Good morning, dear readers; I come to you a bruised, but battle-hardened man after the weekend I just finished. I went down to Charlottesville with some buddies from my church in Reston to do the Tough Mudder at Wintergreen Resort. If you haven't heard or seen anything about the event by now, it's essentially a nine-mile obstacle course filled with runs through fire and live electrical wires, climbs over 12-foot walls and halfpipes, swims through freezing water and lots and lots of hills.
The event isn't timed, though, so it turns into a day of thousands of people helping each other do crazy stuff. Great (if sadistic) fun was had by all. You can get a feel for it from the photos here.
At any rate, I'm back in one piece and ready to pass along a few Nationals notes to you:
* Bryce Harper, somewhat predictably, is starting to heat up in the Arizona Fall League. He's 8-for-23 in his last six games, having hit in all six of them, and turned in a monster performance Oct. 18 with three hits (including a homer) and two walks. He's drawn a pair of walks in his last two games, too, and could be catching on after his customary slow start as he gets used to playing at a level over his head. It will be interesting, in time, to see if Harper really does take a while to get going, or if it's because he's always getting thrown in against more experienced competition. If it's the latter, opposing pitchers had better watch out, because he's not going to be the youngest and most inexperienced player on the field forever.
* Jesus Flores has continued to stay hot in the Venezeulan Winter League; he went 3-for-5 with a homer on Saturday, and has hit in four straight games. He's batting .462 for the Navegantes del Magallanes, and he's homered three times in nine games there. Again, he's not facing major league-quality pitching every day, but his progress has to be encouraging to the Nationals.
We'll be back with our "What If?" series on Wednesday; I know a few of you have been asking for another installment. I've got some ideas stocked up for that, but if there are moments in Nationals history where you've always wondered what would have happened if things had gone just a little differently, let me know. You guys often have better ideas for these things than I do, and we can really get creative with these.