March 22, 2005 [LINK]
Frank Robinson in SI
Sports Illustrated had an interview last week with Nats' manager Frank Robinson, who shared his thoughts on the return of baseball to D.C. He was hired on a stopgap basis after Jeffrey Loria sold the Expos to MLB in 2001, and he never expected to stay in that position for more than a year or two. He has become an indispensible part of the franchise organization, however. Aside from being one of the sport's greatest sluggers and fielders, he is truly a class act who exudes calm, patience, and wisdom. That's exactly what his young team needs as the former Expos (remember them?) get psyched up for their historic Grand Opening under a new identity. Robinson left no doubt what he thinks of the extent of the steroid problem, but he refrained from making any direct accusations. He has every right to be bitter over his career home run record getting stomped on by the artificially enhanced younger generation. Sports Illustrated was going to make that piece the cover story last week, which would have been great fanfare for the upcoming blissful event in Washington, but it got bumped by writer Tom Verducci's tale of taking the field with the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training. Well, given the famous SI Cover "jinx," perhaps that was all for the best...
Nationals get ready
With less than two weeks left in spring training, the Nationals seem to have put together a fairly balanced team, including a surprisingly effective pitching rotation. (Their bullpen is another matter.) They have stayed above the .500 mark throughout March, showing glimmers of excellence in batting, pitching, and fielding. One youngster has grabbed a lot of attention as a possible rising star: Ian Desmond, a "non-roster invitee" who has made some spectacular plays at shortstop. Given his tender age (19), however, he is not expected to serve as Cristian Guzman's backup, and will probably spend a year in the minors.
Bonds out for season?
Barry Bonds got rather nasty with reporters after getting knee surgery, blaming the media frenzy for making his family life miserable. Physical pains and mental exhaustion may keep him out of the game until at least mid-season. "You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person." See si.com. That's the kind of bitter comment someone like Richard Nixon would be expected to say. I'm not encouraged.