Today we headed to Orlando to see the Nationals take on the Atlanta Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in the heart of Disney World. I had forgotten how incredibly fake everything is at Disney World, and walking into the ballpark it felt as if we had wandered into the “BaseballLand” section of Disneyland.
Braves starter Chuck James looked great today, giving up only 3 hits in 6 innings. Then again, he was pitching against the Nationals, who have to have one of the worst starting lineups ever. If the season were to start tomorrow, the Nats would run this lineup out:
2B Felipe Lopez
SS Christian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Austin Kearns
1B Dmitri Young
C Brian Schneider
CF Ryan Church
LF Chris Snelling
I’ve definitely seen lineups worse than this, but usually at the end of the season when teams have been hit with injuries. This has to be one of the least promising opening day lineups imaginable. And it’s not like the Nats are going to make it up with starting pitching. Is there any team in baseball that is worse on paper than the Nats right now?
But anyway, the big news in the Nats camp today was that Travis Lee has “lost his passion for the game” and asked for his release yesterday, meaning that the Nationals’ starting 1B job falls to Dmitri Young, who had been considered a long shot to make the team just a few weeks back. According to Nationals GM Jim Bowden, Travis Lee
“explained to me that . . . he didn’t have the passion to play the game anymore. He felt that way last year, and he hoped it could be rekindled this year. But his passion to play has not come back. As he looked around our clubhouse and saw the amount of passion that the players have, he realized that it was in the best interest for him at this time to give up baseball.”
Um . . . right. My guess is that the Nationals planned to go with Dmitri Young all along, so long as he showed he could still hit (and he has), and just talked up Lee as the main guy to light a fire under Young. I’m sure Lee’s “passion for the game” was just fine until Bowden privately informed him that he was not going to be on the opening day roster.
The Braves sure looked good against the Nationals today, banging out twelve hits and scoring six runs, including two on a monstrous homer to dead center by Chipper Jones (I tried to start a “Larry” chant several times, but the Braves fans weren’t having it). But make no mistake, this is not a very good team. It was a sign of how far the Braves have fallen that a team that one year ago was coming off 14 straight postseason appearances decided to make this year’s promotional motto “The Atlanta Braves – Mission: Possible”.
Mission possible? Could there be a more stark indication of the fact that nobody thinks this team is going to get anywhere near the postseason this year? I mean theoretically, it’s “possible” for any team to win. A year ago the Braves would have had a motto like “Mission: Postseason” or at least “Mission: Probable” but now with Leo Mazzone gone, Bobby Cox talking retirement, and John Schuerholz exposed as the worst general manager in baseball, they are just trying to convince fans that it’s theoretically vaguely distantly conceivable that the team might actually maybe win something.