Monthly Archives: April 2010

Humorous Jason Marquis Timeline

The following is a post from a co-worker who has the unfortunate responsibility of owning Jason Marquis on his fantasy team this season.  He tried make light of the situation with a humorous biographical timeline:

Just for fun, let’s take a look at JMarq’s career arc:
August 21, 1978: Jason Scott Marquis is born in Manhasset, NY. His ERA immediately balloons to 4.50
Summer, 1991: A 12 year-old Marquis throws a no-hitter against Canada in the Little League World Series. Elsewhere, a 5 year-old Matt Koziol moves Marquis up on his draft board.
Spring 1995 & 1996: Marquis pitches the Tottenville High School Pirates to consecutive New York City Public Schools Athletic League titles. The rumor that he defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates both years is later debunked.
1996 (presumably late Spring): Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News touts Marquis as “perhaps the city’s best high school player since … Manny Ramirez.” There is a reason you have never heard the name Anthony McCarron before.
June 4, 1996: The Atlanta Braves take Marquis with the 35th overall pick of the MLB Amateur Draft. Somewhere in California, 53rd Round pick Barry Zito (1,586 overall) is overheard saying: “Really?

No, THIS is how many times better I am than Jason Marquis.

June 30, 2009: Marquis pitches a 2-hit shutout against the then Major League Leading Dodgers. Rob Neyer of ESPN describes Marquis that night as “Bob Gibson, Orel Hershiser, and Greg Maddux all rolled into one.” Elsewhere, Bob Gibson, Orel Hershiser, and Greg Maddux simultaneously suffer minor strokes.

July 5, 2009: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel selects Marquis to the N.L. All-Star Team. To make up for this blunder, Manuel never puts Marquis in the game.
April 18, 2010: Marquis allows 7 Earned Runs on 4 hits and does not record an out in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. Chien-Ming Wang breathes easier, knowing his eventual spot in the rotation will be that much more secure.


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Tyler Clippard and his magical rec specs have become a fan favorite

2010 Season Stats
Season 9 0 0 14.2 6 1 1 0 5 19 3 0 0 3 1 0.75 0.61

You are looking at National’s reliever Tyler Clippard’s 2010 numbers.  If there is anything surprising, it should only be the fact that he’s been able to record 3 wins in only 14.2 innings. Clippard’s career thus far has been pretty stellar.  I was looking through his stats to find some reason why the Yankees would have basically given him away to the Nats in late 2007, but all I could find was impressive ERAs and strikeout statistics.  As I looked closer, I liked what I saw even more.

After being drafted in 2003 in the 9th round by the Yankees, Clippard  averaged 7.5 hits, 2 walks, and 10 strikeouts per 9 innings for Yankees’ farm teams from 2003-2006. While playing for the Trenton Thunder in 2006, Clippard threw the franchise’s first no-hitter.  Yes, a no-hitter. Apparently that caught someone’s attention and Clipp was brought up for an emergency start against the Mets in 2007, giving up only 1 R on 3 H in 6 IP.  He even recorded his first major league hit in his debut. Then, for reasons I can only explain as a stocked Yankee roster, Clippard was traded to the Nationals in December 2007 for ……let’s see here….someone no one has ever heard of and someone I don’t remember.  (It was relief pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo). The Nats converted Clippard to a relief pitcher in 2009 and optioned him to AAA Syracuse.  He appeared in 20 games and posted an outstanding 0.92 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 39 innings finishing with a 4-1 record before being called up to the Nats on June 21, 2009.  Over the 2009 season, he held up a strong 2.69 ERA through 60 1/3 innings, with 67 strikeouts.

Clippard has quickly emerged as a fan favorite this season.  It could be the rec specs he wears, or it could be his obvious intensity on the mound and dominating performance.  Clippard’s facial expressions show a clear concentration and sheer determination to get the better of every single hitter he faces.  At some moments during his outings I have to question how he ever had the energy to keep up that level of intensity through 9 innings as a starter.  Lucky for us, Clipp has found his niche as a relief pitcher and only has to harness this beastly energy for 2-3 innings of pure firepower.  His out-of-the-ordinary, herky-jerky motion distracts hitters and they are unable to see the spin of the ball as it comes out of his long right arm.  He consistently hits low to mid 90s and has a pretty nasty curve, changeup and slider.  Hitters must also notice Clippard’s excellent pitch utilization.  He’s not out there to get a suntan.  Clipp wastes no time and likes to take lineups down 1-2-3.  The fans love when he walks off the mound pumping his fists in celebration and mouthing some celebratory words to himself.  It’s nice to see this kind of player in a National’s uniform. MASN’s Ben Goessling also says Clippard is a funny guy, well-liked in the clubhouse.  Even better.

So, as we head into the next two out-of-town series against the Cubs and Marlins, I have a warning for the opposing hitters they’d be wise to heed:


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The Strasburg Question

This is what domination looks like:

Stephen “I will make you look silly” Strasburg just dominated another game in AA.  The Reading Phillies featured a group of guys with amazing baseball names including: Chance Chapman, Tuffy Gosewisch, Tagg Bozied, and Ozzie Chavez.  What they made up for in names, they lacked in the batter’s box.  Strasburg allowed just one hit (a single) in 5 innings this morning.

Final line 5 ip, 1 hit, 6 k’s 1 walk. no runs…unofficially, 67 pitches/48 strikes and leaves the game with the Senators winning 1-0. His ERA is now 0.73. His record is 2-0.

Here are his numbers so far in AA: 

12.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 17 K, 2 wins-0 losses, 0.73 ERA.

The obvious question is: how long can Strasburg stay in AA, or in the minors?  Is he even being challenged?  The word around Harrisburg today was Strasburg could do pretty much anything he wanted on the mound.  He made AA hitters look silly.  He lowered confidence levels, he made guys’ knees buckle, he made people smirk in disbelief.  His fastball peaked at 98 and never went below 95.  

He was told he could throw 85 pitches or 5 innings, whichever came first.  Strasburg likes to work quickly.  He needed less than 70 pitches to make his way through 5 innings.  Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post seemed bored and summarized his 4th inning with these words:  “Ho-hum, another 1-2-3 inning.”

I remember when Ben MacDonald dominated the minor leagues.  He also dominated the major leagues for his first 5 starts.  Things went sour when he faced some challenges and lost confidence.  

Has Strasburg faced ANY challenges?  Is it possible he won’t face any substantial challenges until he pitches in “the show?”

Strasburg’s next outing is on Monday, April 26 in Reading.  After that, even Rizzo doesn’t know.  It’s possible Strasburg will make his way to Syracuse en route to Washington, D.C.  Experts and analysts predict a June 4-7th debut against the Cincinnati Reds at home.  

Can Strasburg be contained for that long?  Should he be?  What happens if the Nats stay at .500 for a few more weeks?  Will Strasburg solve a major piece of the starting rotation puzzle?

Regardless of what happens in the next few months, Strasburg has excited the baseball world.  I cannot wait to see this kid pitch on the big stage.  I have a feeling he’s chomping at the bit.  I have a feeling we’re about to see something special.

After his next start, where should Strasburg go?


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New Nats experience this season…

This year I have become more interested in baseball than in past years. I have a fantasy team, a Facebook NatsWorld fan page, I keep up with my Twitter account following mostly baseball news, I have the MLB Gameday for iPhone, as well as an MLB subscription (thanks to my brother!). My wife even yells at me for having the game on the TV, MLB audio on my iPhone and a chat room open, simultaneously.

While these avenues collectively have changed my baseball watching experience, the biggest surprise this year has been my participation in the world of chat room. Initially, I found MASN’s Ben Goessling’s In Game Thread as a way to keep track of Stephen Strasburg’s games since some were not televised. But after a few games I really got hooked. Ben is very accessible, even emailing with Nats fans and asking their opinions on how to improve the fans’ experience throughout the season. He welcomes everyone and is extremely patient with the newcomers who tend to ask the same questions over and over again.

Even better, Ben has something all baseball fans would love to have: access to the players, managers and owners for interviews! Since most of us are not fortunate enough to have full-time baseball gigs, the chat room is the next best thing, allowing fans open access to Ben’s experience working for MASN, his deep knowledge of baseball and the ins and outs of the Nationals in general.

Got a question? Ben has the answer, or at least the resources to find the answer.

Want to vent? The chat room welcomes all opinions.

Are you a Phillies fan who lives in DC (chances are pretty good that you might be)? Then the chat room is even the place for you.

The “regulars” of the chat room are from various places, have various jobs, but are all sincere Nats fans. The depth of discussion ranges from which uniforms we like best to which player has the best BA on day games since 2008 and everything in between. Several of the folks in the chat room have become Facebook friends who follow one another’s blogs, and Ben even set up a few meet and greets at Nationals Park before the games. After a long day of work, there is something familiar and refreshing about signing into the chat room, seeing familiar user names, and talking about baseball for a few hours.

So the next time you hear about the Nats fan base being sub-par, just remember that there are rabid fans out there, our number is growing, and we now have a place to congregate.

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The Jackobeam Chronicles begins…

Eh, I’ll Give It A Go:

When weighing whether or not to create a blog, my initial concern was two-fold: time constraints and compelling contribution constraints.  Do I have sufficient strong opinions to spend a half hour here and there writing them down? Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and start one, if only to jot down some afterthoughts about things I’ve witnessed and to preview the upcoming week.

My current life is taken up by three things: family, work and baseball.  For personal reasons, I’d rather not write about my family in a public forum, and I doubt anyone would want to read about me filling out TPS reports 5 days a week. (Side-note, this is not what I actually do for a living, though I am an uber-Office Space aficionado) Thankfully, baseball season started 12 games ago and provides me with endless fodder for speculation.

The Offseason:

The baseball offseason is a strange and confusing time.  In three months, it is possible to completely miss the game so much that you don’t know what to do with your time, yet it is also possible to forget why you get a little bit more excited during late February and early April.  Then, all of a sudden, the offseason stories start increasing, predictions begin, fantasy league invitations flood my inbox, and that crumpled up old jersey gets thrown in with the laundry to make sure it’s ready for Opening Day-and you quietly hope it still fits after a winter of hibernation and watching college basketball on the couch.

Wait, we’re .500?

I, for one, am pleasantly shocked that the Nationals are 6-6.  Weren’t we supposed to lose the first 40? We lost 100 games last year and the year before, and we were predicted dead last in 99% of preseason polls.  Most experts asked not if we would come in last place, but by how many games. We all cringed when the Nat’s schedule was released–the rough 40 game opening schedule, with two of the first three series were against the defending NL Champions (Phillies).  We couldn’t escape the lingering questions about our young and inexperienced starting lineup or whether our offseason moves were good enough to push us past a last place destiny.  The offseason did provide loads of hope with the signings of Strasburg, Storen, Pudge Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, Brian Bruney and others.  And today, 12 games into the 2010 season–despite our best efforts–we are teetering at .500 for the first time since 2008.

This is due, in large part, to Livan Hernandez’ two stellar outings, Pudge Rodriguez’ NL leading batting average, and a reasonably successful bullpen showing.  Credit is also due to Matt Capps, who is 5-5 in save opportunities after a terrible spring training.  Ian Desmond is showing signs of that spark we all hoped he had.  Zimmerman is dependable and as exciting as always.  If we can win with the starting pitching we’ve seen so far, with Zimmerman missing a week of play due to injury, with Dunn hitting dismally and with a schedule that included 6 games against the Phillies, there is definitely room for hope this season.  Not next season or 2012, but this season.

A word on Nats fans:

Not to wallow in negativity, but DC’s attendance has been less than stellar.  The term “fair-weather fans” is an understatement for the DC area baseball “fans.”  DC loves winners…..and winners only.  Just look at the exponential growth in attendance rates of the Capitals once their record began to improve and once Ovechkin started outscoring opposite teams single-handedly.  Stereotypically, DC is a city of homegrown pessimists, ambivalent transplants and, let’s face it, Philadelphia Philly fans.  I was embarrassed and actually angry when the photos of Livan Hernandez’ 4 hit shutout on a SUNDAY showed a two-thirds empty 3rd base side in the stands.  To be fair, I was not there either.  But when I lived closer to DC I was at just about every home game.

I don’t get it.  I don’t understand why people only go to see winning teams.  I don’t understand how people don’t want to go root for this group of players.  To me, this shows a lack of character, a lack of devotion, and a lack of what makes baseball the greatest game of all:  heart.  Even worse, Zimmerman, Dunn, Lannan and Riggleman have come to expect that DC won’t come out to watch until they start winning.  These guys and this city deserves better from its fans.  And from it’s baseball team, I admit.  But for me as a fan, being there in the worst of times only makes the best of times that much sweeter.  For the group of us who just love the fact that baseball has returned to DC, regardless of the record, the ability to say “I told you so” or “remember when we lost 100 games?” will be a great feeling.  Sure, it will be nice to make the playoffs.  It will be nice to win 90 games.  It will be nice to see the league crown one of our starters the NL Cy Young Award Winner.  But what would all of those successes mean without the struggle?

Looking Ahead:

If I continue posting semi-regularly, I suppose the topics will range from overall perceptions of the team, the fans, the management and the outlook for the season.  I probably won’t be posting daily, since I am a creature of habit.  If this habit forces a daily update, I will feel obligated to write something.  Obligation leads to burnout and lack of motivation.  So, I’m predicting about 1-2 posts per week.  If anyone decides to read this, I welcome your comments.  Also, I encourage you to become a fan of NatsWorld on Facebook.  My brother and I run that page and this blog is an accompanying piece.

Also, for live in-game chats, I always head over to MASN’s Ben Goessling’s Blog, The Goessling Game. See you there for in game analysis and behind the scenes discussion.


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