Mr. Roget — I have found a new synonym for the word embarrassment, and it is this: “Natinals.”
The Washington baseball club (the safest reference you can go with these days) was the subject of ridicule Saturday night for the misspelling of the team name on the jerseys of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn Friday night not by Comcast or ESPN. No, they made the NBC Nightly News.
So much for having David Gregory as a Nipshinels fan. A lot of good that did them. This wouldn’t have happened if Pat Sajak was a Netherals fan. Then again, I doubt that the Lerners would have been willing to buy a vowel.
The uniform mistake and the national exposure the team has gotten from it was just one more joke in a the comedy routine that has been the Washington Nitionals season so far.
First, the season opens in Florida with the player the Washington traded in the winter, Emilio Bonifacio, going 4 for 5 and scoring two runs, including an inside-the-park home run, in the first of what would be seven straight losses before the Washington Notinals would finally win a game.
While the team is on the road, they unveil the long awaited statues of the three Washington baseball legends — Walter Johnson, Frank Howard and Josh Gibson — at the ballpark, and they turn out to look like Star Wars characters.
The statues are universally criticized, and Johnson’s grandson calls them “hideous.” (Here’s a suggestion — there is a Catholic ritual of burying a St. Joseph’s statue for good luck. Bury these three statues in the ground on Half Street, and this franchise’s luck could change).
Team president Stan Kasten then goes on a Philadelphia sports talk show station and cordially invites the most hated and feared visiting fans in the city to come to Washington to buy tickets for the home opener, insulting the dwindling Netoinal fan base.
President Obama blows off throwing out the first pitch at the Nationals home opener. The helicopters flying over was exciting, though. I wonder if they will have them at the Atlantic League Southern Maryland Blue Crabs home opener, where Brooks Robinson and Earl Weaver will throw out the first pitch?
Oh, yes, and the Nutonales lose to a team in shock after their beloved announcer dies in the Nationals Park broadcast press box before the game.
The losing continues, and Lastings Milledge, who had missed a meeting before the start of the season in Florida about team rules, gets sent down to Class AAA Syracuse the day after another hapless effort in the home opener. He is replaced by Elijah Dukes — who gets fined and benched Saturday for being late to the ballpark.
So the guy who replaced the guy who couldn’t show up for a meeting about team rules is benched because he didn’t follow team rules.
Why was Dukes late to the ballpark? The story is he was signing autographs at a Little League function. So now the Nuptionals have managed to make Elijah Dukes — on the verge of going to jail just a few months ago for not meeting child support obligations — a sympathetic, persecuted figure.
That’s almost as hard to do as making the NBC Nightly News.
The guy who replaced Dukes Saturday, Roger Bernadina? After just being called up from Syracuse on Wednesday, he breaks his ankle. Now the Lerners will have to pay Bernadina major league money for a long time, instead of Class AAA money.
Yes, please, let me not forget — the bullpen blows three straight leads this weekend to the Marlins.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you — your 2009 Washington Misfits. It’s easier to spell, and, with two less letters, cheaper to produce.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Monday, April 20, from 5 to 7 p.m………..to learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com