The Washington Times - April 21, 2009, 10:35AM

     Monday was a trifecta cash-in day if you are a Washington Nationals fan.
     First, the so-called face of the franchise gets locked into a five-year, $45 million contract. It doesn’t mean Ryan Zimmerman is going to finish his career with Washington — he has a chance to get a big contract before he turns 30 — but it does take the issue of his future off the table for now and send a message to Nationals fans, who are in desperate need of any positive messages.
     Reportedly, there are all sorts of community service clauses in the deal. I hope that one of them is for Zimmerman to do away with his private autograph deal that forces fans to pay for his signature and keeps him from signing autographs at functions and events. The bad feelings it creates isn’t worth the few dollars it puts in his pocket.
     Second, Jordan Zimmermann delivers like the top pitching prospect for an organization should, getting his first major league win in his debut for the Nationals. This is one of the prospects the Nationals got for letting Alfonso Soriano leave as a free agent, which shows how wrong critics were for complaining about not trading Soriano for prospects.
     Those days are gone. Teams do not trade away their top prospects anymore. It is far better to get the draft picks and have your own player personnel men pick the talen, rather than picking the scraps other teams offer. It takes more time, but it is worth it.
     Finally, the Nationals win. And of course, with the rain delay, the workers outnumbered the fans by the time the game was over.
     Nationals luck. Bury those statues. It will change everything.
     I watched much of the telecast on and off, given the rain delay status, and in between the Capitals game. It was the third time I’ve listened to Rob Dibble as the analyst.
     Listen, if you are a Nationals fans, you probably like Dibble. That is fine. But if I were a Nationals fan, I would feel like he was insulting my intelligence with all this “we” and “us” stuff he uses, far more than even Ray Knight. Dibble makes Orioles broadcaster Jim Hunter look like Edward R. Murrow.
     I know Dibble played the game, but unless I am missing something, what number does he wear for the Nationals?
     In the top of the ninth, when Joel Hanrahan was getting the Braves out for the save, between almost every strike Hanrahan threw, Dibble said, “Attaboy.”
      What kind of analysis is that? I could get that from the guy sitting in the stands.
      At one point, Dibble said he was glad that the organization recognized that the team was in a lot of ball games during its losing streak “and didn’t let Manny Acta go.”
      I didn’t know that was even on the table. But I guess with all this “we” and “us” stuff, Dibble must know what “we” and “us” were considering………I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Wednesday, April 22, from 5 to 7 p.m……… learn more about Thom Loverro, go to