April 23, 2011

Series Preview: Washington Nationals

With Major League Baseball's recent takeover of the Dodgers, I am reminded of their takeover of the Expos. MLB took over the team because it supposedly couldn't compete, but then they went 83-79 in 2002 and 2003 despite MLB spending no money on them. One of those years, they were in contention when rosters expanded in September - yet MLB wouldn't let the team bring up any prospects like all 29 other teams do every year. They also imposed a ridiculous travel schedule in which the Expos played a quarter of their "home" games in Puerto Rico. By 2005 the once-proud Expos franchise was in Washington, playing in a crumbling stadium. Having been to RFK I am actually kind of shocked they got a building permit.

Now MLB has taken over the Dodgers, allegedly because their owner Frank McCourt got divorced and can't afford to field a competitive team. In this McCourt era where he supposedly ran the team into the ground, the Dodgers reached the playoffs four times in seven years, making the NLCS in two of the last three years. Under McCourt's ownership, in 2008 there was more excitement surrounding the Dodgers than there had been in 20 years. The '08 and '09 teams were the first Dodger teams to win a playoff series since 1988. I find it hard to believe that with MLB controlling the Dodgers' finances, anything will be much better.

This preview hasn't really said a lot about the Nationals. The real key to this team is Matt Stairs. It always is Matt Stairs. Here's a picture of Miguel Batista hitting on Miss Iowa at a Nationals game.Pirates vs. Washington Nationals
Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35, Monday 7:05

Today the Nationals go with the veteran Livan Hernandez (2-1, 2.88) while the Pirates counter with Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.50). I would have thought that there is nothing else to say about Livan Hernandez by way of previewing this, his 450th major league start. And I would be wrong. Leave it to Clint Hurdle, as per Colin Dunlap of the Post-Gazette:

"He’s like the big guy at the company picnic who drinks all the beer and wins all the trophies."

We all were thinking it but no one was saying it. My pick is the Pirates.

Sunday the Pirates go with ace Kevin Correia (3-1, 2.48) against Jason Marquis (1-0, 3.26). It says something about the state of pitching when Jason Marquis has a winning record in his career and has made an All-Star team in the past two years. Marquis had the distinction in 2006 of winning a World Series ring and signing an $11 million contract in the following off-season despite going 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA, leading the league in home runs allowed (35) and earned runs alowed (130). It's a charmed life. My pick is the Pirates.

By the way, it's really hard to tell if a woman just doesn't want to hang out with you, or if she legitimately doesn't want to go to a Pirates-Nationals game. Pirates-Nationals and Pirates-Astros games aren't good for those who can't handle rejection.

Monday, the Pirates will give the ball to Paul Maholm (0-3, 4.30) against John Lannan (2-1, 3.43). John Lannan wrote a lot of songs about peace but he beat his wife. My pick is the Pirates.

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