Transcript

Baseball

Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 15, 2005; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga talks baseball in the nation's capital -- every Wednesday.

The transcript follows .

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Barry Svrluga: Well, in the latest edition of "While You Were Sleeping," the Nationals continued to amaze. That they overcame a 3-1 deficit in the eighth would have been enough. But how about Frank Robinson accusing Anaheim reliever Brendan Donnelly of having pine tar on his glove -- and being right! How about Angels reliever telling Robinson he was going to have all his pitchers "undressed." How about Robinson, who will turn 70 in August, getting in Scioscia's face, then afterward saying he had "lost a lot of respect for Mike as a person and as a manager." That would have been plenty -- until Jose Guillen went ballistic in the middle of the benches-clearing melee, and then hit the game-tying two-run homer against the manager, Scioscia, with whom he had a run-in that got him suspended with the Angels last season.Just another night at the ballpark. Oh, and as an aside, Nationals lead the NL East by two games now. Tons of questions. Let's get going.

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Washington, D.C.: Game of the Year last night! Has Jose Guillen cooled off yet? That was pretty intense.

Another day atop the division, another day closer to the deadline. What's Trader Jim up to? The Reds seems to have some players that the Nats could use -- either Dunn or Pena would seem to fit the Nats' bill. After the PR fiasco in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, would the Reds even deal with Bowden?

Barry Svrluga: I saw Guillen wandering around Manhattan Beach muttering, "Serenity now. Serenity now." We'll see when we get to the ballpark. Trader Jim is always up to something. We've heard a lot about Preston Wilson with Colorado, but the Rockies would like Ryan Church in return, and Bowden can't pull the trigger on that kind of deal. He's in an odd spot: A division-leading team with room to improve, but very few prospects in the minor league system, and even fewer he'd be willing to trade. Again, that's why I think the Terrmel Sledge injury hampers the Nationals more than just on the field. With Church in the fold, Sledge could have been traded.&. We'll see. Still six weeks till the trade deadline. And not sure if the Reds would be willing to deal with Bowden -- though Trader Jim has tried.

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R. Crumb S., France: Good afternoon,

I am just curious, as soon as new ownership comes in, is Jim Bowden going to leave and if so, who are possible GM candidates to replace him.

Also, what is going on with Brad Wilkerson. He seems to have no power and strikes out too much. I understand he has an arm injury, do you think he should go on the DL and make Byrd the full time outfielder.

Thank you.

Barry Svrluga: Good question, Mr. Crumb. Southern France lovely this time of year, no? Oui? Bowden is clearly auditioning to keep the job, but it's interesting. He's not sure exactly which ownership group he's autitioning for. Clearly, he'll be harder to fire if the team is in first place and his moves have worked out (which, aside from the Guzman debacle, they have). Other candidates: Can you say Brian Cashman? That would be one. He went to high school in DC. Another hot name is Josh Byrnes, the assistant to Theo Epstein in Boston. He's young, and from DC. But right now, the job is Bowden's to lose -- as long as he can fit in with whatever ownership structure takes over.

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Washington, D.C.: Where can I send a thank you note to Mike Scioscia? His little act last night lit a spark under a Nats team that should have been cooling off. Thanks Mike!; I guess my question is why did he get so hot with Robinson about the whole Donnelly mess...especially since his guy was cheating? Was it an attempt to fire up his team that got turned around on him?

Barry Svrluga: I think Scioscia was upset because Donnelly hadn't thrown a pitch, and Scioscia suspected the Nationals had inside information. That was the immediate thought, that Guillen -- the former Angel who doesn't exactly go out for beers with Scioscia -- had tipped off Robinson. All sides deny it -- "Don't even go there," Guillen said -- but who knows? Man, it made for a good scene last night. Sorry it didn't get into more papers. You can find the account on the web site, though.

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Fairfax, Va.: I'd like to think that Frank set out to embarrass Fregosi and the Angels last night because of the way they treated Guillen last year. I'd like to think that this was Frank's way of saying "Hey, what you did last year was your business, but now he's one of ours and its time for you and your players to stop bad mouthing him." Am I just a romantic old fool, or did the Nats send a deeper message than 'stop cheating' yesterday? (Even if it was just 'stop cheating', you gotta love the move. Frank took away one of their weapons).

Barry Svrluga: Woah. Jim Fregosi back at the helm of the Angels. I thought I had everything covered, but I missed this one. I'll say this: Guillen said he blew a fuse because he felt Scioscia disrespected Robinson. Guillen may be crazy at times, but Robinson has connected with him -- somehow. He finally may have found a home.

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Ashburn, Va.: No Love for the Nats -- what is up with the fact that none of our players our in the top 10 for any all star voting. We are a tech savvy area ... we should be flooding MLB voting -- at least for Johnson!!! (Possibly, Guillen and Wilkerson). Let's not forget Vinny - he is more deserving that Scott Rolen at this point. Rolen has been out for over a month!!!! Shoot, I would rather vote for Guzman, than have an injured Nomar starting at short.

By the way ... miss the Panera updates. What are you eating while on the Road?

Barry Svrluga: Indeed, no love for the Nationals in all-star balloting, but Robinson said yesterday (before the fiasco) that it starts with the home fans. So in a challenge to the RFK faithful, he'd like to see some ballot-stuffing for the Nationals. At the same time, he concedes that only one of his position players -- Nick Johnson -- is worthy of consideration. The Nationals two other best candidates are Livan Hernandez (9-2) and Chad Cordero (20 saves, including 17 in a row).

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Ashburn, Va.: Does F-Robby realize that he is 70???? I saw the highlights and he looked like he was ready to take Sciosa on. How was the mood in the club house after last nights game? Did Jose over-react? Is Jose really a leader in the clubhouse?

Barry Svrluga: There are times Robinson realizes he's 70, like when he bends over. But there are other times when he thinks he's 25 and slugging balls over the fence. He's still competitive, that's for sure. It's hard to gauge Guillen. Personally, I've found him to be a stand-up guy, always talking about controversies and being fairly frank. He addressed the situation last night, even when team officials would have preferred he keep quiet. Is he a leader? I think he is in that he does things like hit two-run homers after a brawl, and runs into the dugout yelling stuff to get people fired-up. But I also think his teammates are still a bit wary of him. Just a guess.

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New York: Who would win in a fight, Robinson or Scioscia? I'm going with Robinson.

Barry Svrluga: Pay-per-view, in August. Better than Tyson-McBride, no?

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Arlington, Va.: Barry,

What's the buzz on how other teams see the Nats? Are they seen as a legit first place team or merely as the marginal leaders of a weak division?

Barry Svrluga: The sense from other teams is that they don't see the Nationals coming, but when they leave town, the opponents are left to dust themselves off and say, "Woah. That team might be pretty good." I talked to Ned Yost, the Brewers manager, after the Nationals took three of four from his team at the end of last month. He was clearly thinking about what his team had done wrong, but when I asked, "Hey, how would you assess the team you lost to?", he thought about it, and came back that he was really impressed. Not with the talent, but with the attitude and resulting performance -- and the pitching.

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Anchorage, Alaska: Hey Barry -- I am curious about your opinion on this. I think last night's game might be seen as a real turning point in the season, where a good, and perhaps lucky team are acknowleged as a really, really good team.

With the Nats down by two on the road, Frank's protest and the resulting brouhaha could have been nothing (in typical Washington sports style), but instead, spark a two-inning, five run rally. If that rally hadn't happened, we could still chock the loss up to losing on the road to the AL West division leader, but instead we won, showed a lot more poise (the images of Jose Guillen in the scrum notwithstanding) than the Angels, and as a result, actually gained ground in our division.

Frank's protest put a lot of pressure in the team to make something of the opportunity, and they came through ...

Whaddya think?

Barry Svrluga: Anchorage, how are you? I agree, to a certain extent. I think there have already been several games that could be considered "turning points," going back to the eighth game of the season, down by two runs in the ninth to Atlanta closer Dan Kolb, when Brian Schneider's double sparked a rally that led to a one-run win and helped the Nationals return to Washington for their home opener at 5-4 instead of 3-6. Even in the last homestand, they came back in a Guillen-led rally against the Braves for an 8-6 victory when they were down by three in the eighth. Let's compile a list, and at the end of the season, we'll pick a true "turning point."

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Washington, D.C.: Given how well the Nats have played at home thus far, should the field dimensions at the new ballpark approximate those at RFK?

Barry Svrluga: It's an interesting point, but I don't think that'll be the longterm way to go. This ballpark is going to be used for the next 30 years, and who knows what the Nationals of 2015 will look like? I think it's the responsibility of the architects to build the best ballpark possible -- regardless of the current makeup of the team. Plus, with new ownership, maybe they'll be able to afford some $100-million sluggers in the next few years.

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Rosslyn, Va.: The common argument given regarding how good the Nationals really are is comparing their runs allowed (269) versus their runs scored (267). I understand this argument on the surface but there is one thing this argument does not take into account, Joe Horgan. The since demoted Horgan surrendered 15 runs in just 3IP of mop up duty. That makes the runs comparison to their record a bit more logical (254 runs allowed to 267 runs scored). I know you could potentially make this argument with any sample size. However, given that Horgan's numbers were amazingly terrible in the "taking one for the team" role, it makes the Nationals record seem more reasonable (not even taking into account the horror that was Antonio Osuna in Florida April 8-10).

Barry Svrluga: Indeed, Osuna and Horgan were disasters early on, and they're long since forgotten. I actually look at the fact the Nationals have scored fewer runs than they've given up as a show of their ... oh, I'm not sure how to say it ... character? [Insert cliche' here.] Think about it: Yeah, they lose some blowouts, as they did Monday, 11-1. But they're amazing in the tight ballgames. What does that show? You pick the word.

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15th and L NW: The guys in my partial plan were sitting up in our seats last week when Ryan Church hit for his near cycle. Every time he was up to bat, the "Charge!" chant was played and he seemed to respond quite well with a homer, triple, and a double. However, the guys I was with exchanged the "Charge" with "Church." I firmly believe this is why he has been hitting so well, and if the entire stadium could accept this and perhaps even get it on the monitor, I think his rookie of the year would be a foregone conclusion. Any idea how to forward this idea? Who deals with the music that is played during games? I also think that Sweet Caroline should be moved to the 7th inning stretch so that the entire song could be sung, since our section and the section around us continued on anyways when it was played during a pitching change. Thanks.

Barry Svrluga: Hello, 15th and L. I'm sure you are spot on with your assessment of the reasons for Church's surge. I'll pass it on to Ryan. "Sweet Caroline", by the way, is a direct rip-off from Fenway Park. Still, it makes for a fine ballpark tune, somehow.

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Silver Spring, Md.: If you see Jose Guillen today, please tell him that the fans back in D.C. are very proud of him for sticking up for his manager and the Nationals. Last nights episode shows how this is a team not just a vagobond collection of baseball mercenaries.

Barry Svrluga: I will pass these words on to Senor Guillen. Just a thought: Think he gets plunked in his first at-bat tonight? If I were a betting man ...

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Vienna, Va.: Re: last night's contretemps -- How common is it for pitchers to use pine tar to improve their grip, as claims Mike Sciosia? If it's not an "unspoken" thing, he ought to be fined along with his pitcher as he clearly condones it.

Barry Svrluga: I'm going to ask around about whether this is as common as Scioscia claims. I honestly don't know. As you said, Scioscia said it's for better "grip", and that it doesn't affect the flight of the ball. Still, a rule's a rule, and Donnelly clearly broke it.

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Arlington, Va.: Did you see TJ Simers' piece in the LA Times on Jose Guillen and Frank Robinson, where Frank was telling the media that they couldn't ask Jose about last season? Is this the way that Frank always is with the media?

Barry Svrluga: I did see the piece, which I thought was amusing. And, indeed, Robinson walked into it by patrolling the media horde around Guillen. In speaking about it afterward, though, Robinson said he's just trying to get Guillen to think about this year, and this year only. I guess last night's actions -- and remarks afterward ("I'm a Washington Nationals player. I'm not an Anaheim Angels player.") -- show Guillen has, to a certain extent, made the transition. Man, tonight's going to be fun, though.

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Fairfax, Va.: Assuming that the Nats stay in the playoff hunt, who are some of the players they may acquire before the trading deadline?

Barry Svrluga: For now, it's the usual suspects: Preston Wilson, Juan Encarnacion, Alfonso Soriano (very unlikely if the Rangers stay in the race), Toronto's Vernon Wells, Tampa's Aubrey Huff, perhaps a few others. Wells is the one Bowden would most like to get. But he'd have to part with a prominent player, and right now, he's worried about ruining clubhouse chemistry.

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Falls Church, Va.: I am becoming interested in learning more about our skipper. Do you know of any books/articles one could read to learn about FR?

Barry Svrluga: Long ago, when he was still playing, Robinson wrote his autobiography, published, I believe, in 1968. He then wrote another book, I believe in the 70s. The Post published a story about him on the day before spring training, and Sports Illustrated did a fine profile at some point in March.

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Arlington, Va.: What are your expectations for how Ryan Drese does tonight? How has he been fitting in since he got to the team? What has the pitching staff been doing with him over the last few days to get him ready for tonight ... have they been working on his mechanics?

Barry Svrluga: This is an excellent question, and something that could have been lost in all the hubbub from last night. The key to the Junior Spivey-Tomo Ohka trade was that Drese, waived by Texas, was available. He's supposed to step into the rotation and provide a reasonable approximation of Ohka. Well, when Ohka left, he had a 3.33 ERA -- and then he made his debut with the Brewers last night, and threw the first complete game shutout of his career. Woah. Drese, meanwhile, is a sinkerball pitcher whose ERA ballooned to 6-something with Texas this year. There's a reason the Rangers gave up on him. Will he straighten it out for the Nationals? It could be a key question over the next few months. Spivey, by the way, has helped the Nationals. Go-ahead hit last night, plus a sterling defensive play with the bases loaded -- and a two-run homer in Sunday's win.

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College Park, Md.: Hey Barry,

1. Cashman also went to college in D.C., at Catholic U.

2. Maybe you'll do a column on Joey Eischen when he comes back. I keep hearing the word "insane" applied to him and would love to hear some stories.

Barry Svrluga: 1. Indeed, you are correct. 2. That's possible. And the adjective you suggest isn't far off.

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Washington, D.C.: Barry, you scooped my question. I would have to think any pitch that remotely resembles a beanball from either side tonight would be gas on the fire. After hearing both sides talk last night, tonight has the potential to be pretty ugly, no?

Barry Svrluga: Everyone was still pretty amped up last night. Robinson claimed his team would just show up to play baseball. But any new incident would likely have to be started by the Angels. Guillen will almost certainly bat third, and is thus guaranteed to come up in the first inning. Would Bartolo Colon, the former Expo who is starting for Anaheim, really bean him? It seems so obvious. And pretty delicious. ESPN2 tonight, by the way. Y'all lucked out.

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Did the exchange of pleasantries last night finally get the Nats some airtime on ESPN?

Regardless, is it your sense that no one else in the country has a clue as to what is happening here?

Barry Svrluga: Yes, it got some airtime on ESPN -- but interestingly enough, couldn't crack the front page of the L.A. Times sports section. Some Jackson fella seems to have been named the coach of the local basketball five. Hmmm. Yes, Robinson has criticized ESPN's perceived ignorance about the Nationals. But he was the "Sunday Conversation" on SportsCenter the other night, and "Baseball Tonight" spent much of Monday's early show discussing them. They'll get their due.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Mr. Panera ... what would you consider a successful road trip, record wise?

Barry Svrluga: Anything above .500. Keep in mind: This trip is against the top two teams in the A.L. West (Anaheim and Texas) and a much-improved Pittsburgh club. The Nationals last road trip -- which seems like eons ago -- ended at 2-7, and was forgotten because of the homestand. But cranking out a 5-4 record here, and maintaining the lead in the division, would be a huge accomplishment.

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Fredericksburg, Va.: Hey Barry. Love your columns and especially love these chats. When the Baseball Hall of Fame had their exhibit in Washington last year, they had replica bats on display of members of the hall. It was very interesting to pick them up and see the difference from one player to another. I would be interested to know the manufacturer as well as the length and weight of the bats used by the current 8 starting position players on the Nationals.

Barry Svrluga: Thanks much, Fredricksburg. I don't have those stats in front of me, but in general, the bats now are much lighter. The guys have very thin handles, trying to get all the weight in the barrel, which is one of the reasons you see so many broken bats now. Robinson, by the way, was famous for using a very heavy bat, something like 35 ounces. Many of the players today use 31-ounce bats.

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Washington, D.C.: Barry, it looks like the Nats TV wars are heating up now. Any good telecommunications/FCC reporters at the Post who will be able to translate all the legalese into plain english for us simple baseball folk? Do you think MASN petitioning the FCC to force Comcast to show the games is because they are not generating anywhere near the revenue they need to to make the 20 million dollar payment to the Nats? Have fun tonight!

Barry Svrluga: First question: Yes, Thomas Heath will keep you up to date on the TV dealings. It's a compelling question. Second question: I don't think the Orioles/MASN expected to make their $21 million back on the broadcasts this year. It was a long-term decision.

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20011: Guzman seems to have had a couple good at bats since the last chat. Are we going to see him turn the corner in the next few weeks and get back to his old batting average?

If he doesn't, is Carroll going to start for him? Boswell thinks he is better off the bench, as a utility player. And Spivey has only played a few games in his career at SS. Cant imagine he would play a lot of SS (although some people thought we traded for Guzman's replacement).

Barry Svrluga: I agree with Boswell that Carroll is better -- and perhaps essential -- as a utility man. Allows for the double-switch, pinch hitting for Guzman early in games, etc. The interesting question will be when Jose Vidro returns, perhaps as early as the end of the month. If Guzman's struggles continue, will the Nationals try Spivey at shortstop? My guess is they will. They're in a pennant race. This is no time for coddling.

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South Riding, Va.: Hey Barry,

Great chats, thanks for taking the time ...

1st question: how do you think Spivey will deal with going to the bench once Vidro returns (sooner than we thought, hopefully)?

2nd Question: any word (from you or anyone else out there) on where to get one of those interlocking D.C. blue and red caps? The Modell's in Fair Lakes had them yesterday but only in tiny and huge sizes. That's the first time I've seen one, so it was all the more crushing that they didn't have a normal size ... I MUST have one of those ...

Go Nats!

Barry Svrluga: 1. Answered last question, I believe. 2. Not sure where to get them, but know that their popularity stunned team officials. They can't crank them out fast enough. Keep looking -- hard. You'll find them.

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Manassas, Va.: Hi Barry.

I'll be working by the time you read this. When at ballgames I like to keep score (6-4-3 DP!). Sometimes during the course of the game I miss an inning. Why doesn't the Post offer an online ining by inning, person by person game log?

The Baltimore Sun does! Come on! The Post ought to be able to do the same! I like to put the printout in my program for posterity!

Go Nats

Barry Svrluga: I'll pass it on to the folks at washingtonpost.com. We're always open to suggestions.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you, Wilbon and Boswell have a word of the day calendar at the Post?

All of you love the word "delicious."

Just something I noticed, though I'll admit it is a deliciously delicious word.

Barry Svrluga: Hmmmm. We haven't conferenced about that particular word. But maybe there's something to it. This is becoming a rather delicious story (which is more than I can say for the chicken at Angel Stadium last night).

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Greenbelt, Md.: Ok, I just submitted my votes 25 times!

Barry Svrluga: There you go, Greenbelt. A Washington tradition re-born: Vote early, vote often.

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Herndon, Va.: Scioscia said it's for better "grip," and that it doesn't affect the flight of the ball.

Come on ... what is Scioscia smoking in the dugout. From what I understand, the umpires said that there what quite a bit of the foreign substance on Donnelly's glove. If you put some of that stuff on one part of the ball and then cut loose with a fastball you are going to get some unnatural movement.

Bottom line....it was cheating!

Barry Svrluga: You said it. Not me.

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Rockville, Md.: After Monday night's loss to the Angels, using Bill James' formula to calculate expected wins from a team's runs scored and runs allowed, the Nationals would be expected to have 31.4 wins. Using Pete Palmer's variation on Bill James' formula, the expected wins goes up slightly to 31.5. Either way, the Nationals have won about 18% more games than they would have been expected to at this point, based on the runs they've scored and given up. This theory says that over time, the number of wins will tend to be close to the expected wins. This would imply that the Nationals will lose more than they "should" in the future. Do you put any credence into this kind of stuff or do you think the Nationals can continue to win 1-run and 2-run games while losing big?

Barry Svrluga: I understand baseball fans' fascination with stats, and indeed, I regularly purchased the Bill James book when I was growing up in the 80s. It's fascinating stuff. But for all the talk about Moneyball and OPS and the like, there's a reason they play the games. Should the Nationals be this good? Likely not. But right now, they are. If the stats determined their future, why would you watch?

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Bethesda, Md.: In all the hoopla concerning snubberation going on with Nats starters for the All-Star game, one player who has flown under the radar completely and not being discussed is the closer Chad Cordero, who notched his 20th save last night, and leads the MLB. Fans and managers should notice him, and make sure that he makes the NL team.

Barry Svrluga: You're right, Bethesda. Cordero's save last night, a 1-2-3 ninth inning, was his 17th in a row, and he has more than anyone in the majors. Fans, though, have no control over whether Cordero makes the team. The manager chooses the pitching staff. So in this case, send your support to Tony La Russa, care of Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo.

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Section 314, Row 10: Stuff the ballot box?

Come on. That's what's wrong with the fans voting in the first place. There is a guy in Texas name Teixera and another in Chicago named Lee far more deserving than Johnson.

Barry Svrluga: Well, the guy in Texas named Texiera plays in the American League, so he won't be competing with Johnson. Derek Lee of the Cubs, obviously, is a shoo-in for the game, what with the fact that he could win the Triple Crown. Another major hurdle will be Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, who could win the vote. First base is a tough position to break through, especially if you only have eight homers, as Johnson does now. But he's been the rock of the Nationals' offense, gets on base as much as anyone in the league, and has come up with so many key hits. Watching him every day, you really appreciate how he's developed.

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Windsor Mill, Md.: It is amazing to me to see this team gel the way it has. It has to be a testament to Frank Robinson's management style. It really did my heart good to hear Jose Guillen state that he is a Washington National. As a native Washingtonian this is a dream come true. One television note: last night after the game there was no allowance for postgame commentary. As soon as the game was over it went off the air on DirecTv. Is there any way to communicate with MASN?

Barry Svrluga: I can communicate that with MASN, but I'm not sure it's going to change. This is a developing TV market, and I think stuff like pre- and post-game coverage won't really be determined until the TV situation is completely sorted out and there are new owners in town.

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Washington, D.C.: I tried with my tiny sports page in Md., but maybe you can help.

Let's get the word out for the builders of the new stadium, whoever they may be, to install a hydraulics system under the third base side stands and carry on RFK's tradition of bouncing stands as a Washington baseball signature!

Barry Svrluga: I heard last week that some Nationals officials have inquired with the architects about getting some "sway" built into the stands. Not sure it's realistic, but it's a compelling thought.

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McLean, Va.: With attendance at RFK being so good (higher than expected from what I've heard), will there be any impact on the new stadium that is just being designed (i.e. more seats)?

Barry Svrluga: No, no, no. Yes, the attendance has been solid, nearly 32,000 a game, 12th-best in baseball. But they're still going to stick in the 40,000-seat range. You want to make this thing a hot ticket, not have tens of thousands of empty seats every night. And last time I checked, 32,000 is still well short of 40,000.

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Alexandria, Va.: Pine tar on the ball isn't a big deal, it's just for grip.

Cork in the bat isn't a big deal, it's just for comfort.

Barry Svrluga: Thank you, Alexandria.

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To the guy who wants a hat: They are in the trailer store at RFK. I saw them there over the weekend.

Barry Svrluga: Sage advice.

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Fairfax, Va.: Ryan Drese off of waivers? Junior Spivey for an obviously unwanted Tomo Ohka? Hats off to Jim Bowden, especially if he can get another outfield bat.

Barry Svrluga: Easy, now. We don't know how Drese will pitch, and Ohka certainly seems to have benefitted from the change of scenery thus far. We'll see how everything pans out. But you are right: Even Bowden's biggest critics, and there are many, have to admit he has drastically improved this team from the time he took it over in November. Yes, there were pieces in place (Johnson, Hernandez, Cordero, Ayala, Schneider, Majewski). But Castilla, Loaiza, Spivey and others -- including the decision to keep Church on the Opening Day roster -- were Bowden moves. On June 15, he looks pretty bright. We'll check on Aug. 1, the day after the trade deadline.

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Oakton, Va.: Barry,

Some suggestions for The Post's sports pages ...

1. Advertise the blogs ... or at least announce when they will occur ... endeavor to create some synergism between the paper/net

2. Have a "meet the Player" section so fans can get acquainted.

3. Have an " INside the Press Box" section, where you reveal the behind the scenes goings on

4. Redo leader stats to be more in line with the "statheads " way of looking at productivity

... any thoughts?

Barry Svrluga: Oakton, good to hear from you. Thanks 1. I believe the schedule for chats every week appears on Page 2 of the sports section. You can find Boz's mug shot there on a daily basis. It's precisely what I want with my coffee. 2. We are trying to make room for more profiles/features about players. Last week, Dave Sheinin wrote a brilliant piece about career minor leaguer Rick Short, and I wrote a story about Guillen's return to Anaheim for Sunday's paper. We're working on it. 3. Nice thought. But inside the press box is actually pretty boring. Lots of sheets filled with stats and dorks talking about baseball. 4. You mean including OPS, etc.? Not a bad thought. I would suggest, though, that our "leaders" sections are among the most interesting in the country, considering we tell you who guys are playing against the next day and highlight some intriguing pitching matchup. Keep the suggestions coming.

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Dude (Where's My Car?): Barry, if I'm not mistaken, the Deuce will be blacked out tonight in the Washington-Baltimore-Pennslyvania-Richmond-Raleigh area thanks to the owner of the B.O.'s.

Secondly, is there any chance tonight's umpiring crew can issue the beanball warning before the game even starts?

Barry Svrluga: With my limited understanding of TV rules, this is certainly possible -- though I hope not. Second: I'm not sure if that's likely. I will say this, though: When Donnelly was ejected before throwing a pitch last night, home plate umpire Tim Tschida warned both benches about beaning before Shields threw his first pitch after the benches-clearing incident. So maybe it's possible. That would set an interesting tone, no?

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Arlington, Va.: "DC" batting practice hats: hat zone in pentagon city had some last weekend.

Barry Svrluga: More good info.

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Section 406: Hey Manassas, the play-by-play logs are available on espn.com, mlb.com, and cbs.sportsline.com (my favorite).

Barry Svrluga: I am happy to facilitate discussions between readers. Just a middle man, I am.

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15th and L NW: I was not aware of the Fenway ripoff in Sweet Caroline. Scratch that idea. What about something a little more DC-centric then. I'm not into the whole 'Jump Around' song I seem to hear, that fits better into a rally than a between innings song (It's the 7th inning stretch, not the 7th inning hop). Maybe some Fugazi. Or go back to the Chuck Brown I heard on opening day.

In a similar note. The games at RFK have been really enjoyable. A bunch of friends from school went on a road trip to most of the eastern stadiums and RFK, with the exception of Fenway, is one of the coziest stadiums (obviously not luxurious, but it's baseball not the opera).

Barry Svrluga: I have to say I enjoyed the Rally Monkey at Angel Stadium last night. That thing's still hysterical. I'm also not into "Jump Around." But what I'm really not into is the P.A. announcer, who simply doesn't know the game of baseball. He constantly announces changes way too late, while all of us in the press box cringe.

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Rosslyn, Va.: So I missed the game last night. Anything interesting happen?

Barry Svrluga: Nationals 6, Angels 3. Pretty mundane, really.

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Washington, D.C.: Trades, trades, trades!

All anyone's talking about are hitters, which seems like a mistake to me. I have to believe that another quality starter would be much appreciated for this team (we'll see how the Ryan Drese experiment goes tonight), and maybe another guy in the bullpen (might be tough) since I could see Cordero, Ayala and Majewski wearing down with such heavy use. Is Bodes looking at all for pitching?

Barry Svrluga: Remember, the team will get both Joey Eischen and Zach Day back at some point to help the pitching staff, and Vidro will help the offense. In a way, they're making trades just by getting healthy. And if Eischen/Day don't do the job, they've got guys here who have done it in their absence. The key, I think, is Drese. If he doesn't do well, then Sun Woo Kim is back in the rotation, at least until Day comes back, and we don't know if he'll excel when he returns, either. The Spivey trade can only be truly deemed a success if Drese performs well.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. S: Yes, what IS the matter with Guzman? AND, pay per view is the way to go -- Frank versus Mike Tyson, but Frank gets to use a baseball bat!

Barry Svrluga: You really think Frank would NEED a baseball bat to beat Tyson? Guzman is flailing. Every ball he hits hard seems to be right at someone. The slump is clearly in his head. The Nationals just have to hope they can continue to carry his awful bat, and that he keeps performing in the field. They have more flexibility to give him a day off now that Spivey's on board.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'm starting to read the chat here at 2:55 p.m., so I want to submit this before you quit -- did you ever go out with a 300 foot tape measure and measure the distances to the outfield fences?

Barry Svrluga: Not yet. Still working on it. But will do it -- I promise.

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Nats hats Info: Those hats are at http://www.nationals.com/

I believe they have them in their Shop area, mon monsieur.

Barry Svrluga: You're online shopping guide, the 2 p.m. Nationals chat on washingtonpost.com.

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Barry Svrluga: Folks, again, thanks for all your great questions, and again, sorry I couldn't get to them all. I really hope everyone's able to stay up and see the game tonight. Should be an interesting one. On paper, the pitching matchup (Colon vs. Drese) doesn't favor the Nationals. But I believe we've thrown out the "on paper" items concerning this team by now. Have a great week. Talk to you from Pittsburgh next Wednesday.

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