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2/10/08 Dear Baseball Writers, "Put Away the Press Kits." Love, federalbaseball.com

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     Newark Star-Ledger Staff writer Dan Graziano, in his Sunday Sports section feature, "10 Spring Trainings To  Watch", lists the Washington Nationals' Viera, Florida Spring home as the 10th camp for baseball fans to keep an eye on as, "...pitchers and catchers begin to file in," Mr. Graziano writes, with the Nationals' pitchers and catchers scheduled to arrive next Sunday, February 17th. And of course, Mr. Graziano starts his comments off with a jibe, writing:

          "Normally, you wouldn't pay much attention to Nationals
          camp. But when a team assembles a bunch of personalities
          like Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Paul Lo Duca, you
          have to expect some interesting stuff to come out. Also in
          Nats camp, former Yankees hero Aaron Boone, who's
          looking more and more like Joe Hardy every day."

      Now...first of all, I'm not sure if Mr. Graziano is comparing Mr. Boone's appearance to Joe Hardy's, as portayed by Tommy Kirk in the 1957 film, ""The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Ghost Farm", or possibly Shaun Cassidy's take on the role from the 1977 tv series, "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries?"...

      ...Or maybe Mr. Graziano's referring to Francis Joseph "Red" Hardy, a New York Giants pitcher who appeared in 1.1 innings in 1951? I really don't know.

     But what I really don't like is the fact that you can sense the air-quotes around the word "personalities" when reading Mr. Graziano's words, "..when a team assembles a bunch of personalities like Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Paul Lo Duca you have to expect some interesting stuff to come out," as if he and the rest of the country's baseball writers are patiently waiting for one of the three to publicly implode and provide material for their gossip/baseball columns.  

     Just the other day at federalbaseball.com, I quoted an article by Athlon Sports Annual writer Mike Berardino entitled, "NL Youth Movement", in which Mr. Berardino wrote:

          "And let us not forget the rising Washington Nationals,
          whose gunslinging GM Jim Bowden added a pair of
          controversial youngsters this winter in Lastings Milledge
          (23) and Elijah Dukes (24). If they both reach their vast
          potential, they could take their place alongside standout
          third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (23)."    

     Now, I quote these two paragraphs, not to pick on these two particular writers, but instead to point out how these kinds of "press kit" comments only further the storylines that are bound to follow both Dukes and Milledge throughout their careers. Put simply, the two will always be considered "athetically talented but personally troubled" by the media, regardless of what they accomplish on the field, and each and every time an opposing team's or a national broadcast's announce team talks about or introduces either player, their names and statistics will be followed by these controversial "press kit" anecdotes...

     Milledge's rap lyrics...the note in his locker and his high fiving the home fans after a home run, or Dukes' troubles with the law, drugs, domestic violence and restraining orders...I'm already as tired of hearing these stories as I am of tired of hearing about the fact that Nick Johnson is Larry Bowa's nephew, or about how John Patterson voided his first contract on a technicality, or Dmitri Young was discarded by the Detroit Tigers two seasons back, (Though, oddly, I never get tired of hearing about how tall Jon Rauch is, or about the flatness of Chad Cordero's brim?), instead of maybe...

     ...talking about the fact that the Nationals have their starting pitching set heading into the Spring for the first time in their three-year existence as mlb.com's Bill Ladson noted the other day in his article, "Healthy Patterson ready for full season":

          "For the first time in Nationals history, there is no talk
          about trying to put a rotation together. Entering Spring
          Training, Washington is going with Patterson, Shawn Hill,
           Jason Bergmann, John Lannan and Matt Chico. Patterson
          believes the pitching staff can surprise opponents this
          year, provided that everybody stays healthy."

     ...or maybe about the simple fact, as told in Mr. Ladson's title, that John Patterson is once again healthy after two years of arm trouble, and ready to return to being the "Big Nasty" Nationals' fans remember from 2005. There...isn't it nice to end on a positive note?

*LINKS AND LINKS AND*

Athlon Sports:

http://www.athlonsports.com/baseball/

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Healthy Patterson ready for full season" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080209&content_id=2369449&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Aaron Boone image:

http://cache.viewimages.com/xc/313270.jpg?v=1&c=ViewImages&k=2&d=17A4AD9FDB9CF193B3EA2C0 3450C9486765F247C39370357284831B75F48EF45

Shaun Cassiday as Joe Hardy image:

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h140/hardyboy1/hardy2_1_.jpg

Tommy Kirk as Joe Hardy image:

http://www.originalmmc.com/images/HB1/HB1_Joe_Hardy.jpg

Francis Joseph "Red" Hardy's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/hardyre01.shtml