Nationals Baseball: Fight fighfightifightifif

Friday, September 07, 2012

Fight fighfightifightifif

So here's where I, in my role as a soulless automaton covering the Nationals, tell you the fight means nothing. Good teams get into fights. Bad teams get into fights. Average teams get into fights. I'm not going to begrudge the beat guys if they try to milk it for all it's worth (you try to come up with original and interesting angles 130 games into a season) but any talk about "this shows what kind of team this is!" is a non-starter with me. Winning is the product of talent with a good dash of luck on top. Compare winning and losing teams and that's where the differences will lie. Attitude, chemistry, grace under pressure, etc. is mostly a side show, meant to make us feel that we can overcome gaps in talent and luck by sheer force of will, when 999 times out of 1000 we can't. All this fight shows is the Cubs pushed the right macho buttons on the Nats and the Nats responded.

Were the Cubs right to jump on the Nats for still going all out? No way. A 7-2 lead in the 5th is not a given. I do think it's silly to compare this game to the blown 9-0 lead versus the Braves. The Braves are good, the Cubs are terrible. The Nats have the playoffs and division pretty much sewn up and don't NEED the win. The Nats have only given up more than 5 runs in a game, let alone the last 5 innings of one, 3 times in the past 20 games* so a 7-2 lead for the Nats isn't the same as a 7-2 lead for other teams. But even with all that being said, 5 run lead in the 5th? That's not the time to ease off. And even if you don't NEED the win, you still want it, for home field advantage, and for the same reason you wanted all those wins before. No. You keep pounding a team when they are down until they are out. That's the lesson you want drilled into your team as they head into the do or die playoffs where one loss can mean everything.

The Marlins are next and the Nats get one more AAA pitcher in Jacob Turner before facing a real major leaguer again. Tonight is more importantly Strasburg's last home game. Enjoy it and this next week or so, because everything after that last game in Shea will be analyzed as post-Strasburg.


*Pitching, pitching, pitching!

74 comments:

Bryan said...

While its true the Nats probably have the division sewn up, for qvvariety of reasons they would probably like to have the best record, as well - pride, home field, what have you.

Going "too hard" in the ninth inning of a blowout might be unexceptable; going too hard half way through the game seems impossible.

DezoPenguin said...

It says a lot about the Cubs' opinion of *themselves*, I think, that they thought the Nats were "piling on" in the 5th inning. Halfway through they game, and they've already written off their chances of coming back to the point that they're offended the other team is still playing to win.

Anonymous said...

Big League Stew gives Harper's aggressiveness on the base paths a thumbs-up, then basically says he's the one who set the match to the whole mess:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/bryce-harper-eventful-night-nationals-complete-four-game-040641299--mlb.html

blovy8 said...

Paraphrasing Davey, if they want to forfeit the game, they have that right, otherwise you should keep playing the same way regardless of the score. I think it would be more insulting to let up, like the Cubs are not even worth all your effort. OK, you don't steal or bunt after a certain point, but I doubt if that has been a five-run lead in the fifth since the spitball was legal. Players aren't going to stop trying to get hits and pitchers aren't going to stop trying to get outs since all their stats count in negotiations, and why change anything if you're going well? Why would you let up and risk taking a win away from your pitcher? It's very easy to say a five run lead is enough until a reliever comes in and walks everybody and you have to start using your A-relievers in a game where you could have worried less.

blovy8 said...

Yeah, I think it's no accident that Harper was thrown at, but Espinosa had been hit earlier in the game too. How many times do you let them plunk you?

Harper said...

Bryan - In any inning there is some lead size break even point where you can feel things should slow down. In the 5th it might be something like 12-15 runs or so. Whatever you think clearly a 5 run lead in isn't it.

Dezo - I think it had more to do with being embarrassed means losing your job. No one expects the Cubs to win, but they don't want the team to look like this.

Anon - I have no problem with Bryce's agreesiveness. It's fun and usually smart.

blovy8 - I didn't see it but Danny is tops in the majors in getting HBP the past two years. You have to write off a lot of his as him trying to get on.

Zimmerman11 said...

I disagree that the fight meant nothing... it's not statistically quantifiable, but the Nats are going to feel even better about themselves and more together as a team. They're going to have lots of things to talk about at the park, it breaks up the monotony and makes them all realize how lucky they all are to play a game for a living. They are going to have more fun, be happier, and more relaxed. That may translate to better play on the field and more wins, and it may not. There is no real way to measure it, but they're going to get a "bump" from all the excitement last night.

Pig.Pen said...

The fight was wildly important for one reason: Less talking about StrasNoMas. Anything that divert attention away from the most annoying story of the year is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Shea?

Ben said...

Ugh, stop using the word "fight", only in the world baseball would this be considered a fight instead of a monumental outpouring of small-penis syndrome*.
I'm sure many watch NASCAR to see a crash and just as many watch the NFL to see just how many concussions a brain can take before you have the mental capacity of Lenny Dykstra (or even worse his investors!) but baseball is essentially a non-contact sport (especially if your name is Mark Derosa ... boom) and EVERYONE knows that except MLB management that thinks a vague possibility of violence will increase their market share (I blame MLB by the way because they could easily implement the NBA rule of mandatory suspensions for leaving the bench if they actually cared to stop the bench clearing BS). Baseball is by far my favorite sport, but whenever I see this crap it just makes me want to leave the stadium or turn the channel, such a waste of time.
I think I ranted enough so I won't get into how ridiculous the media treats this stuff ... I will just sum it up with *facepalm*.


*Small-penis syndrome: The constant push of MLB to appeal to a more "manly" audience by encouraging dugouts to empty any time someone violates made-up unwritten rules ... but then come down hard when actual violence occurs because, you know, that sets a bad example for kids but the whole throwing at people then screaming "what!" at eachother for 10 minutes doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Okay, gurus. Someone splain me why Bryce isn't bunting in the bottom of the 9th with Mr. Walk off on deck? Hell, he might even get a base hit. Davey getting a little carried away there with the big hit thing. Even Earl would have bunted there, Davey.

Chaos

Froggy said...

Who cares about the fight, the bigger story is how badly Rizzo handled the Strasburg situation. I mean really, waiting until a few days before his next start to sit him down and tell him what the whole baseball world has been talking about all season?!

You are an idiot Rizzo!

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