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Game Thread: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals - 2008 Game 132 of 162. "First In War, First In P _ _ _ _, Last In The National League, TV Viewers And Radio Listeners..."

Setting The Scene...

Earlier this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were losses four, five and six of (one of) Washington's nine-game losing streaks, which stretched from 7/22-7/31 in the middle of a road trip out West through San Francisco and Los Angeles for three each, and back home for three more against Philadelphia when the Nationals returned to the nation's capital. Tonight DC welcomes the Dodgers to play out the last three of six in the season series between the two non-rivals. (ed. note - "Though the Dodgers are responsible for starting the careers of Piazza and PLoD, which I find hard to forgive, personally speaking.")

The last time the teams met out in La La Land, the Dodgers hadn't yet acquired their long-haired left fielder Manny Ramirez, who takes his whole "Manny being Manny" act out to the one place in the country for which it seems perfectly suited, since LA can appreciate the "entertainment" he provides while leading them (possibly) into the playoffs. Ramirez was hitting just below .300 at .299 when he was traded from Boston to Los Angeles, and since then he's hitting just under .400 at .380 in 22 games and 79 AB's, over which he's collected 30 hits - 3 doubles, 6 HR's and 21 RBI's with a .410 OBP, .590 SLG, and 1.125 OPS.

Since acquiring Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers are 11-11, and their 65-65 record is good enough for second in the West, where LA sits 3.0 games behind Arizona, (with both teams getting Monday night play underway as I write), and the Dodgers are 10.5 games behind NL Wild Card-leading Milwaukee in the Wild Card race, so it's the West or nothing for Manny and the rest in Dodger blue. So you know they'll be looking to take all three in DC, and they just might have the arms to do it...

On The Hill...

Collin Balester (2-6, 4.99 ERA) started against the Giants on the Nationals' loss-filled July trip out West, so he missed the Dodgers, and will be facing them for the first time tonight, in the 10th start of the 22-year old right-handed hurler's rookie campaign. Balester's dropped three straight since recording his second career win on August 3rd in Cincinnati, and at home on the season, he's (1-3) with a 5.06 ERA in 26.2 IP.

The Dodgers counter with Derek Lowe, (10-10, 3.89 ERA) who dominated DC when Washington visited Dodger Stadium, throwing 8.0 scoreless and allowing just 1 hit, (to Ronnie Belliard, who doubled), and one walk...(to Austin Kearns one out later in the 4th inning of that outing, which ended with Jesus Flores K'ing to strand the only two runners Lowe let on.)

In his 12-year MLB career, Lowe's (5-0) with 3 saves in 5 starts and 6 relief appearances against the DC franchise, posting a 2.88 ERA in 40.2 IP against the Nationals/Expos, against whom he's allowed 32 hits, 13 ER, 4 HR's and 11 walks, with 33 K's collected. Lowe's (5-2) in his last 9 starts through July and August, though his ERA's jumped up more than two runs in his four August starts, from 3.06 to 5.09. The Dodgers are 6-3 in Lowe's last 9 starts, though they've won just two of the last five.

Nationals' #'s Against Derek Lowe...
Ronnie Belliard - 2 for 8, .273 AVG, 1 2B.
Aaron Boone - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBI's.
Cristian Guzman - 5 for 21, .238 AVG, 1 2B, 4 RBI's.
Willie Harris - 5 for 20, .250 AVG, 1 2B.
Austin Kearns - 2 for 17, .118 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
Ryan Zimmerman - 2 for 14, .143 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Oh, I Miss DY...Why?
DY vs D. Lowe - 8 for 24, .333 AVG, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI's.
First In War, First In P _ _ _ _, Last In The National League, TV Viewers And Radio Listeners...

I mean this one paragraph alone, in Washington Post Staff Writer Paul Fahri's article entitled, "From The Basement, It's No Wonder The Reception Is Poor," just about says it all:
"How low? So low that even the microscopic numbers reported by the rating service might be too low to be statistically valid."
Now I meant to take that quote out of context, so that I could explain what Mr. Fahri's talking about...What's low? The Nationals' radio audience. The "microscopic numbers" from the "rating service"?...were provided by Arbitron, whose company website describes their work as, "...measuring network and local-market radio audiences across the United States, surveying the retail, media and product patterns...(blah blah blah blah blah...they say how many people are listening so people know how much to charge and pay for ads..."), and...How low are the Nationals' #'s?...(brace yourself...), as Mr. Fahri writes:
"The team's broadcasts on the station formerly known as WWWT (107.7 FM and 1500 AM) attracted a cumulative weekly audience of about 26,500 from May through July, the most recent period measured by Arbitron."
Assuming that the Nationals played five or six games each of those weeks, that means, there were an average of 4,400-5,300 people listening per game...which along with (You'll remember similar stories about the Nationals' TV #'s.)...the 9,000 tv viewers...means...anywhere between (approximately) 13,400-14,300 people per night are listening to or watching the Nationals? With an average Mr. Fahri provides of just under 30,000 average attendance at Nationals Park, and you've got 44,000 people following the Nationals in some way every day...seems alright, until Mr. Fahri notes that the Seattle Mariners, have:
"...won just two more games than the 46-85 Nationals as of Sunday. But the Mariners attracted 133,000 listeners per week, or about 26,000 per weekday game, through July."
So there are twice as many people listening to the Mariners every night as there are watching, listening and going to see the Nationals combined?...Is that possible? Someone check my math? More people listening (on the radio?) to the Mariners than the combined numbers of those watching and listening to the Nationals?

Tonight's game gets underway at 7:10 pm EST in DC's Nationals Park. Balester vs Lowe. DC vs LA. Democracy vs Movies. East vs West. Manny vs The Slugger The Nationals Need. The 10th Game Of The Collin Balester Era. The Nationals are 2-14 in their last 16...and after ending a 12-game losing streak with one win over Philly and one over Chicago, the Nationals are working on a 2-game losing streak...