Nats Save The Day From Going Full D.C. Sports

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant.

This was not a good day for D.C. sports. The Wizards lost to the Bobcats and put a serious damper on their chances of playing anybody but the Pacers or Heat in the playoffs, and the Capitals were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It was almost a truly, one-for-the-ages miserable day when the Nationals got very close to losing a heartbreaker to the Marlins, but the local baseball team managed to put together something close to a miracle and salvage hope for the city’s sports teams.

The Nats game was eerily similar to the Wiz game. Both teams were playing at home. Both opponents have recently been somewhat of a laughingstock. Both games saw the home team face a large deficit early — Wiz were down 20 in the first half, Nats were down five after two innings. Both teams mounted an improbable comeback to take the lead. Both teams then watched that lead disappear.

After that, the two took opposite paths. The basketball game went to overtime, where the Wizards put up, somewhat incredibly, one point. Home team loses 94-88. The Caps were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs, a reality that was solidified a few minutes later when the Red Wings and Blue Jackets both earned points in their games.

Meanwhile, in the baseball game, Bryce Harper pulled himself out of his season-opening slump with a three-run monster of a home run that capped off a 10-pitch AB. Shortly thereafter, the Nats picked up a few more runs that put them in the lead, 6-5. But, because this is D.C., the home team had to make the game as difficult on itself as possible. Newly designated RP Ross Detwiler came on in the seventh to give up a leadoff solo shot to bring the game back to a tie, then Tyler Clippard gave up two walks and a double in the eighth to put the Nats behind again.

After the Wiz had just watched their impressive rally end in disappointment, the Nats seemed destined for a similar fate. But they’re the Nats. They certainly have had their share of “D.C. moments,” but they’ve had some success over recent years. (You could argue the Caps had more, but I would counter that the Nats have compiled more talent and have more promise, while the Caps just have Alex Ovechkin.)

And so Jayson Werth, as he’s done before, came up huge for the Nats. Down 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, they had the bases loaded with one out and Werth at the plate. You know what’s coming. He crushed a fastball into the left field dugout of Nats Park to put the Nats ahead for good.

Werth, Harper, Anthony Rendon and the rest of the Natss managed to salvage what was almost a heartbreaking day for D.C. sports with a thrilling victory, against a division rival, no less. Once again, they’re providing Washington sports fans hope and entertainment for the months leading up to football season. Now, about football season …

Sports Illustrated Honors The Bullets/Wizards With 19 Classic Images

For the first time in the John Wall and post-Gilbert Arenas era, the Wizards made the playoffs! Nevermind they’re near-.500 record, the Wizards made the playoffs!

To mark the occasion, Sports Illustrated’s wonderful Twitter account @si_vault shared classic Wiz/Bullets pics all day long. Here they are, in all their red-white-and-blue splendor.

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DeSean Jackson Just Doesn’t ‘Get It’

Sporting News’ Ross Tucker wrote this HOT TAKE on DeSean Jacskon today. So let’s do what we do in these instances, and FJM this thing. Tucker’s words in bold, my responses in italics.

I don’t know anything about DeSean Jackson and his “ties” to gang members and frankly I don’t really care because in my mind, that isn’t really the issue anyway.

I don’t know anything about DeSean Jackson. But here is my 500 word opinion on DeSean Jackson.

His problem is one of decision-making and professionalism.

I can’t wait for you to enlighten us with the horrible decisions this extremely successful millionaire has made!

This isn’t one of those columns about how he needs to distance himself from some of the nefarious characters he grew up with or apparently still chooses to associate with. That can’t be easy and I know that I would have a tough time just completely shutting off any of the friends I grew up with. For all I care, Jackson can hang out with them all day every day.

Ross Tucker can totally empathize with DeSean Jackson’s upbringing.

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DeSean Jackson Is A Washington Redskin Now

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Well, that happened fast. The Redskins signed DeSean Jackson last night to what’s being reported as a three-year, $24 million deal, $16 million guaranteed.

Reasons why I like it:

*He is a very good player who is still just 27 years old.
*He gets to play and break off big plays vs. Philly twice/year.
*He gives the Skins their best receiving corps since the Posse.
*This is an exceedingly small contract for this caliber of player.*

Reasons why I do not:

*Philly must’ve gotten rid of him for a reason.
*This kind of signing reeks of Offseason Champs-iness.
*Dan Snyder is probably drowning in Crown Royal right now.

But what do you think?

*Two years ago, the Redskins gave Pierre Garcon five years and $20.5 million guaranteed, and the Eagles gave Jackson himself five years and $20 million guaranteed.

Wilson Ramos Hurt His Hand, Which Doesn’t Hurt That Bad

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Nats starting catcher and Opening Day cleanup hitter Wilson Ramos reportedly fractured his left hand today on a foul tip, which is a very Wilson Ramos thing to do. (He’s only played more than 78 games in a season just once.)

We don’t know how serious it is or how long he’ll be out, but here’s a quick crack at what it could mean:

*In 231 career games with the Nats, Ramos’ Baseball Reference WAR is 4.9. It’s 5.3 on Fangraphs.

*Assuming Ramos misses two months or about 40 games, that’s a dropoff of about 0.9 WAR, so long as we also assume his replacement plays at replacement level.

*The replacement is Jose Lobaton, who posted a 1.5/1.4 WAR last season in 100 games with Tampa.

Meaning, while it stinks to lose Ramos at all, this shouldn’t hurt the Nats too bad. Maybe a game or less in the standings. And oh yeah, they won in 10 today.

Also, I know very little about WAR specifically and fancy stats in general. We may be doomed.

The Redskins And DeSean Jackson

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Maybe because of some sort of gang affiliation and probably because of shit we don’t know about yet, DeSean Jackson is no longer with the Eagles. So let’s talk about what that means for the Redskins.

First, unless the Cowboys or Giants grab him, it means they won’t face him twice a year. That’s a good thing, because here’s what Jackson did in 11 games vs. Washington, dating back to 2008:

*32 receptions for 572 yards and five TD’s
*11 punt returns for 173 yards and one TD
*Six rushes for 96 yards and one TD

That’s seven touchdowns in 11 games, and all seven were big plays, 25 yards or more. Hell, they averaged 57 yards. That’s a lot of yards.

The Redskins went 4-7 in those 11 games, and 1-5 in the six games Jackson scored. I’m not sure what the correlation is between those numbers, but it doesn’t reflect poorly on him.

And maybe that’s why the Redskins are bringing Jackson in to talk. There’s smoke coming from Buffalo, Oakland and others, but you’ve got to think this is a buy-low situation too.

If the Skins can get him cheap to pair with Pierre Garcon and face Philly twice yearly, that’s an interesting proposition. Of course the other side is that he’s a “cancer,” which I put in scarequotes because we may just be making that up.

But I’m curious what you think. Take the poll, let us know.

Three Reasons The Nats Will Be Better In 2014

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on your 2014 Washington Nationals.

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It says a lot about the Nats’ expectations that an 86-win 2013 season was considered a bitter disappointment. Going into this season, the song remains the same: They’re projected to go to the playoffs, Bryce Harper is an MVP candidate and the starting rotation is spoiled with Cy Young candidates.

The optimism is slightly different in 2014, though: bottom-of-the-roster holes have been filled, a new manager takes over the talented team and the glaring injury problems seem to be resolved (knock on wood).

Without further ado, here are three reasons the Nats are poised to win at least 90 games this season. Tomorrow, we’ll list why they won’t.

1. New Additions

One of the biggest problems last season was bench support. GM Mike Rizzo addressed that by adding outfielder Nate McLouth and catcher Jose Lobaton, both of whom provide depth at positions where the team had significant injury problems. McLouth will back up Harper and Jayson Werth, who missed a combined 77 games. Lobaton, a switch-hitter acquired from the Rays, will back up Wilson Ramos, who has only played in 80 or more games once in four seasons.

The most significant addition comes in the form of Doug Fister. Fister, acquired in an early winter deal with the Tigers, takes over the No. 4 spot, left vacant by the departure of the wildly inconsistent Dan Haren.

Fister brings playoff experience and reliability, as well as consistency. Last season, he finished with a 3.67 ERA and, in 32 starts, lasted at least six innings 27 times. Conversely, Haren finished last season with a 4.67 ERA and pitched six or more innings just 18 times.

Fister would be a No. 2 on most teams and has the potential to make the Nationals’ rotation the best in the MLB. He does start the season on the DL, though.

2. Pitching Changes

Rizzo and new manager Matt Williams have made a few other changes to the pitching staff, moving Ross Detwiler to the bullpen and adding lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. The Detwiler move leaves the No. 5 spot available, and righties Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan are the frontrunners. The Blevins move gives the bullpen its only left-hander other than Detwiler.

Roark, 27, made his major league debut last year and put up a 7-1 record with a 1.51 ERA. Jordan, 25, also made his debut last season, going 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA. Both have looked solid this spring and could provide an upgrade to the back of the rotation, which was unreliable last season.

Blevins has been solid for Oakland the past two seasons, and he’s been sharp this spring. He should help upgrade a bullpen that was inconsistent last season after a strong 2012.

3. Improving Young Core

Strasburg, 25, and Harper, 21, are the present and the future of the Nats. Despite notable improvement last year, they still suffered hiccups.

Strasburg’s win-loss record was unimpressive, though that can be attributed to a lack of run support. Harper was on an absolute tear until he literally hit a wall, then his season fell back to normal human level.

Spring has brought Nats fans a Strasburg slider and bulkier Harper, showing the work they put in during their longer-than-expected offseasons. All indications are they’ll be better than ever in 2014.

Camden Yards Food Porn

The Orioles Twitter account made my timeline a little filthier this afternoon, introducing new foodstuffs for 2014 at Camden Yards. Here they are ranked in order of how badly I want to eat them.

Of course, I’d also have to get Boog’s too, so this would be quite a day at the Park.

Jayson Werth ‘Could Do Algorithms’

Via Kilgore:

“Just because you can do something else doesn’t mean you can hit. If you can hit, you can do anything. Because it’s the hardest thing to do. There’s nothing harder. I can bake a cake. I could figure out a way to do algorithms. But a guy that knows how to do algorithms could never hit. It’s literally the hardest thing to do. If you can do the hardest thing, you can do anything else.”

Whoa.

GIF via The Big Lead

(GIF taken with love from FTW.)

Mr. Irrelevant is a D.C. sports blog covering the Redskins, Nationals, Orioles, Wizards, Capitals, Terrapins and more.