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Are banana and mayonnaise sandwiches the key to Nationals’ success?

MayoWashington Nationals bullpen coach Matthew LeCroy is taking some of the credit for the team’s recent surge of success. The Nationals have won seven of their last nine games after playing poorly throughout the month of May, and LeCroy thinks he has a lot to do with the turnaround. Or, should we say, he thinks his eating habits have helped.

LeCroy isn’t bragging about the way he has handled the bullpen as of late. Instead, he thinks banana-and-mayonnaise sandwiches are the key to success for the Nats.

“A lot of people were hurting in the beginning, and we needed some big wins so I thought, ‘I gotta go with the banana-and-mayonnaise,’” LeCroy said last week, per James Wagner of The Washington Post.

LeCroy, who grew up in South Carolina, said he has eaten banana-and-mayonnaise sandwiches his entire life. The Nationals are supposedly 5-0 on days where he eats the southern delicacy, so he should keep loading up. LeCroy said he used to eat the sandwiches while he was playing in the minor leagues if he felt his team needed a pick-me-up.

“I always ate ‘em and everybody made fun of them,” he said. “It’s just kinda my go-to when we needed a win. I just started doing it, and it took off.”

According to the former Minnesota Twins catcher, banana-mayo sandwiches taste “awesome.” I’ll take his word for it. There’s no way I would try one of those.

H/T Hardball Talk

Washington Nationals want taxpayers to buy them a $300 million retractable roof

Washington Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals want to put a retractable roof over Nationals Park, and they want taxpayers to pay for it.

NBC Washington reports that the Nats have met with city officials, including the mayor, to propose the addition to the stadium. The team has presented photos of the proposed roof as well as estimates of the costs to Mayor Vincent Gray’s office, according to NBC Washington.

The area’s taxpayers already paid $700 million to build the park in 2006, so it’s no surprise that the mayor’s office seems reluctant to pay for a stadium.

Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore says Mayor Gray was shocked by the team’s proposal and said “no.”

The Nationals’ presentation to the city may have been motivated by generosity the mayor has shown to other teams. The office approved $50 million for jumbotron improvements in the Verizon Center, and the mayor has proposed spending hundreds of millions on a soccer stadium.

Kilgore also says a source told him the proposed roof was “ugly.”

Someone simulated what a roof might look like over Nationals Park and came up with this:

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Davey Johnson: Nationals ‘probably’ would have won in playoffs with Stephen Strasburg

Stephen-Strasburg-NationalsWashington Nationals fans are left to forever wonder what could have been if the team allowed Stephen Strasburg to pitch in the 2012 postseason rather than shutting him down because of an innings cap. The Nationals certainly could have used another arm in the 2012 NLDS when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

However, it should be noted that Washington had Game 5 under wraps until their bullpen imploded. I guess you could argue that the team could have used Strasburg in a bullpen role rather than starting him, but we know how much hindsight means. On Tuesday, Davey Johnson was asked if his team would have advanced to the NLCS if Strasburg pitched.

Although that’s debatable, it’s a valid question and one the Nationals knew they would have to answer. Johnson was also asked about a recent article by John Feinstein of the Washington Post, which basically argued that the Nats cost themselves a championship by shutting down Strasburg. Johnson didn’t want to go that far.

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Cal Ripken Jr. reportedly a possibility to manage Nationals

Cal RipkenDavey Johnson will be out as manager of the Washington Nationals after the season, and Cal Ripken Jr. could be a possibility to replace him, according to a report.

Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan says Johnson is “not coming back” after two years on the job, which was the plan going back to November. Johnson led the Nats to their best season in franchise history — a 98-64 year in 2012 that included a playoff berth. But the team has been a disappointment this season and is currently 65-65. Despite the disappointing season, the Nats are loaded with talent and their managerial job is a desirable one. Passan says Ripken is one of the possibilities to become the team’s next manager.

Passan mentions former Arizona Diamondbacks teammates and current coaches Matt Williams and Jay Bell as possible replacements for Johnson. He also says a source told him not to count out Ripken, though he described the lifelong Baltimore Orioles shortstop as a “longshot.”

In an interview with CSN Chicago last week, Ripken said he was interested in managing.

“I have no idea [what it would be like to wear a jersey other than the Orioles],” Ripken told Chuck Garfien last week. “I’m sure that would be strange in some ways. I guess you almost can look at your career and say ‘my playing career represented this,’ and now maybe you look at the second opportunity differently. Ideally you’d want to do it with the Orioles, but you have to look at what the opportunities are and who might be interested you and who might not.”

Ripken says he has been asked to interview for managerial jobs many times in the past but turned them down. He would be open to managing now, though.

“I’ve been asked to interview for many manager jobs and I never said yes because I was never serious about it. I haven’t been asked by [the Nats].”

When asked if he would be willing to interview for the Nats job if asked, Ripken seemed open to it.

“I think I would be more curious at this stage in my life than I have been. It’s kind of a maybe.”

Ripken played 21 seasons with the Orioles and is the player most strongly identified with the team. But the O’s are doing very well under Buck Showalter and wouldn’t have a spot for him. If he wants in as a manager, Washington might just be a perfect spot.

Drew Storen’s dad takes funny shot at Nationals over Stephen Strasburg

Mike-Rizzo-Potomac-Nationals-Field-ConditionsBryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes showed us that the future of the MLB is incredibly bright when they battled it out in the final round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night. Cespedes may have won the event with a towering home run and an epic bat flip, but the highlight of my night came from someone connected to the Washington Nationals organization.

Harper’s father, Ron, was his son’s personal pitcher for the Derby. Nationals pitcher Drew Storen’s father was watching the event from home, and he seized the opportunity to drop a perfectly-timed Stephen Strasburg reference during the final round.

Of course, Storen’s dad was referring to the innings cap the Nationals put on Strasburg last season. He had to have planned that one out, right? I bet when Harper advanced to the finals, Drew’s dad couldn’t wait to send that tweet. I don’t blame him. That’s pure genius.

H/T Eye on Baseball

Nationals players have shirts with pitching coach Steve McCatty posing for Playgirl on them (Picture)

Gio-Gonzalez-Steve-McCatty-Playgirl-shirt

Earlier this week, a rumor surfaced that Washington Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty posed for Playgirl magazine in 1984. The folks at Baseball Prospectus later confirmed the speculation by digging up this photo and introducing it to the internet. As you might expect, it has been open season on McCatty in the Nationals’ clubhouse ever since.

On Wednesday, Twitter user @JackoBeam shared a photo (via Sarah Kogod of DC Sports Bog) of Washington starter Gio Gonzalez rocking a T-shirt with McCatty’s now infamous picture on it. The Nats players had the T-shirts made in order to heckle their coach, and the team has been having a blast with it.

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John Wall throws out first pitch at Nationals game, does much better (Video)

John-Wall-first-pitchJohn Wall has been waiting nearly two years for this. During the Washington Nationals 2011 season, Wall threw out one of the worst ceremonial first pitches you will ever see. It was so embarrassing that it almost looked like he messed it up on purpose, but he didn’t. On Thursday night, the Washington Wizards star was given a chance for redemption.

He cashed in. Wall’s mechanics still may have looked like the guy’s in that hilarious Volkswagen commercial, but at least he reached the plate this time. As former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson learned earlier this week with this pathetic toss, reaching the plate is crucial. I wonder if Wall had to convince the Nationals he could really do it this time before they let him come back. Once would have been enough for me.