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Walking on broken glass

I'm pretty open in my love for the original Die Hard---if Sleepless in Seattle is a "new classic," then John McClain's decidedly unsentimental journey through the Nakatomi Tower is Citizen Kane---and I think some of my love for it can be explained by its pedagogical value.

Take the scene where John-boy is picking glass out of his feet while bearing his soul to Sergeant Al Powell over a walky-talky. Those shards he's chucking in the bathroom sink, in my interpretation of the film, teach us a story of humankind.

For those who have not had the benefit of viewing this masterpiece and thus do not know of the glass-picking scene's context, I will briefly recreate it:

John McClain has just encountered Hans Gruber, the leader of a European band that has infiltrated a 40-story building on Christmas Eve, and Hans has called for back-up. McClain flees into a cubicle area surrounded by glass partitions, firing mainly defensively, and has set up shop underneath a desk. He holds a bag of detenators, and Hans really sort of wants those back. In a sense, McClain is lucky, because now he has only two guys coming at him, instead of four. (He shot one, who looked like Fabio, and riddled the knees of another, who fell head-first through some glass---out of the game, so to speak.) But his luck runs out when Hans instructs Karl, his subordinate, to "shoot the glass." (Strangely, Karl, a German, does not understand the command in German. But when Hans repeats it in English, the command is properly processed.) This is decidedly bad for McClain, who is without shoes. Still, when the bullets start clanging too closely, he abandons the coveted bag and takes off. Hans, discovering the bag safe is safe and sound, manages to call off Karl, who has some ferocious bloodlust.

Establishment shot: bathroom. McClain drags himself through the doorway, trailing blood, and plops himself on the sink. And there you go.

I'm sure you'll agree that this is a nice summary, but you probably wonder why it's on a Nats blog. The more intuitive are wondering what it has to do with the Soriano trade.

Well, it doesn't. I just like Die Hard. Suckers!

Wait, come back.



I'm just saying that we need to explore the context of the trade, understand why we were shoeless, why we held the bag, why we had German guys shooting assault weapons at us, and why we had to drop it all and drag ourselves into the bathroom.

Admittedly, it's hard for me to like the trade. To be honest, I haven't yet done my due diligence on it: I haven't really read the media assessments, or explored the usual message boards, or looked at the numbers too closely, and I have only taken a cursory look at the other blogs. Work pays the bills. But I'll stick to my assessment that, cost included, Wilkerson-for-Soriano is more like it, though still not a good deal. My view of Sledge has always been dim, but he could have been flipped for something himself---maybe not much, but something; reportedly, he was linked to Dave Roberts---and while There's No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect(tm), Armando Galarraga was one of our pitching prospects. Not our best, really, but a decent one at least---and our collection of decent pitching prospects, aside from Baby Ruckles of course, is as superficial as Wang Chung's greatest hits album.

But that's all talent-for-talent, payroll-for-payroll, projection-for-projection. Before we move on out of our metaphorical bathroom, I want to make sure I've considered exhaustively how we came to be plucking this glass out of our feet. It doesn't mean we'll necessarily like the results (I bet McClain's feet were scarred for life after that!), but maybe one more moment's reflection will be beneficial.

I'm going to present two propositions. They are little more than presumptions, but "proposition" sounds so much better, doesn't it? And, if they are presumptions, I can assure you they aren't entirely mine:

  • As several bloggers have noted, including this early November post in Capitol Punishment, it was obvious that Brad Wilkerson would be traded. It's not like the Rangers text-messaged Cap'n Leatherpants with the deal, and Bodes replied, "Hey, I hadn't thought of dealing Wilkerson, but I like the way you play me, dog!" This was going to happen. It could have been for Rony Cedeno.
  • The Nats, directly and by association with the mendacious Hans Gruber-wannabes at Major League Baseball, are taking some hard PR hits this offseason. In the DC area, those that don't follow the stadium issues too closely are portrayed as horrified when it comes up; those who do follow it seem genuinely troubled; even those who follow lockstep with the pro-stadium people on the council have shown signs of worry and, certainly, signs of fatigue. Let's just get an owner and play ball! Attendance was very strong in '05, but it looks like it will fall off. Marketing is still apparently close to nil in the DC metro---and, boy let me tell you, there's nada here in Richmond, only a hundred miles away. There's talk of a radio network, but that's been just talk. Will the games be on Comcast? Who knows. You get the point.
This team decided---whether for good or ill, let's discard for the moment---it needed to trade Brad Wilkerson. It decided---was directed?---to acquire someone of note; you know, to make it seem like the club hadn't gone the way of Fritz, the guy who got shot in the knees and crashed through the glass wall.

Burnett? Didn't work. (Made sort of an attempt.)

Millwood? Not going to happen.

Soriano? Nah . . . Hey, we know him!

Soriano used to play for the Yankees! He hits home runs sometimes!

All the better! The best part: LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING WE WON!!!

So, I'm probably restating the obvious here (and taking my sweet time doing so), but we have to understand the (possible) motivations for making the move. They might not make sense, and we're not going to rationalize or rubber stamp all too often, but if the motivations are articulable then we have something with which to work.

Well, I've plucked and chucked all the glass I can. My foot still really strings, and I'm not happy about it, and I'll mull this one over for awhile---next time, in fact. But I'm ready to leave that restroom and move on.