Nationals Baseball: Still no baseball

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Still no baseball

Well some - but Clippard looked good didn't he?
So why not delve into some various blog topics brought up by yesterday's celebration of a decade of destruction? But first - some All-Star thoughts.
  • The All-Star game "hat tip" to Jeter actually didn't bother me. As fan service in game form it's the proper venue for such things. What makes far less sense to me is the city by city shows of love. Why does Kansas City need to give Jeter a present?
  • I am totally in favor of one player per team. I remember when the Yankees weren't good and I watched the game to see if Roberto Kelly would do anything. As a kid, it matters. Thus I can see trying to work these "singles" into the game. But I don't think you need to work in as many players as possible. If there's already a guy on the team who's played (say Alfredo Simon for some reason) than there's no reason to bring the game to a halt to bring in Aroldis Chapman. I mean, for example. 
  • I also think the first two SP used on each side should go at least 2 IP each, and every offensive starter voted in should get at least 2 ABs. That's how I'd manage it. 
  • If managers managed like the above it's far easier to avoid the extra-innings no players left tie game situation and thus we can get rid of the ridiculous no one cares about home field advantage stipulation. Still want a safety valve for it? Have an honorary All-Star that's a recently retired pitcher who can pitch for his league if the game goes past the 13th or whatever.
  • The game should be moved to Sunday night. Teams won't like the lost weekend revenue but it would be better for the sport and you could start the ceremonies, etc. earlier without worrying about the West Coast getting home from work. 8:19 is too late for first pitch. 
  • I tweeted it but MLB should totally play up the Futures Game more than it does. Essentially it's baseball's "draft", in that it's a showcase for players that are likely to be helping their teams this year or next.
 Ok enough of that - some blog history now!

So if I've been posting since 2004 why does the archive only seem to start in Dec 2009?  Here's the story:

Back in the mid 2000's guys in the sports blog world were trying to create aggregated blog sites (think SBNation) that they could turn into successful money-making ventures. was one (here's what it looked like at the time). It collected some of the best baseball writers on the internet (and also OOPS Carroll), but then there was some disagreement and a bunch of the talent (and also Carroll) went off to form their own site (baseball toaster - which I believe runs the sports internet now, right?) and all-baseball was sold to some guys. Those guys ran a site called "The most valuable network" and started recruiting other blogs to cover more teams. After probably a half-dozen other Nats blogs turned them down (no joke), I said sure. I was going to write anyway.

I didn't mind being on all-baseball. The site was pretty clean and ad-limited, and even though they had a co-writer on the blog (Needham called him JP LaFrogge) he was more... writerly (he was the one that had a blog named "Oleanders and Morning Glories" that was kept hence where the subtitle to this blog comes from), so it didn't clash with what I was doing. But these owner guys, remember, are looking to make something they can sell so eventually they consolidated all-baseball into the new mvn. was terrible. It looked like this. That doesn't look too bad now, but with 2007 download speeds and stuffed with ads thankfully gone from the archived version it was awful to visit. I hated it. I also didn't love working with a partner. Thought about stopping a bunch. Didn't. Eventually folded as most "Idea -> ? -> PROFIT!" sites do and I went back to the blogspot site and haven't left. All those posts on MVN? Lost to time.

For those that don't know, I am ESPN's Sweet Spot's official Nats blogger, which means that a few years ago after a couple other Nats blogs turned them down (progress!) I said ok. It's basically been links on their site in exchange for a banner on mine, so in other words a pretty perfect arrangement for me.  Oh - I don't get paid from them. I could have been paid by MVN (they did cut checks for the ads on site) but I just let them keep the small amount of money because I fear the taxman.

There you go! History! 

Other things

Pay no attention to the time stamps. They are wrong and I can't be bothered to fix them because what does it matter. I currently live in Chapel Hill, NC, not the West coast.

Wally summed up what makes this work for me for 10 years "Just post when you want, on whatever topics you want". Yep. Early on I equated blogging to running a race. If you go at your own pace for your own goals you'll be fine. It's when you start comparing yourself to everyone else that you run into problems. For those of you that don't run... I don't know compare it to a hot dog eating contest.

Wired HK wrote that I would say -"Thanks for the supportive comments, but I honestly didn't write this post to receive kudos. It was more just to remark at how easily something that started on a lark can turn into a much larger project."  and he was dead on. I was writing that initially but couldn't make it sound right. You know me too well.

Has my attitude toward the Nats shifted? Yes it has, as many of you have noticed. I like them more now than I did. Before it was more player based and honestly I barely cared if they won or lost. Now they really are my NL team (though I still don't hate any other NL East team and carry some fondness for the Braves). Overall as I've aged my baseball fandom has waned ever so slightly, just enough to notice. It's still far less a drop than my football fandom (even though in NC you can still pretty much catch 10-12 Giants games a year thanks to one regional team and all their primetime appearances) 

Most of you get this but don't compare me to beat writers. Different jobs, different realities. They have to be far more... diplomatic than I do because they have to cover the team everyday and get those quotes. And they have to cover the team everyday. Win or lose. Interesting or not. From like mid March to October. Ugh. I actually think Nats fans have been extraordinarily lucky starting with Svrluga and now having Kilgore and Zuckerman. Sites like MASN or MLB can't really be objective because of the business partnerships, and sites like ESPN don't have any incentive to have specific team writers outside the super-fandom based teams like the Yanks and Sox. I guess what I'm saying is there's a reason things are different here beyond me somehow magically being better than other people. In fact I like to think of myself as the constantly 2nd best Nats blog, first to Capitol Punishment, then FJB, and now NatsEnquirer (who himself will hit 10 years pretty soon)


cass said...

Although I rarely if ever commented in the early days, I've been reading your blog(s) for at least 9 years now. I remember finding you and Needham back in the inaugural year - the two of you and Basil were my favorite Nats bloggers in those early days.

I appreciate that you've been doing it so long and have a steady historical and analytical perspective.

My favorite beat writer was Svrluga (even went to his book signing) but Kilgore is good, too. And Zuckerman is a nice steady presence even if he and I see baseball quite differently.

I work near Union Station and have been a Nats fan since the unveiling of the team name and logo which I went to on a lark since it was held at lunch at Union Station. I had been following the negotiations that brought the team to DC in the news. It was a return to baseball fandom after I had stopped following the sport for many years - the 2004 ALCS and WS helped a bit too since I had grown up with the Red Sox as my AL team. I was also a Clemens fan and rooted for him no matter what team he played for - even the Yankees.

Primarily I grew up as a Braves fan in Georgia but kinda left that bus in the mid-late 90s and hate the Braves now like any good Nats fan. But the early 90s teams will always hold a special place in my heart. Before Jayson Werth, Francisco Cabrera delivered the most memorable hit of my baseball-watching life. Any Braves fans will know exactly what I'm talking about and I was there at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium when it happened.

Super Homer said...

Anderson, Blanco, Byrd, Casto, Castro, Cepicky, Chavez, Church, Davis, Escobar, Fick,Guillen, Hammonds, Jackson, Kearns, Kelly, Langerhans, Logan, Lombard, Mateo, Matos, Restovich, Sledge, Snelling, Soriano, Vento, Ward, Watson, Wilkerson, Wilson.

Yikes! That's a hell of a trip in the not-so-way-back machine. And to think, a month later we'd add Wily Mo to the list.

cass said...

Oh, and Nats Enquirer has also been on my must-read list forever, but that's a very different kind of blog. :)

Chaz R said...

Good stuff, thanks for the background Harper. I have only been reading you since 2008, and really only started actively commenting in the big year of 2012, when ironically we also bought in on season tickets and they had that incredible year. So, the Nats have been an unhealthy habit ever since. Your blog offers great perspective and common sense, and sometimes even hope in the face of my unhealthy irregular Nats obsession.

Anonymous said...

Harper, I was reading your previous post about living and dying with the Yankees. I just wanted to ask, after all this time covering the Nats, have you become at all a fan of them?

John U. Deight said...


Anagramsci said...

As a hardcore fan of the Expos and Sabermetrics since my Montreal youth during the Carter, Dawson, Raines, Rogers, Oliver era, I applaud this blog

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