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COMEBACK KIDS X 4

[September 3rd] -- NOTE: Just as I was about to push the "new post" button last night, I saw a little notice on the right side of the page, an invitation, if you will, to try Blogger's new "beta" version, full of all kinds of new bells and whistles, guaranteeing me a more professional looking blog. "Cool," I thought. So I pushed that magic button, and after several minutes of anticipation, all my blogs were transferred to the new beta site. So today, I find some art, cut and paste, enhance and romance, and push that magic "new post" button. "We're sorry," the computer tells me, "but not all features are available on beta yet. They will be coming soon." And, of course, I can't switch them back. So, until I can figure out how to get around this, don't look for many pictures here, at least for a while. Memo to me: read the damn fine print next time.

Okay, on to the important stuff.

1918. That was the last time it happened. The Great War, the "war to end all wars," was several months away from that "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" stuff. Woodrow Wilson was still the president, or rather, his wife was. That was the period when the last major league baseball team won four consecutive games that they trailed entering the 8th inning.

Are you amazed? Personally, I'm amazed that someone even knew that was a record that could be broken. That said, doing something that hasn't been accomplished in over eighty-eight years is a pretty impressive, especially for a team in last place. That said, I missed all the theatrics. Between walks to the corner with my daughter, going out to get something to eat, or even just going to the bathroom, I missed each and every comeback. Oh, I saw the lousy innings, but but missed all the history-in-the-making stuff, but I kept thinking, "no way they're going to do it again, so it's safe to step out for a minute." Wrong.

Sunday's win might not have been, however, had it not been for Nook Logan (which is difficult to admit, since I razzed Bowden for picking him up). He was on second when Felipe Lopez hit a single j-u-s-t past the outstretched glove of rookie shortstop Steven Drew. His hit drove in the first run of the inning and opened the gates for Zimmerman's single and Austin Kearn's double to the wall. I didn't think much about it until I read the D-Backs' take on the play. Pete Kerzel writes that Lopez' ball was hit to where Drew should have been stationed, resulting in a double play that should have ended the inning, securing the victory for Arizona. But he wasn't there. "I was trying to hold the runner close, and by the time I got back, I got set and ... I lost it right off the bat," Drew explained. "By the time I picked it up again, it was right at me." So, because of Logan's speed, Drew was shading towards the bag in case Brandon Webb tried to pick him off, causing him to be out of position when Lopez hit the ball.

I lived in St. Louis during the era of "Whitey Ball," when only catcher Darrell Porter and first baseman Jack Clark didn't steal at least 25 bases each year. I saw first-hand how speed changed the way the game was played. I can't count the number of times pick off throws ended up in the outfield, allowing runs to score, or routine balls hit to the infielders were hurried and thrown away because of the runner's speed. It doesn't happen much anymore, but it seems that Mr. Logan can indeed be an impact player by what he does, but also by what he could do. That said, I still vote for Ryan Church as the team's center fielder.

I won't bore you with the synopsies (synopsseses, synopsi?), for each game; rather, let's just meander for a while.

Ryan Zimmerman: Man, I love this guy so much that my wife is beginning to think our 27 year marriage was just a "front." I guess I see him as the face of the Nationals because he is our first true homegrown hero in decades. The last one, I'm thinking, would be Harmon Killebrew. All the stars on the Senators II, Howard, McMullen, etc., came from other teams in trade. Frankly, unlike Brian Schneider, I've been waiting for that "other shoe to drop." I mean, a 21 year old kid can't be that good, right? Now, I've gotten several terse comments about David Wright having a better rookie season, making him the better third baseman. Wright was a year older in his first full year, and while Zimmerman will probably end the year with roughly four less homers and a somewhat lower batting average, he'll also end up with many more RBI's. Wright made 24 errors his first full year; Zimmerman will probably have thirteen by year's end.

Nook Logan:
How come everyone thinks that everyone thinks that Nook Logan is the answer in center? Logan is just a chromosome or two away from being Endy Chavez and Brandon Watson. If they didn't make it, if they weren't good enough, then why should we think Logan will? Ryan Church has shown over the past two years that if management just leaves him alone, he will produce. Add up his last two seasons, extrapolate out to a 580 at-bats, and Church has batted .275-21-90. What's wrong with that? The Washington Post suggested that the team was after a defensive "upgrade" at the position. Upgrade? He's made two errors in two years, spanning 153 games in the outfield. Sure, Church is the kind of guy who lets what people say effect his play. Great. So don't say anything!

Austin Kearns:
Who would have thought that, come the beginning of September, that Felipe Lopez would be the strongest hitter that came in the trade with the Cincinnati Reds earlier this summer? Going into the weekend, Kearns was batting just .231 during his stay in Washington. His long home-run in Saturday's 8th inning, and his two-run double in Sunday's 8th, however, has helped to "jump" his batting average "up" to .263. I'm not disappointed, though. I never saw him as a high average hitter. Tons of homers and tons of RBI's. Anything else is just a bonus.

Nats webpage:
Anyone else notice that Jose Guillen's face is no longer emblazoned across the top of the team's webpage? Nick Johnson has joined Chad Cordero and Ryan Zimmerman as the "faces" of the team. That's too bad. I thought that there was at least a 50-50 chance that the two sides could agree on an incentive-laden one-year contract, giving the Nationals a power bat (yes, I believe that next year will be a .285-30-100 type year for Guillen) and give Jose the chance to re-prove himself as a viable option in the outfield. I'm guessing, however, that the banner change is proof positive that Guillen's days as a National are numbered, which sucks, because Juan Rivera is batting .302-21-74 in just 368 at-bats for the Angels. Turns out that was a steal-of-a-deal, though it was the Nationals that got hosed.

NATS NOTES: Daryle Ward came through for the Braves in his first at-bat with the Atlanta Braves. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and two out, Ward slammed a single up the middle, plating both runners. Way to go Daryle! ... Alfonso Soriano hit his 44th home run over the weekend, equaling the "club record" held by Vlad Guerrero. Sorry; don't see it that way. I think his 44th puts him four behind Frank Howard's record for most home runs hit by a Washington player.

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