WASHINGTON — With the Nationals’ season off and running, takes first set to boil over the hot stove of baseball’s offseason are beginning to simmer.
Last week, as the Nationals struggled out of the gate to a 1-2 start against the Mets, these takes were on full display.
First up, Boomer Esiason, who ‘lowered the boom’ on shortstop Ian Desmond in a CBS Sports Minute, for Desmond’s post-game comments following the Nats’ opening day loss, in which he first blamed the team’s failure on himself for his two errors, then wise-cracked Max Scherzer.
Via Jayson Stark, ESPN:
“Yeah, man,” said shortstop Ian Desmond, playing the role of stand-up guy after a rough two-error day. “Max was pitching awesome. The story line was great. Harp hit the home run. …
Asked if he’d begun to think that maybe the man on the mound had no-hit stuff, Desmond laughed.
“I think we all did,” he said. “You get 200-something million dollars, you’d better have that [kind of] stuff.”
Here’s Esiason on Desmond in his CBS Sports Minute a few days later:
“It’s time to lower the boom on Washington shortstop Ian Desmond,” Esiason said. “In Monday’s 3-1 opening day loss to the Mets, Desmond committed three errors, two costly ones on the field that led to three unearned runs and one thoughtless post-game gaffe.
“Max Scherzer, who just signed a seven-year, $210 million free agent contract, was dominant. The former Tiger was nursing a no-hitter through five and two-thirds when Desmond dropped a pop fly that would have ended the inning, and preserved a 1-0 Nats lead and Scherzer’s no-no. Instead, the Mets’ Lucas Duda singled in two runs.
“‘He is what he is,’ Desmond later said about Scherzer’s debut. ‘You get 200-million something dollars, you better have no-hit stuff.’ Could the fact that Desmond and Washington failed to agree on a contract extension have prompted such a dumb comment? I think so. I’m Boomer Esiason.”
The Nationals reportedly offered Desmond a 7-year, $107 million contract after the 2013 season, according to Adam Kilgore, which Desmond turned down.
Next up, John Feinstein, who notably still credits the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg for their own undoing in the 2012 playoffs. He offered his own Nationals-Mets angle in a CBS Sports Minute:
“Break up the Mets,” Feinstein said. “Break them up before they come down from Cloud 9 after going into Washington and winning two-of-three from a Nationals team that, according to the local media there, was supposed to go 162-0.
“More important, perhaps, than a couple of April wins; Matt Harvey pitched six innings of shutout ball in his first appearance since Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2013. In a twist, Harvey out-pitched Stephen Strasburg, the most coddled Tommy John returnee in baseball history. Strasburg didn’t get out of the sixth inning, giving up nine hits, walking three and giving up six runs, three unearned.
“Harvey may be limited to 190 innings by the Mets this year. But you can bet, if they somehow contend, those innings will be stretched out so he’ll be available for key post-Labor Day games. Meanwhile, break up the Mets! I’m John Feinstein.”
Thomas Boswell, on the other hand, adamantly defended Desmond and his typical early season errors.
The Nationals have since gone 1-2 for an overall 2-4 season record, and begin a three-game series with the Red Sox Monday afternoon.