Jan 11

Warm Weather and talk turns to Baseball

Baseball fans sit and wait for the weather to turn, while some make plans for the trip down south to catch their team in the Grapefruit League. Once again Washington fans have reason to be optimistic. New arrivals like Jerry Blevens and Doug Fister should bolster a formidable line-up. Maybe Mr. Espinosa can learn how to hit. We will know soon enough.

The following is a cautionary tale in expectations that ran on 12 February 1898. Just days before Washington would go to war and the Senators would go on to lose 100 games.

The extraordinary spring-like weather of the past week set the Washington baseball enthusiasts thinking of their favorite pastime, and as a result of these thoughts considerable gossip about the local club was indulged in at the many places where people congregate to enjoy their after-dinner cigar. The Star baseball man ran against a group of this sort recently in a prominent gathering place for “fans” and became an interested listener to the arguments and suggestions advanced about the Senators for next season.

One bright young man said; “I am figuring on the Senators finishing fourth or better next season, basing my prediction on what the club did last year. The trade of Doc McJames for Doc Amole did not hurt the club a little bit, and why Mr. Wagner or Captain Brown should worry about an additional pitcher is a mystery to me. Of course, a first-class pitcher is always welcome, but just an ordinary one will not be needed by the Senators next year. The club did fairly well in the box last year, and is certainly not weaker in that position. To my mind

I believe the club has two or more crackerjack twirlers to help out Mercer. Cy Swaim made monkeys out of the hard-hitting Baltimore’s at the close of last season, and if he can be made to quicken his movements his improvement will be wonderful. Amole will win as many games as McJames, although the base hits made off of his delivery may be larger. Bill Dinneen and Roger Bresnahan are far above the average as to cleverness, and both these hard-working, quick fielders may prove first-class men. The other men on the reserve list of the pitching corps may or may not prove available for fast company.

Now, if these pitchers did fairly good work last year with the terribly slow fielding team behind them, I figure it that their records the coming season cannot help but show an improvement. The new Senators are base runners, something the club lacked last season, and through this specialty
at least a dozen games should come our way. I don’t care who Captain Brown places at third, they will all be good with the bunt stricken out, and I claim that the Baltimore Birds are the only players that create confusion with this sort of play. But Captain Tom will take care of that club this season. With the bunt stricken out the Senators can play the oyster shuckers to a standstill, and Captain Tom has developed a new play that will check that club very effectually. This is simply bringing the third baseman up close during the entire game with the Birds and making them hit it out. Several swift ones may be lost at third in this way, but their loss is more than compensated for by compelling the Birds to play straight hall.

With the bunt out of the way, Tommy Leahy can play the third base as good as the average man outside of Jimmy Collins and Bobby Wallace. “The club is certainly stronger at first base, as Doyle is equally as good a batter as Tucker and in other parts of the game the two players are not in the same class. At second the club also looks stronger, although I don’t want to hammer little DeMont, who is a great player. But Reitz and Doyle have played together and will work like a clock well oiled. The outfield has not been weakened, the catchers are the same great pair and as extra men the Washington club has the cream of the Eastern League.

Under those circumstances I cannot see”‘ how the club can help finishing higher up. The Cincinnati club is the only team above the Senators that has been strengthened during the winter, and for this reason the enemies’ known strength will help us. What I am hoping for is a little luck at the start off. Luck cuts a great figure in the national game, and if it comes our way to the extent of two or three victories around April 21, 22 and 23, the Senators will never be headed until the middle of July. These starts have been made and maintained for a month by Washington clubs in the past, and then came the terrible slump.

This slump will probably appear the coming season, but instead of being a big hole in the ground it will be a mere indentation.” Talk of similar import can be heard all over Washington, and to say that the “fans” are enthusiastic over the new Senatorial outfit, but mildly expresses it. The splendid weather recently on tap has caused the talking, and it will also bring several of the Senators to Washington earlier than expected should it continue. Weather Prophet DeVos predicts a blizzard for February 28, and says that will wind up the winter, and the Washington baseball followers are hoping his prediction may come true, as the club cannot get together too early to please them.