Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 10:40 a.m.UPDATED 5:45 p.m.
By Benjamin StandigCSNwashington.com
The Sports Fix (ESPN 980): Just 24 hours before Opening Day, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called in to chat with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro. Rizzo touted the organizations stepped-up depth, stated that defensively the team will be much, much improved and offensively will be more consistent with a little less thunder. In other words, he likes the Nationals' prospects, and the loss of Adam Dunns heavy bat will not be as impactful as getting rid of the immobile first basemans glove.
As for Jayson Werth, Sheehan asked if there were any buyers remorse the night after signing the free-agent outfielder to a 126 million contract. Slept like a baby, said Rizzo, sounding like a proud papa. Good for him. I freak out after a bad night at the blackjack tables. Then again, my investment doesnt come with a potent bat and awesome facial hair.
Rizzo concurs with those who believe left fielder Michael Morse looks ready to emerge as a full-time player after a stellar spring training, but the GM touted young catcher Wilson Ramos as the player he thinks is poised for a breakout season.
The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes (106.7 The Fan): Broadcasting from Nationals Park, the guys pondered how high the franchise can grow its fan base after being largely an afterthought for the ticket-buying public. They note that in this case, winning trumps all, but adding a superstar (Harper, Bryce) can also work wonders with regard to pushing people through the turnstiles. Taking the discussion another step, they chatted about what the local sports hierarchy would look like if the Nationals and Capitals won a championship. Al Koken weighed in and noted, in that scenario, the relatively affordable baseball tickets could be a deciding factor compared with the cost required to attend an NHL game in Chinatown.
The Sports Reporters (ESPN 980): Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban discussed the Final Four with author and noted college basketball thinker John Feinstein, who as we all know has a penchant for the smaller, gallant programs. Feinstein said the flattening of the college hoops landscape because of the one-and-done rule, the growth of television coverage across the board and the spreading of talented players across all conferences is great for the sport.
Czaban questioned that take, stating, at some point if things get too random, I think interest starts to wane, then later added: My point is we dont know whos good anymore, and I think its good to know whos good.
Entering the final year of his contract, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman deserves a contract extension. Well, thats according to the Washington Examiners Rick Snider, who over the weekend called for the playoff-missing Wizards to ax coach Flip Saunders and Ernie Grunfeld. I guess Rigglemans 102-135 record during his 1 12 years in the Nats dugout looks good by comparison.
Then again, that doesn't mean Riggleman is not on the hot seat all the same.
Speaking of Washingtons baseball club, The New York Times profiles the Nationals' high-priced acquisition and second-place hitter Jayson Werth, focusing on the wrist surgery that turned him from a scuffling outfielder to a 126 million man.
Lets make it a triple play of Nationals talk. Those hoping to see 18-year old phenom Bryce Harper make his big-league debut this year might be in luck, according to Sports Illustrateds Tom Verducci, who says, Its not out of the question. Personally, I kind of hope it is, whats the rush?
Now that the 18-55 Wizards have avoided matching the worst road record in NBA history, they can now focus on not setting a franchise-low for wins in a season. With nine games left, they need one more victory to tie the ignominious mark of 19 -- done twice before, most recently in the 2008-09 season. That will be tough against the Miami Heat, Wednesday nights home opponent. Maybe the lottery-bound Wizards can sneak up on the Heat. And maybe this time, LeBron James will make it out for player introductions. Hopefully for the Wizards, nothing happened during the Heats game Tuesday night at Cleveland that could fire them up.
Marylands Jordan Williams announced on Tuesday that he will dip a toe into the NBA draft waters, but this take suggests the Terps' double-double machine will return to College Park, as the 6-foot-10 center is not quite ready for the next level. Also, being compared even a little to former Saint Marys wide-bodied big man Omar Samhan as a NBA prospect is not a good thing. Its a safe bet Williams situation will come up on Wednesdays Washington Post Live on CSN (5 p.m.) seeing as how the Posts Terrapins beat reporter Liz Clarke is stopping by.