Well, the search is over. Similar to the hunt for a new GM in Washington, the Nationals have simply dropped the "Interim" title from the person they had. Today, the Washington Nationals announced that Jim Riggleman would keep the job he took over mid-way though last season. Terms of the deal are under wraps currently, but a Riggo is back with a Washington team.
Riggleman totes a managerial career that spans 4 teams, with an over all record of 555-694 (.444), and one play off appearance with the 1998 Chicago Cubs. Named Nationals Bench Coach at the beginning of last season, Riggleman took over for a 26-61 (.299) Manny Acta and led the Nats on a 33-42 (.440) through the stretch.
Whether you consider it irony or tragedy, Redskins season has come in Washington and has given D.C. sports fans no solace from the bad taste of 100 loss baseball. From as early as April of the 2009 Nationals season, the cries echoed throughout Washington that people had already had enough baseball and were calling for football season.
Be careful what you wish for.
The Skins have started their season with a miserable thud. The team stands 2-5, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to how frustrating this year has been. The Skins have become the first team in NFL history to have their first six opponents come into the match-up without a win, but despite that incredible step up they could only muster two wins. The club managed to neuter their head coach, Jim Zorn, by removing his play calling abilities, and their owner Dan Snyder has looked like a maniacal dictator after censoring the signs fans could display at Fed-Ex Field.
I guess that’s a little different than just losing a lot of games.
While there was a strong fallout when the Nationals opened to a 26-61 record that resulted in the firing of Manny Acta, none of the frustration or humiliation from the Nationals season compares to the uproar we are feeling in Washington today over the Redskins. Is this due to the way we perceive the Redskins? Or is it just possible that the Redskins really are more pathetic than the lowly Washington Nationals.
To find out, we will first today look into what those who closley follow and cover the Redskins are saying, and tomorrow we will look at the Nationals side:
If the question is which franchise has a better chance to win in the near-term, I'd vote for the Redskins. Fortunes can change incredibly rapidly in the NFL, and teams can go from out of the playoffs to the Super Bowl in a single year. While the Lerners have talked a good game, Daniel Snyder has shown that he'll actually shell out real money in an effort to be competitive. And the Redskins have won under his regime, going to the playoffs two of the past four seasons before this disaster. On wins and losses, this isn't even close.
But from the fan's perspective, I think the Redskins supporter is, on average, far more disillusioned than the Nats supporter. For one thing, the Redskins have a tradition of excellence that hasn't been fulfilled recently; the Nats have no such expectations. But more than that, Redskins fans feel abused, and the abuse has been going on for years. The game-day experience is awful, the feeling of constantly being attacked by salesmen is unmistakable, and the covenant between the front office and the fan base is significantly eroded, if not actually shredded into bits.
Nats fans, remarkably, still have hope, and many still have feelings of goodwill toward their struggling franchise. Redskins fans? Good luck finding that. Which is why even though I'm convinced the Redskins will make the playoffs again well before the Nats do, I'd still say their franchise is in worse shape
It is obvious to me that the Redskins are the bigger embarrassment by a LONG SHOT. The Nationals have qualified people and though the wins have been fewer than expected, they are building something. Stan Kasten was President of the World Series Braves, which built a dominant franchise in the 90s, and Mike Rizzo, who saw success as the Director of Scouting with the Diamonbacks, is making all the right moves. The Nats have a lot of youth they are developing in the minors, so it's only a matter of time before that translates to the big league.
Compare that to the Redskins' internal process is laughable. We have a maverick owner and a sidekick GM trading away their draft picks for players on the wrong side of their prime. It took 3 years for Joe Gibbs, who demanded full control, to clean up Spurrier's mess, and it took all of 6 months for Cerrato and Gibbs to return it to shambles. They hire an unqualified QB coach, who has never called a single play in his life, to install his West Coast offense on Joe Gibbs' run-first offense. They use all three of their 2nd round draft picks on WRs, none of whom have contributed in any capacity. As I predicted, the OLine did not hold up and now all hell is broken less. As bad as the Nationals have been, Kasten is always available at the games to chat with fans, and the Nationals continue to put out a fan-friendly experience. Compare that to the Nazi-esque rules at Fedex to prohibit, which prohibit anti-Redskins verbiage while at the same time flooding us with non-stop advertisements is appalling.
It's very difficult to decide between these two franchises. Each seems to be in shambles, and it's quite possible that neither will make the postseason for quite sometime. However, I think you have to say that the Redskins are actually in worse shape. Their once rock-solid fan base is starting to jump ship (and justifiably so), while the Nationals have no major group of fans to disappoint. That being said, the Redskins could turn things around tomorrow and pack FedEx Field the following week. I think you have to look at potential here. The Nats have Stan Kasten, a guy that has reached considerable levels of success in building a baseball team, while the Redskins look like a bunch of one-uppers with too much cash. The Nats have a beautiful new stadium in the city, while the Redskins play in a monstrosity out in no-mans land. Between Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, and hopefully Bryce Harper, the Nationals are looking to build a team the right way. The Redskins have too much money invested in the current roster, and no solution in sight. Based on those things, the Redskins have to be considered in a less-favorable position right now.
The Bloguin network turned one year old today. In only one year as a network it has gone from a small four blog operation to a 100 blog force that is easily one of the top networks on the net. The Nats Blog has been lucky enough to be a part.
In celebration of the networks one year anniversary, Bloguin is having their first annual Bloguin Awards and The Nats Blog was nominated for one of the best baseball blogs! Voting will be open Wednesday and Thursday so please, if you like the content here, go vote here.
To Cleveland, reported potential is greater than a 158-252 record. His .385 winning percentage is the fifth worst in the last 50 years.
The Associated Press reported that as soon as Acta was released by the Nationals this summer, he began studying the Indians in hopes of landing the permanent managing position there. This was his argument on why he deserved the job over Bobby Valentine who has a 536-467 record with a National League pennant.
I recently stumbled across a documentary online called, “Sonicsgate, Reqium for a Team.” I went into it expecting to see poorly constructed arguments and bias edits constructed by an impassioned few who still wished the team was in the rainy city, but who were not overall representative of the people of Seattle. Instead what I found was an incredibly moving piece that should strike to the heart of any sports fan who loves the bond between city and team.
In the closing minutes of this film however I am struck by a theme that is rather haunting. Sherman Alexie, an Author, filmmaker and poet from Seattle talks about the opportunity of receiving a new NBA franchise in his fair city in the coming years and how he would reject it. Despite previously comparing the cold damp basketball-less winters to a daily funeral, he says that he would never want a new team in the city because it would be at the cost of stealing another town’s love. He simply could not take revelry in what the same thing that happened to him.
“If we get a team it’s going to be somebody else’s team," Alexie said. "To get a team I’m going to have to break the hearts of people just like me.”
This thought, of course, reminds me as a Nationals fan that our beloved team came at the expense of other baseball fans hearts. While baseball in Montreal may have been failing, and the fans may have been scarce, there was still a 35-year history and livelihood to those fans that remained.
Despite the result and the effects it may have had on our brethren baseball fans in Montreal, I do not regret Major League Baseball’s decision to bring baseball to the Washington D.C. I do not regret it because I believe that it was a crime for baseball to be the only professional sport not represented in the capitol of our nation, and I do not regret it because I believe our city can do a service to greater the baseball community as a whole by having a loving and supportive fan base that provides great baseball on the field.
I have not seen any of the above in Washington during the teams young tenure. The organization has been poorly run, the on the field baseball has been abysmal, and the overall fan attendance (not us dedicated few) has been dreadful.
The Nationals and the city of Washington owe more than that to the city of Montreal. There are fans who grew up with the Expos, fans who laid their emotions on a limb at the success or failure of the Expos, and fans who communicate through friends and family based on their bond surrounding the Expos. Washington took all of that in order to try and create a better situation for baseball everywhere.
So far, we have failed.
Washingtonians I implore you to give baseball a chance. Yes the team may not be great now but the experiences you gain along the way will far outweigh the bragging rights of being a winning franchise. Being a fan is about community, about people, about uniting each other over one goal.Let’s do this together.
Big League Stew had a great segment of 'Answer Man' this week with local hero Cal Ripken. In the convo Ripken talks about many things, including how his brother Billy was his best double-play partner, Nick Markakis should be a star, and Brett Favre may be more impressive than him.
While I know I have been relatively silent over the last several weeks, I assure you it is not due to a lack of faith in our team or our future.
One thing is for sure: the future is bright.
This is clearly evidenced in Stephen Strasburg, our prized prospect who took the mound Monday night for the first time as a professional. Strasburg, pitching for the Nationals in the Florida Instructional League, pitched two strong innings allowing three hits, one run, and two strikeouts with no walks.
While this is just a small baby step towards what is hopefully amountain of a future, it has to be a big relief and a bright sign for all Nationals fans who just suffered a 103 loss season.
But there is reason to be optimistic Nationals fans.
The first reason is the obvious, Stephen Strasburg. Heralded as the next great star in Major League Baseball, the Nationals signed him this year for $15 million despite rumors that the flame-thrower would demand upwards of $50 million. This was one of the few victories for the Nationals in 2009, but it was a large one indeed.
Another reason to be optimistic is the rest of the young pitching staff for the Nationals. While it is a pitching staff that was often the butt of ridicule, it was young, and talented. John Lannan finished the season with a 3.88 ERA and a 9-12 record with no run support. Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, and Garret Mock all showed strong potential in rookie seasons where they were asked to perform like a number two starter, instead of the AAA starter they should have been. And Jordan Zimmermann, despite his injury, still led the team in strikeouts in 2009.
The optimism shouldn’t stop there. The man long heralded as the clubs franchise player finally took the step into stardom this year, as Ryan Zimmerman was arguably the best third-basemen in the National League. Given the plate protection of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, Zimmerman finished 2009 batting .292, 33 homers, 106 RBI and 37 doubles. The hot-corner is likley to get his first Gold Glove as well.
Adam Dunn had his highest batting average of his career.
Nyjer Morgan lead the National League in steals.
Ian Desmond appears to finally be Major League ready.
Despite what anybody tells you, it’s a good time to be a Nationals fan.