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Day 1: Hands Like Sonny Liston
Posted By Ryan Moore On Apr 7 2009 @ 11:18 pm In Washington Nationals | 1 Comment
The Nats are the Marlins and the Marlins are good?
That was a rough opener. Our starter, young John Lannan, got knocked out of the box with a quickness, but that's not what worries me. It happens. What worries is that the Nationals fielders are all playing like Sonny Liston: i.e., with Hands of Stone.
Adam Dunn missed a fly ball and Ronnie Belliard larded himself out of an out. But worst of all, Emilio Bonifacio, whom the Nats traded for an outfielder they won't play and a Ronnie Dobbs all star, hit one right over a diving Lastings Milledge, who's out of place in center but doesn't have the bat to play anywhere else. As Milledge hit the ground in a blur of blue and gray and braids, Bonifacio ran all the way around the bases for a 1911-style inside the park homer.
Even if that hadn't happened, the Marlins would have won anyway. They hit, by my unscientific count, fifteen homers and basically just beat the hell out of us. No surprise there. As manager Manny Acta poetically said about his interactions with Florida last year, “Their offense was just overwhelming; they overwhelmed us with their offense.” The trend continued yesterday.
The Nats have a different look this year. The change most obvious to the naked eye is that they can hit. I was downright incredulous yesterday watching good hitter after good hitter stride to the plate wearing the curly W – Adam Dunn and then Nick Johnson? Wow! It may be hard for a non-Nats fan to understand, but we've been conditioned to see Endy Chavez followed by Cristian Guzman, so giving us this lineup is like giving a Sausage Fatty  to someone on a hunger strike.
There is a flip side to this, though: we can't field. Adam Dunn was born to play DH, and he's in left. Ronnie Belliard is as wide as he is tall, and there he is in the middle infield. There's going to be a lot of clanking of balls off gloves this year, and in that sense, the Nats are now like recent vintage Florida teams, sacrificing leather for dingers. We'll see if it works.
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