October 7, 2015
It was really just a matter of time, and no one was surprised when Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo announced on Monday that Matt Williams was no longer the team's manager. It was a fitting end to a disappointing season. I wasn't as harshly critical of Williams as some people were, but he did show poor judgement many a time, and whenever things go as badly as they did this year, the guy at the top has got to take responsibility.
This sums it up pretty well: "Seven Decisions That Doomed Matt Williams" by Chelsea Janes in the Washington Post,
As for replacements, I have heard many names mentioned. I don't think Cal Ripken would work out very well, since he is so closely tied to the Orioles. Dusty Baker is probably too old, whereas Ron Gardenhire may be OK. Jim Riggleman? I don't think Mike Rizzo would approve.
The following paragraph, which appears on the Washington Nationals page (which has statistical updates on head-to-head matchups for this year and the entire 2005-2015 history), is my quick-and-dirty version of the season that just ended:
The acquisition of free agent pitcher Max Scherzer in January raised hopes for yet another baseball postseason in Washington, if not a World Series. (Bryce Harper: "Where's my ring?") The departure of Adam LaRoche and the shift of Ryan Zimmerman from third to first base were the most notable changes in the Nats lineup for 2015. The new third baseman Yunel Escobar was acquired from Oakland (in exchange for Tyler Clippard), while Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth switched places between right and left field. But pre-season injuries to Anthony Rendon and Denard Span, as well as surgery to Jayson Werth, seriously depleted the Nationals' lineup in the early weeks of the 2015 season. After a mediocre start, the Nats surged ahead, replacing the New York Mets as division leaders by the latter part of May. Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer both had spectacular success, and both were selected for the All-Star Game. Scherzer pitched no-hitters on June 20 and October 3, and Harper shared the National League home run title (42 total) and was a close second in the NL batting race (.330 average). But Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup until late July. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg was plagued by ailments until late in the season, while the bullpen repeatedly let the team down. August was just awful, as the Nats fell out of first place, replaced by the New York Mets, and were officially eliminated from postseason contention on September 26. One day after the final game (October 4), Matt Williams was fired as manager.
It's strange having the Houston Astros in the American League, and it's even stranger that they eliminated the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez hit solo homers, and Jose Altuve added an RBI single, while the Astros' ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel (pronounced Kikel) allowed only three hits over six innings. Final score: 3-0. It is Houston's first postseason appearance since they made it to the World Series in 2005, when they were swept by the White Sox. It is the Yankees' first postseason appearance since 2012, [the first year] the extra wild card slot was added.
The Turner Field diagrams have been revised, with several notable changes in the outfield and the grandstand. I realized that the straight portion of the wall in right field angles out more sharply, and that the bullpen out there is about 15 feet to the right of where I had thought it was. Those changes, in turn, affected many other things. [Getting the angles in the grandstand near the right field corner proved to be a particular challenge.] New details include the creases in the grandstand, and the small stairs from the lateral walkway to the aisles in the rear portion of the lower deck.