Please join me today at 4pm as I Live Blog the Nationals last game of the 2011 season. Please post your comments in the “comments section” below, or you can send me emails at email@example.com, on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, and on Facebook search NatsGM. I am looking forward to some jokes, a little baseball talk, and sending the season out in style with a Nationals victory!
3:45pm -> We are LIVE!!! from the NatsGM headquarters and I am sitting in the now-infamous butterfly chair, accompanied by the new Assistant to the NatsGM aka Nemo, my new one and a half year old Beagle. While today for me feels exactly the opposite of the last day of the school year to a kid, I have a Punkin Ale in one hand and I am ready to celebrate the wonderful season the Nationals have had in style.
3:51pm -> I want to give an early “Tip of the Fedora” to the hardest working man in Washington DC, Johnny Holliday. Between his work schedule with the Nationals, Maryland football and basketball, along with the numerous charitable events he participates in, I do not know how he does it. He simply is the best.
3:55pm -> I am setting the early Over/Under for the number of GEICO commercials during today’s game at 5.5… I have heavy $$$ on the OVER.
3:59pm -> Nemo just barked at the screen when Strasburg was shown warming up. She can smell talent, I knew it.
Josh from Red Sox Nation via Email –> “Is it time to panic yet?”
Hahaha, Josh is a regular reader and commenter, thanks for joining me today… Yes, it is well past time to panic – if your team is looking to trade for Bruce Chen or Chris Capuano to pitch the play-in game (because they are seen as UPGRADES), you should do more than panic. As a baseball fan, I am hoping for the play-in game Thursday, so I am cheering for Boston and Tampa to both win or lose tonight.
4:11pm -> I know a .253 average is not particularly good, but Ian Desmond has looked like a much better hitter since Davey Johnson has taken over. He is not the long-term answer as a leadoff hitter, but his improvement has been significant over the past 50 games or so.
4:16pm -> Here comes my only hater comment of the day (besides GEICO), but nice job by the Nationals to sign Jayson Werth for $19 million per season for him to produce about 65% of what Josh Willingham did for the Athletics this season. I know Werth will improve next season, but that personnel decision looks awful right now.
4:18pm -> Strasburg on the hill… I am so excited to watch him pitch for the next half-decade or more every 5th day for the Nationals.
4:21pm -> Strasburg throws a filthy curveball to strike out Bonifacio for the first out. It’s baaaaaack!
James from Gaithersburg via Email -> “They were showing the announcer’s picks prior to the game: who are your picks for AL/NL MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the Year?”
James, I have never been a big fan of these votes as they are so subjective, but for MVP, I would take Justin Verlander for AL MVP and Ryan Braun for NL MVP, I would take Verlander again as AL Cy Young and Clayton Kershaw in the NL. Finally, for Rookie of the Year, I would take Eric Hosmer in the American League and I would take Danny Espinosa in the National League.
What do you, the readers, think? Who would you pick?
4:30pm -> Really nice moment in the top of the 2nd, as Ivan Rodriguez received a fairly long standing ovation from the Marlins crowd. I hope the Nationals find a way to bring him back for 2012, as his experience has been invaluable to the development of Wilson Ramos this season.
4:36pm -> Any chance the Marlins have soured enough on Logan Morrison and his “tweets” that they would sell low on him this off-season?
4:41pm -> Strasburg struggled with his command in the top of the 2nd, as he walked his first two batters of the season in that inning… fortunately he pitched around the walks and stranded the runners. Still 0-0 after 2 innings.
4:43pm -> 2 complete innings and zero GEICO commercials… Yes, Jim from Boston, I realize I am way behind the pace in our Over/Under bet. I am calling a comeback right now!
4:45pm -> Cue the LL Cool J “Mama Said Knock You Out!”
4:47pm -> Funny moment with F.P. and Bob debating their preference of tight or baggy uniform pants for Ian Desmond… and both having clear and differing opinions on the subject- Nats are being no-hit through 3 innings.
4:49pm -> Mrs. NatsGM enters the headquarters, “Fast moving game, huh? Nats need to get some hits” Both Nemo and I wince at the unintended insult.
4:56pm -> After 3 innings, still 0-0. We need some runs!
Nats Nation from Comments -> “Will you continue to write and keep NatsGM alive during the off-season? If so, I would be interested in you writing more interviews and a “what would you do this off-season” type piece.”
No question, we will be alive all off-season, commenting on the National’s moves and writing about other subjects in baseball. If you, or anyone else has a suggestion, please let me know. I have enjoyed the past interviews I was fortunate enough to do, and I will look to do more in the future. Thanks for reading-
5:06pm -> Nationals are still hitless and scoreless after 4 innings. I wanted an offensive explosion on the last day of the season. Let’s Go Nats…
5:09pm -> I feel like Strasburg was struggling a bit today, then I realized he has 5 strikeouts and has only allowed one hit through 3.1 innings.
5:11pm -> Make that 6 strikeouts through 3.2 innings. He is beginning to get into a groove.
5:12pm -> Sorry, 7 strikeouts through 4 innings, including striking out the side in the 4th. One hit so far for both clubs… still tied at 0.
Romeo from Rockville via Email -> “Who are your various award winners for the 2011 Nationals?”
Thanks for the question Romeo. I was recently invited by Dave at the Nats News Network website (a fine site themselves!) to participate in his year-end awards so I do not want to give away my picks prior to his piece being published. I think I can safely say that Mike Morse was featured prominently on my ballot, however.
5:18pm -> Quickly, Pudge starts a National’s rally in the top of the 5th with a hit, then Lombardozzi followed with a single as well, and Ian Desmond drove them home on a sharp single up the middle. 2-0 Nationals after the top of the 5th.
5:23pm -> 4th strikeout in a row for Strasburg and 8th of the game through 4.1 innings. This is awesome and giving all Nationals fans a reminder of what the future holds.
5:25pm -> Strasburg just struck out his 5th batter in a row on a 100mph fastball up in the zone. I think the ball was in the catcher’s glove before the batter swung, but I might be wrong.
5:32pm -> I want that 80th victory of the season today.
5:33pm -> I am a big fan of Marrero’s talent but he needs to start laying off the outside slider or he will not get another hit. He is a fastball hitter and he needs to work counts better to set himself up so he gets it.
5:36pm -> Nationals go quickly in the 6th… still 2-0 Nationals
5:37pm -> Did GEICO fail to send their advertising check to MASN today? Zero commercials from them and we are more than halfway through the game. I am both amused at how wrong my prediction was, and annoyed that I am out some money.
5:42pm -> Strasburg strikes out his 10th batter of the game to finish the 6th inning. He has been absolutely amazing the past 4 innings… 2-0 Nats after 6 innings.
5:46pm -> Nemo has lost interest in this pitcher’s duel… she is snoring worse than any drunken middle-aged man while laying at my feet.
5:48pm -> The bottom of the Nats lineup goes quickly in the 7th and it looks like Strasburg is done for the day, and the season. 9 outs to go for our 80th win, 2-0 Nats!
5:50pm -> Ryan Mattheus enters the game to relieve Strasburg and pitch the 7th. I have high hopes for this kid so here’s hoping he is fully recovered from the shoulder injury earlier this year. He could be a nice asset in middle relief in 2012 for the Nationals.
5:54pm -> I know and agree that “last games in a stadium” are rather overrated as an event, but I would think more than 15,000 Marlins fans would show up to witness it and watch Strasburg pitch. The stands are surprisingly empty.
5:58pm -> Huge blunder from Ankiel and Werth as a routine fly ball into right-center field drops between both of them and both should have easily caught it. Ankiel clearly lost it in the sun, but it costs them a run. 2-1 Nationals
6:03pm -> Sean Burnett enters the game to pitch to the lefty and gives up an infield hit. However, he came back against the righty Hayes to get him to ground out to Espinosa to end the 7th inning. Still 2-1 Nationals heading to the 8th inning.
6:09pm -> Alex Cora pinch-hits to leadoff the 8th inning and drills a ball to deep right-center field for a triple. By far the hardest ball he has hit all season, Desmond to the plate.
6:12pm -> Desmond strikes out for the first out. Then Bernadina comes to the plate and rips a single to drive in Cora. 3-1 Nationals. I am not sure Bernadina returns to the Nationals for 2012, but he is a quality bench player and should carve out a nice career somewhere.
Max from K Street via Email -> “Who are your picks for the World Series?”
Yikes, no pressure here. In the easy choice, I will take the Phillies to win the National League pennant, and in a much more difficult choice, I will take Detroit to win the American League. The Phillies are my choice to win it all in six games. Thanks for writing!
6:19pm -> Any other Nats fans remember when former GM Jim Bowden was trying to convince us that Emilio Bonifacio was going to be the outstanding leadoff hitter the Nationals have needed since arriving in Washington. He is simply not a good player, and has looked terrible at the plate today (this isn’t hating, I am stating a fact like Miss MonaLisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny).
6:21pm -> Like Tyler Clippard has done all season, he enters the 8th inning and shuts down the Marlins. Top of the 9th inning, 3-1 Nationals lead.
6:26pm -> I hate to be cliche, but if the announcers are going to give their thank yous, perhaps this is a good time for me to do so as well……
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you, the readers, for reading NatsGM and for telling your friends about my website. This began as a small, fun idea with my web sensei, Tim (HUGE thank you goes out to you brother!) back in January, and has grown into people recognizing me at events and hundreds to thousands of people reading each of my columns. Thank You to Mrs. NatsGM for all your support, and thanks to all of my readers. You keep reading, and I promise to keep writing!
6:31pm -> Enter Drew Storen to try and save the game and close out win #80 for the Nationals.
6:34pm -> BANG! ZOOM go the Fireworks! Another Curly W goes in the books, Nationals win 3-1… Storen comes in and strikes out the last two batters of the season to close out the game and win #80. This calls for another adult beverage!
6:40pm -> Storen saves his 43rd game of the year and the Nationals finish 2011 80-81. I predicted 75-87 before the season, so let me be the first to raise my glass to the Nationals on a fine season. I cannot wait for 2012 and the rest of this decade, as the Nationals are building a perennial winner in Washington DC. I will say it again, there is still room on the Nationals bandwagon, but it will be completely full 12 months from now. Congratulations on a terrific season Nats!
*** Thank you for joining me today for my Live Blog of the Nationals season finale. I look forward to doing this again next season. ***
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