Mr. Scherzer goes to Washington


Overnight, the long-anticipated news of this baseball offseason finally broke: The Washington Nationals won the Max Scherzer sweepstakes by signing the former Detroit Tiger to a seven-year, $210 million contract.

Scherzer made news last March when, heading into his final season before becoming a free agent, he turned down the Tigers’ six-year, $144 million offer to stay with the team. That failed (from the team’s perspective) dance fouled up a variety of personnel matters for Detroit. They had already traded Prince Fielder and much, but not all, of his contract to Texas and starter Doug Fister to Washington for figuratively literally nothing all probably in an attempt to clear the books for Scherzer’s new contract. When Scherzer balked at the offer, the team responded by giving Miguel Cabrera all the money. Last season got off to a rough start, and, at least from a business perspective, Scherzer was at the center of it.

Max probably was my favorite amongst a very likable group of guys playing for the Tigers over this last stretch of seasons. His relief appearance against Oakland in the 2013 playoffs always will be among my most favorite half-innings of baseball.   Continue reading

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A Song of Bryce and Fire

imagesAD has been writing about his new favorite team lately in the popular column Upton Abbey.  Since I can’t allow him to praise the Barves unchecked, I will now write a semi-regular-ish column on their division rivals, the Washington Nationals.  So now you get three columns on teams you (probably) don’t care about.  But you should read all of them so you can get some culture and have something to talk about with your co-workers at the ol’ water cooler.

This past weekend saw a series between the scorching hot Bravos and the hot-but-not-scorching-hot Washington Nationals.  The series did not go so well for Washington, as they got swept and only looked competitive in the first game.  I attended the Saturday game with noted blog subject Bad Jeremy, who is almost as big of a Braves fan as AD.  The game was a 3-1 Braves victory that saw the Nats do very little in the way of making offense and the Braves do slightly more.  Evan Gattis carried the Braves, hitting a two run homer that caused Bad Jeremy to get out of his seat and flex at all the Nats fans in the surrounding area.

The highlight of the game was, as always, the Presidents’ Race.  George Washington jumped out to a big lead early on with Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson trailing behind.  Newcomer William Howard Taft was nowhere to be found, and everyone in attendance wondered where he was.  The answer to that question was soon revealed, as Taft emerged from the right field bullpen to join with Teddy in beating up George Washington.  Apparently there was some beef between Presidents 26 and 27 and President 1.  Who knew?  Jefferson and Lincoln continued past, neck and neck, until Jefferson went into his kick and won what was one of the more exciting Presidents’ Races in recent memory.

Despite being swept by the Barves, the Nats have looked good early on and seem like they are more than capable of making it to their second postseason in franchise history this year.  They have some great young arms in Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales, not to mention the bats of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.  This weekend’s series could very well be a preview of the 2013 NLCS (where the winner will go on to get swept by the Seattle Mariners in the World Series).  Stay tuned for more of A Song of Bryce and Fire, and also for a Mariners column with the working title of King in the North(west).  Baseball, huh?  How about it?

Capitol Punishment: Nationals flaunt double jeopardy, biology, the odds

natsbust

It’s tough to find genuine outrage in sports for at least a few reasons, including things like the general absurdity of the NCAA, the silly off-field behavior of athletes, and the fact that the labor market for sportswriters, who have to drum up content on a frequent and regular basis, may be the only one with a supply more flooded than the legal profession, but last year I admittedly hammered the Washington Nationals in a podcast for their colossally stupid decision to bench their best pitcher for the remainder of the season and playoffs in September on the basis of some arm-preservation notion. Rehashing that issue will only inflame my ulcer, so I’m going to skip it.

But now Washington has decided that it’s “World Series or bust“?? Why now? That is some Nattitude of a degree heretofore unseen. Why wasn’t last year World Series or bust? What has happened to Strasburg’s arm in the offseason that it now is ok to work him until his shoulder explodes, all in the pursuit of a championship, that did not exist last season?

As I said last fall, there’s no guarantee that a team will even make the playoffs in a given year. There are too many variables in baseball’s long season. Washington was hot and had maybe the best batch of young stars, but they decided to call off the dogs and play for a championship next year. This isn’t the Colts resting their starters in Week 17 or a golfer laying up for a safer wedge approach; it’s like the Colts forfeiting their first playoff game or the golfer just packing it in and saying, “See you at the next tournament.” There was a World Series to be won in 2012, and there is a new and distinct one to be won in 2013. If you’re willing to go “World Series or bust” in 2013 with the same players you had in 2012, why wouldn’t you go all out then, too?

I hope the Nationals lose every game.

ALDLAND Podcast

Hello ALDLANDers!  Lots to talk about today, including Felix Hernandez’s historic performance for the Seattle Mariners, which saw him notch the 23rd* perfect game in major league history.  Also on the table are discussion of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, and the antics in the Red Sox clubhouse, not to mention our recap of the Olympics.  So join AD and me for a half hour of discussion and good times.

*You know why this asterisk is here.

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