Photo capture of MASN broadcast
Adam Dunn's misspelled jersey qualified as a truly embarrassing moment.
The list is epic, ranging from Dan Turk's botched snap in the 1999 playoffs, to Marty Schottenheimer beginning his lone season as coach 0-5, to Steve Spurrier's "5 and 11, not very good" team in 2003, to Joe Gibbs getting penalized for calling two consecutive timeouts, to Jim Zorn calling for two consecutive fake field goals, to Albert Haynesworth getting suspended for four games, to yesterday's trainwreck of an extra-point attempt.
I also couldn't help but think of a handful of embarrassing moments in Nationals history, though I'm not sure any one moment tops yesterday's follies at FedEx Field. Off the top of my head, here are my candidates for "Most Embarrassing Moment in Nationals History." I'm not talking about the most crushing losses or the most lopsided games. I'm talking about legitimately embarrassing moments after which all you could do was pick your jaw up off the floor, shake your head and perhaps even chuckle a bit at your team's misfortune.
Here's what I came up with...
CRISTIAN GUZMAN'S MUDDY BALL ERROR
April 21, 2005
The Nationals led the Braves 1-0 at RFK Stadium, where a steady rain had turned the infield into a mess. The umpiring crew decided to try to finish this one without calling for the tarp. Chad Cordero, as only he could, loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, then struck Brian Jordan and Adam LaRoche to put the Nats within one out of victory. When Raul Mondesi grounded to short, it looked like a curly W was in the books. But Cristian Guzman picked up a ball covered in mud, and his throw to first skipped past Nick Johnson. Two runs scored, and the Braves went on to win 2-1. "I've never played on an infield like that in the big leagues," teammate Vinny Castilla said. "You could see the water and it never soaked in, it just stayed."
MIKE STANTON'S WALK-OFF BALK
July 15, 2005
This might well be the winner. Stanton, the veteran reliever who had just been acquired two days earlier, was summoned out of the bullpen to make his Nats debut in the bottom of the 10th in Milwaukee, with the game tied 3-3, runners on the corners and Lyle Overbay at the plate. Stanton immediately tried to pick off Rickie Weeks at first base, at which point umpire Paul Schrieber waved his arms frantically signaling a balk that forced the winning run home without Stanton ever having thrown a pitch. Later, in the Nats clubhouse, a furious Frank Robinson gathered reporters around a TV screen showing a freeze-frame of Stanton's pick-off move. "He stepped to home and threw to first. That was the umpire's explanation," Robinson said. "Now, take a look at THIS!" Pretty embarrassing way to lose a game.
MATT CHICO'S 45-DEGREE PITCH INTO THE STANDS
April 21, 2007
In only the fourth start of his carer, Chico solidified his place on the blooper reel when he attempted to throw a first-inning changeup to Josh Willingham (then with the Marlins) and wound up tossing the ball into the second row of the stands at Dolphin Stadium right above the first-base dugout. It missed its intended target by probably 80 feet. The craziest part of it all? Chico had done it before in the minors. "It usually happens to me about three to four times a year," the lefty said. "I've done it so many times now that I just shake it off and concentrate on what I'm doing after that." To his credit, Chico did shrug off the incredibly wild pitch to strike out Willingham. Still, that pitch has been attached to his name for nearly four years now and probably will continue to be for years to come.
WHAT WAS NOOK LOGAN THINKING?
June 23, 2007
Perhaps the defining moment in both the careers of Nook Logan and Charlie Slowes, which is really saying something. It was the bottom of the ninth at RFK, Chad Cordero had just blown a 3-1 lead to the Indians in the top of the inning, and the Nationals were trying to storm back to win in dramatic fashion. But with the bases loaded and one out, Felipe Lopez hit a comebacker to the mound. Joe Borowski threw to the plate for a force out, and then Logan inexplicably rounded third and was tagged out himself to end the game. Slowes captured it all brilliantly on the radio, screaming what surely we all were muttering to ourselves at the time: "What was Nook Logan thinking?! What was he watching?! Where was he going?!" We're still not sure.
THE WASHINGTON NATINALS
April 17, 2009
This one certainly came to embody this woebegone franchise during some of its darkest days. When Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn unknowingly wore jerseys missing the letter O from Nationals for several innings, the world noticed. Everyone started calling this 100-loss team that couldn't do anything right the "Natinals." How did the egregious mistake occur? Well, the Hall of Fame had asked every team in baseball to send in three player jerseys from Opening Day. The Nats chose Zimmerman, Dunn and Elijah Dukes. So that necessitated a new shipment of jerseys for those players to come in from Majestic Athletic, the company that provides all MLB uniforms. Unfortunately, no one noticed the misspelling until it was too late. "We checked the backs of the new jerseys when they came in," clubhouse manager Mike Wallace said that night. "We never thought we had to check the front, too."
NYJER MORGAN'S TANTRUM IN CENTER FIELD
May 22, 2010
There are no shortage of "Nyjer Moments" from the past year, and I'm sure you'll rattle off several more, including the brawl in Florida. But for sheer embarrassment, nothing tops this one against the Orioles. In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Jones crushed a ball to the fence in center field. Morgan raced back to the wall, leaped and felt the ball go off his glove. He assumed it had cleared the fence for a home run. So he spiked his glove to the ground in disgust and fumed about having come up just short. Meanwhile, the ball lay about 10 feet to his left as Jones raced around the bases. By the time Josh Willingham came all the way over from left field to pick it up, it was too late. Jones had himself an inside-the-park home run, and Morgan had himself a moment of absolute embarrassment.
Those are the embarrassing moments I came up with. I'm sure I'm forgetting some more doozies from Nationals history. Please share your favorites...