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KEARNS & LOPEZ LEAD NATS TO 7-4 LOSS. IS THAT WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO?

[July 15th] -- The euphoria lasted all of 24 hours. Less then a day after "the trade," the Washington Nationals took the field against the Pittsburgh Pirates, winners of just 30 games during the first half of the season. They promptly lost 7-4.

Friday wasn't about the game, however. The game was just a stage that would allow the next act of the Nationals season to play out. How would the "new guys" do? Would they start off their careers in Washington with a *bang* like Aubrey Huff did in Houston?

No *bang* this time around.

Felipe Lopez went 0-4 and left six runners on base. Some of his swings were Guzman-esque they were so bad. He also let a bouncer bounce right by him, through him, and around him for an error. He looked almost bewildered at times. Austin Kearns played much better. He was only 0-3 (he walked once and was hit by a pitch) and left only four runners on base. Basically, they both sucked. One of the great things about baseball, however, is that no one will remember this one game in the middle of July. They're both studs. They'll be fine. Royce Clayton, playing his first game for Cincinnati, went 1-3 and drove in a run. Gary Majewski got a hold by allowing one run on two hits in just two-thirds of an inning. Go figure.

Ramon Ortiz was his usual "run-an-inning" self on Friday. Five innings, five runs. And he's been our mot consistent pitcher in 2006. Any questions why the team has such a poor record? Nick Johnson, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Zimmerman each had two hits, and Jose Vidro hit his 6th homer of the year.

John Patterson was placed on the 15 day disabled list before the game.

This is getting serious. During his minor league career, Patterson missed large "chunks" of several seasons. Since 2005, he has now been on the disabled list for 118 out of 251 games. Like so many of the Nationals' key players, he's a star when he's healthy, but he's never healthy. I've been counting on him to anchor the rotation for the next decade, but I'm beginning to question if he has any real career to look forward to. I don't say this because I'm a blogger and it's my job to say stupid things. I say this because Alex Escobar, Luis Matos, Nick Johnson and many others tell me that once injuries become commonplace, once a trip to the disabled list isn't a surprise, it's difficult, almost impossible to rise from the broken bones and strained forearms like the Phoenix rising from its own ashes. I'm not predicting. I'm not hoping; heck, I'm praying that I'm wrong. Once John completes a season injury-free, I'll apologize, though I doubt I'll ever have to.

Hope you had a fun Friday night. Me? I stayed home and watched the Nats game on the computer. Technology is amazing, as is the change in the marketing of professional sports. Back in the day of the expansion Senators, we typically got to see 20 games a year on WTOP channel 9. If the weather was "just right," we could pick up a few Senators - Orioles games on WJZ 13 out of Baltimore. But that was it. In the late 1960's, television was used to "whet the appetite" of a team's fan base. Why would fans want to pay to watch their team in person when they could watch them for free on TV? That was the concept back then. In fact, Bob Short's Senators was the first Major League baseball team to broadcast only their away games to ensure that those lazy fans would have to actually come to the ballpark to see the team in action. And it worked, didn't it? I mean, if those games had all been broadcast on TV, how many of those 6,000 fans that regularly attended Senators' games would have stayed at home?

You still stink, Bob.



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