW when Hogan did and became a fan of Goldberg and Jeff Jarrett most notably, although a lot of old-school WWF wrestlers I knew wrestled in WCW at that time as well. I stopped watching wrestling entirely when WCW folded as I wasn't really interested in what the WWE was doing at the time, but every several months I'll check out what's happening in that world although it happens more infrequently now that I recognize less people.

What's your favorite non-sports site: When I'm online, I'm generally doing one of four things. Baseball, talking to friends, reading the news or checking out a few comics. My favorite comic to read online is Cyanide and Happiness.

Tell me something interesting about you: I've had one near-death experience. I went parasailing at Cape Cod when I was a young teenand didn't get strapped in right. I went up with my brother and his friend and I started slipping out of the strap, but at the same time as the strap was inching up and I was slipping down, it was constricting my upper body making it difficult to breathe. We were waving valiantly to be taken down but they thought we were just waving -- why we would bother to wave for 10 straight minutes is beyond me, but I was able to hold on until they brought us back down. When my feet finally hit the deck I blacked out for a couple seconds but was fine after that.

If you weren't a sports blogger you'd be: A baseball player. Wait, already tried that. Probably would be in a baseball front office somewhere, a lawyer or writing fiction.

Jack Bauer or John McClane: Gotta go with Bauer power here. Both of them are pretty similar, but Bauer is far less patient -- probably because he's RUNNING OUT OF TIME!  We can find you on Twitter here: @evanbrunell

Baseball quick hits 'cause he's a baseball blogger:

Team grew up rooting for: Boston Red Sox

Favorite baseball player (current): Dustin Pedroia
Favorite player (overall): Ted Williams
Best baseball game attended: 2004 ALCS, Game 4, the Dave Roberts steal
Bonus time:

Another favorite memory of mine from when I played baseball was that one day, I literally could do no wrong when I was pitching. I had awful control but on the days I had it, it was difficult for others to get a hit off me. I flirted with a few no-hitters. My calling card was neither control -- which I never could get past -- or velocity, it was movement. One day, I threw a two-seamer to a lefty (I pitched right-handed) that started on the inside corner and ended up two feet off the outside plate. The batter swung so hard and tried to adjust mid-swing to catch the fastball but just ended up spinning like a top and stumbling. Then I unleashed a slider/sinker that started on the middle outside of the plate, slid over to the inside corner and then sunk to his feet. He had no chance on that swing as well. That's how good my pitches used to be, but what sticks out from that particular game is the umpire came over to the bench after the inning was over and asked if I had actually meant to throw the two-seamer and slider/sinker like that. He was absolutely flabbergasted when I said yes. They were truly two major-league caliber pitches that Roy Halladay would have been proud of.
Follow me on Twitter at @ekaycbssports

Posted on: February 23, 2009 12:39 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2009 12:56 pm

Nationals' woes all start with ownership

A journeyman pitcher who held out. A top prospect that's well, hardly even a prospect anymore. And now a GM who's reportedly being investigated by the Federalis.

Throw in the fact that ownership and the city aren't getting along too well and that the face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, is inked to just a one-year deal mean the Nationals have fully embraced big-market issues in a small-market way.

How did it get to be? A city starved for baseball deserves better. Much better. But ownership has continued to fail time and again. They have a brilliant front-office mind in Stan Kasten, but he's neutralized by a blah general manager and a meh mission statement.

Yahoo! sports columnist Tim Brown asks the simple question regarding Odalis Perez's contract status: why?

It should be applied on a larger level. Why did the team deal with Perez? Why is the team's Latin American scouting department failing? Why is the GM the butt of jokes instead of taking no ifs, ands or buts from fourth-tier players like Perez? Most importantly: Why are the owners taking too much of a backseat in terms of setting the tone for the organization?

That's the problem in D.C. and one most can probably relate to. We all want owners who don't meddle, but we all want owners who create the proper atmosphere. The Lerners are failing at the latter.

That brings us back to the question why. Why are the Lerners simply, well, inept? And that takes us a notch higher up the food chain to the commish, who's as inept as they come. The Lerners played the game Bud Selig wanted when it came time to buy a team. The game say, Mark Cuban, wouldn't. And that's the type of owners baseball gets. Ones who, for the most part, suck just as bad as the commissioner.

Meanwhile in the NFL, green owners like Steve Bisciotti in Baltimore and Stephen Ross in Miami, seem to get it. Could it be a reflection of the league's fresher consortium of power headed by Roger Goodell?

But Selig pegged the Lerners as the family for the job of ushering in a new era of baseball in D.C. They're a family who built their fortune with old-school real estate ventures like shopping malls. How would an ownership whose fortune was amassed through Web 2.0, or another innovative product maker, like Toyota or Apple, fare? Again, speculation is what it is, but I have the feeling the Nats wouldn't have Home Shopping Network-like TV ratings.

Argue all you want with the personnel the Nats put on the field. Most would agree it's laughable. But franchise failure always starts at the top, and with negative headlines mounting it's imperative the Lerners use this time to establish something, anything in terms of what this franchise is and will be.

Anything less and Redskins management will start to look good.

On to the best blogs ... around

While the city's other inept franchise, the Wizards stave off the last spot, the Suns and Knicks get bumps up in GoCavs33's weekly NBA Power Rankings .

Utah State fans rejoice. The Aggies are No. 11 in the The State of Seattle Area Sports's college hoops rankings . That's significantly better than where Gary Parrish has them, or should I say doesn't have them, in his Top 25 (and one).

Can't say there's a single pick I agree with, so if you're looking to have some mock draft debatin' , check in on Famous words from an Eagle's fan. blog.

While our Gregg Doyel is slobbering over Stephen Curry, Dantheman4250's Tournament Take offers an alternative take on the Davidson superstar .

Klick of the Day

Ovechkin vs. Crosby

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 6, 2008 6:10 pm

GM for a Day: Be just like Jim Bowden!

Not to get all demanding on the community (we do ask a lot, but it's only because you're awesome), but here's the pitch (as stolen from Shuless Joe) --

Love warming up to the Hot Stove this time of year? If so, we're looking for you to have a little fun role playing in a new feature we're calling GM for a Day. Jim Bowden

With dozens of big-name players and hundreds of others on the move this offseason, tell us how you would fix your favorite team and where players should land.

Like the thought of Jake Peavy in pinstripes? Tell us how the deal with play out. Just like a Scott Boras negotiation, there's nothing out of bounds here. Think the Dodgers can get Manny, CC and still bring back Derek Lowe, tell us how it unfolds.

What to do: Title your blog entry GM for a Day and just start writing. We'll be scanning the blog boards for the best Hot Stove fare and promoting it throughout the site.

Keep in mind, at the start of '09 we'll be going around asking some of our community's best baseball minds to be beat bloggers next season, so this is a good head start for that.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, throw your hat in the ring on this thread, and post a couple good blog entries about anything relating to the Hot Stove. Just title your blog GM for a Day.

Thanks for your time, and now back to my regularly scheduled blogging.
Category: MLB
Tags: GM for a Day
Posted on: October 23, 2008 4:07 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2008 12:41 pm

Weekend Debate: What age to stop wearing jerseys?

Like running a marathon or driving an EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle into the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, life is full of checkpoints.

Some are formal occasions, like a Bar Mitzvah, graduation or wedding.

Some are informal occasions, like a first smooch, first pint of Guinness and eventual first relapse. Jay Z

Some are inevitable occasions, like going bald or losing a pet.

(What daaaaaayaaaaa mean fish need food?!)

Then there are checkpoints where one must decide, what am I really about? And by that I mean jerseys. Namely, when do I stop wearing them? Not when do I stop wearing a jersey to the mall or to the beach, but when do I stop wearing a jersey altogether? When does the jersey cease to be a staple of my wardrobe?

This my friends, is our Weekend Debate.

Let's begin with an expert on the subject, Jay-Z.

In the fall of 2004, the rapper-cum-NBA owner told Time, "you can't be running around in jerseys when you're 30 years old."

That's a good place to start. A nice clear-cut number. Three decades into one's existence wearing a jersey becomes unacceptable.

Imagine the possibilities if this, in fact, were a rule. Being 29 and 364 days old would have new meaning. It would be like being 20 and 364 days old, but instead of doing 21 shots you'd try to squeeze on 30 jerseys. Not at once, I'd imagine.

But there are other voices to be heard. A 20-something CBS video producer in L.A. (by way of Connecticut) says, "late '30s, but keep in mind, I'm getting buried in my Red Sox uniform."

A self-described fellow curmudgeon like me and editor here at says, "It's never acceptable for a grown man to wear a jersey." Another said, "I don't own one." (He actually just sold his [and what was only] custom TrailBlazers jersey on EBay to somebody in Japan. Yes, somebody across the world just purchased a Portland jersey with a random guy's name on the back.)Dick Vitale

I move too fast. Some quick background: This all got started while watching ESPNews and seeing Dick Vitale adorning a Rays jersey while being interviewed.

Now Vitale predates America's entrance in World War II, Watergate and Twitter. But there he was, in alopecia glory, sporting a baseball jersey on a cable sports network.

Let's speed back up. There are two types of jersey wearers: those sporting a jersey with a real player's name on the back and those with anything else. We'll classify those with blank jerseys as leaning toward the former and those with nicknames or funny sayings on their back as leaning toward the latter. But they are clearly sub-sects of the two jersey genera and not their own.

Our assistant managing editor says, "Only player names on the back." I say, "Not a big deal either way." He says, "You're an idiot."

Maybe so.

But here are my thoughts on jerseys. Basketball, football and hockey jerseys are no dice for grown-ups. Basketball jerseys are meant to be worn without anything on underneath, and the public doesn't need to see that much skin or arm pit hair. Football and hockey jerseys were meant to be worn with pads, so unless you have a hecukva set of traps, you're probably not filling out the apparel. In short, you look silly wearing a synthetic nylon top with jeans. The worst offenders are people who dress in suits or slacks and a shirt and head to the NBA arena after work with a jersey on top of their Brooks Brothers oxford.

(I'll also add, and this has since been touched upon below, that wearing the name of another human being on your back [particularly somebody younger than yourself] is a bit awkward. Wearing another human being's name on your back represents a sort of adulation of somebody's talents or persona [as expressed below in the comments] or brand [players as products] you align yourself with. Maybe it's just me, but there are few athletes I feel that strongly about. In this current sports atmosphere I align myself with organizations, not players, more often than not and I tend to find that few athletes are well-rounded enough human beings to want to show my respect for by wearing their name on my back.)

I'll leave you with my thoughts on baseball jerseys. I think they fly no matter how old or young you are. Baseball jerseys are only jerseys in the loosest sense of the word. Most of the time they are cotton (or polyester), feature buttons and a collar. In short, for a big slice of the population, it's an upgrade from the normal day-to-day attire.

Enough from the news desk, if you feel strongly about wearing jerseys regularly you should probably go enroll in Madden Nation. Or share your thoughts if you're inclined. 
On to the best blogs ... around

How do seven NCAA tournament selections sound? That's what the ACC is receiving, according to the Sports Report. The blogger breaks down the fates of all the teams in college basketball's best conference.

If you're impressed with the start of Matt Ryan's career, you're not alone (I sure am). View from The Branch... compares the Falcons rookie's stats with 10 other premier quarterbacks, and you'll be surprised with how Ryan stands out. One QB not on the list, to my shock, was Ben Roethlisberger.

The game is surrounded by hype, which is why In Love with the Game, Mom's View is here to put some perspective behind Sunday's matchup of Giants-Steelers.

Mike Nolan became the latest head coach to lose his job midseason. Toxic Talk breaks down the other candidates, from Herm to Mangini, who could be out of work before the season ends.

Klick of the Day

Andy Samberg and Terry Tate both encourage you to vote
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 23, 2008 12:32 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2008 1:28 pm

World Series: 14 lessons learned from Game 1

As someone who spent around 40 percent of his life in the higher education ranks, I've noticed that sometimes life's lessons come at you from anywhere -- movies (Road House), elders (assistant managing editors), and in last night's case, Game 1 of the World Series. I pickedCole Hamels up 14 of these, and if there's any that forever changed your life, do share.
  1. I learned my iPhone can grow up to be anything it wants to be
  2. DirecTV is so good, it can lampoon a National Lampoon's movie 
  3. Carl Crawford doesn't care much about what the Phils pitching coach has to say
  4. One dare not ask Joe Maddon about the Utley Shift on Wednesday nights
  5. When talking about the great sports slate for Philadelphians this Sunday, it's best to show an image of Big Ben and Eli Manning
  6. The Chevy Traverse, not a high-paying job, beautiful wife and never-boring life, is what I've always wished for.
  7. Cole Hamels has a tremendous chin
  8. Jason Bartlett's base-stealing skills made every college student very happy today.
  9. The sixth inning is no time to challenge the balk pickoff abilities of Cole Hamels
  10. Cole Hamels has a tremendous chin
  11. The back seats of a Chrysler Town 'n' Country is a good place to play Jenga
  12. The last time I got caught driving the speed of Grant Balfour's fastball, I received a hefty moving violation
  13. Sadly, Vince Vaughn is now to Christmas Movies what Will Smith is to summer blockbusters
  14. Carlos Ruiz is the master of handling what Tim McCarver likes to call,"balls in the dirt."

What was the song to the Verizon "Game Recap?"

Why it was Widespread Panic's "Someimes."

On to the best blogs ... around

"Two bits , four bits, six bits, a dollar, all for the Gators, stand up and Holler!" Mr. Two Bits, the man who created the cheer, is calling it quits after Florida takes on the Citadel. The Greek Speaks pays homage.

Michael Waltrip will be just the second racer to reach 1000 starts. NASCAR UPDATES pays homage to the driver who some consider a clown, and others a legend.

From "Junie's Black Belt Loogie" to "The 'Non' Stand-Up," 'The Ultimate Fighter 8' Blog breaks down the key points to remember in The Ultimate Fighter 8 History.

They're two of the better mid-major conferences, but Dantheman4250's Sports Blog says the Horizon may have a down season while The Wiz's Blog reports the Missouri Valley is as good as always.
Klick of the Day


  Clarence Carter's 1991 video kept us entertained in the newsroom this morning

Posted on: October 14, 2008 2:31 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2008 2:38 pm

Matt Stairs rocks, so who's the next Stairs?

"I'm not going to lie, it's fun. I try to hit home runs and that's it. I'm not going to hit a single and steal second base. So I think the biggest thing is to get up there, swing hard and elevate."
Matt Stairs' license plate reads: Swng2dng

Matt Stairs' unusual candor leads to a interesting question. With the Rob Deers, Cecil Fielders, Mark Whitens and 40-year-old Matt Stairs are part of a soon-to-be-extinct generation thrill, is there anybody left to pick up the torch?

Chicks dig the long ball and these folks obliged. After all, singles are for vending machines.

The Orioles' Luke Scott is a candidate. Through age 29 he and Stairs share an eerily similar track record. Jack Cust seems like an obvious candidate, particularly coming off a 33 home run, 77 RBI, .231 batting average, 197 strikeout season. But I'm going with an unlikely candidate.

Ryan Ludwick's 37 home runs, 113 RBI, .299 BA and 146 strikeouts matchup well to Stairs' career-best 1999 totals of 38 home runs, 102 RBI .258 BA and 124 strikeouts. Yes, Ludwick is the jewel of the Gateway City's collective eyes, but his relatively high average was .29 points higher than his minors average and .32 points higher than his previous bigs average.

Ludwick had a great '08, and he doesn't look like Stairs, Deer, or Fielder. But just maybe this past season was the last hurrah before the Luddy settles in to a nice career as the poster boy of the long balls club.
On to the best blogs ... around

Bengals bloggers are active these days and Nasty Thoughts has the way to fix the Bengals. Bring in Daunte Culpepper for one. Bench Chris Perry for two. And keep an eye fixed on the future for three.

It was a storybook Monday night for The Thoughts of a Gentledawg's Browns. With a cast of characters including Braylon Edwards as "The Playmaker" and Brandon Jacobs as "Tip-toe McTalksalot"it was theater at its finest. Just don't expect a third act in the Washington suburbs.

Mental lapses, lack of a gameplan and an overall improved Cleveland spelled doom for the Giants. Big Blue Masochist: The Edge of Reason recaps a disastrous Monday night for New York.

Everything tastes and smells better after a Minnesota Wild victory. Don't take my word, take I'll mouth off. You peons will listen.'s. The blogger is back dishing out up quarks (Colton Gillies) and bottom quarks (the great Martin Skoula).

Klick of the Day

This is not how you do THAT motion
Posted on: September 10, 2008 12:51 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2008 12:55 pm

Miami juiced to take down Jose Canseco Street

Not one to personally know the ego-stroking enjoyment that comes from having a street named after myself; I'd imagine back in 1988 it was sort of a big deal when Miami decided to name Southwest 16th Street from 87th Avenue to 107th Avenue "Jose Canseco Street."Jose Canseco Street

Twenty years later, the id of local politicians is flexing its primitive ways, now doing their darndest to remove the name from parts of the thoroughfare. Did somebody say, "election in November, election in November?"

"I think it's an embarrassment," Miami-Dade County commissioner Joe Martinez told the Miami Herald. "It runs through my district, right by my office ... It's the fact that he did it, and he lied for such a long time. The book was just to make money."

The book, of course, is Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco's tell-all tale of his and the league's steroid use during the past 20 or so years. The street, of course, was meant to honor one of Miami's homegrown Cuban talents and personalities. The irony, of course, is the Miami skyline was created as a way to launder money from the cocaine trade.

Now a political chip, Canseco was a god in 1988 Miami. Then again, on neighboring Calle Ocho, Miamians were juiced up, setting the Guinness Book of World Records that same year, forming the longest conga line (119,986 people).

On to the best blogs ... around 

Last week the Big East didn't look so hot. This week the conference has a shot to solidify the ACC as college football's worst, says The Eagle's Blog Has Landed.

For the past three seasons, Terrell Owens has been on his best behavior in Dallas. Reason enough for Cowboys Fan: The good, bad, and ugly!! to blow up the T.O. myth.

What do Big Ben (whoa now), Terry Bradshaw, Steelers fans and Myron Cope have in common? They're all part of The Thoughts of a Gentledawg's Top 10 reasons why the blogger hates the Steelers.

Living in Athens, Georgia, perfection is the buzzing word of the land. What I do instead of work looks at the Bulldogs' shot at perfection, in perfect style.

Klick of the Day 

Clearly, Sarah Palin isn't even the best Palin for the job.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 18, 2008 11:45 am
Edited on: August 18, 2008 12:06 pm

Alpha Blog: Nationals make me laugh

I've sat by idly watching the Nationals create their "foundation." I've watched vice president Stan Kasten create his plan and I've watched Fans may also turn their back on this dismal franchise. general manager Jim Bowden and manager Manny Acta execute it.

Sometimes it takes a small move to trigger a loud response.

Bowden sent capable reliever, and the last remaining Montreal holdover, Luis Ayala to the Mets for 25-year-old utility infielder Anderson Hernandez Sunday. It's one thing to trade Ayala. It's another to give him away to a division rival.

This, after sending outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider to Mets in the offseason for Lastings Milledge.

I understand moving veterans for youth, but there are 28 other teams out there. Do we have to make our rivals better?

But that's not as laughable as Paul Lo Duca, arguably the worst offseason signing not named Andruw Jones, who was recently released and picked up by division foe, Florida. With Florida in the market for a serviceable catcher since April, why Bowden couldn't have parlayed Lo Duca for a prospect (or as Bowden likes to think of them -- slap-hitting middle infielders with little upside) is depressing.

Johnny EstradaBut not as laughable as signing Johnny Estrada to a contract when you have budding star Jesus Flores in the system and serviceable Will Nieves. After all, it was Jason Kendall who unseated Estrada in Milwaukee. Here's how that offseason conversation between Jimbo and Johnny "I'm spent" Estrada went:

Jim: Johnny, you staying in shape? We're looking for a veteran catcher to work with our young staff.
Johnny: I dunno, Jimbo. I'm not really feeling the game of baseball anymore, I mean geez, they brought in Jason Kendall in Milwaukee to replace me. Ya know how depressing that makes a human being, when Jason Kendall is seen as an upgrade over you? It's like replacing Rodney Dangerfield with Jackie Mason in Caddyshack II.
Jim: I loved Caddyshack II! It had that black bailiff from Night Court. What a great show, Night Court. Bull, he sure was tall. Just like Rauchy. Come on into spring training, we'll see what we can do with ya.
Johnny: OK, bud, if you say so.

But not as laughable as signing an overweight defensive liability who doesn't take his diabetes seriously to a multi-year contract that makes him untradeable. (see: Young, Dmitri)

But not as laughable as signing fragile Nick Johnson, a light-hitting first baseman to a multi-year contract, effectively inhibiting any prospects from manning the corner. Sorry, Larry Broadway or Chris Marrero.

But not as laughable as trading the best reliever on the market for one of those hard-to-find slap-hitting middle infielders. But hey, he sure is quick. So is Joey Gathright. So is Michael Bourn. Keep them and their miniscule OBP off my team.

But not as laughable as failing to sign draft pick Aaron Crow over a $500,000 dispute. Crow, deemed major-league ready, was always expected to be a tough sign. But when the gap came to within six-digits, the team should have ponied up to sign the kid. Why sign unproven talent to major-league dollars? Let's say they end up paying Crow $4 million per (what he wanted, the Nats came in at $3.5). What pitcher on the free-agent market are you going to find for $4 million per? That's fourth- or fifth-starter money and Crow is projected as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Yes, paying kids that sort of moolah isn't ideal, but the club drafted him knowing he'd be potentially great, and tough at the table.

But not as laughable as the Lerner family withholding $3.5 million in rent (as of July 11) to the city of Washington for receiving an incomplete stadium. Not just that, the Lerners are "demanding damages of $100,000 a day, dating from March 1," according to the Washington Post. Just to refresh, the city paid for this stadium using tax dollars. The team is playing in the stadium and the Lerners are collecting revenue. The Pope conducted mass in the stadium. The Presidents Race occurs during every home game. But it's incomplete to the point where not just rent is being withheld, but damages are being sought. I've attended three games and the only thing incomplete I've noticed is the on-the-field product. It takes a budding villain to make the public stick up for the city of Washington. Congrats Teddy.

But back to the seemingly small things. Here's what really set things off, laughably speaking, in this blogger's dome. The Nationals are Ted Lernerlast in the league in giveaways. Dead last at 35 per 81 home games, according to the Sports Business Journal. The Marlins, a team like the Nats which entered the season with little hope to compete, lead the league with 141 giveaways. Couple this with the fact that season ticket holders had to actually show up to these atrocious games (but only specific ones) to receive their complimentary yearbook and replica stadium is well, laughable. I received mine Friday night and as the guy who handed it to me said upon seeing my disappointment in the craftsmanship, "I hear some people are using them as ashtrays."

Having a plan that requires patience is one thing, using it as an excuse to be miserly is another. One season doesn't make a rich data pool, but if Year 1 of Ler-Kas-Bow is a sign of things to come, it's safe to say this team is destined to complete the trilogy of Washington teams leaving the area.

But I offer a solution, and it's so simple I demand it: An apology not just to season-ticket holders like myself, but to all Nats fans.

Dear Nationals fans,

We're trying here in D.C., but we've been out of the baseball game for a while, which explains why we don't know how to treat fans at the ballpark, why we don't know how to do the whole TV thing well (the Nats are dead last in TV ratings), and why we don't know how to do the whole personnel thing well. But we'll get better, starting with the removal of Jim Bowden from the general manager post. We'll bring in a smart baseball guy who has a fine-tuned balance between objectively analyzing players and pulling the trigger on a brash big-ticket signee when it fits the plan. We'll provide incentives to attend the ballpark, which Washington was nice enough to build (despite its many flaws), like free caps and balls (but no cowbells). In short, we'll do things better. But stay faithful, please. We've waited a long time to have baseball back in D.C., let's not rush this job. Let's set up a foundation that will ensure the District has the best baseball franchise in MLB. If we don't fulfill our obligations above, we promise to sell the team to Ted Leonsis and never entertain any offers from Dan Snyder, no matter how much money or Lions for Lambs paraphernalia he throws our way.


Ted Lerner

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