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Catching up around the Natosphere:

Eucalyptus is like flying across the country for almost a week and returning home to leaf through the newspaper, catching up on the news you missed while you were away. Except Brick's writing is creative, rather than functional, and it's hard for your computer monitor to be wet and somewhat moldy, unless you accidentally shut off the dog instead. Anyway, this post on a minor league basketball game deserves one of those blogging awards they hand out on teh internets. Every paragraph is quotable, but I'll just pick this one:

Former Washington Wizard and Syracuse star Lawrence Moten is the biggest name on the Nighthawks. The used to have Randy "White Chocolate" Gill, but he's signed with a Venezuelan team. Maryland also had yet another Jason Williams. This is not the limo driver killer, the Memphis Grizzly or Jay Williams. This Jason Williams signed with a Chinese team.

Distinguished Senators, speaking of good writing, gives Jim Bowden a classical beat-down. Anyone can tell Bodes he sucks or refer him to Leatherholics Anonymous, but it's not often someone tells him this:

When Croesus, kind of the Lydian, was contemplating an attack on the empire of the Persians, he consulted the Delphic oracle to get Apollo's opinion on the move. The oracle's response was that if Croesus attacked Persia, a great kingdom would be destroyed. Of course, it turned out to be Croesus' kingdom. The moral of the story: Yeah, I'm sure Sosa's going to prove someone wrong. Just not me.

Beltway Boys continues a multi-part series on Bill Ladson radio interviews. Farid does us a service by providing the raw info; from there, spin (or infer the spin) at your own risk.

Curly W is going through what I'd imagine many of us are at this point: deep cynicism and confusion over the direction of the franchise. I'm with you, brother. The Curlymeister sums it up well:

I'm sick and tired of rooting for the underdog. I'm tired of spending my time, energy and hope on an organization destined to fail by a league and city who only care about winning the Greed Sweepstakes. We invest so much passion and money in pro sports because it gives us something positive to care about that is larger than ourselves. And yet, the Nationals' arrival in our area has brought out the smallest, weakest parts of human nature.

Oleanders & Morning Glories, as usual, is a repository of really fine stuff. J.P. takes us back to some sorrowful and bittersweet Montreal memories, and Harper provides a thorough break-down of the Schneider deal, especially compared to the catcher's peers. Summation: good defense, so-so offense, four years is a bit much, but a good deal.

Nats Triple Play looks at Marion Barry's latest travails with one eye toward sympathy and one eye toward schadenfreude---actually, scratch that: both eyes are mocking da house:

Marion Barry to take the lead role in discussing the propriety and reasonableness of using public funds to build a baseball stadium. After all, who has a better grasp of the sliding scale that is misappropriation of taxpayer dollars? Anyone want to come out and claim that at least half the adjusted cost of renovating RFK didn't go up Hizzoner's nose during his years in office? And that's leaving aside the lavish security detail necessary to keep pesky dealers at bay, the rampant patronage that crippled city government and the expense of those pesky, video-monitored hotel rooms for the smoking of the crack rock.

Capitol Punishment addresses something I've also wondered from today's arbitration headlines:

Former Nat Brad Wilkerson agreed to a contract with the Texas Rangers for $3.9 million. When looking back at the Soriano trade, you need to keep that in mind. Would the Nats have been better with Wilkerson plus $8 million? Most people would have to conclude that -- especially those who've seen Ramon Ortiz pitch. Interestingly, if Soriano gets his $12 million, they'll probably have paid more for one season of Soriano than they would have for two years of Brad Wilkerson (who still has another year of salary arbitration.)

Then Chris gets in a nice Blue Moon beer dig on yours truly. So opportunistic, he is. By the way, the Yankees suck and Alfonso Soriano is an overrated piece of colon blop.

Ball-Wonk is back---new look, apparently, but same Wonkster:

No need to beat around the Abramoff; [Schneider's contract] is a sweet deal for all concerned. The four-year commitment, more than the cash, is a testament of respect for Officer Schneider, one he richly deserves. The Guzmanic price tag for such a key part of the Nationals machine is a terrific value for the team. And, contrary to Bowda's downplaying sentiments, Officer Schneider is far more than the most effective defensive catcher in the league. Boy can hit, is what. Sure, he's not about to knock Guillen the Barbarian or Riker out of the lineup. But the good officer posted a league-average OPS in 2005, which puts him easily in the top half of the class when you compare him to other catchers. His .268 batting average is above average, he has top-half-of-the-order on-base numbers, and he has just enough power that opposing pitchers won't laugh if he bats fifth or sixth. Even if he wasn't the most effective deterrent force since NORAD, as a hitting catcher he'd be worth the price tag.

Nationalz is not enamored of the Sammy Sosa rumors:

All I know is they better not give this formally steroidally-enhanced cat any loot up front, but wait to see whether he can rebound and hit the ball without the juice. Yeah, I believe you, Sammy. You just happened to stop producing at the same time MLB and the gub'mint started getting hot on BALCO, et al.

Just a Nats Fan feels guilty about trashing an MLB.com writer, who apparently got trashed by fans of another team for another article he wrote, when all the while his original article that prompted the trashing from MissChatter now carries the byline of Bill Ladson. Weird. I'm confused---or, at the very least, squicked out.

Nats Blog looks at Sosa, Soriano, and motivation.

Finally, let's give a big Natospherian welcome to National Interest, one of the additions to my sidebard Version 3.12 (or whatever) last night and not to be confused with Nationals Interest. (Speaking of which, where are they? I like that blog.) Caleb runs National Interest, singular, and is doing a singularly fine job. Check out his fantasy preview. Among other things, Caleb provides five tips for a successful draft. Now, I don't do fantasy, but if I did, I'd probably remember rule two:

PETER GAMMONS IS A GENIUS (The Andruw Jones Corollary)

So, run on by National Interest, as well as the other news ones on my sidebar I somehow missed before, including Nationals Baseball Fan.