Dunn delivers, big time
With one swing of the bat in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Adam Dunn won the game for the Washington Nationals, thereby averting a sweep at the hands of the juggernaut Philadelphia Phillies. He also made sure that the Nationals would end the season with a winning record at home: 41-40, compared to (then) 27-51 in games on the road. Dunn's walk-off blast, his 38th homer of the year, soared into the second deck just in front of the scoreboard in right-center field. Watch a video replay at MLB.com. Unfortunately, Dunn struck out four straight times the next night, possibly straining to please the crowd, many of whom were chanting:
"Sign Adam Dunn!"
So, will the Lerners sign him by the end of the regular season tomorrow? After that, Dunn becomes a free agent, and some other ambitious team would be very likely to offer him terms he can't refuse. MLB blogger Bill Ladson raises the grim possibility that Adam Dunn may have played his last game at Nationals Park ... as a Nat, that is. He quotes Ryan Zimmerman as saying the team would be deeply disappointed if the owners can't The main issue seems to be how long the contract will be. And of course, many thousand devoted Nats fans would feel deeply betrayed. With the team finally gathering a critical mass of championship-caliber talent, this is no [time] to be pinching pennies.
[UPDATE: Along those lines, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote on Thursday that if the Nationals owners are going to make use of D.C.'s big-market revenue potential and capitalize on the game-winning abilities of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, then they have to "think big," and the time to act is now. He is talking about signing free agents such as Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth and Carlos Pena. Now that would be interesting.]
"Sign Adam Dunn!"
In Queens, New York, the Nats played very well against the Mets last night and today, with a tie score in the late innings. Both times relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, who had a fantastic first half of the season, fell into a slump, and then came back as a reliable closer in September, choked. Both games he gave up home runs that proved to be decisive: Josh Thole had a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 10th inning, and David Wright had a three-run homer in the seventh inning today. I must say, I can't figure out what manager Jim Riggleman is up to. Why does he put mediocre players like Justin Maxwell in the lineup, and why does he use Kevin Mench as a pinch-hitter? Both those players have a batting average well below .200, worse than some pitchers. I can only assume Riggleman doesn't care about winning and losing, since the Nats are so far out of contention.
Reds clinch NL Central!
In the city where Adam Dunn used to play, meanwhile, fans are celebrating with joy. Speaking of which, Joey Votto has all but made the folks there forget about Adam Dunn. Thursday night they beat the Houston Astros, 9-1, assuring that they would end up in first place. They got to celebrate their big achievement at home, whereas the Phillies whooped it up on the road, in Nationals Park.
So, to mark the special occasion, I posted a new panoramic photo of the Cincinnati riverfront on the Great American Ballpark page. It was taken from the same location as a photo (three stitched-together photos, actually) I had taken there in 2002, seven years before.