Gauging Nats Fans Feelings On Jayson Werth and Their Young Ball Club

Gauging Nats Fans Feelings On Jayson Werth and Their Young Ball Club

Prior to the Phillies kicking off a series tonight against the
Nationals in DC, we thought we'd ask the biggest Nats fan we know, Cathy
Taylor aka Miss Chatter, about how their team has fared early in 2011.
We also asked about our old friend Jayson Werth and just what kind of
expectations Nats fans have for their club. You can follow Miss Chatter on Twitter or read her blog featuring her awesome photography here.

Enrico: The Phillies are off to a
nice 7-2 start which I think has Phillies fans pretty excited with their
performance thus far into 2011. The Nats are off to mediocre 4-5 start
that puts them right in the middle of the pack in the East. We haven't
spent much time watching the Nats yet this season, have DC fans liked
what they've seen thus far? Feel free to touch on our old pal Jayson
Werth and his beard's performance thus far, if you so wish.

Miss Chatter: Jayson Werth's beard has put on a phenomenal
performance so far this season, after a nervous offseason wondering if
he'd make an appearance in spring training. He did and has been there
since. (Love the twitter account!) Jayson Werth, beard owner, has had
so-so results thus far this season in the field and at the plate. Off
the field, however, I admire Werth's talk. He is defending his new ball
club vigorously and with humor, which has been rather endearing. Fans
were rather stunned at the length and value of the contract he was
given, and there is some "show us the money" regarding him.

The Nats have had a rough start to the season thus far. They just
lost prized third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the disabled list for a
strained abdominal muscle. That's a heavy blow. The DL stint arrives on
the heels of losing 2 of 3 games in their first two series, but then
they won 2 of 3 against the Mets to finish their first road trip with an
even record. New first baseman, Adam LaRoche, who was brought on as a
defensive upgrade over Adam Dunn, is also walking a fine line that could
easily land him on the DL. First, he revealed he has a balky shoulder
and can't really make throws. Then he strained his groin in the game
Sunday, but expects to be back today. If the Nats lose Zimmerman and
LaRoche, things could get very interesting.

However, Nats fans have been pleasantly surprised by the starting
pitching so far this season, and are particularly eager to see Jordan
Zimmermann thrive in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
His success also eases nervousness over the future of Stephen
Strasburg, who likely won't return until next season. The solid bullpen
arms of Storen, Clippard and Burnett have also continued their dominance
in tight situations.

When he had his welcome to DC presser, Werth talked a lot
about building for the future, but not necessarily winning now. What's a
best-case scenario season for Nats fans this year?

Best case for Nats fans this year is umm, well, I'm not exactly sure!
I wouldn't even dare to predict a final record for the season. I would
have to say best case for Washington this year is if the team stays
healthy and Bryce Harper makes a loud statement in the minors over the
course of his development, Strasburg's rehab proceeds swimmingly and
Jordan Zimmermann's starts this season go deeper and remain effective
all year. Also add Ian Desmond committing less errors in the field and
Danny Espinosa becoming a true batting threat consistently!

What's the one thing about this Nats team that has encouraged you the most about their future?

One thing? Only one? (Why am I having such a hard time thinking of
something?!) I'm going to say the talent and progress of the young
players provides the most encouragement for the future (catcher Wilson
Ramos, 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa and shortstop Ian Desmond). I guess
that's three things.

Looking forward to spending so much quality time with Philadelphians over the three game series in DC?

Only if they're housebroken! I kid! I love a good baseball
conversation with fans of any team, so if Philadelphians come down and
respect our house and want to talk baseball, then that's fine.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case in the past (nightmares of last
year's opening day still haunt me).

Thanks to Miss Chatter for her time and her photo of Jayson Werth above.

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while — a guy I like a lot — said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.” I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed. Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge. Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls — papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players — were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.

I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for. I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked — the things boys liked — were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man. I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.

Flyers-Capitals 5 things: Washington on ridiculous roll into Wells Fargo Center

Flyers-Capitals 5 things: Washington on ridiculous roll into Wells Fargo Center

Flyers (28-24-7) vs. Capitals (39-12-7)
8 p.m. on NBCSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

After finding some offense to finish up a 1-2-0 road trip, the Flyers return home for a not-so-glorious welcome when they host the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

We’ll get into that and more with five things to know:

1. Capping things off
What’s the Flyers’ reward for salvaging the final game of a road swing through Canada? A date with the Capitals, who are the NHL’s hottest team since New Year’s Eve, and by a landslide.

Just how dominant has Washington been?

Dating back to Dec. 31, the Capitals are 19-3-2 and have scored an incomprehensible 104 goals in those 24 games. That’s 4.33 goals per game, while yielding only 50 markers over that stretch.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have scored an NHL-low 40 goals since New Year’s Eve and allowed 62 for an Eastern Conference-worst goal differential of minus-22.

Washington, coming off its first back-to-back defeats since Dec. 27-29, has lost three straight games only once this season.

2. A Ghost sighting
On Sunday, for the first time in close to four months, we saw the Shayne Gostisbehere from the Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) runner-up season last year.

The sophomore blueliner delivered his first three-point game of his career to ignite the Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Canucks.

Although Gostisbehere has made it clear he’s focused on his defensive game, the Flyers are a different animal when he’s generating offensive chances at 5-on-5 and the power play.

“He had his confidence and a little bit of swagger,” Wayne Simmonds said of Gostisbehere’s performance Sunday.

“Ghost has had his ups and downs this year, but he's a heck of a player and has unbelievable skill. He can be a catalyst offensively for us, that’s for sure.”

3. Good cage match
This one makes for an intriguing goalie matchup between Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, who were once battling for the net in Washington.

Holtby is having another stud season after winning the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy (top goalie). Among all netminders, he is tied for first in goals-against average (2.01) and shutouts (seven), while he hasn’t been beaten in regulation since Dec. 27.

The 27-year-old blanked the Flyers twice in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and stopped 149 of 154 shots over the first-round series that the Capitals won in six games.

Neuvirth hasn’t been too shabby himself, starting eight of the Flyers’ last 10 games. Aside from a bad showing in a 6-3 loss to the Oilers, Neuvirth has not surrendered more than two goals in any other outing during that span.

A 2006 second-round pick of Washington, Neuvirth was brilliant last postseason against his former club, making 103 saves on 105 shots faced to get the Flyers two victories.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare can be crucial in these types of games. The fourth-line forward often sees work against the opposition’s top offensive threats and is the Flyers’ most important piece to the penalty kill. Bellemare has played 16-plus minutes in both meetings with the Capitals this season, while the PK is 15 for 17 in February and tied for the NHL’s third-fewest goals against this month.

Capitals: T.J. Oshie is such an underrated asset for Washington. The right winger, who played his college hockey at North Dakota under Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, leads the NHL with a 22.8 shooting percentage, a big reason why the Capitals are scoring 3.34 goals per game, good for second most in hockey. Oshie has 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in his past 22 games and is a plus-24 on the season.

5. This and that
• Neuvirth has just two career regular-season matchups against the Capitals, going 1-0-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

• Holtby is 6-4-7 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 18 lifetime matchups with the Flyers.

• The Flyers are three points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, trailing the Panthers, Bruins and Islanders, all of whom have 66 points.

• Simmonds has four goals in his last five games.

• Claude Giroux has two points (one goal, one assist) in his previous 10 games.

• Washington ranks first in the NHL with a plus-69 goal differential.

• Jordan Weal (upper-body injury) is expected to miss his second straight game.