Monday, September 30, 2013

The 2013 Nats

Many believe this season was disappointing for the Nats. But the Nats finished ten games over .500. Only ten teams make the playoffs, including the bizarre play-in game in each league. The problem for the Nats this season was inconsistent hitting. It wasn't until August that the Nats' bats woke up. The pitching was great all season long.

Stephen Strasburg was victimized by bad luck. His record was 8-9, but his ERA was 3.00, the best of any Nat who started ten or more games. He also led the starters in WHIP. Jordan Zimmermann went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA. Gio Gonzalez didn't have as good of a year as 2012, but with a 11-8 record and a 3.36 ERA.

After the big three, the Nats didn't have a consistent starter. Dan Haren shook off a bad start and was very effective in spurts, but his final numbers were less than stellar at 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA. Ross Detwiler, who pitched masterfully int he playoffs last season, struggled. He was 2-7 with 4.04 ERA in 13 starts. Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, and Ross Ohlendorf were the other notable starters. Jordan's ERA was an impressive 3.66 nine starts when he was shut down. Roark showed he knows how to pitch. Vulturing a few wins when he was first called up as a reliever. He had only one bad game in posting a 7-1 record and a 1.51 record.

The bullpen was mostly strong, but was not as good as lack year. The Nats missed left-hander Sean Burnett. Washington hoped Rafael Soriano would add depth to the pen. He had 43 saves and 3.11 ERA. But he blew a couple of important games in August by allowing three-run homers. Tyler Clippard was good, but not as dominant as last season. He was 6-3 with a 2.41 ERA. Crag Stammen was effective, which was needed because Drew Storen had some trouble coming back from his heartbreaking loss in Game 5 in 2012.

Offensively, Jayson Werth led the way with .318 average and .931 OPS. Injured for much of the first half, he played in only 129 games. He nailed 25 homers and 82 RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman had his usual year, although he had fewer RBIs than normal with only 79. He went on a power surge out of the number 2 spot int he order in August and finished with 26. All Star Bryce Harper didn't put up eye popping numbers, but he cleared the 20 homer mark and his OPS was .854. Ian Desmond cooled off late, but had another 20-20 year.

New acquisition Denard Span struggled to hit early, but became more aggressive late. A 29-game hitting streak helped raise his average to .279. Wilson Ramos was given a vote of confidence when Kurt Suzuki was traded. Ramos, who is great at calling a game, in 78 games, he hit 16 homer with 59 RBIs. He hit .272, impressive for a catcher. Danny Espinosa was ineffective and sent down tot he minors where he struggled. In his place, rookie Anthony Rendon thrives for much fo the season, but he didn't hit as well later int he season. Steve Lombardozzi, who played in more games but had fewer at bats than Rendon. had the opposite season.

Adam LaRoche struggled hitting at first, but was his usual strong defensive first baseman. He likely won't win a second Gold Glove award, but Span, a centerfielder, should. He rarely took a false step and read balls off the bat excellently. he also added a few amazing catches.

While the starting hitters were inconsistent, but the bench was subpar.Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore, and Scott Hairston barely cracked the Mendoza line. Roger Bernadina didn't and he was shipped to Philadelphia.

The Nats got hot in mid August and made a valiant run at the second Wild Card. But with a seven days to go int he season, a loss to St. Louis sealed their fate. Still, the Nats had only their second winning season in team history. Outgoing manager Davey Johnson was at the helm for both of them.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bills are 2-2

The Bills beat the defending champion Baltimore Ravens today. E.J. Manuel has shown a lot of promise in his four games in the NFL.

Manuel is a very accurate passer with a good arm. One issue he has is a mild case of Rob Johnson's disease. For those who don;t know, that means Manuel holds the ball too long and gets sacked too often. He also needs to learn to vary the speed on his passed. Twice in recent weeks, he gunned a fastball at a receiver who was too close to him. One resulted in an interception.

But Manuel does his best to take care of the ball and isn't too antsy to flee the pocket when a receiver isn't open right away. He doesn't try to force things either. So far, I like Manuel's progression. It helps that he has a good, albeit injured, defense and a strong running game.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Obnoxious Pound-for-Pound List

Here is the updated version of my obnoxiously unnecessary and utterly superfluous list of the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers. The previous list was posted on June 24.

1) Floyd Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs), [Previous Rank: 1]
2) Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), [PR: 2]
3) Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs), [PR: 6]
4) Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), [PR: 3]
5) Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), [PR: 4]
6) Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), [PR: 5]
7) Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), [PR: 7]
8) Danny Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs), [PR: NR]
9) Carl Froch (31-2, 22 KOs), [PR: 9]
10) Timothy Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs), [PR: 10]

Exiting the list::
Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), [PR: 8]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve years ago, ruthless men used airplanes as killing devices to extinguish the lives of thousands of people. In Syria this year, ruthless men reportedly used chemical weapons to murder hundreds of people.

And yet, some of us seem to have learned very little in the past twelve years. We seek a violent vengeance that continues the cycle of horrific killing. There are few who can rightfully claim that Iraq and Afghanistan are better places than before the U.S. invasion. And how many can claim that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia have made them safer?

We seek peace with war, but war isn't linear, it's Newtonian. For every violent action, there is a violent reaction. Only a great power such as the United States can break this heinous cycle. And it must begin with Syria.

The deaths of countless Syrians is depressing. We must keep those alive and those dead in our hearts and in our thoughts. But adding to the violence won't ease their lives. Recently a proposal accidentally fell on the table. If Syria gives up their chemical weapons, they assert, then the U.S. strike should be called off. It's win-win. We avoid joining the killing of more Syrians and those still fighting will have less potent weapons at their disposal. it doesn't achieve the goal of peace, but it doesn't had to the hell of war.

The goal must be to avoid the pain the loved ones of those who perished felt when they learned they would never again see their mother or their father or their spouse or their child or their friend again. We can not achieve that goal by creating that pain for a new group of loved ones.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Trip to San Francisco

When people tell you that San Francisco is hilly, they're not lying. When they tell you it's nice, they're leaving out the garbage and graffiti in the downtown area. We walked to Golden Gate Park, which was no stroll in the park. We passed something called Japantown and many churches. The park was filled with attractions, but we only saw the flower conservatory. I sat next to a couple that was in their 50s or 60s that had an insult for nearly everyone who walked by them. Except, the woman, who looked like a typical Midwestern housewife said as two 20-something girls passed by, "Hi girls. Who are those pretty girls? Let's chase them."

Then we tried to walk up to the Golden Gate Bridge which turned out to be a difficult proposition. From there we were, the highway was the most direct way to the bridge, but since we were walking, that wouldn't work.

We walked through a windy trail. A friendly construction worker helped us out and told where to go. But my girlfriend's electric wheelchair began to ran out of power. So we found ashed by a gold course and spent a half hour charging the chair. After some arguing about which direction to go and a policeman who stopped and tried to help us find the bridge, we made it... just as the fog rolled in.

The height of the bridge still scared the hell out of me. The fog was so thick, you couldn't even see the structure above the bridge. We finally got off and then made our way back to we had no idea where. On the way, we walked in between a heated argument between two bicyclists. One muscular man kept cussing out the other bearded man. The muscular man had a lot of bluster, but a small woman easily held him back from engaging in fisticuffs.