FALLS CHURCH, VA – You want some baseball talk? I’ll give you some baseball talk. Just like ESPN and their 30 camps in 30 days “tour” of every MLB team’s Spring Training, FSA has embarked on a 7 or 8 camps in 15 or 16 days tour of my own. First stop was with the NL East favorites, so before heading down to Florida I stopped in Washington DC, and checked into the Courtyard down in the Navy Yard area. It’s not the prettiest section of our nation’s capitol, but it is where Nationals Park is located. So my buddy and fellow cheese lover Ed Lynch – himself a 2-time 10 game winner in the Bigs, made arrangements for our first stop.
As a veteran member of the Fourth Estate, I like to think I carry a bit of gravitas (no, I don’t). Although I’m told that one can’t have a “bit” of gravitas in much the same manner that Elaine Benes (sister of Andy and Allen) was told she either had grace or didn’t. So, with Ed in tow, I sauntered down to Nationals Stadium early one morning to check out the brains behind the team generally believed to be the game’s Best. The Nats had recently added Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer to a pitching staff that was already one of Baseball’s top 3. Anxious about spilling some of my gravitas on the carpet, I stepped into Nats GM Mike Rizzo‘s office.
Mahogany was in rich supply. Every piece of furniture-much like the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba was dripping in soft Corinthian leather. On the walls were every one of those inspirational posters that guys like Jordan Belfort hung in their office. ‘Teamwork,” or “Penmanship–it’s what’s for dinner” and the like emblazoned everywhere.
Jay Robertson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1977 MLB players’ draft. At 6’5″ and a burly 230 pounds, Robertson looked the Central Casting part of next stud righthander in the mold of Seaver, Palmer and Drysdale. Robertson was a can’t miss prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays until the very moment when he wasn’t. (Which is why he believes in promoting or trading prospects quickly)
In 2015, Robertson still casts an immense presence upon entering a room, confidently greeting everyone with a laugh, a pat on the back. One of those guys who disarms you immediately. Today, Robertson is one of the Nationals’ head scouts and a Special Assistant to the GM. He’s scouted ballplayers since the ’80s and has signed multiple All-Stars along the way. The man knows baseball. When he wants to talk baseball, people pay attention. The boss and principal architect of baseball’s best organization, Rizzo, had already traveled down to Viera, Florida for Spring Training.
Jay was in a talking mood and regaled me and Ed with wonderful stories of scouting every backwater town in America looking for the next Mike Trout. Robertson is a baseball “lifer” who’s devoted his life to the game. This “lifer” believes he already has the “next Mike Trout” in fellow phenom Bryce Harper. Trout’s passed him by and no one thinks Harper will ever be the player Trout is. Everyone-except Roberston. He believes the 2015 NL MVP will be Harper and believes this will “finally” be his “breakout” season. At 22.
Next stop on our tour? We’ll see, but Ed is hungry and no one makes Ed wait when he’s hungry.
Come back to a starving Angry Ward, who will leave you fully satiated.